New Scientist: British air is shortening lives by nine years.
“Even breathing can be dangerous these days. Air pollution is knocking up to nine years off the lives of people who live in pollution hotspots or have a respiratory illness. So says a report by the UK House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee.” Gasp.
New Scientist: Did Renaissance painters ‘cheat’ with optical aids?
“For example, there are multiple vanishing points, suggesting it was painted from different perspectives (see diagram). What’s more, he points out that the back of the octagonal pattern is blurred, as if traced out of focus.” I don’t buy it. I believe this is a case of logic overcoming reality.
Guardian.UK: Globish: the worldwide dialect of the third millennium.
”Standard English was all very well for Anglophone societies, but out there in the wider world, a non-native ‘decaffeinated English’, declared Nerriere, was becoming the new global phenomenon. In a moment of inspiration, he christened it ‘Globish’.”
Discover Magazine: Commuting Between Kazakhstan & the International Space Station.
“The Soyuz dropped into four feet of snow in a remote region of Kazakhstan. NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, who has been shooting for NASA since 1991, says that one of the hardest parts of shooting a landing is trying to catch the rockets on the spacecraft that are supposed to fire milliseconds prior to landing, in order to cushion it.” Ye gods. In spite of cushioning rockets and four feet of snow, that photo still makes my back hurt just to look at it.
Slate: Scientific explanations for the parting of the Red Sea, the 10 plagues, and the burning bush.
”The beginning of Passover on Monday night prompts an age-old question: Did the events recorded in Exodus actually occur? In 2009, Michael Lukas explored how scientists have tried to explain everything from a plague of frogs to the burning bush. His column is reprinted below.” Bah, science needs to find a way to insert a little romance into the dry explanations. You’ll never catch the layman’s imagination with “The dinoflagellates turned the Nile red and killed the frog-eating fish, which in turn caused a population explosion among frogs.” Only squints.
Discover Mag: Ridiculously Good Photography of LIFE in All Its Glory.
“Life: Ain’t it grand? That seems to have been the starting point for the new nature documentary series LIFE, which spotlights some of the planet’s most gloriously unusual critters.”
CNet: Giving arrhythmic hearts a hug.
Er, it doesn’t look very comfy at the present state of development.
Discover Mag: The Milky Way erupts with cold dust.
“What we’re seeing is very cold dust, and by very cold I mean very cold: much of it is a frigid 12 Celsius above absolute zero. In Fahrenheit, that’s -438°.” Sorry, I’m still a sucker for these kinds of photos.
Discovery Magazine: Found: 90% of the distant Universe.
Financial Times: Bill Gates’ nuclear energy baby.
“Is a Bill Gates-backed nuclear start-up going to tackle two of nuclear’s biggest challenges: sourcing and disposing of uranium?” As they say, early days yet.
Discover Magazine: The X-Woman’s Fingerbone.
“In a cave in Siberia, scientists have found a 40,000-year old pinky bone that could belong to an entirely new species of hominid. Or it may be yet another example of how hard it is to figure where one species stops and another begins–even when one of those species is our own. Big news, perhaps, or ambiguous news.”
Nature/News: Cancer genes silenced in humans.
LA Times: Robert M. White dies at 85; pilot made history with 1962 test flight into space.
Viceland: What Makes A Fart.
“In order to rectify this egregious oversight by the American public school system and get the straight poop on the basics of butt-gas, I had a little sit down with Dr. Lester Gottesman, a proctologist from St. Luke’s Roosevelt who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jerry Springer.” No butts about it, this article won’t help you learn to use semicolons.
Discover: Hubble 3D in IMAX: View of the Heavens in a Theater That’s Almost That Big.
“Launch up from your couch and voyage to the final frontier this weekend with Hubble 3D, a hi-tech piece of visual wizardry from Warner Bros, IMAX, and NASA. The movie tracks the efforts of the astronauts on board mission STS-125, who blasted off aboard space shuttle Atlantis last May to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. For this mission, as DISCOVER explained in a review of the movie, Atlantis carried not only its regular payload of new gear for the telescope, but also a 600-pound IMAX camera to record the orbital repair job in breathtaking detail.” Cool as I think it is, I would have liked to know where our tax dollars were going ahead of time ...
Miller-McCune: When Will Is an Illusion, There’s Always Red Bull.
“If I were translating this into the recipe for a good weight-loss intervention, I would advise people to eat when they are hungry and always choose foods that are low on the glycemic index. These foods will provide the brain with energy for longer durations of time and thus fuel the ability to inhibit eating unhealthy foods.” You want glucose feeding slow and steady - not an earthquake of sugar. Running after your clients and nipping at their heels is a sign you’ve overdone it ...
SPACE.com: Cassini Sees Saturn’s Rough and Tumble Rings.
“The rings of Saturn are the most intricate planetary decorations in our solar system, but are also cosmic gems festooned with unknown red material and some tricky dynamic forces that shape them.” Click the images on the right.
NewLaunches: Soldier blinded in Iraq can now see through his tongue.
Discovery: Accent Speaks Louder Than Race for Finding Friends.
”While previous research has shown that white children in the United States tend to pick same-race friends, new findings published in the journal Social Cognition suggest that race takes a back seat when foreign or non-native accents come into play.” Blind to class. Americans loved Robin Leach in “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, though he had a British accent that correlated roughly to ghetto in America. Lily Allen, too.
Discover: Scotland Aims to Be the ‘Saudi Arabia of Marine Energy’ With Tide and Wave Power.
“About 750,000 Scottish homes expect to be powered by ocean technology by 2020, as the Scottish Government announced that 10 wave and tide power schemes capable of generating up to 1.2GW in total would be built around the Orkney islands and on the Pentland Firth on the northern coast of the Scottish mainland.”
NY Times: Pragmatism’s Gift.
”Does knowing that we are bootstrapping rather than marching to the tune of some ‘ineliminable invariance’ help us to do it better? Is pragmatism’s advantage more than philosophical, in the academic sense? Does it enable those who are persuaded by it to live improved lives?” Thought-provoking read.
[And try to say ‘ineliminable invariance’ ten times fast. I’d love to hear that on a Sunday morning talk show.]
NY Times: In a Desert in China, a Trove of 4,000-Year-Old Mummies.
“In the women’s coffins, the Chinese archaeologists encountered one or more life-size wooden phalluses laid on the body or by its side. Looking again at the shaping of the 13-foot poles that rise from the prow of each woman’s boat, the archaeologists concluded that the poles were in fact gigantic phallic symbols. The men’s boats, on the other hand, all lay beneath the poles with bladelike tops. These were not the oars they had seemed at first sight, the Chinese archaeologists concluded, but rather symbolic vulvas that matched the opposite sex symbols above the women’s boats.” Wow. Just ... wow.
The Associated Press: NASA finds shrimp dinner on ice beneath Antarctica.
“It’s pretty amazing when you find a huge puzzle like that on a planet where we thought we know everything.” Presumptuous to think we’ll ever know *everything*, don’t you think? But I take the meaning.
WSJ: Can You Alter Your Memory?
”Scientists used to believe memories are like snapshots on which the details are fixed once they are recorded. Now, many experts accept the view that memories are stored like individual files on a shelf; each time they are pulled down for viewing, they can be altered before being put back into storage. Altering a memory during the time it is off the shelf can create an updated memory that can be saved in place of the old one, scientists believe.” If that’s so, what does that mean about the accuracy of our memories, over time? I wonder.
Discover: SpaceX Successfully Tests Rocket Engines; Plans for an April Launch.
“With its FAA license to launch granted last week, SpaceX is just awaiting clearance from the Air Force for Falcon 9’s emergency abort system, which would be used to terminate the launch if the rocket strayed from its projected fight path and threatened populated areas.” The media is really presenting this like weekend hobbyists gone big-time.