The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system
As de Duve has written, “If … neuronal events in the brain determine behavior, irrespective of whether they are conscious or unconscious, it is hard to find room for free will. But if free will does not exist, there can be no responsibility, and the structure of human societies must be revised”.
Ben Libet & free will, previously on metafilter. (And more on: Lucretius, Dualism, Philosophy of mind, and Free Will 1, 2.)
posted by scalespace
on Jul 6, 2010 -
"To small tropical birds foraging on the rainforest floor, those two scowling eyes peering back at them from between the leaves could be a predator. But they also could belong to one of the hundreds of caterpillar species
that have evolved eyelike spots and patterns to trick feasting birds."
posted by dhruva
on Jun 14, 2010 -
We Need a General Theory of Individuality
: "One of the unspoken secrets in basic scientific research, from anthropology to zoology (with intervening stops at physiology, political science, psychology, psychiatry, and sociology) is that, nearly always, individuals turn out to be different from one another, and that—to an extent rarely admitted and virtually never pursued—scientific generalizations tend to hush up those differences"
posted by dhruva
on May 5, 2010 -
It may increase schadenfreude.
It's an assistant to abortifacients and it's produced by stimulating the nipples. Got a clogged lizard? Your mom used it to turn off your brain for your own good
. In women, it peaks at orgasm, but in men, it might be elevated throughout sex without peaking
. And what do you mean "social" monogamy!?
Is it the love 'em and leave 'em hormone?? Well, it's NOT Vasopressin For Her, contrary to what some people think
Is it an impedance to feminism
? Could it be the key to treating Autism
? Ism... ism... jism? YEP. It's in the jism
! Its synthesis was the end of A Trail of Sulfa Research
, and its master was awarded the Nobel Prize
. (Chemistry, not Peace.) You can scent your loveletters with it
, but sorry, peaches... you can't huff a good cuddle, but you might like to huff while you cuddle. Previously.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur
on Mar 14, 2010 -
Quantum processes involved in photosynthesis?
"[A]lgae and bacteria may have been performing quantum calculations at life-friendly temperatures for billions of years. The evidence comes from a study of how energy travels
across the light-harvesting molecules involved in photosynthesis. The work has culminated this week in the extraordinary announcement that these molecules in a marine alga may exploit quantum processes at room temperature to transfer energy without loss. Physicists had previously ruled out
quantum processes, arguing that they could not persist for long enough at such temperatures to achieve anything useful." (via mr
posted by kliuless
on Feb 10, 2010 -
Monogamouse Prairie voles have many vasopressin receptors in the reward centres of their brains. It seems as though these are wired up in a way that causes the animal to take pleasure from monogamy.
posted by kliuless
on Jan 9, 2010 -
Carl Zimmer on the duck's incredibly long, corkscrew-shaped, ballistic penis.
My tale is rich with deep scientific significance, resplendent with surprising insights into how evolution works, far beyond the banalities of “survival of the fittest,” off in a realm of life where sexual selection and sexual conflict work like a pair sculptors drunk on absinthe, transforming biology into forms unimaginable. But this story is also accompanied with video. High-definition, slow-motion duck sex video. And I would imagine that the sight of spiral-shaped penises inflating in less than a third of second might be considered in some quarters to be not exactly safe for work. It’s certainly not appropriate for ducklings.
[As Carl says, video links are possibly NSFW.] [more inside]
posted by chorltonmeateater
on Dec 23, 2009 -
Cracking the Cancer Code:
We already know that all cancers are caused by DNA mutations acquired during a person's lifetime. But what mutations actually cause cancer? We may be one step closer to finding out. International research teams led by the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have now mapped
the entire genetic code
of two of the most common human cancers: lung and skin (malignant melanoma).
Their findings have the potential
to revolutionize preventative and treatment therapies as well as pave the way for new early detection tests. More
. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 17, 2009 -
The Polar Discovery
team has documented science in action from pole to pole during the historic 2007-2009 International Polar Year, and covered five scientific expeditions
. The science projects explored a range of topics from climate change and glaciers, to Earth’s geology, biology, ocean chemistry, circulation, and technology at the icy ends of the earth. Through photo essays
and other multimedia
, they explain how scientists collected data and what they discovered about the rapidly changing polar regions. From the awesome folks at WHOI
posted by netbros
on Nov 9, 2009 -