Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
Where the Engineers Are - "To guide education policy and maintain its innovation leadership, the United States must acquire an accurate understanding of the quantity and quality of engineering graduates in India and China."
Geek tattoos. Gamer tattoos. Science tattoos. Medical tattoos. Assorted nerdiness. More. Not ready to commit? Get bar coded, sans ouch. (Previously)
Prime Vertebrae. PZ Myers discusses the critical difference between having six or seven cervical vertebrae.
Episode one of controversial evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' new series Enemies of Reason premieres on Channel 4 tonight. Here's a list of topics.
The Visual Image of Chemistry: Perspectives from the History of Art and Science. [Via homunculus (no relation)]
In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution. Carl Zimmer writes about Martin Nowak (previously mentioned here), a mathematical biologist who uses games to understand how cooperation evolved. [Via MindHacks.]
Hope on the Battlefield by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. An article on our "intense resistance to killing other people. A resistance so strong that, in many circumstances, soldiers on the battlefield will die before they can overcome it."
Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement. "Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong."
I'm sure everyone remembers last year's kerfuffle about Hwang Woo-Suk, the disgraced scientist who fraudulently claimed to have created human embryonic stem cells by cloning. Well, it turns out he actually did something more remarkable - he created human stem cells from unfertilised eggs by parthenogenesis. The verification of this was published with a suitably dry title for consumption by scientists, but the popular press was quick to jump on more loaded phrases.
Remember CERN from The Da Vinci Code? And their mega-project the Large Hadron Collider(previously mentioned here?) This BBC Horizons show, The Six Billion Dollar Experiment, does a good job illustrating why such an experiment is so cool, important and fascinating. Apparently, the universe is finite. (Includes Google Video-last link)
Science and Pseudoscience - a 1973 lecture from Imre Lakatos.
Can't ever find what you are looking for at the bookstore? Tired of seeing pseudoscience or pop psychology books in the science section? Join a grassroots effort to re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the store: Biologists Helping Bookstores.
The Sphinx Observatory atop the Jungfraujoch in the Swiss alps is one of the most amazing man-made objects I've ever seen. A UNESCO world-heritage site, it holds the distinction of being the highest (in altitude) structure in all of Europe. Approachable by a train that runs inside the mountain (via a tunnel dug between 1896 & 1926 at the cost of a small fortune, not to mention many lives), the Observatory rests atop a glacier which has been hollowed out to feature a year round gallery of never-melting ice scultptures (glacial ice is spectacularly pretty), and an elevator up to the research station.
Peter Stafford, psychedelics investigator and author of the Psychedelics Encyclopedia (PDF preview), has died. [Via BB.]
The Buckminster Fuller Institute is now accepting submissions for it's new, annual design challenge contest. Submissions must be applicable with real-world technology, solving real-world problems with a minimum of ecological impact. The offered prize is $100,000, on par with some of NASA's challenges. ( Buckminster Fuller on Wikipedia, and E2 )
So you thought that old cliche about civil servants having only half a brain was just a conservative canard? Well, think again.
This year, 500 million people will get malaria and about a million of them will die from it. Some scientists believe that one out of every two people who have ever lived have died of malaria. Here are some reports from Sierra Leone on efforts to control this deadly disease.
A team of astronomers needs your help. It's not terribly easy to get computers to distinguish between galaxy shapes, but fortunately humans are not only very good at it, but seem to actually enjoy gazing out in to space. So, go to galaxyzoo.org, look at a few pretty pictures from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey , and help classify millions of galaxies and aid research in to how they form and evolve while you're at it.
Build bigger boobies from belly blubber! But how do they know to stop growing?
The Super-K is a neutrino observatory in Japan; it is 1000 meters underground, contains a lake of 50,000 tons of pure water & every inch of the the 41 meter high walls are lined with over 11,000 photomultiplier tubes. It is also one of the most amazing man made objects I've ever seen images of. Super high res photos available here. More photos of the construction & recent restoration. Via.
Why do we yawn? There are many theories. New research suggests it cools the brain.. a cooler brain is more alert.
Can you cut a hole in a 3x5 card that's large enough to crawl through? Topological trickery and some other classic science experiments.
The new age of ignorance. A panel of well known (UK) scientists and artists are asked some basic questions about science. Except the questions weren't that basic (since when is the Second Law of Thermodynamics considered basic knowledge?) so the results weren't surprising... although some of the answers were amusing ("The sky is blue because the sea reflects on it."). The worrying thing is that the questions could have been much simpler ("How many planets are there in the Solar System?") and I suspect the results would have been much the same. Meanwhile, ignorance marches on.
Dr. Craig Venter, known for his role as a pioneer in the human genome project, has taken a major step towards creating life from scratch: transplanting the entire genome from one bacterium cell to another. Commence the ethics wars.
SciTalks - from the press release [19 June]: "The site launches today with over 1,000 lectures online, and more are being added daily. Segments range from a series of hour-long lectures by the late Richard Feynman, to a short, hilarious Ali G interview with Noam Chomsky, and a fascinating talk on designing a semiconductor-based brain, by up-and-coming Stanford researcher Kwabena Boahen." [via]
Earthlings (1 hr 35 min Google video) is "a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called 'non-human providers.'" Also in three parts on YouTube.
It's been nearly 50 years since the beginning of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), an 18-month period of scientific activities and discoveries that ran from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. Both the US and the USSR launched the world's first artificial satellites during the IGY (Sputnik 1 and Explorer 1). Other achievements of the IGY included the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and the mapping of mid-ocean ridges. The IGY also inspired at least one artistic endeavor: Steely Dan's Donald Fagen wrote his 1982 solo song "I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)" [YouTube] as an homage to 50s optimism.
In an attempt to curb the production of crystal meth, more than 30 states have now outlawed or require registration for common lab equipment. In Texas, you need to register the purchase of Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers. The same state where I do not have to register a handgun, forces me to register a glass beaker.America's War on Science: Chemistry sets and model rockets, the staples of any geeky childhood, have essentially become a thing of the past.Wired has more on how a security obsessed society is robbing both children and adults of the opportunity to discover science for themelves.
Recursion and Human Thought - Why the Piraha don't have numbers
Felice Frankel's photography "When people call Felice Frankel an artist, she winces. In the first place, the photographs she makes don't sell. In the second place, her images are not full of emotion or ideology or any other kind of message. As she says, "My stuff is about phenomena." [via]
RIP Don Herbert Better known as Mr. Wizard, you taught several generations basic science and a love of experimentation. You will be missed. Sorry for the one-link ObitFilter
Even the Vatican now affirms that Galileo was right, even if it did take them more than three centuries to admit it. The latest General Social Survey has been released, and nearly twenty percent of Americans haven't yet gotten the clue. Is it the crazification factor at work? More commentary here, here, and here.
Scientists are testing a new diet pill that expands to the size of a tennis ball in your stomach. When taken with two glasses of water, the slow-growing 'gelatinous blob' gives one the feeling of having eaten a plate of food. Although it's no replacement for diet and exercise, it could help some people control their urges.
Simple switch turns cells embryonic. "Researchers have finally hit the jackpot: Embryo-free embryonic stem-cells!"
Alex cf is a young British artist, fresh off of a series of extremely creepy visualizations of Alice in Wonderland characters. His current project is creating amazing looking HP Lovecraft inspired nightmares in specimen jars, which he is more than happy to build on commission.
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Despite Theodosius Dobzhansky's succint description of natural selection at the core of biological research since Darwin's fateful trip to the Galapagos, evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch respectfully dissents, asking "whether natural selection is a necessary or sufficient force to explain" the complexity of multicellular organisms we see today, where mutation, recombination and genetic drift are often overlooked, but critical factors in evolutionary theory and understanding.
Controversial geneticist Jim Watson will soon be the first man to receve a fully-decoded copy of his own DNA blueprint. Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule and won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Watson is also known for his frank opinions. Very frank, indeed.
Wi-fi Routers: Silent blinking death. Via badscience.net, where it was posted in response to what sounds like a truly awful show. Electrosensitivity previously discussed here.
Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena was born in October, 2006 to help fight the good fight against the overwhelming majority of noise in the media supporting useless alternative medicine systems, psychics preying upon the vulnerable, the erosion of science education in the classroom, xenophobia of advanced energy and food production methods, and generally anything that distracts attention and public funding from scientific advancement. Episodes feature such prominent MeFi discussion material as organic food myths, blood for oil, chiropractics, and SUVs. Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
Enertia is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now competition (previously). In an interview, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
Bald? A swift blow to the head might solve that problem. If nothing else, it will give you something else to worry about for a while. Note: procedure tested on mice; results in humans may vary. Possible side effects include gaping head wounds. via Slate
Two nice conversations between a man and his dog on the subject of quantum physics.
[many worlds interpretation, uncertainty principle]
[many worlds interpretation, uncertainty principle]
No one really knows exactly why we need so much sleep, but it seems obvious that many of us aren't getting enough. Tu veux coucher avec moi? I'm bushed.