According to scholars, Homer never mentioned the color blue in any of his works; neither did the Bible, nor an abundance of ancient texts. Also, linguists have found a near-universal pattern in which languages developed color in stages, and blue was always the last to be named....more
Posts Tagged: science
Guernica examines the intersections of science, emotion, and memory by way of an exchange between novelist Rivka Galchen and neuroscience professor David Linden, featured in the Rubin Museum’s Brainwave series.
“As Linden explains in his book, ‘memory retrieval is an active and dynamic process.’ Thus recollecting past experiences—reliving them again and again or retelling them to others—subtly modifies the memories we keep....more
The Animal Kingdom, specifically the marine insect known as the water skater, has devised a new use for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, using the expanse of pelagic plastics as a space to lay its eggs.
The Patch, now 100 times bigger than it was in the ’70s, has a formidable impact on the ocean ecosystem as it spreads pollutants and its smaller bits are ingested by marine life at a tremendous rate. With the addition of a more robust water skater population destabilizing the food chain, the Patch may very well be the most troubled neighborhood in the seven seas. Here’s to hoping they develop a mutant appetite for high-density polyethylene....more
According to a new study, “beer makes men smarter,” or more scientifically stated, drinking alcohol “may enhance creativity problem solving by reducing the mind’s working memory capacity, which is the ability to concentrate on something in particular.”
While these findings were deemed surprising, what’s more curious is that the study didn’t include the ladies....more
“Since the 19th century people have speculated that the essence of human identity is stored in the connections between our neurons. Today we have the technology to find out if this is true.”
This year the Human Connectome Project will begin ambitiously mapping the “large-scale connections” of 1200 human brains....more
“While Rembrandt was an astonishingly talented artist, our response to his art is conditioned by all sorts of variables that have nothing to do with oil paint. Many of these variables are capable of distorting our perceptions, so that we imagine differences that don’t actually exist; the verdict of art history warps what we see.”
Jonah Lehrer explores how the brain perceives art....more
Psychologists believe that the brain has two complementary modes of thought. If you’re curious about the difference between system 1 (fast mode) and system 2 (slow mode), check out this Guardian review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Because it’s never too late in the week to be reminded of our self-delusions....more
Carl Zimmer’s Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed reveals the crossroads between the sciences and tattoo culture. The result is “a weird and wonderful almanac of the lovable geek who immortalized passion for science on their living flesh,” according to Brain Pickings, which previews several of the images curated and categorized in the book....more
A new study suggests that drinking more than one cup of coffee a day may prevent the onset of depression in women. And the more you drink, the better: “The biggest coffee drinkers saw the largest reduction in risk, according to the study....more
It’s not always oil that we spill into the ecosystem. Every now and then a pet cockatoo is let loose or escapes, joins a wild flock, and teaches the natives how to speak. The phenomenon accounts for “numerous” reports by Australians who think they are hearing voices....more
Here is a map to help you visualize human migration over the course of our 200,000 year existence. Using data based on mitochondrial DNA difference, the map models migratory patterns as humans “moved outward from Africa into Asia, and later the Americas, Indonesia and Australia.” The visual distinguishes between land and water or temporary land/ice bridges, while highlighting genetic populations and the extent of ice....more
Fossils found in a South African cave may be “the most plausible known ancestor of archaic and modern humans,” argue the scientists who discovered the bones, citing the combination of apelike and human features in the newfound species—dubbed Australopithecus sediba.
Some scientists disagree that the fossils represent a transitional link between the australopithecines and humans, suggesting instead that the discovery provides important evidence of the extensive diversity of australopithecine apes and the difficulty of determining which is actually the ancestral species....more
Headed by the University of Vermont’s Isabel Klouman, a team of researchers did a massive language study that revealed an optimistic tendency of the English language—there are more positive words than negative. Compiling words from years of the New York Times, tweets, popular song lyrics and Google Books, they then analyzed the most common from each source, and finally rated each word’s relative positivity from the 10,122-word list....more
Atlantis just returned from its last mission and here we are with our feet firmly on the ground. But surely there is an alternative to NASA.
For inspiration into space travel here on earth experience the short film Life as An Independent Astronaut and an interview with the documentary’s star and director David Wilson....more
It turns out those trusty Law and Order-like forensic techniques are now being adopted for another function–the preservation of social norms via the avoidance of seemingly invasive questions!
Next time you feel the need to know somebody’s age, but feel too uncomfortable to ask, just get some of their DNA from their saliva....more
There’s an awesome Mother Jones article on how we intake our science like lawyers and how our reasoning is inextricably linked to our emotional centers. We’re used to scientific evidence and opinion-based beliefs competing or being on opposite sides of our reality spectrum, but they do, indeed, inform each other....more
There is a romantic idea that great genius emanates from the tower.
The novelist, the philosopher, the architect, all retreat to their places of solitude to channel their minds and await inspiration. A few hours, days, months, years later, they emerge with a masterpiece....more
“Results suggest that facial hair is worn to enhance a man’s marriage prospects by increasing physical attractiveness and perception of social status. Men shave their mustaches, possibly to convey an impression of trustworthiness, when the marriage market is weak and women might fear sexual exploitation and desertion.”
I mean, they used a regression....more
The Hubble has detected an alien spacecraft (or just a comet or something, whatever).
“Don’t you ever link to anything nonscience related?” Here are some pictures of a frozen house in Detroit....more
Today is the shortest day of the year, it’s all up from here.
The Korean airforce have developed a pedal powered airplane. Dang!
Meanwhile scientists have figured out to harness the power of bacteria, or something....more