It holds a singular place in the American imagination today, but there was a lot of opposition to the Apollo program as it was happening. Read the rest
Grist has an interview with activist and writer Paul Kingsnorth, a former environmentalist who has decided that the right way to deal with the end of the world is to just accept its inevitability. Read the rest
If you had a baby in Indiana after 1991, chances are your child's blood and DNA samples are being stored by the state. Originally meant for research, no samples have been used because consent of parents was never obtained. Read the rest
Popular Science has a nice follow up to the news about the discovery of decades-old smallpox samples — including the fact that scientists found 327 vials of other forgotten disease samples in the same place. Read the rest
The "kaffir" in "Kaffir lime" is actually a racial slur. At National Geographic, Maryn McKenna struggles with how to deal with foods that have offensive names.
Read the rest
I ran across a campaign, launched initially on Twitter, to rename the kaffir lime, a bumpy-skinned fruit from Southeast Asia with deeply perfumed leaves. “Kaffir” is a slur: In apartheid South Africa, whites hurled it against blacks. Writer Mark Mathabane, who was born in a Johannesburg shantytown during apartheid, used it to title his memoir, Kaffir Boy. In modern South Africa, uttering the word is scandalous hate speech, and defamation suits have been brought and won over it. Just this week, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a man’s sentence (of a fine and a year in jail) for using it, saying in a unanimous opinion: “The word is racially abusive and offensive… its use is not only prohibited but is actionable as well.”
A particularly depressing addendum to the story of a passenger jet shot down in Ukrainian air space: Of the 298 people on board, roughly 100 were people flying to an international conference on AIDS research. Read the rest
Anomalocarids are the ancient ancestors of spiders. They look like menu items from H.P. Lovecraft's seafood restaurant. Read the rest
It's fun to take, but the results of a Myers-Briggs personality test are basically meaningless — inconsistent and based on unsupported, philosophical ideas about how the brain operates. Read the rest
Most babies babble by 7 months of age. Most don't start talking real words until they're a year old. What's going on in their heads in the meantime?
This is kind of your standard hook-a-baby-up-to-a-brain-scanner-and-see-what-lights-up research. But I think it is particularly interesting in the way that it emphasizes the very hard work that goes into getting the muscle movements of face, tongue, and vocal cords coordinated in just the right way in order to say what it is that you want to say. We often talk about the "can't talk yet" stage of babyhood as though the baby isn't processing speech yet and doesn't understand words. But that's not really true. At a certain point, they get the words, but can't necessarily get their bodies to repeat the words. (And, in fact, this is exactly the sort of situation that infant sign language is meant to address.)
The study has social implications, suggesting that the slow and exaggerated parentese speech – “Hiiiii! How are youuuuu?” – may actually prompt infants to try to synthesize utterances themselves and imitate what they heard, uttering something like “Ahhh bah bah baaah.”
“Parentese is very exaggerated, and when infants hear it, their brains may find it easier to model the motor movements necessary to speak,” Kuhl said.
Bonus: More photos and video of babies attached (kind of adorably, from my perspective) to brain scan equipment. Read the rest