Short film: the Magic of Consciousness

Ed writes, "Here's an ambitious short film I made for the Royal Institution with evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey -- it explores the problems in understanding human consciousness particularly in explaining how its seemingly magical qualities arise from the physical matter of the brain."

Averaging thousands of images into one

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UC Berkeley researchers demonstrated software that averages thousands of similar photo to create a single representative image, like this wedding shot. Users can also refine and weight specific features within the source pool of photos to refine the average image.

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Walking for 5 min/hour prevents negative health effects of sitting


In "Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks in Sitting Time on Endothelial Function," forthcoming in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from IU Bloomington report on a study that holds out hope for anyone worried about the health effects of prolonged sitting.

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Madeline Ashby's Hieroglyph story: "By the Time We Get To Arizona"


The Hieroglyph anthology was created by Neal Stephenson, challenging sf writers to imagine futures where ambitious technological projects improved the human condition.

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National Geographic's first wildlife photos

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The July 1906 issue of National Geographic featured the magazine's first wildlife photos, night shots by George Shiras III. Two of the National Geographic Society board members were infuriated, arguing that the magazine was becoming a "picture book."

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New wind-tunnel tests find surprising gains in cycling efficiency from leg-shaving

A 1987 wind-tunnel trial established that leg-shaving was basically useless, used a miniature leg-model with hair glued to it for its control; when the experiment was re-run this year with a human leg, the savings were a whopping seven percent.

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Behind the scenes look at Canada's Harper government gagging scientists

Dave writes, "A request to interview a government scientist about his discoveries on 'Rock Snot' (algae) results in hundreds of e-mails, discussions of allowed talking points and, in the end, no approval for interview. Why? Perhaps because the source of the rock snot might be climate change?"

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How caffeine evolved

At the New York Times, Carl Zimmer examines new research on the genomics of the Coffea canephora plant and the evolution of caffeine:

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Laniakea: scientists' name for our cosmic home

Scientists have now mapped superculusters -- dense regions of multiple galaxies -- across space and have named our own supercluster Laniakea, Hawaiian for "immeasurable heaven." (Nature)

Why astronauts fall

If you’ve ever watched this video, you might wonder whether an astronaut’s suit is too ungainly to be graceful, or alternatively, if astronauts might just lack coordination.

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The ineffable joy of transforming boring scientific explanations into exciting comics

Cartooning entomologist Jay Hosler‘s forthcoming young adult graphic novel Last of the Sandwalkers masterfully combines storytelling with science; in this essay, he explains how beautifully comics play into the public understanding of science — and why that understanding is a matter of urgency for all of us.

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Half the remains of slain Vikings in England are female

In Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 AD, published in 2011 in Early Medieval Europe 19/3, Medievalists from the University of Western Australia survey the remains of fallen Vikings found in eastern England that had been assumed to be male, partly because some were buried with sword and shield.

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What will it take to get us back to the Moon?

It took 40 years for us to get back to the surface of the Moon. The adventures of China’s late Jade Rabbit rover ended an absence that would have been unthinkable to families clustered around their TV sets in the 1960s, watching the incredible achievements of the Apollo Program. Where did we get off track? Jekan Thanga from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, explains the science and politics behind Cory Doctorow’s new novella, “The Man Who Sold the Moon.”

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Large study of low-carb eating finds weight-loss, muscle-gain, better cholesterol


The NIH-funded Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine reports on an unusually large and diverse study of the impact of low-carb eating and finds huge benefits relative to low-fat diets.

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XKCD's What If: "Dear Abby for Mad Scientists" in book form

The book-length version of Randall “XKCD” Munroe’s brilliant What-If? column — which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals — has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. <blink>Triumph</blink>.

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