Boing Boing 

More Britons believe in aliens than God

The Independent, citing a YouGov poll, found that a majority of Britons are hot for alien life, but only a minority now believe in the existence of "God."

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Tech projects vein maps during blood donations

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is testing a technology to project a vein map on the arms of blood donors during the phlebotomy.

"Vein visualisation technology uses near infrared technology to project an image of the vein onto the skin," says Dr. Dan Waller, a senior researcher with the organization. "Veins have a lot of deoxygenated haemoglobin that absorbs near infrared light and the device is able to use this information to project the image. The machines have settings to manage individual differences.

"World-first vein viewing tech trial is... not in vain!" (Australian Red Cross)

The Candy Hierarchy, 2014

David Ng and Ben Cohen performed acts of science (realistic ones) in order to determine, once and for all, a true and empirical understanding of which Halloween candies induce the most joy and despair. With more than 40,000 of your votes duly recorded, the results below are indisputably unassailable.

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Eight year old's incredible prize-winning scorpion photo

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Spanish photographer Carlos Perez Naval, age 8, won the London Natural History Museum's Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 prize for this breathtaking photo of a yellow scorpion. From the photo description:

Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – a place he often visits to look for reptiles. The late afternoon Sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure for the first time so he could include it. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the Sun, and then shot the scorpion using a low flash. But he had to change lenses, using his zoom for the Sun, which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last of the light illuminating its body.

Carlos Perez Naval's Retazos de Naturaleza

And see all the 2014 winning photos here.

Pope: God "is not a magician" and Big Bang and evolution are A-ok

"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Pope Francis said at a Pontifical Academy of Sciences meeting on the topic of "Evolving Concepts of Nature."

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WATCH: Sugar in liquid nitrogen glows when exposed to UV light

Mikhail Svarichevsky demonstrates an interesting phenomenon: supercooled sugarcubes briefly glow green when exposed to UV light. Don't tell Insane Clown Posse about this baffling miracle.

Fabian Oefner's ferrofluidic cover for Guster's new album

Watch artist Fabian Oefner manipulating ferrofluid (magnetized liquid) and watercolors into a stunning psychedelic pattern that appears on the cover of alt.pop trio Guster's forthcoming album Evermotion.

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Video: Wondrous pygmy seahorses

KQED takes a Deep Look at pygmy seahorses, recently bred in captivity for the first time thanks to biologists at the California Academy of Sciences.

Visualization: The Elements According to Relative Abundance (1970)

An excellent graphic from 1970 by Santa Clara University chemistry professor William F. Sheehan (RIP). (via Clifford Pickover)

Mind-controlling parasites (and the parasites that infect them)

A great, full-body-squick-inducing article in National Geographic provides an overview of the current research on parasites that use a combination of techniques to control their hosts' behavior, making them sacrifice themselves for the sake of the parasites and their offspring.

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Woman sees 100 times more colors than you

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Artist Concetta Antico is a tetrachromat, meaning a genetic mutation in her eyes enables her to see approximately 100 times more colors than an average person.

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Lamar "SOPA" Smith dispatches GOP commissars to National Science Foundation

The Republican Texas Congressjerk maintains a flying squad of political officers who descend upon the NSF to pore through its grant records looking for evidence of ideologically impure science.

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Anatomical diagram cushion-covers



These vintage anatomical diagram cushion covers are $25/each from Manchester's My Wife Your Wife: there's the finger cross-section, the hair follicle, and the throat and mouth cavity.

(via Geeky Merch)

Inviting all Eco-Futurists to Bioneers, Oct 17-19/Marin, with Kim Stanley Robinson


Josh writes, "Boing Boing readers and Eco-Futurists are invited to the 25th Annual Bioneers Summit Conference in Marin, CA, October 17-19. Enter BOING4BIONEERS at check out for an exclusive 25% discount!"

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Brain-computer interface gives lock-in sufferers a way to communicate

"Noninvasive brain-computer interface enables communication after brainstem stroke" (Science Translational Medicine) reports on the successful use of a brain-computer interface to allow an individual with "lock in syndrome" (conscious and aware, but unable to move any part of his body) to spell words and carry on dialogue with his family.

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This one U.S. hotspot produces the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane. Why?

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan


The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher).
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan

A new study of satellite data by scientists at NASA and University of Michigan One shows that one small “hot spot” in the American Southwest produces the greatest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane in the United States.

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Scientific evidence of very brief "life after death"?

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The largest scientific study of "life after death" and near death experiences in cardiac arrest patients (who were resuscitated) suggests that some people may sustain several minutes of awareness after the heart stops.

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Lab-grown penises ready for testing

In the next few years, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine hope to transplant lab-grown penises into people who need them due to congenital abnormalities, disease, or traumatic injury.

The penises are grown from the patient's own cells on a 3D collagen scaffold made from a donor penis. Studies on rabbits "were very encouraging," says tissue engineering pioneer Anthony Atala, director of the Institute. From The Guardian:

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Because the method uses a patient's own penis-specific cells, the technology will not be suitable for female-to-male sex reassignment surgery.

"Our target is to get the organs into patients with injuries or congenital abnormalities," said Atala, whose work is funded by the US Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which hopes to use the technology to help soldiers who sustain battlefield injuries.

As a paediatric urological surgeon, Atala began his work in 1992 to help children born with genital abnormalities. Because of a lack of available tissue for reconstructive surgery, baby boys with ambiguous genitalia are often given a sex-change at birth, leading to much psychological anguish in later life. "Imagine being genetically male but living as a woman," he said. "It's a firmly devastating problem that we hope to help with."

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

Steven Johnson blends the history of science with keen social observation to tell the story of how our modern world came about—and where it’s headed. Cory Doctorow reviews How We Got to Now, also a six-part PBS/BBC series, which ties together a lifetime of work

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Great ideas that changed the world, and the people they rode in on

To inaugurate the publication of his brilliant new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (also a PBS/BBC TV series), Steven Johnson has written about the difficult balance between reporting on the history of world-changing ideas and the inventors credited with their creation

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Scientists using Bob Dylan references

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“Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind": For almost a decade, researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute had a private internal contest around embedding Bob Dylan references in their scientific writings, and now they've opened up the challenge.

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Indian space program workers celebrate Mars orbit


(photographer unknown): India's Mangalyaan satellite attained Martian orbit on Wednesday; at $74m, it's "staggeringly cheap" for an orbiter.

Martian spacecraft staffers at Indian space control, September 2014

Bodies are weird


A great Reddit thread asks "What's something you're pretty sure only your body does, but have been too embarrassed to ask," and comes up with some genuinely great responses.

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Build your own working tabletop V8 engine


The Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine ($65.62) sounds fantastic -- the lengthy selection of positive reviews confirm the manufacturer's claim that a "talented 10 year old" could assemble it, and it can be disassembled and reassembled, which makes it great for classrooms, camps and studios. (via Red Ferret)

Tour the solar system by walking around a huge, dilapidated building


Becky writes, "Shrinking Space productions have transformed the vast and dilapidated market building at Circus St in Brighton, UK into an audiosphere representing the entire solar system."

When you enter "Mind's Eye" you are given headphones and a ready-tuned hand-held radio. Then, as you drift around the building, you are pulled into the orbit of the various interviews being broadcast in different parts of it, each featuring a scientist or space explorer whose knowledge of the planet or star they are describing often represents a lifetime's work. The effect is bewitching, like floating through space itself, with only the occasional transmission back to earth for company. I went to see it last Saturday and loved it."

Mind’s Eye: Tour the solar system at home and in Brighton, courtesy of Little Atoms and Shrinking Space

(Thanks, Becky!)

Rubbery, crawling robot can traverse snow, fire

Harvard's Michael Tolley created the 65cm long, soft, pneumatic robot whose operating parameters allow it to run over -9'C terrain or walk through naked flames (for 20 seconds, at least).

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Oxytocin: "the biological basis for the golden rule"

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Here's the transcript at Medium of a deeply fascinating Aspen Ideas lecture by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, author of The Moral Molecule, about the chemical reason why the vast majority of us feel good helping others. Those who don't? Psychopaths, mostly.

Do animals cry?

Maria Konnikova on the appearance and the authenticity of emotion in the animal kingdom–and how we can use science to explore it.

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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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