Boing Boing 

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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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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Solved: Mystery of Death Valley's "Sailing Stones"

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Scientists have now solved, through observation, the mystery of the "Sailing Stones" that travel across Death Valley's dry lakes.

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Respected medical journal changes hands, starts publishing junk science for hire


Experimental & Clinical Cardiology published for 17 years out of Oshawa, ON, but is now owned by shadowy figures in Switzerland, whose payments are processed through Turks and Caicos, and they'll publish anything under the journal's banner, provided it's accompanied by a payment of $1200.

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Habits for living a more rational life


From the Center for Applied Rationality, a "Checklist of Rationality Habits" intended to help you spot when you're tricking yourself. One of my favorites is the next-to-last: "I try not to treat myself as if I have magic free will; I try to set up influences (habits, situations, etc.) on the way I behave, not just rely on my will to make it so."

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Whale vaginas are amazing


Mammal penises, including those of cetaceans, are pretty easy to find, while vaginas are more difficult to examine; historically, accounts of animal reproduction have emphasized the features of penises and theories of sperm competition, but a burgeoning scientific emphasis on whale vaginas is revealing structures and strategies that are amazing and wonderful.

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Canadian government caught secretly smearing scientist who published research on tar-sands


The Harper petro-Tory government's money comes from the people who got rich from the tar-sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet, and they've done everything they could to suppress science critical of Alberta crude; finally a scientist who wasn't under their thumb published his work and they started maneuvering behind the scenes to discredit him.

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Breathtaking aurora snapshot from the Space Station

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Astronaut Reid Wiseman tweets from the International Space Station: "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this. 10 minutes ago on the #ISS #aurora." Another shot below.

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Is it OK to pee in the ocean?

Yes.

Canadian government orders scientists not to disclose extent of polar melting


Stephen Harper's petro-Tories have a well-earned reputation for suppressing inconvenient environmental science, but they attained new Stalinist lows when their ministers prohibited Canadian Ice Services from disclosing their government-funded research on the rapid loss of Arctic ice.

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Aloha shirt featuring critters from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur


The 19th century German biologist's seminal illustrations of weird sea-life have been adapted for a gorgeous Betabrand cabana shirt.

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Tongue is not the strongest muscle in the body

It's actually multiple muscles, and the myth may have emerged because you've probably never felt your tongue get tired. Even still, it isn't the strongest muscle system. The honor of strongest single muscle likely belongs to the masseter, in your jaw. From Scientific American:
gene tn3By sticking a pliable air-filled bulb into a subject’s mouth, scientists can measure the maximal pressure the tongue can exert on an object. This device, called an Iowa oral performance instrument, is placed on the tongue and subjects are asked to push it toward the roofs of their mouths as hard as they can. Scientists also use this bulb to measure endurance, or how long the tongue can hold a certain posture.

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Brian Fies‘s 2012 graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? expresses a beautiful, melancholic and hopeful longing for (and suspicion of) the futuristic optimism of America’s 20th century, starting with the 1939 World’s Fair. Cory Doctorow finally got caught up with the future and read it.

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X-ray of the Smithsonian's two-headed shark and other specimens

sharktwo The National Museum of Natural History's Sandra Raredon maintains the "fish library," a job that includes X-raying the specimens like this two-headed smooth-hound shark. Below, a small tooth sawfish and Atlantic angel shark.

"A Two-Headed Shark and Other X-Rayed Beauties at the Smithsonian"

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$35 electrochemical analyzer


Aaron writes, "The good folks of the George Whitesides Laboratory have been dedicated to making cheap medical tests and analytical gadgets for quite some time. Now, they've really outdone themselves with this beautiful $35 electrochemical analyzer that can do everything from glucose tests to environmental analysis."

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Biology student in Colombia faces jail for reposting scholarly article


Colombia's draconian copyright law (passed after US pressure) provides for prison sentences for simple copyright infringement; Diego Gomez, a biodiversity conservation Master's candidate at University of Quindío shared a paper related to his fieldwork, and the paper's author has brought a prosecution against him.

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