Artist gives award for the tallest weed he found in a neighborhood

New York Times columnist and all-around unclassifiably interesting person Rob Walker has a book coming out in May called The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday. Rob also has an excellent newsletter also called The Art of Noticing Newsletter, and in the latest edition he […]

Digital synesthesia

Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman invented the Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer (VEST), a wearable tactile display that translates myriad kinds of information, from speech to sounds to digital data, into patterns of vibrations on the skin. The device was inspired by Eagleman's study of synesthesia, the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another […]

TastyFloats levitates food morsels to your mouth

TastyFloats is a "contactless food delivery system" that uses ultrasound to raise bits of food and droplets of drink to your mouth without any utensils at all. While this method to levitate small objects is well known, what's fascinating is that a small scientific study shows that the levitated food apparently tastes better. Researchers from […]

The man who literally sniffed out the problems in NYC's subway

In the early 20th century, James "Smelly" Kelly used his legendary sense of smell and DIY inventions to find hazards, leaks, elephant poop, and eels that were causing problems in the New York City subway system. Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser profiles the the man known as The Sniffer: In addition to finding water leaks and […]

You can hear the difference between hot and cold water

Water is viscous. With heat, the viscosity drops. And you can hear the difference in its splash.

Hearing lips and seeing voices

This video explains the weirdness of the McGurk effect, a perceptual illusion demonstrating that understanding speech is not just about what we hear, but also what we see. You can learn more about the McGurk effect at Yale's Haskins Laboratories dedicated to the science of the spoken and written wordl. (via Imaginary Foundation)

Tongues aren't just for smelling

After you spent all that time in grade school conditioning yourself to know that snakes stick out their tongues in order to smell things, it turns out that those tricksy animals were also tasting with their tongues, all along.

How food tastes isn't just about how the food tastes

Other senses besides taste matter in determining what your food tastes like and whether you like it. And we're not just talking about scent here. At Science Sushi, Christie Wilcox explains how things like noise levels, plate colors, and the weight of silverware affect what we think we like to eat.

The Exploratorium's Sound Uncovered: A science museum in your hand (for free)

This review also appears on Download the Universe, a group blog reviewing the best (and worst, and just "meh") in science-related ebooks and apps. When I go to science museums, I like to press the buttons. I'm convinced this is a special joy that you just do not grow out of. Hit the button. See […]

What does the world look like when you're color blind?

On the left is a picture of me with my bike, taken by my friend Laura Kling. On the right is the same image, as it would be seen by a person with protanopia — a relatively common (as in, still very rare) form of color blindness that affects the ability to see green, yellow, […]

The super history of supertasters

Last week, I posted a link to a story on the Atlantic, all about the history of research into supertasters — humans with the ability to taste a bitter compound called phenylthiocarbamide. It's a big part of why some people can't stand the taste of broccoli, and others love it. But that one piece isn't […]

The two parts of pain

TIL: That what we think of as "pain" is actually two different things. The most basic sense is called nociception — a non-subjective reflex that drives lots of animals to pull away from dangerous things. Pain — actual pain — is what happens after nociception, and different individuals perceive it differently under different situations. So, […]