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[Open] Science Sunday – 6.12.09

Posted in Health and Medicine, Science, Science and Society by kubke on December 6, 2009

These are some of the fun (and more serious) stuff I found around the magic world of the internet and Open Access.

I give my favourite tweet this week to @MsBehaviour (again) for pointing her tweeps to the Manchester Manifesto. Her tweet links to a great post on the University of Manchester that summarises the issues raised in the Mancherster Manifesto. (The text can be found as pdf here.) Great read.

There is also a great post by Glynn Moody from Open… on “Harnessing openness in higher education” which is also a great read.

My favourite piece of research this week is a paper by Karmraan Gill and Dale Purves, “A Biological Rationale for Musical Scales” published in PLoS One, looking at the prevalent use of the pentatonic and heptatonic scales.

Karmraan and Purves suggest that we

“prefer tone combinations that reflect the spectral characteristics of conspecific vocalizations.”

Peter Thorne and I once had a discussion on whether our choice of musical scales might be related to the way that sounds are mapped in the cochlea,  which was  fueled by this wonderful video from the 2009 World Science Festival.

Great finds on the internet:

Oh, and congratulations

  • to the new ScienceBlogs and National Geographic partnership and
  • to Peter Gluckman who was named one of the most influential people by The Listener (2009 Power & Influence List: Science & Technology).

[Open] Science Sunday – 8.11.09

Posted in Science by kubke on November 8, 2009

Random samples of my reading list brought to you through the magic of the internet, bloggers and Open Access

Image by JJ from Wikimedia Commons

If you ever wondered what makes a scientists a scientist, you are not alone. And at The Onion News, a new report just in: “Scientists dissect coworker to find out more about scientists” addresses precisely this.

There is a great post by Mo of Neurophilosophy on a phenomenon called “motion induced blindness”. His post, “The illusion of time, perceiving the effect before the cause”, is as we his followers have come to expect, beautifully written, and even has a video to experience the effect. After reading the post, you may also be enticed to follow him on twitter (where he is known as @mocost). He will lead you through his tweets to everything you ever wanted to know about neuroscience.

Along similar lines, an article in PLoS One by James Heron, James V. M. Hanson, David Whitaker, “Effect before Cause: Supramodal Recalibration of Sensorimotor Timing” examines how we perceive cause-consequence relationships. During an initial phase subjects were asked to press a mouse button during a training phase, which was followed by the appearance of a light, a sound or a tap on the finger in the other hand a given time after the mouse click. During the test phase, the researchers changed the timing of the sensory stimulation associated with the click. The subjects under these conditions often perceive the sensory stimulus as occurring “before” their motor action (mouse click). The authors say that:

temporal recalibration occurs because actions and their sensory consequences ‘should’ feel synchronous

It is yet another example of how our brain keeps playing tricks on us.

New Scientists has a collection of images of the “ten inventions that changed the world” found in the Science Museum in London. They range from the model of the DNA molecule, to the Model T Ford to the Pilot ACE Computer. Totally worth a flick-through (if you are into this sort of thing)

My favourite tweet this week comes courtesy of @sceincebase. David Bradley brings up an interesting point regarding the famous six degrees of separation. Are social networks really shortening the distance, or are there connections that are really hard to bridge?

The Ig Nobel Prizes: And the winner is…

Posted in Science by kubke on October 2, 2009

What do you get if you put together the audience of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a science achievements awards ceremony? The Ig Nobel Prizes!

The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held today in Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to their website the

“Ig Nobel prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think.”


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