While my installments of Interesting Stuff will generally come at the end of each month, it’s always wise to be flexible, and sometimes the events of life form a more natural barrier between “before” and “after” than pages on a calendar.
My upcoming trip to Warrnambool for a week-long family gathering is one such event, and I leave on the weekend, so right now seems a good time for another installment. So here it is.
- Partly because I’m treating this as the Silly Season edition, I have several entries on the theme of games. There are games with all sorts of themes, from how to swear in German to the spread of disease.
- Meanwhile, Yehuda has started a weekly series on card games, and on 23 December the “What’s New” page on pagat.com was updated for the first time in over a year.
(Incidentally, you don’t have to wait for a major update to see what’s new on Pagat; you can get a list of recently updated pages just by typing site:www.pagat.com “last updated * January 2009″ into Google, replacing “January 2009″ with the current month and year. I like to do this occasionally, but most of the updates you’ll see that way are minor changes to existing pages.)
- Tying the games theme back to some more serious science, Ed Yong has an interesting post on Tetris as prevention therapy for PTSD.
- In last month’s edition, I included several links on the theme of brain science. If you found that interesting you’ll also want to read this, which follows on from the whole body-swapping thing I mentioned last time. (This time it’s faces.)
- Over the Christmas break, I heard an interesting article on the radio about the connection between music and wine. Intrigued, I did some research online and found this article, which is worth a read.
- An article about sneezing (well, partly) on Effect Measure is the first time I’ve heard anything scientific about the Photic Sneeze Reflex (sneezing on exposure to sunlight). My mother has this condition, and before now I’ve always assumed it’s because she has vampires in her ancestry. (Rationale: vampires turn to dust in sunlight, so a sneeze reflex could well be the result if you water down the genes over enough generations.)
- I learned some things I hadn’t known before about Roman numbers.
- More mathematics, and an article about really big numbers (way, way bigger than these numbers, for example).
- All sorts of interesting astronomical news has come out of the American Astronomical Society’s recent meeting, especially about our own Milky Way galaxy. The latest model of our galaxy means that some news I reported in the very first edition of this series (item number four) is now out of date.
- There is also a lovely new infrared map of our galaxy’s centre.
- The third bit of galactic news I wish to share is some recent research on the formation of galaxies.
- A new project on ScienceBlogs is John Whitfield’s Blogging the Origin, which is well worth checking out. Elsewhere, there are promises of another Charles Darwin related project coming up in Febuary.
- ScienceBlogs maketh and ScienceBlogs taketh away, and sadly, the blog Chaotic Utopia has come to an end.
- Richard Wiseman did a story-writing experiment in which he pitched the women against the men. The results are rather depressing, but for the original stories see here and here; for organised write-ups see here and here; and for analysis see here and here.
- Finally for this edition, Phil Plait has an interesting historical article, featuring the first-known map of the moon made with a telescope. (Incidentally, read the rest of Phil’s article to get a clue for why I cringe whenever I hear people repeat the fairy-tale mythology of Galileo vs the Church. Good vs Evil! Right vs Wrong! This has got to be one of the most prevalent deviations from reality to be found within the sceptical community, so I welcome Phil’s brief debunking of it.)
That’s all until next time.