Interesting Stuff: Late April 2009

Here are the things that have struck me as interesting over the last fortnight.

I’ve experimented a lot with this series since I started it, trying out different ideas to see what works, but I may have settled down for now. I’m pretty happy with the present format. You’re allowed to voice an opinion if you want to.

Astronomy and Technology:

  • Updates on the Kepler mission: 1, 2.
  • The moon’s sticky dust.
  • Diatoms as moulds for making solar cells.


  • Chimpanzees that share food get more sex.
  • Tracing the origin of the concept of the Tree of Life.
  • New population of orang-utans.
  • If you’ve ever wondered what a chimpanzee looks like naked, look once and you’ll never ask again.
  • Inside-out cells see in the dark. (There’s an earlier report here, with less elaboration.)
  • It seems that every five minutes there’s a new scientific report pushing back the origin of life. Here’s the current record for multicellular organisms.


  • The history of Go, illustrated.
  • What King Midas drank (apart from gold).

Linguistics (and linguistic psychology):

Psychology (general):

  • How psychological benefits of religion depend on the belief.
  • A reflection on morality in an age of fast media. (This has been misreported, but really is worth thinking about.) [Update: I hadn’t realised it was misreported by the authors of the press release, too. See my comments here on why I included this item.]
  • People are kind to robots.
  • Eye exercise improves memory of right-handers.
  • Some considerations on using the Internet at work.

One more thing: John McIntyre is seeking to establish a group of pirate editors who would “board offending publications, seize texts and deal with them appropriately“, but points out that there’s much to be done first, including the design of a flag. I’ve submitted a very rough sketch for such a design, and linked to it in a comment on John’s post. It also appears below.

If you have any alternative ideas, you might consider doing the same. I for one would be interested in seeing them.


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