Interesting Stuff: The Final

I’ve been running the Interesting Stuff series on this blog for over two years, but with 2010 coming to a close, I feel it’s time for a change. I’m still considering the options, but in 2011 I intend to do something different.

Here are the articles I’ve picked for this final installment:

  • A video of James Randi being interviewed at the Magic Castle. Many topics discussed. (The only downer is that this is on Vimeo, which sucks at buffer handling if you don’t have a fast computer, but the content is worth your time.)
  • Article about musical improvisation and the associated neuroscience.
  • The story of a woman with no sense of fear.
  • Young chimpanzees that play dolls with sticks.
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Interesting Stuff: Late November 2010

I’ve been busy this weekend, having got my hands on my parents’ collection of thousands of photographs from their recent holiday to the Silk Route and beyond. I plan to make a 2011 calendar out of the Silk Route pictures, and have so far narrowed them down to 46 semifinalists. The next step is to get my parents to write captions for them.

Now here are some interesting links. Mostly astronomy.

  • Bars in galaxies correlate with lack of young stars.
  • The milky way blows enormous bubbles, previously unseen.
  • Mike Brown writes about dwarf planets following the recent discovery that Eris is smaller and denser than expected. He also revisits the Pluto question.
  • Cosmological systems at the time of Galileo. (I’ve read The Sleepwalkers, so the basics are not new to me, but there are nuggets of novel information.)
  • High-speed photography shows that cats lap milk in a surprising way.
  • How do skeptics respond to a psychological study purporting to show that people can sense the future? By taking it seriously, i.e. scrutinising it and trying to replicate it. Richard Wiseman puts his finger on one of the flaws.

Interesting Stuff: Late October 2010

Here are some links that you ought to check out:

  • The Planet Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder is now published. It’s on my list of books to get for myself before Christmas.
  • New theory on the formation of Saturn’s rings.
  • Recently I created an account for the Math Puzzle Wiki by Oscar Levin, where I’ve been solving puzzles and contributing my solutions. Here’s my user page. If you like puzzles, consider contributing too. (Alternatively you might create an account just so you can view the answers, but contributing is better.)
  • Producing electricity from water: a video.
  • Speaking of water, here’s some new science on how it behaves on the molecular level.
  • Finally for this installment, plans to build Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Instead of constructing planets with the help of a book, you can make them with a click of a mouse. Challenge: can you create an object with a stable secondary object — i.e. a moon orbiting a planet which in turn orbits a star?

[Update 2013: Here’s proof it’s possible.]

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Interesting Stuff: Early October 2010

After skipping the Late September edition of Interesting Stuff, I’ll now make up for it by bringing you an extra large collection of links for Early October.

Let’s start with some visual stuff.

And now everything else.

Interesting stuff: Early September 2010

Some interesting links, with a bonus one after the bullets:

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Interesting Stuff: Late August 2010

Some interesting articles I’ve read lately include:

I mentioned bookmashes on an open thread by Ed Yong. Ed tweeted about it, which lead to a modest flood of Bookmash images on Twitter (and a one-day spike in my visitor stats). Not so much on blogs, though, except for this entry by Jo Brodie.

Interesting Stuff: Early August 2010

  • The new blogging site Scientopia is worth a browse. I’m keeping one eye on Child’s Play, an interesting new blog about child development research. A little lacking in variety so far, but give it time.
  • Symbiosis between salamanders and algae, the only symbiotic relationship known between a vertebrate and a photosynthetic organism.
  • In dinosaur news, Torosaurus and Triceratops may well be the same animal.
  • I hope Phil Plait’s no-longer-secret project makes it to Australia as quickly as possible.
  • From TED talks: a fascinating development in technological mind-reading.
  • On Australian politics, this article from the Sex Party raises important issues that I think all Australians should bear in mind at the election this month.
  • I’d like to draw your attention to my comments on a blog post about motion sickness, particularly comment #9. I tell an anecdote there that I’ve always considered too miscellaneous to mention here on this blog, but it might interest you. Feel free to take it up in the comments here.

Interesting Stuff: Late July 2010

Ever since Jessica Palmer went on indefinite hiatus, I’ve been meaning to check out the art blogs on her sidebar, which is how I came to be reading Monster Brains by Aeron Alfrey. If I point you to this and this and this and this and this and this, that should be enough to convince you that it’s worth taking the time to dig around in the archives for a while. [Update: some broken links removed.]

(Pity about the enormous header image you have to scroll past, though.)

More interesting stuff:

I have one more item on my list to share, but on reflection I’ve decided to save it for a separate post.

Interesting Stuff: Early July 2010

Here is my pick for this half of the month:

That last item gives me an excuse to say that in an ideal world, there would be more sexual content on this blog. Not very much, mind you, but ideally I believe sexuality should be treated the same way as any other aspect of life: as a valid topic to talk about and share personal perspectives on. This would not be from an ego-boosting or thrill-seeking perspective, but from a conviction that sharing the diversity of human experience enriches us all.

Unfortunately, culture — and the memory of unpleasant encounters with people who are content to feel threatened by the unfamiliar — keeps me from being as open as I would like.

I would support the establishment of an International Blog About Sex Week, to give those of us who are naturally shy an incentive to be more forthcoming at least once a year…

[UPDATE: I’ve deleted comments, as extensive revisions to this post have reduced their pertinence. In addition, this post originally included my eclipse photograph, now posted separately.]

Interesting Stuff: Late June 2010

I don’t have a lot for you this time around.

The 3QD Prize in Science winners have been announced, but frankly, meh. Previous judges wrote a few words to go with the announcement — for example here is what Stephen Pinker said in 2009 — but Richard Dawkins has chosen not to do this, which makes the prize announcement a lot less interesting than I expected. If you’ve already looked at the finalists, there’s nothing really new here.

There has been some interesting news in astronomy. One recent development concerns the origin of the Oort Cloud, and another concerns an ancient Martian ocean (I like the big dog’s-head peninsula). [Update: the Martian ocean thing has been criticised, but let’s face it, the idea that you can draw a map of such an ocean is most alluring.]

In other science, Ed Yong published an interesting article about a battle between two viruses.