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The Fidgeting Brain

By Neuroskeptic | October 14, 2018 7:52 am

A new review paper in The Neuroscientist highlights the problem of body movements for neuroscience, from blinks to fidgeting.

Authors Patrick J Drew and colleagues of Penn State discuss how many types of movements are associated with widespread brain activation, which can contaminate brain activity recordings. This is true, they say, of both humans and experimental animals such as rodents, e.g. with their ‘whisking’ movements of the whiskers.

A particular concern is that many movements …

Out There

What "First Man" Gets Fabulously Right About NASA: An Interview with Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden

By Corey S. Powell | October 13, 2018 11:41 pm

First Man is not like other movies about the space race, and I mean that in a very good way.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical about the director of La La Land telling the story of Neil Armstrong’s historic landing on the Moon. (Would there be songs? A scowling J.K. Simmons?) It turns out to be a synergistic pairing of artist and material. First Man brushes aside the expected saga of space cowboys saddling up their steel horses, delivering instead a moving narrative of NASA’s glory days a …


Visualization of Pacific ocean temperatures shows El Niño brewing, heralding possible winter weather impacts

By Tom Yulsman | October 12, 2018 5:58 pm

It’s still not here yet, but El Niño sure looks like it’s coming.

In its latest forecast, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70 to 75 percent chance that El Niño will form “in the next couple of months and continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2018-19.” If the forecast turns out to be correct, the El Niño could influence weather around the world.

El Niño is typically associated with an extended Pacific jet stream and amplified storm track, boosting the o …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate, Drought, ENSO, select, Top Posts, Weather

The Crux

Spawning An Intervention

By Michelle Nijhuis | October 12, 2018 3:17 pm

Valérie Chamberland swims like a dolphin, quickly and fluidly, and for most of the past hour she has been darting through the warm, shallow water off the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Now, she is dangling upside down, hovering above a pillow-sized brain coral. Her rubber fins twitch steadily overhead, and as she sips air from the aluminum tank on her back, a stream of bubbles rises from her regulator’s mouthpiece.

The reef spread below Chamberland isn’t one of those flashy, …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World

The Crux

The Jesuit Astronomer Who Conceived of the Big Bang

By Korey Haynes | October 12, 2018 3:00 pm

In 1927, a prescient astronomer named Georges Lemaître looked at data showing how galaxies move. He noticed something peculiar – all of them appeared to be speeding away from Earth. Not only that, but the farther away they were, the faster they went. He determined a mathematical way to represent this, and connected his relationship to Einstein’s law of General Relativity to produce a grand idea: That of a universe continually expanding. It was a radical idea then, but today it fits with …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

The Crux

Leprosy Reborn: How a Long-maligned Disease Might Unlock the Secrets of Stem Cells

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 12, 2018 2:44 pm

For the past 25 years, Anura Rambukkana has been studying a disease that’s already been cured. He studies leprosy, a disease that was once the scourge of humanity before a course of drugs developed in the mid-20th century brought it under control.

For decades, he’s worked in a field that sees little funding and few new faces, and many of his contemporaries have moved on to higher-profile projects involving diseases that attract grant dollars. Rambukkana, a professor of regeneration bio …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World


How Did Titan’s Haze Form? Scientists Find New Clues

By Chelsea Gohd | October 12, 2018 2:25 pm

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is enveloped in a thick, hazy atmosphere. One new research collaboration has identified a chemical mechanism that could help to explain how the moon’s haze formed.

Titan’s Haze
“Both space probes and land-based instruments have identified the chemical composition of the major constituents of the haze,” said Musahid Ahmed, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and co-leader of the study. “However, how some of heavier particles are f …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: solar system

Vintage Space

One Apollo Historian's Thoughts on "First Man"

By Amy Shira Teitel | October 12, 2018 1:24 pm

I managed to get to a preview screening of First Man this week! And as someone who has been steeped in Apollo and space history for the better part of her life (I learned about the Moon landing when I was seven and have been obsessed ever since) I have some thoughts about it… Heads up: there are spoilers.

I wanted to love this movie.

The best thing about this movie is it’s gorgeous. Without question, my favourite part was the attention to detail on the hardware. The control panels, the  …


The Crux

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Reliability of Oral Histories

By Stephen E. Nash | October 12, 2018 12:30 pm

It all started with a stray goat.

On an otherwise nondescript day in the spring of 1947, a young Bedouin boy searched for a goat that had strayed from his flock just northwest of the Dead Sea. While he was looking, Muhammed the Wolf, as the boy was known, noticed a series of small caves in the limestone cliff above him. Thinking his goat may have gone into one of those caves, and not wanting to make the dangerous climb himself, Muhammed picked up a rock and threw it in.

What he heard w …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology


Watch the lights blink out in Michael's aftermath, as seen in before and after views from space

By Tom Yulsman | October 12, 2018 11:03 am

Hurricane Michael tore into the Florida Panhandle with winds up to 155 miles per hour, pushing up a flooding storm surge of nine to 14 feet, causing buildings to explode, and toppling countless trees.

Another impact was widespread power outages. Just how widespread is visible in the animation above. I created it using before-and-after nighttime images from the NOAA-20 satellite, one on Oct. 6 and the other on Oct. 12.

The imagery data come from the Visible-Infrared Imaging Radiometer …


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