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The Crux

Talk With Your Hands? You're Doing It Right

By Jessica Love | April 21, 2014 11:36 am

 This post was originally published at The American Scholar.

Gestures are simple enough. Right? A spontaneous but well-timed wave can emphasize an idea, brush aside a compliment, or point out a barely obscured bird’s nest to an obtuse friend. We use gestures to help our listeners follow along, and we make ourselves look warm and magnanimous in the process.

But on the other hand—and when you’re talking about hands, the puns come furiously—sometimes gestures seem to have nothing to  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Wear what you want: scientific proof that horizontal stripes don't make you look fatter.

By Seriously Science | April 21, 2014 6:00 am

It’s a commonly held belief that wearing clothes with horizontal stripes will make you look fatter. However, adding horizontal stripes to shapes like rectangles makes them look thinner, a phenomenon known as the Helmholtz illusion. To test whether people are fundamentally different from rectangles, these researchers directly tested whether horizontal stripes make figures seem fatter. It turns out that some fashion “advice” is just plain wrong: horizontal stripes won’t make you look fatter. I …


Scientists Probe Secrets of the Sun's Seething Interior By Mapping Magnetic Fingerprints on its Surface

By Tom Yulsman | April 20, 2014 6:58 pm

If solar physicists could only see deep inside the sun, they could discern the source and evolution of profound magnetic forces that produce explosions of solar material from the surface — explosions that can later wreck havoc on power grids and telecommunications systems here on Earth.

Direct observation is impossible. But the sun’s internal activity does affect what can be seen at the surface. And now, researchers have reported that they’ve spotted new evidence for gargantuan cells o …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: select, Solar System, Sun, Top Posts

But Not Simpler

Nerds and Words: Week 16

By Kyle Hill | April 20, 2014 2:17 pm

Digging through the Internet this week, I uncovered all this geeky goodness. You can find the thousands of links from previous weeks here.

I have marked my favorite links with a ∞. Enjoy.

Science to Read, Watch

We found a new sex organ in insects. It’s a female “penis”, and it’s the only one.

∞ To make video games feel more realistic, you have to slow them down. Less Sonic, more Call of Duty

New study about the cognitive dangers of marijuana may be half-baked

MIT ha …

MORE ABOUT: GIFs, physics, science


The Mystery of "Quantum Resonance Spectroscopy"

By Neuroskeptic | April 20, 2014 5:03 am

Can quantum physics help to diagnose schizophrenia and depression?

A paper just published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease claims that a technique called ‘quantum resonance spectroscopy’ (QRS) can accurately diagnose various mental health problems. But is it quantum wizardry or magic quackery?

According to the authors of the new paper, Zhang et al from Xi’an in China, QRS was able to measure symptoms like anxiety, irritability, depression, and psychosis. In a large sample o …


California Snowpack Melts With Breathtaking Speed as Drought Continues in Most of the Western United States

By Tom Yulsman | April 18, 2014 11:58 am

Severe drought continues in a large portion of the West, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, issued yesterday.

In California, already particularly hard hit by drought, the situation is worsening. Temperatures there were 9 to 12 degrees above normal, which caused breathtakingly rapid melt of the California snowpack. Some areas of the Sierra Nevada lost half of the water locked up in snow in just one week. Yet, there was little change in inflows into the state’s starved res …

Citizen Science Salon

Train to be an energy pioneer with NOVA Energy Lab

By Emily Lewis | April 18, 2014 9:39 am

In Discover Magazine’s June print edition, the article “Light Makes Flight” chronicles the story of two pilots who developed brand new solar cells to circumnavigate the globe via a fossil fuel-free plane. NOVA’s Energy Lab is a citizen science project you can do now to learn about and contribute to the future of sustainability.

It might seem strange that one of the world’s most well known adventurers is also an energy innovator, but Bertrand Piccard is a visionary in both of these pursuit …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Uncategorized
MORE ABOUT: energy, sustainability


Faking Sick for a Living

By Elizabeth Preston | April 18, 2014 8:31 am

(This post was first published in January 2014.)

Lying to your doctor is encouraged in one situation: when your doctor is a student and you’re an actor asked to portray a certain condition. My friend Amy Savage does this for work. In between fake symptom bouts, I asked her to write a guest post sharing what she’s learned from being poked for practice. 

Have you ever been asked to “please dislocate your left breast,” or if you “have noticed any hairs growing in places you norma …

MORE ABOUT: Personal health

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: The strange case of the "vampire" burial in Venice.

By Seriously Science | April 18, 2014 6:00 am

In 2006 in Venice, Italy, archaeologists excavating a plague cemetery found something quite unusual: a skeleton with a brick in its mouth. They determined that the brick was likely placed there after death, and  they later developed a hypothesis about how the brick got there (spoiler alert: it involves vampires). Be sure to read the excerpt from the full text below for all the gory details.

Forensic approach to an archaeological casework of “vampire” skeletal remains in Venice: odontolog …



California Drought, Midwest Chill Tied to Climate Change?

By Tom Yulsman | April 17, 2014 11:08 am

Here we are in mid-April and the Midwest is experiencing yet another unusual wintry blast. No wonder there’s still quite a lot of ice in the Great Lakes, as you can see in the remarkable image above, captured under a full moon at night by the Suomi NPP satellite.

Click on it to enlarge it. The ice is particularly evident in Lake Superior at upper left.

Meanwhile, warm and dry conditions continue in California.

New NASA-funded research led by Simon Wang at Utah State University, sugg …


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