Saturday links

By Ed Yong | June 26, 2010 12:00 pm

The week’s research

  • fMRI is a controversial technique, not least because studies that use it are often overinterpreted and there are still some fundamental unanswered questions about how to interpret its results. Now, SciCurious talks about a new study that helps to tell us exactly what those pretty brain pictures mean.
  • At Scientific American, Ferris Jabr discusses the minor third, a chord that conveys sadness in both speech and music. “When it comes to sorrow, music and human speech might speak the same language.”
  • Butterfly wings are beautifully colourful but the colours come not from pigments but from the structures of the wings at a microscopic level.
  • Ratcheting up the competitive pressure just encourages students to cheat more, rather than to cooperate, says the BPS Research Digest blog.
  • Human pluripotent stem cells (reprogrammed from adult cells) have been created using a viral vector without any genes, says Elie Dolgin at Nature News. “This was the control experiment that went wrong, effectively.”
  • Brandon Keim writes about a leaping fish that thrives on land. Apparently, it engages in awesome aerial duels, like Yoda in Episode II.
  • We have sequenced the body louse genome. The significance isn’t a head-scratcher. I’ll get my coat.
  • A 30-million-year old fossil pelican tells us that even back then, they looked silly.
  • Climate change contrarians are in the vast minority, and lack scientific credibility and expertise, according to a new PNAS study discussed in Scientific American. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.
  • The bones of Caravaggio have been found and they reveal what killed him – lead poisoning from his paints.
  • Egyptian vultures use twigs to gather wool for nests, says Michael Marshall in New Scientist’s Zoologger.
  • Four-legged creatures may have gained a foothold by ditching genes guiding fin development, according to Janelle Weaver in Nature.
  • The origin of the mysterious condition known as blindsight has been revealed.

More science


Journalism, communication and the internet


Comments (7)

  1. Great links!

    The link to Alice Bell’s blog is currently incorrect, though. It links to the Onion story on the evolution of Mitch.

  2. bric

    “journalists become “temporary experts” on whatever they’re reporting on.” this what Information Specialists used to do when researching answers – before everyone started doing their own thing on the Internet. Eerie

  3. Tk

    Thanks, Ed, for your truly magnificent three-way pun about a 😉 one-man activity.

  4. The masturbation article is the one that I’m most likely to link to next week, if any. But only once every 72 hours? Come on, that’s just lazy. :-)

    In other news, a photo that I tweeted last night has been published by the BBC! It’s part of a slideshow of people’s photographs of the lunar eclipse, image 5 of 9 at

    I feel torn between being honoured at the publication vs wanting to make fun of the BBC over an error in the caption, which has me taking the photograph at 8:15 am instead of 8:15 pm local time. Given rudimentary knowledge of geography, and the presence of mind to apply it, the BBC would have avoided that mistake.

  5. Caravaggio – a man who made Art his means of living. And dying
    Pelicans – I hate them since when I had a dream of a pelican swallowing a seagull (!). I don’t know why, but I felt it was a horrible nightmare. I wonder what Freud would say
    Zoologger – another website to distract me from my studies and the miseries of Italian football, thanks a lot Ed
    The chimp – beautiful, truly. S—- you, anthropocentrism
    The giant crab – wonderful. Well, a bit repulsive, I must admit, but wonderful
    The interview – where was that picture taken? Those pines and that horrible buildings remember me of Southern Italy… And hey, you took a degree in Natural Sciences! That makes us colleagues! (Alas, the University of Naples is not Cambridge, though…)

  6. The chimp video is amazing! I love national Geographic!

  7. Rachel H

    Love the chimp grin when he/she pokes at the camera with the stick. Thanks for posting consistently awesome, amazing, intelligent, wtf stuff.


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