- The boiling Sun – In case you woke up today feeling important…there's a rather humbling picture that shows the scale of a plume of gas erupting from the surface of the Sun that would literally engulf the whole planet. More to the point, you could fit the Earth into the sun a million times over…and the sun isn't even a particularly big star and it's just one of billions in our galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in the "known" universe. The universe itself may simply be a tiny bubble in a even more unimaginable froth of universes…still pretty picture isn't it?
- Alchemist for 27th October on ChemWeb.com – In this week's issue theoretical work opens up entirely new chemical vistas hinting at the chemistry of elements beyond atomic number 118 up to 172. In environmental chemistry, a new protocol for assessing a common ingredient of personal-care products could allow the risks associated with their use to be determined more accurately than before. An inexpensive support for platinum could make electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen economically viable, while waste products from wood processing offer an alternative feedstock for liquid fuels. In the medicinal world, details of a natural joint lubricant are revealed that could eventually improve prevention and treatment of joint disease. Finally, two major diseases of the developing world revolve around a single enzyme and new funding could help in the fight against these diseases.
- Free Will is NOT An Illusion | Brain Blogger – If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. Nice expose of misinterpretation of freeewill tests since 1980s could mean we really do have a choice.
- Toxic colour test – A new lab-on-a-chip sensor array that is little bigger than a business card can detect toxic industrial chemicals at low cost and at low concentrations.
When is yawning contagious? – Apparently, yawns are most contagious at 7:30 pm. But, why? No one knows for sure even why we yawn, let alone why we yawn after seeing someone else yawn or even simply after seeing someone pretend to yawn. (If it were a change in air pressure or CO2 levels in the room, you wouldn’t expect that to happen). More to the point lots of animals yawn, babies yawn, we do yawn when we’re tired, but we also yawn after a good night’s sleep. It’s a puzzle, a mystery, a paradox, and a conundrum. Now, think about your mouth opening, your arms stretching above your head, your head thrown back…did you yawn?
Related articles on yawning
- Children under 4 and children with autism don’t yawn contagiously
- What’s in a Yawn?
- We yawn because we care
- I Yawn, You Yawn
- Contagious yawn ’caused by empathy’
- NCBI ROFL: Dogs catch human yawns. | Discoblog
- Why do we yawn, and why is yawning contagious
Six sexy science books at least one or two of which would make perfect holiday gifts for the science geek, nerd, dweeb, or dork in your life. Remember Science is Vital and so are books.
- Science: The Definitive Guide by Piers Bizony – As a kid, I devoured books like this, you probably did too, it is a big, bold, and eyecatching introduction to chemistry, physics, geology, biology and cosmology. Each section has a big-fonted title and a lively opener followed by more in-depth exploration. But, these days, having authored and co-authored several of the genre myself, I find each new one sadly lacking. Yes, they give you a nice taste of science, but they're never definitive, there's always some topic that has been overlooked, some niche that is not covered in quite enough depth. Casual readers are unlikely to have the shelf heigh to accommodate this thin book of large area and although it pains me to admit it (given my writing history with these kinds of publications) it is likely only to be bought as a gift for a beloved great niece or nephew and will genuinely inspire few to delve deeper into the world of science despite the quality of the writing and the pretty, but old-fashioned illustrations and format.
- Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter – The geek is on the rise, we are fast approaching the dork apocalypse so now is the time to have a decent meal. More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks takes yours and my nerdish curiosity to new levels of domesticity offering discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. You can find out, why medium-rare steak is so popular and why we bake some things at 175 and others at 190 Celsius? You can also learn why overclocking your oven to 540 Celsius could cook that urgent midnight pizza much faster than conventional approaches. Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter gives you the insights and offers a unique take on recipes — from the sweet (a "mean" chocolate chip cookie) to the savoury (duck confit sugo).
- The Princeton Guide to Ecolog by Simon A. Levin et al. – "The Princeton Guide to Ecology" is a concise, authoritative one-volume reference to the field's major subjects and key concepts. Edited by eminent ecologist Simon Levin, with contributions from an international team of leading ecologists, the book contains more than ninety clear, accurate, and up-to-date articles on the most important topics within seven major areas: autecology, population ecology, communities and ecosystems, landscapes and the biosphere, conservation biology, ecosystem services, and biosphere management. Complete with more than 200 illustrations (including sixteen pages in color), a glossary of key terms, a chronology of milestones in the field, suggestions for further reading on each topic, and an index, this is an essential volume for undergraduate and graduate students, research ecologists, scientists in related fields, policymakers, and anyone else with a serious interest in ecology.
- The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution by David Stipp – An elixir of eternal youth was high on the alchemist's protochemical agenda. But, the promise of a longer, healthier life is still at the heart of multibillion dollar industries from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, to nutrition and aesthetic surgery. The notion of a youth pill has captivated humans for centuries but until recently those pills have encapsulated nothing but snake oil. In The Youth Pill, David Stipp explores the history of 'slow aging', which has been plagued by fits and starts that led to dead ends, not to mention countless hoaxes and shows that scientists may now be much closer to a solution than you think. Quite odd then that Aubrey de Grey one of the leading proponents in this field gets a one-off mention page 247 merely as the editor of a scientific journal.
- Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas by Forest Rohwer, Merry Youle and illustrated by Derek Vosten – The demise of many coral communities in the oceans and the threat to the rest are among the most disturbing changes to our planet, which makes it all the more important that we learn as much as we can about them. Rohwer and Youle give you the chance of a coral education and tell their tale of fishing, nutrients, bacteria, viruses and climate change on "nature's most wondrous constructs" in a manner that is accessible to all.
- Curious World of Bugs by Daniel Marlos – If you've ever searched online to try and identify that creepy-crawly in your bathroom you've probably visited the WhatsThatBug.com site. Curious World of Bugs gives you a hardcover version of the site from its creator, illustrated with vintage drawings reminiscent of old biology guides. This compact compendium of mini beasts offers you a glimpse into the world of infestations and fascinations. Some are strange and mysterious, others are even cute, all are endlessly intriguing.
Progress or PR? – SciDev.net recently published a “guide” for journalists on separating real progress from PR hype surrounding clinical trials. It’s a well-written and quite timely piece given the backlash against medical reporting in recent years. Unfortunately, this kind of advice is only ever taken by those already heeding it, they’re preaching to the converted in other words. No matter how hard such efforts try there is no way to prevent sensationalist, tabloid “news” papers from splashing their scurrilous headlines proclaiming the lethality of some entity or the wondrous benefits of a wonder drug. The journalists who write such items certainly know the difference between progress and PR and they milk it for all its worth to fulfil their editorial agendas regardless of whether or not the facts support their case. For excellent examples of the art check out the Mail and the Express, I don’t think either paper very often lets the facts get in the way of a good story (allegedly).