Six science snippets

Six science snippets from David Bradley

  • What is entropy? – This property of all matter – this collapse into disorder – is given a name: entropy. Things that are disordered have greater entropy than things that are relatively more organized. A glass of water, in which the molecules of water itself can move around relatively freely, is more disorganized – has greater entropy – than a block of ice, in which the molecules of water are trapped into a rigid, organized array.
  • Research at recess – Twenty five 8-10-year-olds, under the guidance of University College London neuroscientist Beau Lotto, found that bees can learn complex rules to solve puzzles, and that individual bees have personal preferences, suggesting the insects may possess some form of personality. As bold as those claims might be, the concept for the study itself was even more radical.
  • ScienceOnline2011 Blog and Media coverage wiki – I missed ScienceOnline 2011 sadly, but anyone else who couldn't attend can get summaries of pretty much everything that went on.
  • Have your relatives been replaced with impostors? – Epiphenom: Most people are a bit crazy, and believers are a bit crazier than most. Full-blown delusions are thought to be pretty rare. By that I mean the truly bizarre delusions, like Capgras syndrome (when you think that relatives or close friends are sometimes replaced by identical-looking impostors), or Subjective Doubles (a belief that there is another person who looks and acts like you) and Controlled Thoughts (that your thoughts are not fully under your control).
  • Rain barrel renaissance – Despite the floods, there will be a water shortage this summer in many parts of the world, if you're a gardener that's bad news. Get your watebutts in place now. And, after installing and attaching your irrigation system remember to add some chemicals or guppies in hot weather to keep the mosquito infestation down.
  • What’s in all that tear gas we’ve been selling Egypt? – It's no secret that Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US foreign military funding, much of which is designated to purchase US-made weapons; it's just that Americans don't often see Egyptians holding empty tear gas canisters stamped "Made in USA" up to a TV camera.
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