November 10, 2014

10:00 AM | Dragonflies and innate understanding of physics
"The human mind possesses a basic probabilistic knowledge."  So say Fontanari et al. in a newly published paper in PNAS ("Probabilistic cognition in two indigenous Mayan groups").  They asked whether formal schooling was a necessary foundation for a sense of chance by comparing two unschooled Mayan groups with Mayan schoolchildren and a control, and determined that no formal education is required for making "correct probabilistic evaluations."This paper hit the popular news media. […]
8:00 AM | The Story You’ve Heard About The QWERTY Keyboard Is Probably Wrong
The development and the popularity of the standard QWERTY keyboard has absolutely nothing to do with the traditional story of developing a key arrangement on early typewriters that had keys far enough apart that they wouldn't stick together. Instead, the actual origins of the keyboard are a little murky. It's suggested now that it has more to do with Morse code than it does with mechanical necessity---the arrangement of the letters keeps certain ones together based on how they begin in the […]

November 09, 2014

11:57 AM | Pandan
The giant Pandan triffid surveys its domain Back in March this year, when I naively thought having a garden would be just weeks ago, I ordered some plants from Suttons. The Chilean guavas have spent all summer on the windowsill at work, but have now come home and are acclimatising to life outside in the garden. The current plan is for them to make a little hedge in the front garden – I’ll have to see whether they need some friends to help them fill the space. The kaffir lime […]
8:00 AM | The One Man Who Ruined Halloween With Poisoned Candy
We've all heard the urban legend about the sadist who poisons Halloween candy. It's a myth that just won't go away...and that's probably thanks to an incident that took place in 1974 when a young Texas boy died of cyanide-laced candy. Only the villain wasn't some random stranger...the killer was the boy's own father. The post The One Man Who Ruined Halloween With Poisoned Candy appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.

November 08, 2014

2:05 PM | Space worms
Worms were the only survivors when space shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry in 2003. Caenorhabditis elegans, nematodes, had been sent into space to test a synthetic nutrient solution. Their naturally short life-span meant that the survivors were several generations removed from the worms that were blasted into space at the beginning of the mission. Nematodes experiments have also been conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), looking at the effect of microgravity – it turns […]
8:00 AM | The Difference Between Mist, Fog, Smog, Haze And Vog
There are a lot of different names for that stuff that causes reduced visibility---and an agonizingly long commute---in the morning. Mist and fog are caused by water droplets in the air, and the only difference is how far you can see. Haze is the reflection of sunlight off air pollution, while smog is what happens when pollution causes low-lying ozone. And vog only happens when a nearby volcano is releasing sulfur dioxide into the air to react with what's already there. The post The […]

November 07, 2014

5:29 PM | Scented leaf pelargoniums
My mistreated scented geraniums As previously mentioned, among the plants that I have rescued from the allotment so far are two scented leaf pelargoniums (aka scented geraniums). I’d wanted to add some of these edible flowers to the garden for years, and so in February I ordered a collection of four plants from Otter Farm. And then life kicked off (as it does) and they ended up being dumped on the allotment and left to fend for themselves while I took care of buying the new house. The […]
4:40 PM | European-Neanderthal Sex Detailed in Ancient DNA
There is a surprising genetic unity between the earliest known Europeans and contemporary Europeans, ancient DNA reveals.
2:34 PM | Week 28 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons
To be honest there isn’t much to add to previous posts about my volunteering work. I’ve been carrying out the same processes and tasks as last week, but with new specimens. I realise that some may find this boring/tedious but I love it. Thursdays at the College are my relief, I really enjoy being sat […]
12:00 PM | Why the Rural-Urban Political Divide?
Does having lots of space around you make you more conservative?
9:04 AM | Charla “El hombre no desciende del mono”
Como ya saben, hace unos días tuve el placer de participar en la presentación en Málaga del evento de divulgación Desgranando Ciencia 2014 bajo un formato muy interesante: ofrecimos un total de tres charlas divulgativas (de los más variados temas) … Continue reading →
8:00 AM | The Duck You Definitely Don’t Want To Mess With
Taking a trip to Chile or Argentina? Better stay away from the water. South America is home to the steamer duck, one of the nastiest birds on the planet. Armed with bony knobs and bad tempers, these ducks will take on all comers . . . and sometimes they go hunting for helpless victims. The post The Duck You Definitely Don’t Want To Mess With appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.

November 06, 2014

7:46 PM | Could Sideline Robots Diagnose Concussions?
VGo is a four-feet-tall robot with a screen and camera for a head, and can be controlled by brain specialists from miles away. Continue reading →
5:00 PM | Do Ghosts Live in Our Brains?
The sensation some people get of a foreign presence in a room can be recreated in a lab. The research could help patients with schizophrenia. Continue reading →
1:46 PM | Moslims zijn geen marionetten
Arabist Kwarten maakt een fout die we zo vaak tegenkomen bij arabisten en islamologen die ongetwijfeld alles weten over de bronnen van de islam, maar totaal geen kaas hebben gegeten van de manier waarop moslims in hun dagelijks leven met die bronnen omgaan.
12:00 PM | Ebola Researchers Can't Get Samples
Demand for Ebola samples is high among scientists developing treatments, but fear of exposure is holding up transportation of samples. Continue reading →
10:00 AM | Laughing at our ancestors. When is it legitimate?
We've recently posted on the subject of laughing at the arrogance or self-assurance, and sometimes societally hurtful but false reasoning that can pass as scientific truth when said from the pulpit, and presumed imprimatur of major universities.  We picked on WH Sheldon in one post, pointing out the problems with his photos of naked Ivy League university students with the aim of showing that humans came in discrete body types which were windows into individual personality--that is, into an […]
9:30 AM | DNews: Milk Does a Body Good ... Or Does It?
Got milk? A new study takes a look at our beloved moo-moo beverage and finds something startling: the more you drink, the faster you might die.
8:02 AM | The Serial Killer Who Never Killed Anyone
Sture Bergwall was Sweden's most notorious serial killer. He murdered, raped, and cannibalized over 30 victims . . . or at least that's what he said. As it turns out, Bergwall was a manipulative liar and never actually killed anyone. The post The Serial Killer Who Never Killed Anyone appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.

November 05, 2014

6:44 PM | Why People Decide to Disappear
Every month people choose to suddenly disappear and walk away from their lives. Here's a look at some reasons why. Continue reading →
5:49 PM | Thoughts on: Exotic
A view up through the canopy in the Eden Project’s tropical biome It’s November, and across the world hundreds of thousands of writers are taking part in NaNoWriMo – a month-long sprint to write 50,000 words of fiction. I have no current interest in writing a novel, and indeed I doubt I could manage NaNoWriMo this year. So much has happened that I am struggling to write at all. And so I thought I might take up a different challenge and try and blog every day in November. […]
2:52 PM | Democracy = the Ostrich Bill of Rights
Well, an incredible election has just taken place in this country, and the Ostriches have scored a substantial victory.  The Ostrich Party has a cover name, but is the tribe that does not want to know uncomfortable things. Ostriches don't want to know the truth, that they are being fleeced economically every day.  Few of them are in the top 1%, but they support Big Ostriches' riches by buying the latters' use of fear and emotional arguments about side issues.Ostriches with heads in […]
1:34 PM | Changes in Society and Diet from the Merovingian to Viking Age
Vikings are a hot topic right now. While I would hope this would be due to their interesting maritime culture, fascinating burial practices or an increased understanding in the important role […]

Naumann E, Price TD & Richards MP (2014). Changes in dietary practices and social organization during the pivotal late iron age period in Norway (AD 550-1030): Isotope analyses of merovingian and viking age human remains., American journal of physical anthropology, 155 (3) 322-31. PMID:

10:00 AM | Laughing at our ancestors (is that OK?)
The other day I tried to make a point about current state-of-the-art science at the expense of one WH Sheldon, purveyor of then state-of-the-art science some 60 years ago.  In pursuit of a new science of somatotyping, he took many photos of college students and classified them into body type, from which he then went on to assess personality.  I suggested that his work was misguided, in the same way that phrenology was misguided, and in the same way that modern ideas to assess […]
8:49 AM | The Modern Greeks Who Still Worship Zeus
Sixteen centuries ago, Christianity finally came to Greece, sweeping away the old religions. Today, around 98 percent of Greeks identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, with the remaining 2 percent mostly made up of Muslims and a handful of Jews. Yet there’s a growing number of Greeks who oppose the Abrahamic religions---not in favor of Hinduism, Buddhism, or even atheism, but in favor of Zeus. The post The Modern Greeks Who Still Worship Zeus appeared first on KnowledgeNuts.

November 04, 2014

7:52 PM | Waking Up During Surgery: Nightmare or Reality?
It doesn't happen often, but a new study finds that occasionally people wake up during surgery. Continue reading →
5:09 PM | Republicans More Likely to Let Kids Play Football: Poll
Voting Democrat or Republican? Well, would you let you your kid play football...? Continue reading →
4:47 PM | Costa Concordia: Last Victim Found
The remains of missing Indian waiter Russel Rebello are found, three years after the ship went aground. Continue reading →
11:02 AM | DNews: Your Colon Probably Doesn't Need a Cleansing
A small but dedicated population out there is sold on the idea of regular colon cleansings, and while in some people that might be necessary, for most of us it might do more harm than good.
11:00 AM | Apes Have Better Gut Bugs than Humans
Americans have gut microbes that are 70 percent different than chimps', which isn't a good thing.
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