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January 11, 2011

The Mystery of Why We Can’t Walk In a Straight Line

From Radiolab's Robert Krulwich.

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo.

The Mystery of Why We Can’t Walk In a Straight Line

Sweetie, whatever happens, just remember: I'm your father, I'll always love you, & this fish is better at math than you

Fish compete with college students on math test | MNN...

There's more goddamn birds than you can imagine, and sometimes they just die

As much as I love the idea of a harbinger of apocalyptic ecological failure, this makes a lot of sense. Birds, sometimes, simply fail. Why Are Birds Falling From the Sky?
A mysterious rain of thousands of dead birds darkened New Year's Eve in Arkansas, and this week similar reports streamed in from Louisiana, Sweden, and elsewhere. (See pictures of the Arkansas bird die-off.) But the in-air bird deaths aren't due to some apocalyptic plague or insidious experiment—they happen all the time, scientists say. The recent buzz, it seems, was mainly hatched by media hype. At any given time there are "at least ten billion birds in North America ... and there could be as much as 20 billion—and almost half die each year due to natural causes," said ornithologist Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society in Washington, D.C. But what causes dead birds to fall from the sky en masse? The Arkansas case points to two common culprits: loud noises and crashes.

Dyslexia correlates to artistic talent

Dyslexia 'the secret of Da Vinci and Picasso's success' - Telegraph
The famous artists suffered from dyslexia, the inability to see words written properly, which is thought to affect as many as one in 12 children. Scientists, however, believe that it may be the difference between drawing scribbles and producing works of art. Researchers from Middlesex University think they have explained the reason behind some of the world's most recognised artworks, such as the Mona Lisa. They tested the visuo-spatial ability, the ability to process 3D information, of 41 men and women. The ability is essential to artistic talent. Half of the participants suffered from dyslexia, so had trouble spelling, reading and writing. The researchers found that the dyslexic men did better than the other men on many of the tests, including remembering reproducing images.

January 10, 2011

Prehistoric Bird Had Wings Like Nunchucks

Prehistoric Bird Had Wings Like Nunchucks

December 27, 2010

Science: Man eats only candy for a week, blogs it

Spoiler: It was not very good for him. My Week of Eating Nothing But Candy, Part 2 | ZUG
After a week of candy, a few things became clear. I should specify only a few things became clear, because by that point a large portion of my brain had been starved to death. First of all, candy is not filling. Sure, it may spoil your appetite, but that's about as far as it goes. Secondly, it probably eats away at your brain faster than it does your teeth. This week certainly put me on the mental road toward becoming a mongoloid. Finally, apparently candy is really good for you. To see just how much destruction this week had done to my body, I had weighed myself before starting. Somehow, I lost four pounds. I believe this is because candy is the new miracle weight loss secret! You might argue that it is due to violent malnourishment. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. All I know is, I am very grateful to be able to return to the world of normal food. So if you'll excuse me, there are some Christmas cookies I've been putting off for far too long.

December 22, 2010

Another humanoid species co-existed with early humans and Neanderthals

Another humanoid species co-existed with early humans and Neanderthals
A single finger bone found in this Siberian cave led to an amazing discovery. Early humans and Neanderthals co-existed with another humanoid species called Denisovans. And many present-day humans carry genes that prove our ancestors had children with Denisovans, too. The new species is named after the cave where the 30,000 year-old finger bone was found. Researchers had been searching for Neanderthal bones in the area, and were surprised to discover what they initially thought was a fossil from an early human's little finger. To find out more, they shipped the bone off to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where evolutionary biologist Svante Paabo had already sequenced several Neanderthal genomes. Paabo's tests gave a shocking result: The genome sequence they got from the bone showed that it was neither human nor Neanderthal. Another humanoid species co-existed with early humans and Neanderthals And yet it was undeniably a human relative, who had clearly lived among humans and Neanderthals thousands of years ago in the caves of Siberia. After careful analysis, a team of genomics experts figured out where the Denisovans fit into the puzzle of human ancestry. Most likely they are descended from a common ancestor shared with Neanderthals. When early humans left Africa about 300 or 400 thousand years ago, the spread out across Europe and Asia. Those who went west to Europe became the heavy-browed, squat Neanderthals. And those who went East became Denisovans.