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Bora’s Picks (April 19th, 2013)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Are you a super seer? Why some people see fewer colors than others and why women are more likely to be super seers by Naveena Sadasivam:

It was the late 1700’s and John Dalton, now well known for his achievements in atomic theory, was walking by a store when he noticed a pair of stockings displayed with the sign “Silk, and newest fashion.” He decided to buy a pair for his mother and chose what he thought was dark, dull blue but to his surprise his mother, on receiving the hose, exclaimed: “They’re as red as cherry, John!”…

What Mushroom Clouds Can Reveal About The Waco Explosion by Kyle Hill:

On Wednesday night a fertilizer plant north of Waco, Texas, caught fire and exploded. The violent rupture shook the earth for miles around (the explosion was picked up by seismographs in Oklahoma), set fire to the surroundings, and collapsed nearby buildings….

How stores trick our senses to make us buy more (Part 3 of 5: Touch) by Jordan Gaines:

There are few things more satisfying than running your hand over a rack full of cashmere sweaters, right? My dad teases my mom and I when we’re out shopping, asking why we must touch and comment on every garment’s texture within arm’s reach. I mean, it just feels good. And many a Christmas has passed where my mom has received an especially fluffy sweater from yours truly, her partner in petting. Sure, a company can do its job to create an attractive, pleasurable product for us consumers. But—you guessed it—the store does its own part in tricking us, ensuring that the phrase “you touch it, you buy it” often holds true….

How the Iran Earthquake Could Have Been Much Worse by Rachel Feltman:

Tuesday morning saw Iran’s second major earthquake in a week, which measured at 7.8 But this time—despite expert speculation that hundreds had died, and an early reported death toll of 40—no one was killed on Iran’s side of the border. At least 13 (update: sources now say 34) people were killed in neighboring Pakistan, but the final death toll is currently uncertain. In any case, it seems to be much lower than those early reports suggested. How did the region escapes the worst this time? …

Nano-Suit Protects Bugs From Space-Like Vacuums by Sean Treacy:

Put a fruit fly larva in a spacelike vacuum, and the results aren’t pretty. Within a matter of minutes, the animal will collapse into a crinkled, lifeless husk. Now, researchers have found a way to protect the bugs: Bombard them with electrons, which form a “nano-suit” around their bodies. The advance could help scientists take high-resolution photographs of tiny living organisms. It also suggests a new way that creatures could survive the harsh conditions of outer space and may even lead to new space travel technology for humans….

#sci4hels Question Time #3 – Ladybiz Edition by Rose Eveleth:

So, you might have noticed a few things about the #sci4hels crew. We’re early career, we like gifs, we cover a broad array of subject areas and media, and we’re all ladies….

No Business Like Snow Business by Tania Browne:

In March, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine hosted a birthday party with a difference. The Birthday Boy couldn’t make it as he was 200 years old, but he’s the closest thing epidemiologists have to a folk hero. His name was John Snow, and he was the first person to figure out that mapping disease outbreaks might give us useful clues about where they start, and what we can do to stop them….

Constant Gardeners: Primates Shape African Forest Structure by Anne-Marie Hodge:

Charismatic animals are capable of stirring up strong emotional responses amongst the general public, and (hopefully) inspire people to take wildlife conservation seriously. These are your pandas, your tigers, your elephants, your gorillas, your baby seals—the “cover girls” of conservation. Fundraisers often laud these animals as “flagship species,” while advocates for less photogenic organisms lament that they distract people from more ecologically-based conservation issues. For example, far less media attention is granted to less glamorous organisms and processes that are critical for ecosystem integrity, despite being less ideal for glossy magazines and brochures….

Coming to Your Neighborhood: Giant Animal Invaders by Nadia Drake:

Animal invaders can arrive by land, sea, or air. While most invasive species are unwelcome for one reason or another, some invaders up the creep factor simply by being giant versions of familiar animals. Just this week a horde of really, really big snails made the news by slowly taking over Florida. Here are some other awesomely oversize species that have infiltrated regions around the globe (but mostly in Florida)….

Easier, less invasive STD test may be an overlooked winner by Rachel Feltman:

The pap smear, a test meant to detect precancerous cells in the cervix, is an uncomfortable rite of passage for most modern woman. But now it’s become apparent that sexually active women only need a pap smear once every two years, or even three. This poses a problem for those not in monogamous relationships — for many women, STD testing and pap smears have become linked, since clinicians seem to have a “well, I’m already in there” mentality when it comes to collecting endocervical samples….

Running for Alzheimer’s by Christina Clark:

It was about mile 7 as I recollect. Only 5 more to go. My legs were giving way, my vision was becoming blurred and I was mentally hitting the wall. I was determined to get to the finish line. Why am I doing this? I thought to myself. Halfway through my full-time masters and after a very long week at the hospital I suddenly started to feel maybe I’d taken on a bit more than I could chew. I turned up the volume on my earphones and kept running….

The mystery of music – waxing lyrical on the language of emotion by Dan Stuart:

Music: noun. The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form, harmony, melody, rhythm, expressive content, etc.; musical composition, performance, analysis, etc., as a subject of study; the occupation or profession of musicians….





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