LEGOs are in the news! Always a good thing, right? Well not necessarily. For the past few weeks, reports have been flying around about a new study which show that the faces of our favourite yellow brick people are getting less smiley. Not that big a deal in itself until you consider some suggestions that children’s development may be affected by this shift. Fortunately, enter Jordan Gaines and Arielle Duhaime-Ross who take closer looks at those suggestions for Scitable and Scientific American respectively.

This week’s picks also features the man who survived underwater for three days thanks to an air bubble, what your eyes can reveal about you, your skull resonates music and why coral reefs are awesome by Rachel Nuwer, Nadja Popovich, Colin Schultz, Jessica Carilli.

The other great up-and-coming science writers highlighted in this week’s picks are: Kathleen Raven, Amy Shira Teitel, Douglas Main, Jessica M. Morrison, Kate Yandell, Nick Stockton, Andrew Swale, James Keen, Pete EtchellsJosh Howgego.


LEGO Faces are Getting Angrier; So What? by Jordan Gaines

[...] There's nothing quite like LEGO. And certainly there's nothing quite like those ubiquitious yellow, blocky LEGO faces. But a piece in The Daily Mail last week cites that "LEGO faces are getting angrier," and that this may, in turn, "be harming children's development."

Zero Evidence That Legos Harm Your Kids by Arielle Duhaime-Ross

LEGO toys have never been so controversial, or angry for that matter, but that should not stop your kids from playing with them. There has been a lot of noise over a study, released June 4, that looked into the evolution of the facial expressions printed on LEGO minifigures—those one and half-inch toy figurines that come with LEGO block sets. In the study, New Zealand researchers demonstrated that LEGO faces have become much more diverse in the past 35 years, but the finding that got the most attention is that LEGO is making more angry-looking minifigures than ever before, to a point where the proportion of angry faces rivals that of happy ones. But, contrary to what you might have read, the study did not look into the effect that these facial expressions are having on children and their emotional development. In fact, the study did not involve children at all.

Trapped in an Underwater Air Bubble for Three Days by Rachel Nuwer

Harrison Okene’s shipwreck survival wasn’t a miracle. It was fascinating physics. Being buried alive is usually near the top of any worst-ways-to-die list. But how about being buried alive 100 feet below the ocean surface in a tiny pocket of air? For Harrison Okene, a 29-year-old Nigerian boat cook, this nightmare scenario became a reality for nearly three grueling days.

Eye-Tracking Software May Reveal Autism and other Brain Disorders by Nadja Popovich

The eyes of people with neurological conditions, including ADHD and Parkinson’s, have a distinctive motion that could form the basis of clinical diagnosis. Eye-tracking has become the tech trend du jour. Advertisers use data on where you look and when to better capture your attention. Designers employ it to improve products. Game and phone developers utilize it to offer the latest in hands-free interaction.

The Unique Vibrations of Your Skull Affect How You Hear Music by Colin Schultz

What’s the difference between a metalhead and a raver? Why do you pick the wub wub of dubstep over the twang of a guitar? Musical preference seems to be as unique as your fingerprints—you love one song and hate another, when to the ear of another listener they sound basically the same. Sure, there’s a heaping dose of social construction going on—you listen to music that you grew up with, the music that gets you in with your self-selected social group, the music that you think is cool. But there might be some biology behind your musical preference, too. The natural resonance of your skull—the unique frequency at which the bones in your noggin tend to vibrate—affects how you hear sound, and could help explain why you really rock out to Pantera but hate Metallica.

Why Are Coral Reefs Important? by Jessica Carilli

You may have heard that coral reefs are being threatened by human activity. For instance, the Fight for the Reef campaign aims to raise awareness about how proposed increases in shipping traffic and development of large ports near the Great Barrier Reef would negatively impact the largest coral reef system in the world.


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