This one is without doubt the most extensive Picks I’ve done here on The SA Incubator. The variety of articles and blog posts is staggering so you’re sure to find something of interest to you. Whether that’s Near Death Experiences (NDE), collective intelligence, a potential culture shift in science or Solar System “purgatory,” it’s here.

Ready, set, go!


Near Death Experiences (NDE) are documented in the scientific literature and are generally accepted as real. But do NDE point towards the existence of a heaven? Kyle Hill, in Scientific American’s Guest Blog, brilliantly investigates the motivations behind the belief of such a non-scientific relation and finds out that NDE actually do reveal something, not about heaven, but about our brains.

The Death of “Near Death”: Even If Heaven Is Real, You Aren’t Seeing It

You careen headlong into a blinding light. Around you, phantasms of people and pets lost. Clouds billow and sway, giving way to a gilded and golden entrance. You feel the air, thrusted downward by delicate wings. Everything is soothing, comforting, familiar. Heaven.

Claire O’Connell has a brilliant article for the Irish Times about collective intelligence. It’s essentially a crowdsourcing of the computing power of millions of people to create some truly remarkable things. The surprising part: you may already have done it without realising. Example: reCAPTCHA!

Using the internet to harness the wisdom of the crowd

Collective intelligence is a growing trend that seeks to exploit the computational power of millions of users You have probably done it but maybe you didn’t realise. Or maybe you did it on purpose, but it was a game. What is it? Collective intelligence, or “human computation”, is a growing trend that looks to harness the wisdom of the crowd to solve problems.

Pete Etchells and Suzi Gage write about new initiatives which may contribute to a culture shift in science in The Guardian. One initiative targets minimising questionable data manipulation; another takes crowdsourcing to peer review. Will they work though?

Confronting the 'sloppiness' that pervades science

Last week, Tilburg University published a damning final report into the actions of the disgraced social psychologist Diederik Stapel, with an accompanying press release that emphasises "a general culture of careless, selective and uncritical handling of research and data" in the field.

Voyager 1 is far far away but it’s not out of the Solar System just yet. As Kelly Oakes explains in her Scientific American blog, Basic Space, it’s in a rather beautiful “magnetic highway,” which I personally like to refer to as purgatory!

Voyager 1 is still not out of the solar system

Remember when I said back in October that Voyager 1 might have finally left the solar system? Well, it turns out that the spacecraft, which has been skirting the edge of the solar system for a long time now, is finding it difficult to say goodbye.

Shara Yurkiewicz blogs, in her PLOS blog, This may hurt a bit, about a transition period in her relatively young doctor’s life: the moment when you become the bad guy with good intentions. This is a must-read.

Being Sorry

“You’re not sorry.” Within two days two different patient said this to me, each with hatred in his voice.  Each time I was alone, each time I had known the patient for only a few minutes, and each time the rage was directed at me and only me.

More, more, more:


You can find more writings from early-career science writers by following this Twitter list. Have a smashing intellectual weekend.

UPDATE (November 7, 15:12 EST): I mistakenly mentioned Kelly Oakes' blog as Outer Space. The correct name of Kelly's blog is in fact Basic Space. Apologies.