Rachel Nuwer, a science writing student at NYU, has started a new blog. Her first post hits it out of the park - highly recommended:
A woman shrieks in horrific glee as the 400-pound tiger lunges at the helplessly dangling chicken. Onlookers goad on the poultry-wielding man as he torturously teases the huge beasts with their ruffled, terrified prey. The tigers—at least 20 of them—throw themselves at the flimsy fence, attempting to snatch the live snack. At last, to the delight of the crowd, the limp bird is tossed into the writhing tiger pit. It is immediately enveloped in a pile of hungry orange, and the crowd of tourists disperses, their appetites satiated. No, this isn’t a deranged scene from Gladiator: it’s a tiger farm in modern China...
The science of the circus: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey come to the New York Hall of Science, a video by Madhu Venkataramanan and Amber Williams at NYU:
Want to be a part of the circus? Head over to the New York Hall of Science for ‘Circus! Science Under the Big Top.’ Test your balance on the trapeze, tiptoe along the tightrope, learn what’s really in a corn dog, and become a clown for the day!
From MIT's Scope: World Pieces: The Neuroscience of Conflict:
Follow Emile Bruneau, accidental conflict tourist, as he and Rebecca Saxe seek to find the place in the brain where conflict and empathy live. Kenrick Vezina, Emily Ruppel and Gillian Conahan report.
From MIT's Scope: Seat of Power:
What causes people to feel powerful, and what does that do to their behavior? And is that power seated in the brain, or in the personality? Jordan Calmes and Allison MacLachlan explore these issues with Rebecca Saxe and Emile Bruneau.
At Au Blog: Granite: A Voyage from Neptune to Pluto, to Aberdeen… by Zoe McKellar:
As I write this, the “Silver City” looks more of a dull grey, matching the hue of the ‘summer’ sky above. However, on a clear day the buildings sparkle and not just from the lurid neon signs on Union Street. Created over 200 years, Aberdeen boasts a unique cityscape sculpted by Aberdonians from the local stone – Rubislaw Granite – creating a centre for international granite trade and a thriving industry.
Robot 'Mission Impossible' wins video prize, by Melissae Fellet from UCSC:
You could call it Mission Impossible: Robot Library Heist. An army of flying, rolling, and climbing robots have been taught to work together to find and snatch a book from a high shelf.
In a striking display of military-like precision, the robotic team, dubbed the "Swarmanoid", attacks the problem with flying "eye-bots" and rolling "foot-bots". A "hand-bot" then fires a grappling hook-like device up to the ceiling and scales the bookshelf. Footage of the experiment, conducted by Marco Dorigo at Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and colleagues, won the video competition at the Conference on Artificial Intelligence in San Francisco earlier this week (an edited version appears above).
Patricia Thomas teaches medical journalism at Grady - Newsers and geeks: come together:
At the MIT meeting, young people who embrace geek culture ruled the conference sessions and parties. They’re devising cool new tools for visualizing what’s important in huge and messy databases, identifying credible sources when an international crisis unleashes a tsunami of tweets, or mapping oil spills by dangling cheap cameras from balloons or kites. And much, much more.
This is exactly the stuff that activates the “gee whiz” gene in the geeky science reporters who’ve been my mentors, peers and students. But my peeps were not at MIT and they didn’t have the chance to hear about new tools for gathering information, engaging citizens, and spreading news every which way...
From the PLoS Student Blog:
Money Makes The Lab Go Round by Lizzie Crouch and Ben Good:
The Blast research group at Imperial College, London, is unique, from the people who carry out the research to the experiments themselves. And so when we looked into the financial support for the Blast lab’s research, it didn’t take long to uncover its unconventional nature...
The Blast lab at Imperial College, London, is a percussionist’s dream. During experiments, which examine the effects of explosions on humans, metal plates are bashed upwards under pressure, weights clang against each other and wooden planks are used for forcible adjustments to the machinery. These sounds happen over and over as the scientists run dozens of tests, seeking enough data to draw meaning from the noise. Taken out of context, a single action in the lab means little, but when orchestrated correctly, a coherent story about biomechanics can be told...
Mathematical models are convenient ways for scientists to represent, understand and predict what happens in the world outside of the lab. But any model is a simplification of what it represents, and we need to ask: how closely do models fit the real world?