30 May 2010

Weekend Roundup, 29-30 May 2010

A brief commentary by Fred von Lohmann at the EFF site on Adrian Johns, Piracy: the Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. I've just requested this book through the Minuteman library system (it's also on my Amazon Wishlist, hint, hint); it sounds like a must read for anyone interested in copyright and the history of the concept of "intellectual property." I'll likely comment on the book here. Stay tuned.

Acupuncture for mice. No, really. Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a new study in Nature Neuroscience, and tells us about the contextual background the study left out (and why it needed better controls).

From the Sunday book reviews:
  • Josh Rosenau in the Washington Post reviews Elaine Howard Ecklund, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think. So far as I can tell from the (very brief) review, Ecklund does not define what counts as "religion," and I'm inclined to be skeptical of the depth of the analysis. Surely the relevant question is what scientists think of religions that are based on beliefs in supernatural beings and forces, not what scientists think about religion more loosely defined to include, say, a sense of awe and mystery about the universe.  The review implies that Ecklund actually addresses the second question.
  • Ted Conover, in the NYT Sunday Book Review, reviews three books on noise and silence.
  • Geoff Nicholson's essay, also in the NYT Sunday Book Review, on "The Joy of (Outdated) Facts," such as those found in, for example, the first edition of the Guinness Book of Records (1955) or the 1969 World Book (our set when I was growing up was even older than that).
Also in the NYT (from a few days ago) a reference to a study from last year suggesting that throat exercises may help relieve sleep apnea. I note this because a friend who had seen this suggested to me on Friday that perhaps that I could make my fortune teaching throat exercises to sleep apnea sufferers (of whom she is one).  The NYT also reports an earlier study showing that playing instruments like the didgeridoo may help ease sleep apnea. This option sounds like more fun, although I don't know how my neighbors will feel about it.

And last but least, xkcd's totally scientific "Color Survey."  Hooray for Science.  It helps us learn stuff.
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