04 June 2010

Daily Digest, 04.06.2010

An evolutionary psychology Agony Aunt at the Guardian; more on dolphin iPads; more on fMRI lie-detection; using neural networks to classify music; Broca's area and syntax (or not); American "sickcare"; why does time flow in only one direction?; the 100 best science blog posts; and be very very careful what you do in the lab.


Mind Hacks points toward the Guardian "Agony Aunt" column (that's an advice column, for you non-Brits) "Ask Carole," where questions are answered from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Recent questions include: "Why do men find blonde women so very attractive?," "Breast size: a human anomaly," and (because this is an equal-opportunity column) "Penis size: an evolutionary perspective." The answers are thoughtful and well-researched essays, with links to the recent research articles on the topics.

Chris Foresman at Ars technica has a longer and more informative piece than the one I linked to the other day on Jack Kassewitz and his experiments with the iPad (and also the Panasonic Toughbook) to develop a way to communicate with dolphins.

Alexis Madrigal (wonderful name!) at Wired has an excellent and detailed write-up of Judge Tu Pham's rejection of fMRI lie detection evidence in a Tennessee case. The article includes a link to the complete decision at Scribd.

A post at MIT's Technology Review reports on "Using Neural Networks to Classify Music."

A concise and helpful summary at Talking Brains of theories regarding the role of Broca's area in syntax processing.

A moving and insightful guest essay at oftwominds on the bizarre mess that is the U.S. "system" of health care (the "sickcare" system, as Charles Hugh Smith, author of oftwominds, calls it). The essay is by practicing physician Michael Horowitz, and includes several eye-opening anecdotes from his own experience of the fundamental changes, all of them for the worse, in American health care over the past three or four decades.

Tom Siegfried at Science News has an excellent and clear summary of current theories on the physics of time. Includes a helpful and extensive bibliography for further reading.

3 Quarks Daily
has posted its 100 nominees for the 2010 3QD Prize in Science, for best science blog post. I've only read a handful of the nominees, and probably won't vote. However, the ones I have read are outstanding, and I have no doubt that all 100 are worth reading.  Some of the best (if not the best) science writing being done today is on blogs. Don't miss these.

Annalee Newitz at io9 reviews the new film "Splice," about a genetic experiment gone wrong. Even though it's evidently gory, I think I'll have to see this one. I'm in one of my intermittent (and relatively mild) sci-fi phases at the moment.

Award for most puns in a single headline this week, for Peter Keough's review (somewhat less enthusiastic than io9's, but basically favorable) in this week's Boston Phoenix: "Splitting Heirs: Variety is the Life of Splice."
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