Thursday, April 10, 2008


(Geologic Map of the North Side of the Moon, by John DeVries)

New Scientist has a web article offering Five Great Auditory Illusions and "how they can help us understand the workings of the human brain". They are all fascinating. I'm including one below, the Virtual Barber Shop (you'll need headphones to make this work -- just click and close your eyes). Not a prank, just an exercise in how stereo works as interpreted by our brains.

I consider myself fairly well-informed about human reproductive physiology, but even so, I learned a few things in this extremely informative (albeit sometimes ickily graphic) video, How Pregnancy Happens. (Not safe for work and you need to decide if you want children to see it.) It's a clear, definitive answer to "life begins when sperm meets egg" -- uh, not really. First of all, it's up to the egg -- oh, just watch the video.

Carl Zimmer, a science writer, wondered what kinds of tattoos scientists and geeks might get for themselves. The answers are on display at Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium.

(Tree of Life on the back of Claire d'Alberto, University of Melbourne)

An article at Wired Science reports on a recent study seeking to explain how it is that Russian speakers are able to detect shades of blue which English speakers classify as a single color. The article begins:

"When infant eyes absorb a world of virgin visions, colors are processed purely, in a pre-linguistic parts of the brain. As adults, colors are processed in the brain's language centers, refracted by the concepts we have for them. How does that switch take place? And does it affect our subjective experience of color?"

Meet you at the water color.

1 comment:

kat said...

To add to the the nerd tattoo list:
one time in college, I sat behind a girl who was as uber-nerdy as can be.
Then she put her hair up in a ponytail, and on the back of her neck were the initials of J.R.R. Tolkien, in his script-y kind of lettering.

I have to wonder about some of these, though. And about a friend of mine, who tattooed an enormous crane (the bird not the construction equipment) onto her torso. It wraps around from about her sternum down to her thighs. I have this vague sense of how it will look when she's 70: melted ice cream cone!