Wednesday 21 November 2012

Round-Up w/e 18th November 2012

Welcome to this week’s Round-up. Our collection of scientific and skeptical fluff plucked from the deepest, darkest corners of the internet’s umbilicus.  In which we invite you to delve into this week’s concentric circle of furriness and have a good old firkle around. Don’t be shy.

Someone has to poke around in the jungle that is your navel’s ecosystem, and the folks at the Belly Button Biodiversity Project are just the people to do it; analysing the flora of 500 participants who mailed in their navel swabs. Their conclusions are here at PLOS/one.  I hope they’re going to follow this up with a toe-cheese study.

With our talks over for this year you still have a couple of chances left in 2012 to meet up with your skeptical homies (and hopefully newbies-gentle nudge there) at one of our Sitp socials. November’s  is at the Square Peg on 28th at 19:00, with the December date still to be finalised.

Just in case you missed our newsletter, we’ve a book group launching on Sunday 20th of January at 2pm at Yorks Bakery Café on Newhall Street, where Laura and Jade will be discussing Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson’s - Mistakes were made (but not by me). If that doesn’t draw you in there’s a fine looking carrot cake with lime mascarpone frosting on Yorks Facebook page. You’re only allowed a piece if you’ve read the book mind.

There are some links that just stop you in your tracks such is their awesomeness, so I’m going to quietly leave this ‘100,000 stars near Earth’ link just here. Come back when you’re good and ready. (Btw – this may slightly challenge your computer’s processing power)

Meat-eaters "easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes", according to a controversial school textbook available in India. Those year-round hunters, Eskimos, are also accused of being lazy, sluggish and short-lived because they eat mainly meat! Hmm, creating a mental picture of the Arctic I never visualise fields of sprouts, carrots and turnips. Wonder Why?

Were the countless cases of “demonic possession” that have frightened people through history actually manifestations of a rare immune system disorder? Susannah Cahalan chronicles her experience with the less poetic sounding anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in Brain on Fire.

For a moment there I thought this was the Creation Museum’s attempt at a Lego set until I saw the missiles on the Pterodactyl. That’s some badass dinosaur! From the Brick Brothers: Great American leaders riding terrible lizards.

MIT’s game lab has a new project called A Slower Speed of Light, to help players learn about special relativity effects conceptually, rather than mathematically. Download the game, collect orbs; get freaky!
More interesting stuff about Einstein has been released this week, with photographs showing that his brain had unusually elaborate brain folds, which may reveal clues to his genius.

Did Einstein have a brother?  Over at B3ta  someone seems to think so. He’s ALIVE!

Something for the skeptical knitters out there (I distinctly remember someone crocheting at one of our talks once); here’s a couple of interesting sites to visit:  The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art and Woolly Thoughts. Not forgetting that there are some skeptical twitchers in our ranks; the first ever family tree for all living birds.  

Over at Creation Today Eric Hovind answers the most embarrassing question ever.  Without resorting to colourful expletives or three letter acronyms (okay, just one – SRY), I’m going to adopt the Helen Flanagan method for exiting this twisted link. I’m an atheist - get me out of here!

Something to get your western mind around: Researchers grappling with the best ways to diagnose Autism are finding that they have to adapt their tests and interpretations due to worldwide cultural differences.

More WTF than WWE here as we reveal that Hypnosis is the most illegal move in wrestling! Bit disappointed now that no one was doing the worm at Martin Taylor’s Sitp talk.

Evolution is occurring right under our noses: The Big Apple has a cadmium resistant worm according to field biologists studying urban evolution in the lab known as New York; Evolution still not occurring  in Louisiana, however.

News from The Nightingale Collaboration: Of the 26 complaints submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority about adverts in WDDTY, the first two of the informally resolved cases are published.

A fascinating and timely new article now as David Colquhoun explores  the persistence of non-useful medicines as reported in Which? Magazine’s article ‘Health Products You Don’t Need’. Click through for the Which report.

Today’s equation: R.E.M plus vasodilation plus a full bladder = The science of morning wood. No need to reach for that CD. It’s not the rock band.

Got my name in the credits and contributed (via Crowdfunder) to something meaningful, scientifically educational, and thoroughly entertaining. Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Evolution videos are now available to download or just watch online.  Darwin’s Acid is sublime. Baba would make a great Sitp speaker!  Organisers? Huh! Hmm.

Channeling spirits shuts down part of the brain reveals new research at Thomas Jefferson University.  Evidence found of talking to spirits in the study? Not a sausage. Bugger all.

Neuroscientists also find a brain region that does absolutely nothing in this piece of satire from Collectively Unconscious. Oh dear. Judging by the comments section some people seem to have missed the joke.

From the creator of Spamalot: Eric Idle’s ‘What about Dick?’ presents Asstrology.  Spelling is correct; meaningless labels applied to your existence - same as astrology.

Almost at my word quota now so I’m going to finish with the second Russell Brand video that’s dropped into my inbox this week, in which he interviews Steve Drain and Timothy Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church.

Have a great week.

This week’s Round-up was compiled by SitP regular Roy Beddowes.

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