Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 3:58 pm
By Tania Lombrozo
As humans, we aren't always good at remembering how, when, and where we acquire particular bits of information. But we are very good at tracking the social structures through which information flows.
Even my 3-year-old can reconstruct, with uncanny accuracy, the social structure of her preschool. If asked, she'll readily report whom each child plays with, which children sit together at lunchtime, and who drops off and picks up each classmate.
When we gaze up into the night sky, we look out into the past. Adam Frank makes this point eloquently in a recent post. And it is a point redolent with consequence in the field of physics. It is the starting point of Einstein's special theory of relativity.
But is it right to suggest, as Adam does, that when I look into the face of my loved one across the table from me, what I see, really, is how she looked a tiny fraction of a second earlier? Adam writes:
Big aviation news this week: the red-necked phalarope is one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds and was thought to migrate to its winter grounds in the Arabian Sea. This past week, it was reported that a new tiny tracking device reveals that the phalarope actually flies across the Atlantic Ocean down to the Caribbean, all the way to South America. So, is the phalarope a Scottish bird or a South American one? Malcie Smith is from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and he joins us from Scotland. Thanks very much for being with us.
Neil Harbisson is an artist who was born with total colorblindness. That means he sees only in shades of black and white. But a sensor attached to his head has expanded his world by translating colors into sound frequencies. And for this reason, Mr. Harbisson considers himself to be a cyborg. Neil Harbisson joins us now from the studios of the BBC in London. Thanks so much for being with us.
NEIL HARBISSON: Thank you.
SIMON: Why do you consider yourself a cyborg and not just a guy who wears a device?
There's abook by the novelist China Mieville that describes two cities plopped one on top of the other. One is large-scale, the other smaller-scale, and while they live in entangled proximity, both cities have the same rule. Each says to its citizens, pay no attention — on pain of punishment — to what the "others" around you are doing. See your own kind. "Unsee" the others.
A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.
Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.
The snowpack in the Mountain West this year is at just a small fraction of its normal level. In fact, 2013 was the driest year ever recorded in many parts of California, and there's little relief in sight. But water managers are trying to squeeze every last raindrop out of Mother Nature with a technology developed in the state more than 50 years ago: cloud seeding.
We've been following the coronal mass ejection that headed toward Earth after an intense solar flare was emitted from the sun earlier this week. And now NASA tells us that such events can be heard, in a sense, by tuning in to CRaTER Radio, a "sonification" project that uses data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to generate musical sounds and stream them on the Internet.
Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:34 pm
By Eliza Barclay
We've survived the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, when rich, sweet treats come at us non-stop. Now is the season of reform, when gym memberships, cleanse books and weight-loss plans sell like gangbusters.