Some of the science and SF links originally posted on Google+, Twitter , and Facebook this week:
- Mythical Creatures Infographic (Flickr)
I love this infographic that shows the components of Mythical Creatures. I never considered that a Mermaid = Human + Narwhal
- Cats in Space | Tor.com »
Star Trek with cats. You've gotta say it in the right voice Cats...In...Space...!!!!
- First Native Science Fiction Anthology Showcases Indigenous Imagination »
From the interview:
"Just as our science is not primitive, our storytelling has always contained the elements of science fiction that are considered forward-thinking, inventive and visionary today. Native intellectuals have begun pointing out that “our knowledge is not primitive,” as a recent book by Wendy Djinn Geniusz on the botanical scientific teachings of the Anishinaabe puts it."
- The Innate Irresistibility of Film | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network »
Maria Konnikova explains how movies affect our brains:
- "Films have tapped into something incredibly basic in the way our brains work. And there’s something remarkable about that. A tribute of sorts to the innate, deep-rooted nature of our predisposition for narrative, for a world of stories that we can all experience, share, and pass on."
- CultureLab: Prickly personality of Rosalind Franklin »
A common SF trope is the lone scientist, working in an isolated lab who gets along with no one. In real life that doesn't always mean success.
- Dinosaurs dressed like the Avengers
Artist Whitlatch studied zoology before becoming a creature designer, and her dinosaur superheroes are based on real dinos.
- Star Wars: Identities premieres Thursday in Montreal »If you are a Canadian science and +Star Wars fan, you may want to check out the Star Wars: Identities exhibit.
"Experts in fields including psychology, neuropsychology and genetics were consulted during the crafting of the real-science portions of the exhibition. The real and the imagined complement each other throughout."
The exhibit opens at the Montreal Science Center starting April 19 and at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton in the fall. More information: http://www.starwarsidentities.com/
- REVIEW: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog »
From the review:
"... while it innocently depicts the lives of these three friends (strained as those relationships sometimes are), is really asking tough, thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human. These are the questions that resonate emotionally."
- Science Fiction Killed the Dinosaurs | Tor.com »
at Tor.com: science fiction has killed the dinosaurs in so many ways...
- Fight Fight Fight #1 (YouTube)
Chuck Norris vs. Darth Vader - who will win?
- The 2080 Census: The World As We (Don't) Know It : NPR »
What will the Census of 2080 ask?
—Do you consider yourself to be a:
a) Homo sapiens (natural human being)?
b) Homo cyberneticus (mostly human with some external cybernetic enhancements)?
c) Homo hybridus (mostly human with some genetic enhancements)?
d) Homo machinus (slightly human but mostly machine)?
- Alien encounters : Naturejobs »
Interested in becoming an astrobiologist? Nature Jobs has some tips.
- DVICE: How eating bugs can help save the planet »
The problem with eating bugs is the "ew" factor. Maybe if they were battered and deep fried to disguise them it would help...
- How to Make Your Own Evil Twin »
Just in case you need someone to do your dirty work.
- Divining Human History with DNA »
Our history is in our genes - and the genes of domesticated animals.
- Memory Foraging: When the Brain Behaves Like a Bee: Scientific American »
Have our brains evolved to forage for memories?
- Can a Brain Scan Tell You What Drugs to Take and Choices to Make? | Pharmaceuticals | DISCOVER Magazine »
Carl Zimmer looks at the Duke Neurogenetics Study, which looks for correlations between genetics, brain activity and behavior.
- Researchers Show How Social Interaction and Teamwork Lead to Human Intelligence
- Space Zucchini's Orbital Life and Times Blogged by Astronaut »
I'll bet space zucchini is delicious, especially with space garlic and space peppers.
- Why we have blind spots - and how to see the blood vessels inside your own eye! (YouTube)
Sometimes fancy graphics aren't necessary to explain scientific concepts. This video is a good example of that. Find out why we have blind spots!
- This microbe could become the "off" switch for biological machines »
DNA sequences from bacteria that thrive at either very high or very low temperatures can be used to design genes and proteins that are switched on or off when the environmental temperature changes. Very useful for bioengineering and synthetic biology applications!
- The Brian Lehrer Show - Teaching Evolution with Biorobots »
Vassar Professor John Long talks about his lab's use of biorobots that mimic fish behavior to help understand both fish biology and evolution. More information.
- How Eggs Shaped Dinosaur Evolution »
Eggs may have been the secret
- Monkey see, monkey read (YouTube)
Can baboons read? Not exactly. What they can do is distinguish between different groups of letters and distinguish which ones correspond with "real" words, which is indeed one of the elements of reading. There is no evidence that they can understand what the groups of letters mean, though. More information
- XNA is synthetic DNA that's stronger than the real thing »
As the article points out, "XNAs" - modified synthetic nucleic acids - aren't new. What is new is that MRC chemists Philipp Holliger and Vitor Pinheiro have shown that some XNAs can replicate and potentially "evolve".
The chemical bonds holding the XNAs together are stronger than native DNA. This may mean they are more suited to therapeutic applications than naturally occurring nucleic acids.
There are also implications for artificial life sometime in the future:
"... nothing would call the indispensability of DNA- or RNA-based life into question more than the generation of an entirely synthetic, alternative life form, built from the ground up entirely by XNA. Such an organism would require XNA capable of driving its own replication, without the aid of any biological molecules. Pinheiro says that's still a ways off. "Even in its simplest setup... it would be very challenging to develop an XNA system within a cell." Such a system would require XNA capable of self-replication, and capable of undergoing evolution in a self-sustained manner."