16 October 2013

15 October 2013

Science Class Rap Battle | Rosalind Franklin vs Watson & Crick

Rosalind Franklin was a British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite. Her DNA work achieved the most fame because DNA plays an essential role in cell metabolism and genetics, and the discovery of its structure helped her co-workers understand how genetic information is passed from parents to their offspring.
Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. According to Francis Crick, her data was key to determining the structureto formulate Crick and Watson's 1953 model regarding the structure of DNA. Franklin's images of X-ray diffraction confirming the helical structure of DNA were shown to Watson without her approval or knowledge. This image and her accurate interpretation of the data provided valuable insight into the DNA structure, but Franklin's scientific contributions to the discovery of the double helix are often overlooked.
Unpublished drafts of her papers (written just as she was arranging to leave King's College London) show that she had independently determined the overall B-form of the DNA helix and the location of the phosphate groups on the outside of the structure. Moreover, it was a report of Franklin's that convinced Crick and Watson that the backbones had to be on the outside, which was crucial since before this both they and Linus Pauling had independently generated non-illuminating models with the chains inside and the bases pointing outwards. However, her work was published third, in the series of three DNA Nature articles, led by the paper of Watson and Crick which only hinted at her contribution to their hypothesis.
In other words, Franklin should have shared the Nobel Prize but was shafted by Watson and Crick.

Source, source

Science Says | Oreos Are As Addictive As Cocaine

Researchers at Connecticut College have found evidence that proves that Oreo cookies—at least for lab rats—are as addictive as cocaine. Neuroscience senior Jamie Honohan devised the study in order to research the impact of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods ... 

To carry out the study, Honohan and two other students devised a maze. On one side of the maze, hungry rats would find an Oreo. On the other side, hungry rats would find (groan) rice cakes. 

Unsurprisingly, all the rats gravitated toward the Oreo, and like all cultured creatures, they would “
break it open and eat the middle first.” 

The researchers compared the results of their study to a similar study in which rats were either given a shot of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze or a shot of saline on the other. It turns out that the rats conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the “drug” side of the maze as those who were conditioned with actual drugs. Even more worrisome, the researchers found that the Oreos “activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.”

Link via Gawker

13 October 2013

What Does The Fox Say?


Catchy. Makes me miss Flight of the Conchords.

Cheating Really Does Feel Wonderful

New research suggests that the feeling of guilt associated with cheating on an exam or lying on tax returns is actually just a figment of our imagination; a feeling our memories conjure up after the fact to make us feel better about being unethical. Because in actuality — according to a new study, "The Cheater's High," conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, Harvard, London Business School, and Penn — cheating feels pretty damn good.
The researchers conducted six different experiments offering participants a multitude of opportunities to cheat (both directly and indirectly, sometimes with the lure of financial gain and sometimes not). They found that the cheaters generally felt thrilled, satisfied, and superior about their dishonesty. “We were a little appalled,” University of Washington postdoctoral research associate Nicole E. Ruedy — the lead author of the study — told the New York Times. “The fact that people feel happier after cheating is disturbing, because there is emotional reinforcement of the behavior, meaning they could be more likely to do it again,” Ruedy said.
Journal of Personal and Social Psychology via Gawker

12 October 2013

iSideWith | How Liberal Or Conservative Are You?

From the website:
iSideWith.com was started in March 2012 by two friends with two very different views of politics. Our goal is to save users time by providing an accurate and updated breakdown of which candidates they side with on the issues. We aim to educate voters and to boost voter turnout this election season.
Taylor Peck runs the editorial, research, and promotional aspects of the site. He is a marketing consultant and self described politics "crackhead" who needs political news to sustain daily life. Nick Boutelier is the web designer and programmer. A lifelong undecided voter, he was searching for an easier way to stay updated on the issues and candidates he sides with.
That’s it! We are not affiliated with any investors, shareholders, advertisers, political party or interest group. If you share our passion for this project and would like to support it, please help us out with a PayPal donation so we can educate more voters about your local and state representatives by Election Day (November 4th, 2014).
Via Dangerous Minds

Brain 'Stethoscope' Turns Seizures Into Music

Stanford professors Chris Chafe and Josef Parvizi have transformed brain activity from seizure patients into music. This composition details the three main phases of a seizure. Calmness turns into chaos during the actual seizure, before trailing off into a recovery phase. The work could lead to a powerful biofeedback tool for identifying brain patterns associated with seizures.

YouTube | Stanford

10 October 2013

The Noun Project

Fresh Collection
Click image to enlarge
The Noun Project is an ambitious effort to create a global visual language with open source symbols and icons. Anyone can contribute icons to the project’s online library, or download and use the icons, all free of charge. Icon users can pay a small fee to use icons without attribution (commercially or otherwise). The Noun Project periodically holds public icon creation workshops, or “iconathons.” The most recent iconathon was at the 2013 XOXO festival in Portland
Via Laughing Squid

09 October 2013

07 October 2013

Giant Hornets Are Killing People In China

... According to recent reports out of China, 21 people have died as a result of wasp stings over the past three months in the province of Shaanxi alone ... This year, the hornet attacks in China have been more frequent than usual; one health official suggested to the AP that warmer temperatures have led to increased breeding among the insects. The mayor of one affected city in Shaanxi announced last week plans to establish a 24-hour emergency response team to combat hornets in light of the recent fatalities. Wasp season in China runs from May to November.

And CNN distinguishes itself again.

Putting Celestial Things Into Perspective

06 October 2013


Open Culture | Reading Literary Fiction Improves Emotional Intelligence

A new study published this week in Science concludes that you may get something unexpected from reading great literary works: more finely-tuned social and emotional skills. Conducted by Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd (researchers in the psych department at the New School for Social Research), the study determined that readers of literary fiction (as opposed to popular fiction or non-fiction) find themselves scoring better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. In some cases, it took reading literary fiction for only a few minutes for test scores to improve.

Open Culture | 500 Free eBooks | 750 Free Online Courses

05 October 2013

Secret Plea From National Weather Service Employees

Like prisoners speaking in code, the National Weather Service hid a plea in one of their routine reports.
Atlantic Wire

03 October 2013

Chet Phillips | Heisenberg

Click image to enlarge

Prints are available to purchase online from ChetArt.

Via Laughing Squid

del Toro Does The Simpsons

To introduce this year's Treehouse of Horror special, The Simpsons teamed up with a man who knows a thing or two about the genre: Dark fantasy master Guillermo del Toro.
"We talked about doing it around the movies I have done, but I felt I'd rather mix those images with the creatures and monsters of film, which have influenced me enormously," said del Toro, director of such screen gems as Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and, most recently, Pacific Rim. "So, I said, 'Why don't we do a really long riff on the title sequence, rather than just a couch gag?'"
And that's exactly what they did: Nearly three full minutes of every horror/fantasy pop culture reference you can think of, including a particularly excellent nod to The Simpsons' recently departed sister show, Futurama. "I ended up cramming in about 1/50th of what I wanted," said del Toro, who hinted that an even longer version could be out there.