Saturday links

The week’s research

  • fMRI is a controversial technique, not least because studies that use it are often overinterpreted and there are still some fundamental unanswered questions about how to interpret its results. Now, SciCurious talks about a new study that helps to tell us exactly what those pretty brain pictures mean.
  • At Scientific American, Ferris Jabr discusses the minor third, a chord that conveys sadness in both speech and music. “When it comes to sorrow, music and human speech might speak the same language.”
  • Butterfly wings are beautifully colourful but the colours come not from pigments but from the structures of the wings at a microscopic level.
  • Ratcheting up the competitive pressure just encourages students to cheat more, rather than to cooperate, says the BPS Research Digest blog.
  • Human pluripotent stem cells (reprogrammed from adult cells) have been created using a viral vector without any genes, says Elie Dolgin at Nature News. “This was the control experiment that went wrong, effectively.”
  • Brandon Keim writes about a leaping fish that thrives on land. Apparently, it engages in awesome aerial duels, like Yoda in Episode II.
  • We have sequenced the body louse genome. The significance isn’t a head-scratcher. I’ll get my coat.
  • A 30-million-year old fossil pelican tells us that even back then, they looked silly.
  • Climate change contrarians are in the vast minority, and lack scientific credibility and expertise, according to a new PNAS study discussed in Scientific American. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.
  • The bones of Caravaggio have been found and they reveal what killed him – lead poisoning from his paints.
  • Egyptian vultures use twigs to gather wool for nests, says Michael Marshall in New Scientist’s Zoologger.
  • Four-legged creatures may have gained a foothold by ditching genes guiding fin development, according to Janelle Weaver in Nature.
  • The origin of the mysterious condition known as blindsight has been revealed.

More science

Awesome

Journalism, communication and the internet

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet