Could adults learn perfect pitch?

Tom Reading, Science 5 Comments

The idea seems to be to reactivate some early-life learning mechanisms (most people only learn perfect pitch early in their lives) through valproate. Then do exercises to learn to successfully identify pitch. To my untrained eye, it seems a reasonable study with placebo control and there are some interesting comments on the abstract. A new resolution for 2014? The pill …

India seems free of polio

Tom Personal, Reading, Science 0 Comments

This is great news to counter the raft of depressing stories. Global focused and concerted action having global effects. While my “students” in Melkote were lovely happy kids, I’m delighted there won’t be another cohort blighted and crippled by the disease. India Manages to Free Itself of Polio – WSJ.com.

Tour of the ISS

Tom Science, View 0 Comments

Must-view for so many reasons (NB 25 minutes long, so plan your time). I loved the stuff stashed everywhere making it feel like a big shed. I loved how elegant the astronauts get at handling zero g.  I loved the working / using / sleeping on all four walls of any space. I loved the handholds / footholds everywhere. Just …

Gladwell: Do Genetic Advantages Make Sports Unfair?

Tom Reading, Science 3 Comments

We want sports to be fair and we take elaborate measures to make sure that no one competitor has an advantage over any other. But how can a fantastic menagerie ever be a contest among equals? It is a valid question, and a difficult one to answer. My hunch is that there’s a case-by-case approach: we have to have some …

“Explorers, not colonists”: space isn’t easy

Tom Reading, Science 2 Comments

Must read account of an unusual occurrence on a space walk. Amazing that we take the existence of the ISS for granted now, and it is nothing compared with what we need to do in space (and I strongly believe we can work on climate change and poverty while pushing ahead with space exploration). EVA 23: exploring the frontier | …

MSG myths

Tom Reading, Science 5 Comments

Helpful to know that the anti-MSG message is based on no real science (everything is damaging in large quantities). Worth reading in full. Thought experiment: if you were offered Kombu salt to finish your dish, would you accept? If you were offered MSG crystals? Same stuff, quite likely a different answer.

Agnotology – my word for the day

Tom Personal, Science 3 Comments

Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. There’s an interesting comparison with epidemiology (the study of how we know): agnotology is the study of why we do not know, recognising that it could be more than ignorance, indeed it could be an “outcome of a cultural and political …

Escaping star

Tom Science, View 0 Comments

Astonishing photo of a star breaking out of its umbilical cord of dust and gas. APOD: 2013 March 24 – Dust Pillar of the Carina Nebula.