Northeastern University

Weekly Webcrawl: King Richard III, Lebron James, Hello Kitty

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Richard III as portrayed by David Garrick 19th Century Engraving. Image via Thinkstock.

Richard III as portrayed by David Garrick 19th Century Engraving. Image via Thinkstock.

From the depths of storm Nemo, here’s this week’s science highlights:

  • The biggest news this week, as far as the sclogosphere was concerned, may have been the announcement that bones beneath a Leicster, England parking lot belonged to King Richard III. The news came only in a press conference, leaving many questions unanswered. The researchers involved claim the results will soon appear in a peer reviewed journal, but in the mean time, why should we care?
  • Also unearthed this week: 35 ancient pyramids in Sudan and more than 150 sacrificed skulls in Mexico.
  • Here’s a round up of stories on stuff we put in our body: 6 fake foods (like red sawdust passing as 20 dollar saffron) to steer clear of. Nano particles have shown up in foods for a while, but new reports are stirring concern. Are they really a problem? The Atlantic has a great primer on the myths of genetically modified foods,   while the New York Times well blog discusses the validty of gluten sensitivities. Finally, here’s a study showing that mixing alcohol with diet drinks gets us drunk faster than with regular mixers.
  • Diamonds may be sperm’s new best friend. Couch potatoism, on the other hand, remains a foe to the baby-making cells, high counts of which are also associated with many health benefits.
  • Ah the super bowl. I watched, but only for the cultural experience. I never know what’s happening on the field. I did get excited about the blackout, though. And National Geographic reports the cause of it today. Also regarding football: the NHL and GE have teamed up to research the health effects of  repeated concussions, but Smithsonian writer Rose Eveleth wonders if obesity is an even bigger problem. And, because I can’t much tell the difference between football and basketball, here’s Lebron James and Khan Academy answering math and science questions, via Boing Boing.
  •  That several of the NIH-approved stem cell lines may have not have come from consenting donors could prove a big setback for research using the cells that are able to differentiate into any mature cell type. Good timing for 3d printed stem cells to hit the scene, I’d say.
  • For the first time ever, researchers have constructed a seismic cloak that diverts sound waves around critical buildings like nuclear power plants to protect them. Here’s Scientific American’s Instant Egghead video on   how invisibility cloaking works.
  • An asteroid is set to pass very close to earth next week (by “very” we’re talking 17,000+miles, but that’s still within range of communications satellites. Researchers speculate that spray painting  asteroids that do present a threat could divert their course…This is sci fi material, people.
  • Stock traders are “maladapted at optimizing for long-term net profits
  • brain shape in cocaine addiction, white collar addiction and response on KSJ, outdated addiction treatment
  • Bacteria was found on gold and in the arctic this week.
  • Here’s a great story about how an obese father leaves a epigenetic legacy on the cells of his offspring. Good reading if you’re curious about this crazy heritable phenomenon of turning genes and off through molecular switches imposed on top of the DNA.
  • Pigeons were a big topic last week, when I also learned that they have a magnetic compass helping them steer towards home. This week, researchers show that salmon may have their  own internal device like the pigeons’.
  • As I write this the winds are blowing outside and the snow is piling up. But the Union of Concerned Scientists explains why Nemo does not negate climate change.
  • And finally, because the universe is a wonderful wonderful place: A fourteen year old girl launched her hello kitty doll into space and video taped the whole thing. YESSSSS!!!!!! via Scientific American


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