Scienceline Staff Picks

Science News for the Week of 6.7.10

The first solar sail, phony wildlife photography, and the battle between the Internet and our brains

June 18, 2010

Was there a major scandal in how the World Health Organization (WHO) handled the H1N1 flu pandemic, as some investigations claim? Absolutely not, reports Nature News.

A Japanese spacecraft unfurled the first ever solar sail, which looks like a giant sheet of aluminum foil (it’s made of super thin aluminized plastic) and “uses the pressure from photons striking its surface” to propel the craft forward. Wired Science reports.

Wired Science also reports that the U.S. is leading the charge on synthetic biology funding.

Is technology changing our ability to focus and multitask? Read Matt Richtel’s New York Times story about the effects of technology on our brains, and take these interactive tests to measure your focus and task-switching abilities.

In a similar vein, Nicholas Carr’s new book, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” has provoked some intriguing responses from Jonah Lehrer and Steven Pinker.

Is most wildlife photography faked? Audubon has the story.

The Awl explains how The New York Times decided to ban the word “Tweet.”

Up to 96 customers of personal genomics company 23andMe may have received the wrong test results.

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About the Author

Ferris Jabr has a Bachelors of Science from Tufts University, where he double majored in psychology and English, studied a lot of biology, worked in a social psychology lab and wrote for the daily newspaper. He has interned with Scientific American MIND, Psychology Today, the PBS show NOVA and Environmental Health News. You can visit his personal web site, read his blog The Mind’s Flight and follow him on Twitter.

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