Scienceline Staff Picks

Broken hearts, spring flowers, and sexy statistics

Our staff writers bring you their favorite links from the week.

April 8, 2011

From Madeleine Johnson:

Breaking up is hard to do! Scientists have found that getting poked with a hot poker and fixating on a photo of your recent ex activate some of the same regions of the brain. Although it appears psychology researchers are always striving to add insult to injury, this blog from The Body Odd does a nice job explaining the bigger motivation for the study.

Dinosaurs totally had cooties, suggests a new study. Nicholas Wade puts the louse family tree in context, and peppers his piece with awesome gross-out fun facts.

Medical reporter John Fauber is on a mission to root out conflicts of interest between doctors and drug companies. His latest investigation shows researchers who endorsed fewer regulations for narcotic painkillers were on pharma payrolls to the tune of $2.5 million. Meanwhile, death rates for these drugs were increasing by 500 percent.  Go get ’em Fauber!

From Lena Groeger:

Statistics has never looked so sexy! With tons of new tools and gobs of information, data scientists and designers are coming together to concoct gorgeous visualizations and interactive tools that make data come alive. Tree-maps, floating bubbles, and racing countries…oh my!

Dead enough? A long, fascinating article on organ donation and how we define the moment of death.

Last Friday, some unsuspecting passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight got a bit of a surprise when they looked up to see… the sky. Why weren’t they sucked out of that gaping hole in the ceiling?

From Ritchie King:

Sometimes the best way to wrap your mind around a complex developing story — the kind that comes with a torrent of media coverage — is to look at an analysis of the coverage itself. For such meta-stories, I usually turn to NPR’s On the Media or the Columbia Journalism Review. This past Tuesday, the latter published a nice overview of the climate change implications of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.

Speaking of stories getting a lot of press, the impending federal government shutdown is now completely dominating the news-sphere. But what will a shutdown, the first in fifteen years, mean for science? According to this Miller-McCune piece, remediation work on Superfund sites will likely come to a screeching halt, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will shut down their call centers.

But I don’t want to be a complete downer. There are things to be excited about. For one, spring is here at last, and, I have to say, it feels pretty refreshing. The Big Picture has posted some stunning shots of the season’s timeless heralds — flowers.

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