Pilgrims, drawing machines, and ants galore

Our favorites from the week

April 22, 2011

From Madhu Venkataramanan

A study funded by the Pentagon showed that a low electric current to the brain makes you a better learner. The volunteers played a video game, titled “DARWARS Ambush!” designed to train soldiers headed to Iraq, in virtual landscapes. It not only improved mental sharpness but also game-playing ability. There’s a warning on the label—don’t try this at home!

Hindu pilgrims make (toxic) offerings to their gods, in Jamaica Bay, says this New York Times story. An environmental pollution story with a cultural twist.

This New York Times Magazine article takes a closer look at Andrew Wakefield, the British scientist who widely publicized supposed links between the MMR vaccine and autism. Calling him one of the “most reviled doctors of his generation,” the article follows Wakefield and his ongoing work in America, while giving a broader context to the terrifying anti-vaccine movement.


From Amber Willimas:

I had a Spirograph when I was little. It might explain why I find this video at Wired of a wooden pendulum-drawing machine especially soothing. When Gravity is the master, every drawing is unique.

Brain-enhancing drugs. Is there a downside? Not really. This article from The Independent calls up multiple sides to the issue.

Trick shots by a doc! Watch this up and coming viral video of a doctor’s amazing precision and accuracy at throwing things. May or may not be real.


From Rose Eveleth:

The biology geek in me wants nothing more than to build a mobile out of these anatomically inspired origami animals and hang it over my bed.

Everybody loves ants, right? But you might not realize how many different species there are just in your backyard. Here’s a really great catalogue of ants in the Midwestern United States, with fabulous photographs too!

If you read Scienceline regularly, you might know that I’m kind of, sort of obsessed with sounds. So when a friend of mine tweeted this at me (“attention sound junkies, aka @roseveleth”) I was really excited. This is what the Japan earthquake sounded like as it moved through the earth’s crust.

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