Scienceline Staff Picks

Buzzing buzzards, tracking trash, and seeing in 2D

Our favorites from the week

June 17, 2011

From Ritchie King:

It’s a strange time in the history of warfare. Weaponry has really evolved. Highly sophisticated and dubious autonomous killing machines continue to emerge in research and development. But there’s kind of an exciting flipside to the prevalence of advanced arms technology — rebels in autocratic regimes have the access to throw together effective tools for combat. Check out this video on what some rebels are doing in Libya.

From war to art. A recent study suggests that artists, such as Rembrandt, might have stereo blindness, meaning they rely on cues from single-eye vision to interpret depth, in a sense working with a 2-D image of the world. This apparently makes it easier to capture the world on a 2-D canvas. The New York Times has the story.

And then there is this: a totally transfixing video of people dancing around one another in a skydive arena.


From Madeleine Johnson:

The South Carolina town of Ninety Six is trying to solve a buzzard problem by hanging fake dead buzzards in trees.  The local nightly news clip associated with this story is delightful.

Scavenger birds gobble up ten percent of fish at some farms and hatcheries, but soon floating “scarebots” may shoo them away.

Scarebots will also be good news to aquaculture (fish farming, for food or sport), which is on the rise globally, as well as in the Toledo, Ohio area (and in some state prison systems!).


From Lena Groeger:

Why a city like Binghamton, New York is the “ultimate expression of humanity’s social nature.” All about biologist David Sloan Wilson and his ideas on evolution.

Where does my trash go? This visualization tracks those bits of garbage as they make their way across the country. It’s part of the larger Toward the Sentient City exhibition, which explores the intersection of technology and architecture.

Got 15 minutes? This test can apparently make you smarter in all sorts of ways. Who knows, perhaps “the n-back task is just an ideal form of mental nutrition.”



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