Scienceline Staff Picks

NPR, elephant toes and deep ocean shows

Our favorites from the week.

January 1, 2012

From Susan E. Matthews:

I try to believe that I am pretty on top of the ever-evolving world of social media, but this week proved to me once again that this world is too big to ever actually be fully in control. But this week I discovered NPR’s tumblr and my life has been eternally brightened. From existentially curious art to adorable polar bears with a purpose, the site is worth some skimming. And on an unscientific note, here’s a chart that shows the potential bounty garnered from various game shows. I’m sold.

The rather volatile oil-driven relationship between Russia and China is explained in an in-depth piece from The Washington Post this week. The accompanying graphic reminds us why Americans should be up to date on this story — we consume more than twice the oil quantity even of rising rival consumer China.

In honor of the fact that it is almost 2012, and we have been rounding up all our science favorites, I’d like to take this opportunity to bring up the brilliant and searing work of Chris Jordan — a photographer and environmentalist. His recent stint in Kenya is currently featured on his website, but his work entitled Midway is ongoing and equally memorable. I’ve found that his work Running the Numbers is the most stunning portrayal of American consumerism I’ve seen, and certainly worth a look as we’re all contemplating New Year’s resolutions.

From Emma Bryce:

Here’s the tender narrative of the relationship between two college students who both have different forms of autism. The video at the beginning kicks off some truly beautiful science writing.

Production of frankincense, the Christmas gift of Biblical origins, could dwindle by half in a decade, because the Ethiopian and Arabian trees that produce it are the subject of a peculiar beetle attack.

And finally, it’s official: elephants have six toes! This is exciting because,well,we thought they had only had five. And because it explains some cool stuff about evolution.

From Kelly Slivka:

Who doesn’t love a deep-ocean light show? The New York Times featured a video this week about the research of marine biologist Edith Widder, who films the mystifying phosphorescent light emitted by strange-looking ocean critters.

If you think the shindig down at Times Square is a big deal, take a look at the most recent blog post on Krulwich Wonders. Krulwich talks about the time zone with the highest population of people –1.5 billion. That’s a whole lot of champagne corks popping and kazoos kazooing.

This week, io9 posted a list of the 10 images that changed the course of science. It is worth a look and a read. My personal favorite: The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. It’s eternally wonderful to me how something so simple as a photograph – and therein the ability to stop time – can teach us so much about the world. It doesn’t change how we perceive the world externally but how we perceive it internally.

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