The week in six bits:
1. Nope, pruny fingers and toes don’t give you a “better grip”. Researchers claim to demonstrate that people with wrinkly hands are no better at set-up tasks requiring grip acuity. However, does this really disprove the underlying evolutionary hypothesis? I mean, does the study really shed light on incremental trans-generational inheritance of even tiny advantages in adaptive fitness? (Hint: No it doesn’t).
2. Mars mission student: ‘I’d rather go and not come back than not go at all.’ Masters student gets shortlisted for possible future mission to Mars, and is confronted with the possibility that such a trip might actually be of the one-way variety. Her response? “It’s much more logical. It’s the only way you can actually do a mission to Mars and land there, because otherwise you just won’t have enough fuel to go there and come back.” Okay then. But what about the prospect of never seeing your friends and family ever again, for as long as you live? “I will miss them…but it’s not a dealbreaker.”
3. The government’s IT credibility problem. Irish government TD (i.e., Member of Parliament) is worried about the Internet and especially, er…”replacement open source browsers“. Unfortunately, his utterances are surreal in their incoherence and technical bunkumry. In this blog post, tech blogger Robert Synnott makes the very pertinent point that such ineptitude would never be accepted from a health or law reform spokesperson, but seems to be par for the course when politicians talk about this here interweb thingy.
4. Scientists create green-glowing piglets. As in these little guys:
5. Bioglow’s Starlight Avatar is the world’s first light producing plant. As in this thing:
6. I Would Rather Lick a Toilet Seat Than a Cellphone. Bacteria generally get a bad rap in the media, according to this microbiologist (and he should know). As do toilet seats, which are actually quite clean. Why? Well, an obvious reason is that we tend to bleach toilet seats quite frequently. But there’s also a less obvious reason. According to the writer, “there just aren’t as many microbes on the part of your body that actually sits on the toilet seat…“
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.