[Open] Science Sunday — 8.11.09

By Fabiana Kubke 08/11/2009

Random samples of my reading list brought to you through the magic of the internet, bloggers and Open Access

Image by JJ from Wikimedia Commons

If you ever wondered what makes a scientists a scientist, you are not alone. And at The Onion News, a new report just in: ’Scientists dissect coworker to find out more about scientists’ addresses precisely this.

There is a great post by Mo of Neurophilosophy on a phenomenon called ’motion induced blindness’. His post, ’The illusion of time, perceiving the effect before the cause’, is as we his followers have come to expect, beautifully written, and even has a video to experience the effect. After reading the post, you may also be enticed to follow him on twitter (where he is known as @mocost). He will lead you through his tweets to everything you ever wanted to know about neuroscience.

Along similar lines, an article in PLoS One by James Heron, James V. M. Hanson, David Whitaker, ’Effect before Cause: Supramodal Recalibration of Sensorimotor Timing’ examines how we perceive cause-consequence relationships. During an initial phase subjects were asked to press a mouse button during a training phase, which was followed by the appearance of a light, a sound or a tap on the finger in the other hand a given time after the mouse click. During the test phase, the researchers changed the timing of the sensory stimulation associated with the click. The subjects under these conditions often perceive the sensory stimulus as occurring ’before’ their motor action (mouse click). The authors say that:

temporal recalibration occurs because actions and their sensory consequences ‘should’ feel synchronous

It is yet another example of how our brain keeps playing tricks on us.

New Scientists has a collection of images of the ’ten inventions that changed the world’ found in the Science Museum in London. They range from the model of the DNA molecule, to the Model T Ford to the Pilot ACE Computer. Totally worth a flick-through (if you are into this sort of thing)

My favourite tweet this week comes courtesy of @sceincebase. David Bradley brings up an interesting point regarding the famous six degrees of separation. Are social networks really shortening the distance, or are there connections that are really hard to bridge?