Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Links!

This week there are links on the Cuban revolution and Mikhail Gorbachev and fascism.

And the platypus.

Four out of five doctors recommend Friday Links as a way to both improve your health and ruin your productivity, so let's get started.

Leading off this week is an article sent in by Cibby Pulikkaseril, and it's about The Third Wave, a social experiment performed by a high school teacher in 1966. It's about (to me) the dangers of collective identity, and it's completely fascinating. The original article by the teacher is remarkable, but even more interesting is an interview with one of his students.

The co-lead this week is from Sirius, and it's a video of a working version of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine #2. It's nothing short of astonishing.

Here's a mind-blowing link from Brian Witte: birds sense magnetic fields with the help of quantum mechanics. Bacteria can also sense magnetic fields, and here are some incredible pictures of magnetosomes inside bacteria.

The New York times had some stellar articles in its Tuesday Science section, and here's an assortment:
Redefining Disease, Genes and All is about the process of creating a map of disease based on genetic relationships. It's fascinating reading, and the map is a stunner (click on "multimedia").

Platypus Looks Strange On The Inside, Too is an article about the decoding of the platypus genome.

Researchers Seek to Demystify the Metabolic Magic of Sled Dogs shares some amazing facts about sled dogs--in particular, that they somehow burn calories at a daily rate 2.4 times that of a Tour de France cyclist, yet somehow they don't deplete their glycogen or fat reserves.

Lots of Animals Learn, But Smarter Isn't Better, which is a discussion of the biological cost of learning.

Japan Fights Crowd of Crows is right out of "The Birds," and here's an excerpt:
Blackouts are just one of the problems caused by an explosion in Japan’s population of crows, which have grown so numerous that they seem to compete with humans for space in this crowded nation. Communities are scrambling to find ways to relocate or reduce their crow populations, as ever larger flocks of loud, ominous birds have taken over parks and nature reserves, frightening away residents.

It is a scourge straight out of Hitchcock, and the crows here look and act the part. With wing spans up to a yard and intimidating black beaks and sharp claws, Japan’s crows are bigger, more aggressive and downright scarier than those usually seen in North America.

Finally, Family Science Project Yields Surprising Data About a Siberian Lake is the story of the Kozhov family, which has been studying Lake Baikal in Siberia for 65 years. Lake Baikal is "the deepest and largest body of fresh water on earth," and for 65 years, the Kozhov family has done this:
Every week to 10 days, by boat in summer and over the ice in winter, he crossed the lake to a spot about a mile and a half from Bolshie Koty, a small village in the piney woods on Baikal’s northwest shore. There, Dr. Kozhov, a professor at Irkutsk State University, would record water temperature and clarity and track the plant and animal plankton species as deep as 2,400 feet.

From Chris Meyer, a story with one of my favorite headlines ever: Parachuting Dog Helped Win WWII. I'd just like to know of the dog helped more than the bear (+10 if you remember that article).

From the Edwin Garcia Links machine, a remarkable story about an American journalist who flew to Cuba to cover the revolution. Next, a link to a story about gene therapy and how an experimental trial has been a "major advance in the treatment of blindness." Finally, and you really need to watch this video, it's El camino del Rey, a walkway to the climbing section of El Chorro. If I could use one word to describe how I felt watching the video, it would be "nervous." Then there's Luncheon Meat With Faces Just Tastes Better.

Only Edwin could send in links about the Cuban Revolution and faces in lunch meat in the same week.

From Sirius, a link to an article about a glass chip that spins silk--like a spider. Also, a fascinating article about how air pollution impedes the ability of bees to find flowers.

From Pete Thistle, a link to No Country for Old Communists, an article about Mikhail Gorbachev and a talk he gave--of all places--in Hollywood. At the Hard Rock Live.

From Jesse Leimkuehler, a link to an article about the Phoenix Lander as it nears Mars. Also from Jesse, an article about how scientists believe sand grains form on Titan, and it's not what you might expect.

From Jason Price, a video of TNT analyst Kenny Smith attempting to duplicate Kobe Bryant's digitally-enhanced jump over an Aston Martin. It's a classic.

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