Appropriate gifts are always hard to find – just what do you get the guy who discovered the structure of DNA? A gift basket? A book voucher? or -
“When we began the Human Genome Project, we anticipated it would take 15 years to sequence the 3 billion base pairs and identify all the [...]
Michelle Tsai in Slate:
Close to 300 boys and girls will be stepping up to the mic at this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. They hail from across the United States, as well as from countries like Germany, Jamaica, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Canada. Wait, do non-English-speaking countries have spelling bees, too?
Not exactly. [...]
There’s a new paper out soon in P.N.A.S. that I’m betting will cause a bit of a stir. The paper by Dediu and Ladd, apparently shows that tonal languages like Chinese, Thai and Yoruba, are correlated with the certain derived forms of two genes thought to underlie complex cognition in humans; ASPM and Microcephalin.
Cruciani et al in Molecular Biology and Evolution:
Detailed population data were obtained on the distribution of novel biallelic markers that finely dissect the human Y-chromosome haplogroup E-M78. Among 6,501 Y chromosomes sampled in 81 human populations worldwide, we found 517 E-M78 chromosomes and assigned them to 10 subhaplogroups. Eleven microsatellite loci were used [...]
It’s commonly accepted that feathers evolved as structures to keep dinosaurs warm, before becoming exapted for flight. However, a new specimen of Sinosauropteryx suggests that these proto-feathers are actually degraded collagen, and were probably the result of decomposed soft tissue surrounding them.
The paper is available here: A new Chinese specimen indicates that [...]
The tone intervals in music sound good because they’re linked to the ones we use in our languages:
Throughout history and across cultures, humans have created music using pitch intervals that divide octaves into the 12 tones of the chromatic scale. Why these specific intervals in music are preferred, however, is not known. In the [...]
Please welcome DialectSyntax.org to the internet, it’s a “digital meeting place for researchers in the field of micro-comparative syntax”. Currently they’ve got links to research groups involved in studying the syntax of dialects, conferences and events about dialect syntax, and links to papers about, well, dialect syntax.
By just four months of age, infants can tell if a speaker is using a different languages, purely by the movement of their lips (i.e. no sound).
This study shows that 4- and 6-month-old infants can discriminate languages (English from French) just from viewing silently presented articulations. By the age of 8 months, [...]
The timing of the impact, according to Kennett, coincides with an era of climate cooling known as the Younger Dryas.
“We are suggesting for the first time that [...]
One of the most interesting social psychologists out there, Jonathan Haidt (author of The Happiness Hypothesis), talks about the “five foundations of morality” at the 2007 New Yorker Conference.