Episode ii: 14th-20th August 2011

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Episode1 by kaiwhata. Social disorder | Ariadne. There has been much debate all over the place about the causes of the recent riots in the UK.

Social disorder | Ariadne

Similar discussion and analyses occurred following the ‘Arab spring’ uprisings earlier in the year. In this post I look at signals and trends that are being used to forecast social disorder in various parts of the world. Conflicts over resources (food, water, oil, minerals) are regarded as underlying causes for some local or regional unrest. Poverty, corruption, and social inequality (among other issues) have been cited as factors in the Arab spring uprisings, as well as in the UK. One researcher considers that riots can develop and spread in ways similar to epidemics (and aspects of the spread of the uprisings in the Middle East did seem to have elements of a contagion).

How the human brain lies to us. Even in important moments, our brains are not as good at creating accurate memories as we think they are.

How the human brain lies to us

This clip from the World Science Festival features two stories that show how easily the brain can be manipulated. In the first, writer Jonah Lehrer describes how he remembers his cousin ruining his 8th birthday party (except, that, he later found out, this incident never happened). ScienceTeller Festival Home Page. Fatal Attraction: Sex, Death, Parasites, and Cats | The Loom. It’s time to revisit that grand old parasite, the brain-infecting Toxoplasma.

Fatal Attraction: Sex, Death, Parasites, and Cats | The Loom

The more we learn about it, the more marvelously creepy it gets. Toxoplasma is a single-celled relative of the parasites that cause malaria. It poses a serious risk to people with compromised immune systems (for example, people with AIDS) and fetuses (which is why pregnant women need to avoid getting Toxoplasma infections). Why Captain Higgins is my favorite parasitic flatworm.

Mind altering microbes Part I: Suicidal crickets. I went to a fantastic departmental seminar yesterday by Associate Professor Mark Thomas about how parasites are able to manipulate the behaviour of their unfortunate host, usually as a means of enhancing transmission or to enable the parasite to reach the next phase of its life cycle.

Mind altering microbes Part I: Suicidal crickets

I wanted to share some of the fantastic examples Mark talked about, starting with suicidal crickets. A few years ago, Frédéric Thomas and colleagues described (1) how crickets infected with hairworms (Nematomorpha) commit suicide by jumping into water. This is necessary behaviour on the part of the hairworm as the parasites spend their adult lives free-living in aquatic environments where they mate and produce eggs. During a field study, the authors collected crickets either from the forest or around a swimming pool, and found very different rates of infection: 15% (5/33) for forest-caught crickets compared with 95% (36/38) for those collected around the swimming pool.

NASA Hiding Approaching Doomsday Space Event. Before It's News NASA and the European Space Agency have been warning the world for two years about the approaching catastrophes that may unfold during late 2011 through 2012.

NASA Hiding Approaching Doomsday Space Event

Few have been listening. Calling it a "once in a lifetime super solar storm event," NASA warns that killer solar flares can slam the Earth knocking out the Northern Hemisphere's technological infrastructure and kicking everything back to the level of the late 1800s. Russia too has voiced concern. Superflare. There always seems to be some new ‘fashionable’ way for people to predict the end of the world doesn’t there?

Superflare

Last year it was the supposed black holes created by the LHC, then there was the whole “planetary alignment” thing promoted by films like 2012. The one that poked it’s head up this week is the idea that in 2012 a massive solar flare from our sun will engulf the earth, disrupt electrical grids and communications and just generally cause chaos and pandemonium. A more indepth discussion of how terrified we should all be can be found here. So, should we all be hiding under our beds, scared that the sky will fall?

Well, like all the best horror stories, this idea takes elements of truth and weaves them together into a compelling narrative to attempt to give the theory credence. Kermadec Adventures. Dutch artist creates 'bulletproof' skin with spider silk | Science & Technology | Deutsche Welle | 19.08.2011. This summer, a very unusual science project is on display at a museum in Leiden, southwest of Amsterdam.

Dutch artist creates 'bulletproof' skin with spider silk | Science & Technology | Deutsche Welle | 19.08.2011

There's a piece of human skin that's been genetically combined to grow in conjunction with spider silk. This unique combination makes the skin bulletproof against a .22 caliber rifle - the standard for a Type 1 bulletproof vest. This means it can stop a 2.6-gram (0.09-ounce) bullet traveling at 329 meters per second (1,080 feet per second). The project, which is appropriately named "2.6g 329m/s," is the creation of Dutch artist Jalila Essaidi. She says she was inspired by Randy Lewis, an American professor of molecular biology at the University of Wyoming, who in 2010, managed to genetically engineer goats whose milk contains the proteins that create spider silk. Gator in your tank: Alligator fat as a new source of biodiesel fuel. (PhysOrg.com) -- In addition to being a novelty food, alligators could also provide a feedstock for biodiesel.

Gator in your tank: Alligator fat as a new source of biodiesel fuel

Every year, the alligator meat industry disposes of about 15 million pounds of alligator fat in landfills. Now scientists have found that oil can be extracted from the fat and used to make a high-quality biodiesel. Open University research explodes myth of 'digital native' Gerald Haigh visits his alma mater to learn that a good attitude to technology correlates with good learning habits Is there a digital native?

Open University research explodes myth of 'digital native'

Not according to new Open University research A new research project by the Open University explores the much-debated concept of “the digital native”. The university does this by making full use of the rich resource which is its own highly diverse student body. CanvasMol. Separation of platelets from whole blood using standing surface acoustic waves in a microchannel. SETI Institute. You can’t barrack for scientists. “Why don’t scientists and people who contribute something to the community get the same amount of admiration as sportspeople?”

You can’t barrack for scientists

Mia Freedman asked herself that question last week as she tried to understand the hatred unleashed upon her when she suggested others might be as worthy of the term “hero” as Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. The answer is strange - it’s precisely because they are heroes, that they aren’t hailed as heroes.