Amazing Micron Pictures

Wellcome Image Awards 2012 | Wellcome Image Awards.

Click on the link above to see the 16 finalists and the winning photo closeup of a living brain.

Catherine Draycott, head of Wellcome Images and a member of the judging panel, said: ‘The Wellcome Image Awards are unique in that the winners are chosen for their scientific and technical merit as much as for their aesthetic appeal.

‘They offer people a chance to get closer to science and research and see it in a different way, as a source of beauty as well as providing important information about ourselves and the world around us.
The other picture here  is of a Caffeine Crystal.

The Disadvantage of Smarts

Why would being a good problem solver mean you were less good at the ordinary more instinctive behavior?

General intelligence evolved to solve evolutionarily novel problems, so intelligent people are more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel preferences and values. They are more likely to recognize and develop tastes for things that our ancestors did not have 100,000 years ago. For example, more intelligent people are more likely to be left-wing liberals because our ancestors were “conservative” by the contemporary American definition—they only cared about the well-being of their friends and family. They are more likely to be atheist because the preferred theory in evolutionary psychology is that humans are designed to believe in God.


Humans appear to be designed to be paranoid; they are designed to see intentional agents behind natural phenomena. This is because making the mistake of thinking that a natural event has an intentional agent behind it is less potentially costly than being oblivious and thinking that an intentional event, like someone trying to kill you, has a coincidental cause. The paranoid outlive the oblivious. Belief in God may be a consequence of this tendency. Intelligent people are more likely to be nocturnal because humans are designed to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down. They are more likely to be homosexual, because humans are evolutionarily designed to reproduce heterosexually. They are more likely to enjoy instrumental music because music in its evolutionary origin was vocal, and they are more likely to consume alcohol, cigarettes and drugs because all of these substances are evolutionarily novel.

via Quick study: Satoshi Kanazawa on intelligence: The disadvantage of smarts | The Economist.

Why Smart people Are Stupid

Here’s a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)

A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias—that’s why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes—it can actually be a subtle curse.

via Research Shows That the Smarter People Are, the More Susceptible They Are to Cognitive Bias : The New Yorker.

Fix for Bird-Tower Collisions

Prompted by a coalition of conservation and business groups, federal aviation officials determined that it is safe to turn off steady tower lights. Flashing safety lights, which are standard equipment on antennas, are just as visible to pilots and don’t endanger birds, FAA technical experts reported last month.

In a test of the new lighting in Michigan, bird deaths dropped by more than half during 20 days of peak songbird migration, researchers at Central Michigan University and the federal wildlife service reported in 2009 in the journal Ecological Applications.”The beautiful thing about this is you turn off these steadily burning red lights and within minutes the birds leave,” said avian ecologist Joelle Gehring at Michigan State University. “It is an immediate effect.”

Up to 15 billion birds are estimated to be in North America in the spring and up to 30 billion in the fall.

via Fix for Bird-Tower Collisions –

USA has Plenty More Fish in the Sea

On May 14th the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a record six federal fisheries returned to health last year. After a decade of similar progress, 86% of America’s roughly 250 federally monitored commercial fish stocks were not subject to overfishing; 79% were considered healthy.

The recent recovery of species, including New England scallops, mid-Atlantic bluefish and summer flounder and Pacific lingcod, is the result. This signals another truth: given a break, the marine environment can often replenish itself spectacularly. America’s fisheries are probably now managed almost as well as the world’s best, in Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia

via Fish stocks: Plenty more fish in the sea | The Economist.

In Focus – National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

In Focus – National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 – The Atlantic.

Eruption of the Cordon del Caulle

National Geographic is currently holding its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 30. For the past nine weeks, the society has been gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to vote for them as well. National Geographic was kind enough to let Alan Taylor choose among its entries from 2011 for display here on In Focus. Gathered below are 45 images from the three categories of People, Places, and Nature, with captions written by the individual photographers

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