Links for the week. Audio from Evanescence, Pink Floyd, and … John Denver? 

The news I see fit to print (er, link) to:

  • Everything you wanted to know about coffee in 3 minutes. Wow, didn’t know it was responsible for the Enlightenment!
  • This is how Apple changes education forever. Or maybe not. At least, not yet. Anything that drops textbook price down, makes them weigh less, and makes them more interactive is a big hit for me.
  • Speaking of Apple, iPad and iPhone apps of note. Medical. Frugal foodies. And this. Heh.When Siri attacks. But seriously, assimilation has begun.
  • This made me laugh. So, did this, although it probably shouldn’t have. This didn’t, which is unusual for xkcd, but humor wasn’t it’s purpose. Seems like Wikipedia et al. were taken seriously.
  • Mountains beyond mountains. Gorgeous book art.
  • I’ve had a massive earache/sinus infection this weekend and brought old Mr. Reliable… the hydrogen peroxide. Tilt, pout, bubble, pour out. Good stuff. Turns out there is a lot more uses for it too. That reminds me of this chemistry cartoon. Not for faint of heart…



  • Infectious bacteria in your gut create black market for weapons by Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science. “Blecher’s study shows that the harmless bacteria in our bodies are intimately connected with the disease-causing ones that invade us from the outside. A bout of disease can influence the evolution of both groups. Infectious bacteria aren’t just making us ill – they’re also weaponizing our allies.” Scary stuff.
  • Ten books for 2012. Impressive list.
  • An example of science overstepping its bounds, science policing itself, or just public relations? This killer flu story was covered in both Wired and The NY Times.
  • Test tube yeast evolve multicellularity.
  • “Intelligence” pills. Awesome! Wait, they do what? Nevermind
  • As we think of new sources of fuel, perhaps we should move off-land? Here’s one example of using synthetic biology to create an genetically engineered bacterium that turns seaweed into ethanol.
  • Not sure how many undergrads read this, but if they do or you teach them, this looks like a great opportunity for research experience in addition to the traditional routes.

The space-between:

  • What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation? A few examples and the real deal. One I particularly like: “Where did we come from? I find the explanation that we were made in stars [that we are all stardust] to be deep, elegant, and beautiful. This explanation says that every atom in each of our bodies was built up out of smaller particles produced in the furnaces of long-gone stars. We are the byproducts of nuclear fusion. The intense pressures and temperatures of these giant stoves thickened collapsing clouds of tiny elemental bits into heavier bits, which once fused, were blown out into space as the furnace died. The heaviest atoms in our bones may have required more than one cycle in the star furnaces to fatten up. Uncountable numbers of built-up atoms congealed into a planet, and a strange disequilibrium called life swept up a subset of those atoms into our mortal shells. We are all collected stardust. And by a most elegant and remarkable transformation, our starstuff is capable of looking into the night sky to perceive other stars shining. They seem remote and distant, but we are really very close to them no matter how many lightyears away. All that we see of each other was born in a star. How beautiful is that?”
  • On the other side of the spectrum… the ways the world could end. Yikes. But it will end. We do know that.
  • Is Jerry Coyne unsophisticated about free will? Not as he defines it. Or so he says.
  • James McGrath with a primer on Pete Enns’ new book, The Evolution of Adam. The blog tour starts next week and he, I, and several others will be writing about the book. I plan to do so in several short installments. RJS has already started going through the book on the Jesus Creed blog.
  • Speaking of Pete, here’s a great adapted excerpt from this book: Evangelicalism and Evolution ARE in Serious Conflict (and that’s not the end of the world).
  • “Preaching against evolution in evangelical churches doesn’t create atheists — it creates not-evangelicals.”
  • Are We the Reason for the Universe’s Existence? The Anthropic Principle Reconsidered. Not an endorsement, but food for though nevertheless. While you’re reading, try to catch the one really interesting, but “out there” link.
  • Oh fine, here it is.
  • Did you all see this sledding crow video? Much food for thought here.
  • On Epiphenomenon, people say they’re good if they think God is watching.
  • Wonderful, wonderful article by Andy Crouch on What I Wish My Pastor Knew About… The Life of a Scientist. “In many scientists, delight is matched by wonder — a sense of astonishment at the beautiful, ingenious complexity to be found in the world. This is not the “wonder” that comes from ignorance — “I wonder how a light bulb really works?” — but a wonder that comes from understanding. Indeed, as we progress further into humanity’s scientific era we have been able to disabuse ourselves of a mistaken early-modern notion: that the more the world became comprehensible, the less it would be wonderful. That turns out not to be true at all — ask a scientist. Wonder grows as understanding grows. Indeed, wonder only grows if understanding grows. If we replace our childhood awe of lightning with an explanation like, “It’s nothing but a transfer of voltage across a highly resistive material” (an example of what G. K. Chesterton wittily called “nothing-buttery”) perhaps the world will seem like a less wonderful place. But those who actually pursue knowledge of lightning — of electromagnetism or cloud formation or weather systems or climate — end up being more in awe of the world than they were as children. This is surely one of the remarkable features of our cosmos: the more we understand about it, the more we are in awe of its beautiful elegance and simplicity, and at the same time its humbling complexity.”