Measuring the value of science

UPDATE: Please see the end of this piece, where I give examples of possible ‘good’ metrics The subject of innovation/science/tech/R&D, and its contribution to a country’s economy and society, appears to be top of mind for policymakers, funding bodies and scientific bodies all over the world. In New Zealand alone, MSI has set a target […]

How to pronounce Scotch brand names. Properly.

Awesome.  Esquire magazine has released over 40 videos in which legendary Scotsman/actor Brian Cox teaches the uninitiated* how to pronounce the names of over 40 Scotch (whisky) brands. Sometimes with a little editorialising: for example, he describes Lagavulin (a favourite of mine) as ‘the cognac of whiskies. Works like a depth charge. pooowwwww’. Quite right, […]

No, actually, everyone is NOT entitled to their opinion

The question of opinion is becoming an increasingly vexed issue all over the world, and in all kinds of disciplines. While no one (well, no one in their right minds) would say that one isn’t entitled to the opinion that purple is a waaaaaay prettier colour than, say, orange, the same is not true when […]

Lots of land still up for grabs on largest LEGO set

In around June this year, LEGO and Google Australia (who do the maps) released Build, a WebGL LEGO simulator. Touting itself as the world’s largest LEGO set, it allows you to build, using Lego bricks, anything you want on a Google map.The map’s been divided up into small squares, and plots are a 32×32 grid. […]

Real-life anime eyes

One of the hallmarks of the Japanese anime/manga illustration style is the massively enlarged eyes of the characters*. Certainly, it’s on the key hallmarks differentiating the characters from normal human beings. And now, even that distinction’s disappearing. Ukrainian Anastasiya Shpagina has figured out how to do it, using only the Magic of Makeup. In the […]

More fraud behind paper retractions than you might have thought

A subject that’s come up in discussion with my friend a couple of times recently has been the increase in retractions of scientific papers from journals. I’ve always staunchly defended allegations this might be due to naughty scientists. I am  now having to make my own retraction about that. According to research (as yet unretracted) […]

New books in Science, Technology and Society

As we all know, there’s something of a profusion out there of books about science, technology and society in its myriad forms. Sorting through this heap can be something of a difficult task, and so it’s with some delight that I’ve just heard about the New Books in Science, Technology and Society initiative. It ‘aims […]

Cute animal pictures are good for your work!

Workers! Throw off your shackles!  Be not afraid to be seen by your boss cooing over Cute Overload! Hiroshi Nittono and colleagues, of Hiroshima University in Japan, have shown something most intriguing: that looking at ‘kawaii’ or cute images of baby animals improves focus and careful behaviour. It is, perhaps, not surprising that the research […]

Hey girl. Did you know I like the macabre?

Hey Girl. I just found out something pretty cool. Dead Man’s Bones, to which I am currently listening, is a very happy find. The songs from the eponymous album (2009) are about zombies and ghosts and monsters, and have a deliciously cute macabre edge to them. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnEkboR86h0&feature=list_other&playnext=1&list=ALHTd1VmZQRNoKvLr1A16wEhKubCsE6_P0[/youtube] Some songs are very 50s diner schmaltz. Others […]