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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Latest News: Coco Liu Enters Showbiz!


Just last month, Fresh Brainz featured the infamous stripper-cum-blogger Coco Liu Yao.

She was accidentally thrust into the limelight when Hong Kong media mogul Chu Pui-Hing was spotted by photojournalists while they were walking towards her apartment.

Mr. Chu ducked behind Coco and ran away from the reporters, eventually hiding in a toilet. Unfortunately he was recognized from the photos and became a tabloid sensation. The entire debacle forced Mr. Chu to cut short his career.

Coco, in contrast, went from strength to strength. Her previously obscure blog was swamped by over 100,000 readers a day.

After lying low in her hometown of Sichuan for a short while, Coco went to Beijing and was talent spotted by internet film director Xu Jing (徐兢).

He reportedly offered her a 10 million yuan (S$ 2 million) contract to shoot a film exposé of the nightclub scene in Hong Kong.

Two million dollars !?!!

Exit Coco Liu the Stripper.

Enter Coco Liu, the Blogebrity-Superstar-Sex Goddess.

She now goes by Erotic Lady Coco (艳女郎COCO) and has a couple of new blogs showcasing even more sexy photos while wearing very little clothing.

Here's one of her blogs...

... and here's another.

As you can see, many of her new photos are taken by professional studios. They are not only tasteful but also artistically done.

Coco must be the envy of her ex-colleagues!

Which is why she has stopped contacting her friends in Hong Kong. She believes that they will betray her confidence for the sake of money.

Heh, Coco is a smart girl.

But we already knew that.

In addition to shooting sexy photos, Coco is now busy with many showbiz commitments: appearing at store openings, giving media interviews, preparing to release a music single - even becoming a judge of a new reality show in China!

Indeed, she is well on her way to become a superstar in Beijing.

Wait a minute...

Oh NO!!!

Won't that put her on a collision course with another superstar in Beijing - Crystal Liu Yi Fei (刘亦菲)?

Coincidentally, they have the same surname.

And they are both 20 years old.

But that's all they have in common, I'm afraid.

Crystal Liu graduated from the prestigious Beijing Film Academy in 2006. She started her TV career in 2002 and shot to fame when she played the role of the Little Dragon Lady (Xiao Long Nu - 小龙女) in CCTV's 2005 drama series - Return of the Condor Heroes.

And she's no slouch on the big screen neither - Crystal Liu made her first movie in 2003. She is also making a foray into the music industry by signing a recording contract with Sony Music in 2005.

Delicate, angelic and innocent-looking, Crystal Liu is almost the antithesis of Coco Liu.

What will eventually happen in this Superstar Kumite of megalithic proportions?

Who will eventually prevail?

Nobody knows.

Personally, I only know one thing for sure.

I didn't make this poster.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Fresh Science 27 August 2007

We do the hard work of stalking the globe for the dodgiest science articles - so you don't have to.

Finally, a product for the Graduate Advisor (Braving the Elements - USA)
No... please... mercy!

Read this, you sex machine: birth of PR (Mind Hacks - USA)
No I don't want the credit card. Just the hot babe, please...

Lunar Eclipse Tuesday Morning (Ontogeny - USA)
Visible from the Americas and East Asia (evening)...

Continuing effects of 9/11 (Scientific American - USA)
Long-term health effects of tragedy...

English Russia >> A new bench (Sour Grapes - USA)
In Soviet Russia, chair sits you!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Boys, Toys, And The New Hello Kitty World

Boys boys boys.

Do you know what boys like?


Of course they do.

I didn't ask who they like. I asked - what.



Boys like their toys.

Many boys like toys that are long, thick and hard - like a gigantic penis.

We call them "phallic" toys.

Through the centuries, many phallic toys have emerged and thrilled generations of boys of all ages.

And because men were the key players in designing these playthings, they became shaped more and more like humongous dicks.

Sadly, it's not a Boy's World anymore.

There are ominous signs that the glory days of toys that resemble ginormous manhoods are coming to an end.

In its place are toys that look... well... totally girlie.

Can it be true?

Oh the horrors!

Fresh Brainz is truly concerned with this flaccid state of affairs. We are interested in all types of evolution, not just biological evolution.

As such, we are delighted to bring you an extensive evolutionary history of three popular boy's toys.

In addition, we bring you a sad projection of what lies in the near future, based on current design trends.

1. Guns

Boys like guns.


For about five hundred years, boys have been killing each other with fire-weaponry - both for play and for real.

a. Early days

In the beginning, spherical bullets were fired out of guns that had smooth-bore barrels. By practical necessity, guns must have long barrels in order to be somewhat accurate.

Thus, guns already look like johnsons right from Day One.

b. Height of machismo

Then the rifled barrel was invented. Spiral grooves were cut on the inside of the barrel, imparting spin to the bullet as it passed through.

In conjunction with a long barrel, spin-stabilization allowed a bullet to reach long distances with great accuracy.

The halcyon days of the long rifle was during the Second World War, where millions of bolt-action rifles over a metre long were used on the front-line.

Using these toys, boys can rain death on their enemies more than a kilometre away.

Handguns were getting longer and more powerful too. Who can forget Charles Bronson's "Wildey" from the Death Wish movies?

Those were the good old days when guns were made for real men.

Only real men had hands strong enough to handle them.

c. Signs and portents

Alas the good times did not last. War experience showed that soldiers rarely fought at distances over a few hundred metres.

The rate of fire was more important than range or accuracy. Rifles were re-designed to be shorter and less unwieldy. The assault rifle was born.

Long barrels were slowly becoming obsolete.

Using the "bullpup" configuration (with the ammo box behind the pistol grip), designers could make the assault rifle even shorter.

Then the rot started. Instead of MANLY colours such as black, silver and brown, manufacturers began to produce guns in a wide variety of colours!


And to make things much, much worse, Hello Kitty decorations started to appear on them.


Why? For the love of Clint Eastwood... Why?

d. Hello Kitty future

Extrapolating from current trends and emerging technologies, Fresh Brainz presents two possible gun designs in the near future.

Our future assault rifle is shown here in neon green, with interchangeable accessories in 64 popular colours. Ergonomically designed, its outer shell is made using weather-proof plastic and composite materials, with metallic parts completely concealed inside. It is equipped with an optical sight with 8X zoom and an ammo counter.

The first round is fired electrically and the rest by gas blowback, so there is no need to cock the weapon first. It is also built to fire the latest caseless ammunition, so there is no mess and no fuss.

Just mechanized death.

If you prefer a smaller, more discreet weapon, why not select one of our handy handguns? It's available in pastel yellow, and 255 other colours - including eggshell of course. The weapon is completely smooth; no parts will get snagged on your pocket or handbag.

It packs 20 rounds of small calibre bullets that are designed to cause disabling pain but inflict minimal injury to an assailant, robber or random passerby. Again the first round is electrically fired so there is no need to rack a slide or cock a hammer.

Optional: face detection autofocus system that empowers you to avoid wasting bullets on inanimate objects.

2. Aeroplanes

Boys also like planes.

Speed! Freedom!

Indeed, nothing feels more like freedom than being strapped tightly onto a seat and flying on an assigned flight path in a crowded sky with a thousand other aircraft.

"Please remain in your holding pattern."


a. Early days

Unlike guns, the first aeroplane in no way resembled a massive schlong.

You can see that it looked more like a giant box kite.

Of course, only REAL men could fly, but aeroplanes were not yet manly enough to match their pilots' manliness.

b. Height of machismo

The use of fabric, wood and later aluminium skin to enclose the passengers allowed aeroplanes to have a more substantial appearance.

As aircraft soared to greater speeds and heights, they started to become sleeker and longer. This trend really peaked at the dawn of the jet age.

Take this F-104 Starfighter for instance.

The wings are so short that you can hardly see them in this picture. It was nicknamed "The Missile With A Man In It".

That is a very polite nickname.

I would have called it "The Flying Penis".

Such designs are not confined to military aircraft only.

Check out this passenger airliner.

What a glorious take-off!

Sigh... they don't make 'em like they used to.

c. Signs and portents

In time, jet engines could produce so much power that speed was no longer a limitation.

Control was.

At supersonic speeds, jet fighters cannot make quick turns. Even if the airframe could withstand the aerodynamic stresses, human pilots couldn't.

Depending on the direction of turn, pilots might either black-out or red-out (blood forced into the brainz).

Once again, war experience demonstrated that most dogfights occur at subsonic speeds where the aircraft is more manoeuvrable and rapid turns are better tolerated by human beings.

This, coupled with the invention of long-range, autonomous missiles, made it unnecessary to continue building faster and faster interceptors.

The pressing need to evade radar detection also drastically altered aircraft designs.

Modern fighters appear to be flattened out because vertical surfaces are minimized to reduce their radar signature. Missiles and other ordnance are carried inside internal weapon bays to eliminate radar reflection.

What about modern passenger planes?

There are few things in this world that are more evil than Hello Kitty.

Precious few.

d. Hello Kitty future

What will future aeroplanes look like?

In order to minimize radar reflection to the absolute minimum, our jet fighter design has no vertical surfaces at all. It is completely flat - a flying wing that carries all its weapons internally, including a 20mm cannon on the left side of its nose.

The intakes and exhaust of its engines are thin, narrow slits to reduce the infra-red signature, allowing the vehicle to evade heat-seeking missiles.

As for its colour scheme: do you really need camouflage on a fighter than can hit targets over 100 km away?

OK you still do, so baby blue is good.

But we can paint a huge Bad Badtz-Maru on it if you want, any time.

Civil airliners evolve in a different direction. The increasing demand for cheap air travel has resulted in this hot pink monstrosity. As the bypass ratio of turbofan engines continue to increase, they become even shorter and fatter. The airframe also becomes shorter and fatter.

In order to stabilize this aircraft a very tall tail is needed. Winglets continue to increase in size due to ever rising requirements for fuel efficiency.

Despite all of these improvements, the economy class seat pitch is as miserable as it has always been.

Even in the future, some grand traditions should be observed.

3. Cameras

Last but not least, boys like cameras.

A fleeting moment captured for all eternity on film.

How romantic!

And in this digital age of ubiquitous camera-phones, a private moment that you have experienced can now be spread far and wide throughout the internet without your knowledge - turning you into an instant celebrity.

I think I'm in love.

a. Early days

Like aeroplanes, the earliest cameras don't look like gargantuan weiners at all. They are basically large wooden boxes.

Notice that it's a MAN taking the photo.

b. Height of machismo

Improved film technology permitted the development of smaller camera boxes. At the same time, camera optics was becoming sharper, more powerful and more versatile.

Take the zoom lens, for example, which was invented in 1932 to allow photographers to vary the focal length of their optics for a closer shot.

Gradually the optics of the camera became longer and more prominent than the camera body itself.

In time, professional photographers began to routinely use hefty zooms and telephoto lenses that are as big as bazookas.

Check out the equipment on this guy.

You'd need strong, powerful muscles to handle this baby, no doubt about it.

It's a man's job.

The pinnacle of this push towards bigger and bigger lenses was reached in the early 1990's, with the development of the 16kg Nikkor 1200-1700mm (f/5.6-8.0) zoom lens...

...and the 16kg Canon EF 1200mm (f/5.6) telephoto lens.

Truly exemplars of excellence.

c. Signs and portents

35mm film cameras needed big zooms because a long focal length is needed to fill up the 24mm x 36mm frame on the film negative.

When digital cameras were invented, CCD sensors could be made smaller than the film negative area. As such, lighter and more compact lenses provide the same angle of view as its 35mm equivalent.

In addition, during the early 2000's, a new lens technology emerged that allowed the light path to be folded 90 degrees inside the body of a camera - somewhat like a periscope.

The optics can zoom without extending outside the body of the camera. One of the earliest "non-extending zooms" to be available on the market was the Minolta DiMAGE X.

Many companies followed this trend and produced camera models that resemble a pack of cards.

They also manufactured cameras in a wide variety of colours, such as pink.

Who else got into the act? You've guessed it.

Oh no, here we go again!

Hmm, 5 megapixels? That sounds tad manly though...

d. Hello Kitty future

Professional photographers who are reading this post might be thinking:

"Ok, so there are dinky consumer cameras that are round and pink. BIG fucking deal. Professional cameras will always be big, black and equipped with long lenses. BWAHAHAHAHAR!"

You laughed too soon.

The latest liquid zoom lens technology has the potential to make camera optics even more compact.

As for the colour of the camera body - let us recall that not so long ago computers only came in black and grey.

Be brave now...

This is the future of professional photography. Pink body (or 15 other colour options) with a lens housing for interchangeable non-protruding lenses. A small 30 megapixel sensor and liquid lens elements make this compact camera possible. It even has a pressure sensitive shutter button that detects how hard you press on it, so that it can automatically turn on its burst mode.

And like a few consumer cameras today, it has an "always capture" mode that records a number of frames constantly even before the shutter is pressed, so that the critical moment is never missed.

So, the future is not so phallic.

Boo-hoo-hoo... get used to it.

All your base are belong to Hello Kitty.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Go Read A Book

From Robot Chicken.

Too cute♥♥♥!!!

Heh they had it coming.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fusionopolis Rising

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fresh Science 22 August 2007

We do the hard work of scruffling the globe for the furriest science articles - so you don't have to.

Histone code cracked? (Bayblab - Canada)
New developments in the field of epigenetics...

Aquatic animals intuit deep physics, but can they write equations? (Biocurious - Canada)
Animals using their intuitive sense of physics to catch their prey...

Seeing red pink (Laelaps - USA)
An evolutionary reason why women prefer pink?

Psychological continuity and the problem of identity (Mind Hacks - USA)
Say it wasn't you...

Voyager spacecraft celebrate 30th anniversary (Ontogeny - USA)
It keeps going and going and going...

Television and the Hive Mind (The Empire of the Odd - USA)
Mass media and mass psychology...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Early Detection Is Your Best Bet

As part of Bayblab's first blog carnival on cancer research, Fresh Brainz is happy to bring you another Nobel uncle lecture.

Prof. Lee Hartwell was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on cell cycle progression in the yeast. This is important to the study of cancer because cancer cells have defects in the control of cell division.

He gave this talk during the opening ceremony of a structural biology and functional genomics conference at Singapore in December last year.

His talk was entitled "Molecular diagnostics will revolutionize medicine", focusing specifically on protein-based diagnostics in the early detection of cancer.

One of the first slides that he showed immediately captured my attention.

This bar chart shows change in age-adjusted mortality between 1950 and 2002 in four major disease classes: heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, pneumonia/influenza and cancer.

As you can see, there is some improvement for most disease classes.

Except cancer.

In fact, there has been no significant reduction in deaths due to cancer (the bars on extreme right) in 52 years - despite the intense research into cancer therapeutics!

Very depressing.

Prof. Hartwell suggested an alternative way to improve the situation. Increasing the effectiveness of early detection techniques can help save many more lives.

Current work is focused on DNA-based therapeutics. Prof. Hartwell gave an example of how this is helpful: in esophageal cancer, which used to have a very poor prognosis.

This is because by the time clinical symptoms appear, the patient has already entered the late stage of the cancer.

Now, the outlook for patients has improved because of the availability of new screening techniques. Samples are taken from people who suffer from Barrett's esophagus and examined for DNA changes, allowing a much earlier diagnosis of cancer.

Early detection is also helpful for other cancers such as colon cancer, cervical cancer, melanomas and breast cancer.

Prof. Hartwell thinks that protein-based diagnostics are the best, because proteins are more diverse. There are only about 30,000 genes in human DNA, compared to 300,000 or more proteins produced.

However, at this time DNA-based technologies are more advanced.

There is an additional challenge. There is an abundance of protein in blood samples; however, diagnostically important proteins are often at a very low concentration.

Thus it is technically difficult to detect these signals within such high levels of noise.

Prof. Hartwell proposed a possible solution - new technologies such as the SISCAPA. He also suggested a more comprehensive approach to biomarker discovery, which is under-funded compared to cancer therapeutics.

He stressed the importance of early intervention.

During the Q&A session, a member of the audience asked:

"If cancer therapeutics has not improved in over 50 years, what went wrong?"

Prof. Hartwell pointed out that cancer research did produce successful "wonder drugs" such as Gleevec. However, he agreed that there aren't many of these. He felt that there was an over-emphasis on the therapeutics approach, because this is more rewarding to pharmaceutical companies.

He then ended his talk by emphasizing that now is the time for cancer diagnostics.

Fresh Brainz is aware of many new technologies that have the potential to become more effective than existing small molecule drugs.

One emerging group of technologies is the use of nanoparticles for accurate drug targeting, or even directly destroying the tumour using heat.

However, most of these technologies are many years away from the clinic.

For the near future, early detection is still your best bet.

Would you like to know more?
Simplest explanation of cancer
Take a break, have a Nobel Prize!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Counterintuitive Science: Orbital Mechanics

Imagine you're in a vehicle, say a car.

You see another car just ahead, cruising at a leisurely pace.

Hey it's your friend Bob!

Hi Bob!

So you step on the gas to approach his car.

To your horror, the harder you step on it, the further he drifts away.

But Bob is not changing his speed at all.

Eventually you start running out of fuel, but his car continues to recede in the distance.

How can this be!?!! What a nightmare!

On 3rd June 1965, two American astronauts faced this exact scenario.

James McDivitt and Edward White of the Gemini 4 space mission had just reached low Earth orbit at the height of about 200km.

They were instructed by mission control to attempt an orbital rendezvous with its spent second stage (a part of the rocket), which was circling the Earth at a slightly higher orbit.

This task was important to learn how to dock vehicles together in space, so that space stations and lunar missions can become reality.

Accustomed to the normal rules of flight, McDivitt aimed his spacecraft directly at the spent stage and fired his rear thrusters to catch up with it.

To his surprise, and the surprise of engineers on the ground as well, the target drifted further and further away.

It appeared as if he had accidentally thrown his own spacecraft into reverse. But there was nothing wrong with his vehicle - it was speeding up in the forward direction.

What happened? This article explains it:

This was where Newtonian mechanics kicked in.

By increasing his craft’s speed, he had increased its distance from the earth. In this new, higher orbit, the craft’s linear velocity, measured in miles per hour, was greater than before.

But its angular velocity—the rate at which it was traveling around the earth, measured in revolutions per hour—was lower. As Kepler had pointed out, objects in low orbits will complete an orbit around the earth faster than those in high orbits, even though their linear velocity is lower.

Click here to read more about the mathematics behind Kepler's equation.

At low Earth orbit, small differences in orbital height result in large differences in angular velocity. Johannes Kepler calculated this more than 300 years ago, but I guess NASA's Gemini 4 team was not prepared for such a striking effect during actual spaceflight.

Orbital mechanics is counterintuitive - unlike what you see in movies like Star Wars, you can't always approach a target simply by flying straight toward it.

Now, back to the story.

Eventually, despite many attempts, the Gemini 4 vehicle did not get any closer to the target.

McDivitt used up so much propellant that his thruster tanks drained to half-full (or half-empty?) and they decided to give up to avoid jeopardizing other mission objectives. Mission control agreed.

Although it seemed like a failure, this entire exercise was very important for the spaceflight endeavour because:

NASA engineers and astronauts extracted a valuable lesson from this mission: It was difficult, if not impossible, to steer a spacecraft merely by eye. The orbital dynamics are so counterintuitive that—combined with the lack of references for judging distances—no human could do the job without help from electronic sensors.

Another space mission would be needed to practice this manoeuvre.

Success finally came at end of the year. On 15th December 1965, Gemini 6A came within 30cm of its target, a passive Gemini 7 spacecraft.

These are the spacecraft shown in the photo above (Gemini 7 as seen from Gemini 6A).

How did they achieve this?

Firstly, instead of aiming straight for its target, the Gemini 6A spacecraft approached from a lower orbit so that it can catch with Gemini 7.

Next, the crew of Gemini 6A now had an onboard computer in command of the last 400km of the approach. The vehicle gradually traded angular velocity for height in a series of thruster burns until the two vehicles were just 40m apart.

Finally, at this distance, the more familiar rules of flight do apply, and the astronauts could close the gap by manually firing the thrusters.

This is fairly routine now, but imagine what went through the minds of all the people involved on that June day in 1965:

Pressing forward makes you move backwards? WTF!!?!

Would you like to know more?
- Diet foods can make you fat

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fresh Science 13 August 2007

We do the hard work of crawling the globe for the spiffiest science articles - so you don't have to.

Why there are no ghosts (Angry Doctor - Singapore)
If something only happens once...

Size does matter (Bug Girl's Blog - USA)
Big fun!

Homo sapiens: The evolution of what we think about who we are (Laelaps - USA)
Comprehensive (and very long!) article on the history of human evolutionary thought...

The Civil War phantom limb (Mind Hacks - USA)
One of the earliest accounts of "phantom limb" sensations...

Unicorn Museum* (The Bird's Brain - USA)
It's the gospel truth!

*Brought to you by Kirsten Sanford (a reader's choice uber hot scientist!)
Thanks to Science Avenger for this news alert.

Also check out Tour of Creation Museum.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Counterintuitive Science: Diet Foods And Health

Encouraged by John of Evolutionary Middleman, Fresh Brainz is proud to bring you a new series of articles: scientific results that run opposite to common sense!

I think these stories are important because there are people who think that science is just another type of dogma with its own rules and preconceived notions.

This view is incorrect because science doesn't follow a fixed worldview that is immutable over time.

Quite the contrary - scientific knowledge is constantly remodeled and improved as new hypotheses and evidence emerges. Even the much misunderstood "scientific method" is not cast in stone.

Stripped of all the technicalities, the scientific method is mainly used to check that results:

A. Are significant (not noise or statistical artifacts)

B. Be repeatable (not something that happens only once - other groups should be able to confirm your results)

C. Cannot be accounted for by alternative explanations (to support your proposed explanation)

What if the results turn out to be opposite to initial expectations or even common sense?

Dogma would immediately toss out those results. Science wouldn't.

Let's examine the results of two recent studies to see how this works:

1. In a large study to find out the major factors leading to cardiovascular disease, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine collected data from over 5000 middle-aged men and women from a town in Massachusetts.

They expected people who often drank diet soft drinks to have a lower risk of heart disease than people who drank sugary soft drinks.

Sure enough, the group of people who often drank sugary soft drinks showed a higher risk than others who drank infrequently.

But to their surprise, so did the group who often drank diet soft drinks! In fact the risks of both these groups are equal!

How can no-calorie drinks increase the risk of heart disease?

That utterly defies common sense.

The researchers know that correlation does not imply causation. They propose that people who drink diet soft drinks often have poor overall health habits and may be consuming more calories by eating more food. These people may also have a greater preference for sweet tasting food compared to others.

Here, you can see the limitation of this study. Since the actual caloric intake of the people is not known, alternative explanations to the observed effects cannot be ruled out. Thus a cause-and-effect relationship cannot be established.

These findings don't conclusively tell us whether diet drinks are good for health or not.

So - should we ditch the results?

2. Just two days ago, another research group at the University of Alberta observed a similar effect. They were studying the eating behaviour of young rats that were fed with low-calorie food and drinks.

Instead of becoming leaner, these rats became more obese!

The main reason is because the rats were overeating during their regular meals, thus consuming more calories anyway.

The researchers believe the mechanism is that young rats were incorrectly associating the taste of their food and its caloric content. This learning process leads to overeating behaviour as they mature.

They call this the "taste-conditioning process".

Older rats which grew up on regular food did not have such a tendency to overeat when they were fed diet food.

The researchers also suggest that their results may help explain the bizarre findings of the Boston study.

Again we can see the limitations in this study, because the experiments were done on rats and therefore aren't directly applicable to human beings.

Even if it was directly relevant, results from older rats predict that the people in the Boston study should not be affected by taste-conditioning, since they are middle-aged.

Indeed, more carefully designed studies are needed to support the hypothesis that diet foods can become a primer for poor eating habits.

But still...

Diet foods have the potential to make you fat?

Who would have guessed!?!!

Fresh Science 10 August 2007

We do the hard work of somersaulting the globe for the niftiest science articles - so you don't have to.

Science bloggers with opinions (Bug Girl's Blog - USA)
You go girl...

G-String Theory (Evolutionary Middleman - USA)
History, divinity, psychopathology and physics - what more can you ask for in a song?

The secret Plateosaurus mating grounds? (Laelaps - USA)
Sex and dinosaurs...

Electrocution during sexual activity (Mind Hacks - USA)
Sex and electricity...

Twin fossil adds twist to human evolution (Ontogeny - USA)
Homo habilis and Homo erectus co-existed for half a million years*...

*Also check out my article about humans and chimpanzees - Why are people smart and angry?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy 42nd Birthday Singapore!

Fresh Brainz would like to wish all fellow Singaporeans a happy National Day!

For this occasion, I would like to highlight a commencement speech by one of Singapore's pioneering scientists, Dr. Lee Kum Tatt.

Common Sense and Your Blue Roses

Dr. Lee recounts the difficulties of the early days in Singaporean science, and offers two pieces of advice for our new generation of scientists:

1. As you start your profession and career, do not start by demanding and complaining that you are not getting what you think you deserve. Offer what you have, deliver and the rest will take care of itself...

2. ... the bread is something I need to live on now. As a human being the rose reminds me that I always have something to live for... we must have our own Blue Roses as our inspiration... we must have something that we love for which we are prepared to fight, sacrifice and even die for. These include our family, our special dreams, and our ideals.

And now... back to your regularly scheduled science fix!

We do the hard work of examining the globe for the most mellifluous science articles - so you don't have to.

The Serpent's Teeth (Bad Astronomy - USA)
I like shiny photos from space telescopes...

With 'pyro-something' AND 'epigenetics' in the title, you know its gonna be cool (ERV - USA)
New sequencing technologies reveal 40,500 HIV integration sites...

A different kind of White Shark (Laelaps - USA)
It's really white...

Why isn't this death dominating the news channels? (Pharyngula - USA)
Extinction of the Yangtze River Dolphin...

Crystal Palace dinosaurs now Grade I listed structures (The Ethical Palaeontologist - UK)
Preserving a piece of dino history...

How to retard scientific progress (The Other 95% - USA)
Make people jump through hoops and eliminate them using standardized metrics...