Comparison between hominins suggests modern middle-ear bones evolved early.
Hearing changes could be ancient in the human line
Plants lace their nectar with drugs to make bees return
Plants may be spiking their nectar with addictive drugs to lure insects into spreading their pollen.
Having sons can shorten a woman’s life expectancy
Boys may be energetically more demanding to breastfeed.
Newt sequencing may set back efforts to regrow human limbs
Amphibian’s unique proteins cast doubt on existence of latent potential for regeneration.
The Sonic Tour of the Brain
This weekend I held events at The Barbican for their Brain Waves weekender, an intense cornucopia of cultural offerings exploring neuroscience and art at one of London’s biggest and most adventurous cultural institutions. Chuffed? You bet. I created an audio tour exploring the question: what does the brain sound like? You can listen to the Sonic Tour of the Brain on the Guerilla Science website.
My good friends over at The Monitors (whom you should already be following, if you care at all about good music and good writing) asked me to join them for their monthly podcast, theming it around science.
“Sure we could do a science podcast – or you guys could just make dick jokes for an hour, as per usual,” I said. “Let me know.”
I have a new piece in Nature today, this time, weighing in on the government’s plans to deal with ash dieback. Incidentally, Cormier is the French name for the mountain ash tree, also called a rowan. This tree however, will not be affected by the fungus – it’s actually a member of the rose family, I’ve discovered.
The emotional colour of art
My business partner Jen Wong and I are quoted in The Guardian – featured on page five of the G2, a snazzy spot normally inhabited by Charlie Brooker and other purveyors of wit – in a piece by Alok Jha about how “geeks, comedians and academics are putting the fun back into science”. He writes: “The goal of Guerilla Science, say its founders, is to move people using scientific ideas, with the same emotional colour they might get from theatre or art.” Glad he used that bit. Though if I had been him, I would have quoted me saying “I f’ing hate The Big Bang Theory.”
I will be speaking tonight about The Evolution of Music, a topic very close to my heart. Studies have revealed
that music affects the brain like nothing else: it releases a cascade of sumptuous chemicals, stimulates more parts of the brain than any other activity, and makes all our neurons all tingle in synchrony. Join me at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club tonight with the Women’s Institute to explore how music might even be integral to what makes us human in the very first place.