Brain-training computer games are a multimillion pound industry. But this week, a study published in Nature suggests they may not live up to their promise. Neuroscientist Adrian Owen teamed up with the BBC popular science programme ‘Bang Goes The Theory to recruit more than 11,000 volunteers for a massive online experiment. The results demolish the widely held belief that the regular use of brain-training games improves general cognitive function. To read the story in full, go to: No gain from brain training.
Watch how the masked birch caterpillar defends its leaf shelter. New research shows that the noisy, bottom-scraping display you see here evolved from walking. The finding has implications for the evolution of animal communication in many species. Read the original research here: The evolutionary origins of ritualized acoustic signals in caterpillars (open access).
“Usually an injustice happens and nobody really cares.”
Robert Dougans, lawyer for Simon Singh, discusses the high profile science and libel case with The Lawyer.
“No doubt all those named contributed to the research. However, I find it difficult to understand how 144 individuals, however close their working relationship, could be involved in writing it.”
Gavin Fairbairn, professor of ethics and language at Leeds Metropolitan University, is perplexed by the author list of a paper with “more authors than any other publication I have ever come across in any of the areas in which I have worked” (Times Higher). No one tell him about the human genome project papers…
“When we’re measuring glacier margins, by the time we go home the glacier is already smaller than what we’ve measured.”
Dan Fagre, an ecologist with the US Geological Survey, comments on the fact that Glacier National Park has lost two of its glaciers (Discovery News).
“The casual reader might have the impression that there are real doubts about whether emissions can be reduced without inflicting severe damage on the economy. In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by putting a price on them — can achieve large results at modest, though not trivial, cost.”
Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes about climate economics in the New York Times.
This week, pigeons with GPS systems show how birds of a feather flock together, how gut bacteria vary with diet, and the effects of livestock on the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Plus, the usual news round-up and the best stuff elsewhere in Nature. Read more
Seaweed-rich diet leaves its mark on gut microbes.
During flight, pigeons in a flock follow the leader.
Optical interferometry is no longer on the fringe of astronomy.
Financial donors wrangle over global research group’s strategy.
Water from melting ice sheet took unexpected route to the ocean.
Entanglement could make state-of-the art clocks more precise.
Cross posted from Nature’s Spoonful of Medicine blog.
You might not realize it, but if you have an iPhone, you also have a stethoscope and a CPR trainer within reach. Those are just two of the more than 2,000 medical applications available on the iPhone — and with Apple’s iPad launching this Saturday, you can expect plenty more apps to soon help doctors and researchers alike.
For more on this growing area of mobile medicine, check out the ten apps we’ve highlighted below.
This week, we’ve got a new answer to an old paradox about the young Earth, over 20,000 human genes caught on camera, and the first global conference on agricultural research for development on the show this week. Plus, the best of the rest of Nature. Read more
Court ruling may spell bad news for biotech industry.
Researchers fail to come up with clear guidelines for experiments that change the planet’s climate.
Momentum grows for body to coordinate the continent’s research infrastructure.
Europe’s ice-monitoring project gets a second chance after 2005 launch mishap.
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