Category Archives: Science


I saw Andrew Steele talk about Scienceogram at Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People a few days ago. The UK government spends less than 1.5% of their budget on R&D, find out how that compares to other spending, why it should be more and what we could do if we spent a bit more at their site.

Link: Scienceogram

Terminal Cornucopia

This is a site explaining how you can make weapons with items you can buy after security screenings. All of them have been reported to the TSA. The thing that most dismays me about this site is that a friend asked me not to look at it on his computer in case the TSA refused him entry to the USA the next time he went there because of it.

It only takes a few minutes to find ways to create these weapons or cause chaos before the security screening – almost as if there are hardly any terrorists trying to perform attacks on us.

Link: Terminal Cornucopia

It’s the Umami, Stupid

MSG is a really interesting topic. There has been lots of research done and the double-blind studies show no link between headaches and MSG ingestion (see this article if you’re going to review the literature) but all the discussions on this article are taken over by people shouting: “It gives me a headache” and “you can’t prove it through experiments”.

It’s worth taking the time to think about why people, all people, prefer to rely on their own experiences than scientific consensus.

Link: It’s the Umami, Stupid

Warning Signs in Experimental Design and Interpretation

This is an article I keep coming back to by Peter Norvig, currently Google’s Head of Research. On a weekly basis I see news reports on scientific papers with the journalist wildly misinterpreting the study (usually with the aid of the exaggerated press release from the lab that published the paper). It helps to find the original paper if it is available, or read the press release, with this article as a guide to warning signs. As Peter says it doesn’t tell you an the results are incorrect but it gives you a warning to look further.

Link: Warning Signs in Experimental Design and Interpretation

Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain

This is a very interesting paper suggesting that sleep clears out amyloid beta from the brain faster than the normal waking removal rate. Because amyloid beta is the main component of amayloid plaques, found in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, this could have very important implications for dementia research.

The BBC reported fairly well on this paper but as usual didn’t include a link to the paper itself or even the press release.

Link: Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain