Small Wonders: July 13, 2011

In this week’s edition: human echolocation, sex and athletic performance, and ancient medicines discovered on a shipwreck. (I haven’t done one of these in a while, so it’s longer than usual. But hey–more is more, right?)

* An art installation will transform the brain’s reaction to certain cocktails into images.

* The problem with calling some medical procedures “elective” and others “necessary.”

* One lonely penguin turns up on the shores of New Zealand.

* And whales, it turns out, practically surround New York City. They were detected by underwater microphones.

* Garage inventors tackle biotech.

* The Japanese mob is cashing in on disaster relief.

* An exploration of the remarkable phenomenon of human echolocation.

* The science of the hamburger. ‘Nuff said.

* Why the “OK” button is always on the right.

* If they share information, crowds don’t turn out to be so wise.

* “Where in the World is Science Journalism?”: A Map.

* The gentlemen at Obesity Panacea tackle an age-old question: Does having sex the night before a competition affect athletic performance?

* An Ed Yong classic: “Tiny water insect makes record-breaking song with his penis.”

* We might be sad, lonely, and stupid, but don’t blame the Internet.

* Baby Einstein wins battle to see the raw data of a study that suggested the videos might not be good for children.

* Cars that can diagnose your health problems? Perhaps if we drove less, we’d have fewer of those problems in the first place.

* Why disclosing conflicts of interest may actually make the problem worse.

* This story is so interesting, I’m just going to quote from it: “DNA extracted from 2,000-year-old plants recovered from an Italian shipwreck could offer scientists the key to new medicines.”

* A study on Lou Gehrig’s disease shows how researchers can use social networks to recruit and enroll patients.

* What makes some disorders “neurological” and others merely “psychiatric“? (With a great graph!)

* China institutes a “one dog” policy. The horror!

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Glenn Grant

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