A look back at the research showing kids at malls mostly don’t like Santa

December 20th, 2014

It’s nearly Christmas, a good time to look back at the research showing kids at malls mostly don’t like Santa Claus.

One way to tell a story: drunkenness + Tesla + Franklin

December 20th, 2014

The folks behind the video series Drunk History honed a particular way to tell a story, using drunkenness as a frame that makes the picture more interesting. In these episodes, they tell the basic story of Nicola Tesla:

Hysterectomy in a male? A rare case report

December 19th, 2014

A surgical procedure, performed on a man in India, gave birth to this unusual medical case report:

Hysterectomy in a male? A rare case report,” Afak Yusuf Sherwani, Abdul Qayoom Shah, Abdul Majeed Wani, Ahmad Chalkoo Bashir, Ahmad Khan Bashir, Farooq Ahmad Sofi, Ashfaq Amin Wani, Wasim Lone, Ab Hamid Sherwani, Mehmood Rashid Sheikh, Raj Reshi Sharma, International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, vol. 5, no. 12, 2014, pp. 1285–1287. The authors are at District Hospital Baramulla, Kashmir, India.

Brain transplants : the implications [5 of n]

December 19th, 2014

Professor Rebeka Rice of the Philosophy Department at Seattle Pacific University, US, examines the paradoxical implications of brain transplants. [see previous article in this series] The 2012 Winifred E. Weter Faculty Award Lecture for Meritorious Scholarship presents an entity called ‘Bob’ (pictured)

Bob is a human being, albeit a hypothetical one.

Bob_and_BrainPerhaps a better way to put it is that Bob is his brain. After all, it won’t do to insist that Bob is identical with his body, since some parts of Bob’s body could go missing (he could lose an arm in an unfortunate accident, for example) and Bob would nevertheless continue to exist. What’s more, suppose Bob is to undergo a radical transplantation surgery in which a significant number of his critical organs – his heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, say – are to be switched out for new ones. I suspect Bob will be quite nervous about the upcoming surgery, but I doubt that he will wonder who it is that will exit the operating room at the surgery’s completion. Of course it will be Bob because none of those particular organs are essential to Bob’s being Bob. On the other hand, suppose Bob is instead facing a brain transplant surgery in which the surgeon will remove Bob’s brain and replace it with someone else’s. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I am Bob, I am quite concerned about just who will be wheeled out of that operating room. Will it be Bob, or someone else?”

The lecture can be read in full here ‘Resurrection of the Body?: Physicalism and the Possibility of Life After Death

And a 1 hour 12 minute video of the address, from which the above illustration of Bob is taken, can be viewed here.


A scientific paper that’s baffling to outsiders

December 18th, 2014

Here’s an example of a scientific paper that is baffling to people outside the author’s specialized field:

Satyrichthys kikingeri Pogoreutz, Vitecek & Ahnelt, 2013, a junior synonym of Satyrichthys laticeps (Schlegel, 1852) (Actinopterygii: Teleostei: Peristediidae),” Toshio Kawai, Zootaxa, vol. 3900, no. 1, 2014, pp. 135–140.

Here is a photograph of the author: