Archive for the ‘miscellanea (in salsa di scienza/science sauce)’ Category


An inexpensive, wind-powered device that roams the Afghan countryside, triggers a few of the ten million unexploded land mines still buried and scattered everywhere, then maps them through a simple GPS connection. Currently exhibited at MoMA, deservingly so. Kudos, Massoud Hassani.wind-powered mine detonator

That Mine Detonator At MoMA? Just Think Sculpture. – Forbes.


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So it seems we have survived a busload of gloom-and-doom prophecies. We’re in for a little celebration, aren’t we? This piece of news comes in handy: sugar molecules (glycolaldehyde, to be more precise) have been spotted quite close to a sun-like star. I’d be happy with a strong mojito and a mild tan…

E’ il momento di un brindisi alla facciaccia dei catastrofisti del solstizio (e astronomi della domenica). Molecole di zucchero – glicoaldeide per la precisione – sono state trovate nello spazio interstellare, non troppo distanti da una stella simile al nostro Sole.  Per me un mojito bello tosto e giust’un filo di abbronzatura, grazie!

Sugar Molecules Discovered Around Sun-Like Star | Search for Life & Alien Planets | Space.com.

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So now there’s some physiological evidence to the old adage: God helps those who help themselves. The placebo effect has been regarded in ways as diverse as “A magical mystical self healing tool” and “A treacherous trick from some crackpot’s pot”. This piece of research sheds some light on the psychological traits that allow the effect to take place – and there’s some lightness indeed.


Neuroscientist Jon-Kar Zubieta of the University of Michigan


 “… found that people with certain personality traits—specifically, those who scored high on resiliency, altruism, and straightforwardness, and low on measures of “angry hostility”—were more likely to experience a placebo-induced painkilling response. Importantly, such individuals also had decreased cortisol levels and greater activation of endogenous opioid receptors in brain regions associated with reward.”


While Tor Wager, a neuroscientist at the University of Boulder, Colorado (not involved in the study), comments:


“Studies like this are giving us a new set of candidate personality measures that can predict for placebo analgesia, and they’re mostly positive traits,” said Wager. “So placebo responders are being cast in a much more positive light, personality-wise, than they were a few decades ago, when they were thought to be hysterical and neurotic. ”

Personality Predicts Placebo Effect | The Scientist Magazine®.

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Short Sharp Science: Shot from a Doctor Who camera.

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Mammalian Surprise: African Mouse Can Regrow Skin

Mammalian Surprise: African Mouse Can Regrow Skin : NPR.

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Pomodori biologici: veri e propri farmaci naturali per combattere malattie cardiovascolari e tumori.

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