Arachnonecrocapitalism / Climate change nasality / Collision siding / Trivial superpowers

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them:

    • Arachnonecrocapitalism — The death of a spider in Texas has led to the birth of a philosophical movement, with Rice at both ends. This life-and-death saga began with a recent, almost instantly famous experiment at Rice University in Houston, Texas. A team of mechanical engineers converted a dead spider into a robotic, pneumatically actuated gripper tool….
    • A little on the nose — There has been uncertainty about whether changing climate, over the very long haul, has affected the shape of the human nose, Ted Schark informs Feedback. This is why researchers at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and KU Leuven in Belgium have looked into the matter. Their answer: yes, kinda, sorta….
    • Taking sides — Go left or go right? Sheryl Bourgaize and Michael Cinelli at Wilfrid Laurier University and Bradford McFadyen at Laval University, all in Canada, addressed that choice face on in a series of forced encounters. They asked the specific question “How do people avoid a collision to the left-side or right-side of a single stationary pedestrian (interferer) of varying shoulder width and orientation?” …
    • Trivial superpowers — Some people possess one or another trivial superpower, an ability to reliably do some particular task that – to them – seems mundane. Others persistently fail at this task, except once in a while by sheer luck. Here is an example. Glance at a container that is only partly full of some flowy substance – sugar, flour, juice or whatever – and you might instantly know (know, not guess!) whether that amount of glop will or won’t fit into a container of a particular different shape and size. Some people can do that. Most can’t….