Suspicious eyes, Dad’s superpower, Poo proofs, Apple-a-day

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them: Suspicious eyes — In the year 2001, US president George W. Bush foreshadowed a hope that decades later would pervade the robotics industry. Bush stood next to Russian president Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Slovenia […]

Can’t Do That, Affixing-Eyes-to-Automobiles, 57 People and a Fake Food Buffet

Research studies about things people can’t do, about putting eyes onto the front of automobiles, and about 57 people and a fake-food buffet are featured in the “Improbable Research Review” column in the special Super-Advanced Theories issue (volume 29, number 1) of the magazine. You can read that article free online. Better still, buy a copy […]

‘Watching Eyes’ nudge technique not always 100% effective (new study)

An innovational study published in 2016 described how a photo of ‘Watching Eyes’ prominently displayed in the perianesthesia area of a busy hospital could encourage healthcare professionals to use the alcohol handrubs (AHRs) provided.  But the experiment was not entirely problem free – some felt that the picture (which showed the eyes of a recognizable leader […]

Nothing, to sneeze at: How to create a press release from nothing

Most news reports about science and medicine come from press releases, some of which contain a colorful statement and some padding, but no actual news. This press release from Texas A&M University shows how that’s done at the highest professional level: Can you sneeze with your eyes open? …David Huston, MD, associate dean of the Texas A&M College of […]

Disambiguating the Lessons from the Ambiguous-Colored Dress

Many will recall the intense Feb. 2015 internet and media storm around the ‘is-it-black/blue’ or ‘is-it-white/gold’ Tumblr dress photo. It’s now become the focus of an international group of colour scientists, who have performed the first [we believe] laboratory-based study centering around the famous photo. The team, from the universities of Granada and Extremadura in […]

Conceivabilism, inconceivabilism and someone with 200 arms and legs

Sometimes, philosophers like to construct highly exaggerated imaginary scenarios in order to test the validity of theories – conjuring up, for example, human bodies with a pair of spare eyes in their shoulders. Since there’s  no  very little limit on how exaggerated such propositions might be, some take on outlandish proportions. Such ideas can push […]