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November 05, 2010

Nathan Explains Science, welcome to the blogosphere!

My good friend Nathan Collins, whom I worked with at the Santa Fe Institute, has now joined the blogosphere with Nathan Explains Science. Welcome!

Nathan is a former theoretical astrophysicist who holds a PhD in political science. The first time I met him, I thought this meant that he studied awesome things like galactic warfare, blackhole coverups, and the various environmental disasters that come with unregulated and rampant terraforming. Fortunately for us, he instead studies actual politics and social science, which is probably more useful (and sadly more interesting) than astro-politics.

Here's Nathan explaining why he's now also a blogger:

...this gives me an place to tell you about science news that I think is interesting but that isn't necessarily going to get published in Science News or Nature's news section. For a variety of reasons, social science news especially doesn't get discussed as science, and that's unfortunate because there are scientific results coming out of psychology, political science, and economics that are vitally important for understanding the problems we face and the solutions we should pursue. In fact, there are a lot of old results that people should know about but don't because social science news seems less attractive than, say, finding a galaxy farther away than any other.

And, if you want to read more about the science, try out these stories, in which Nathan explains the heck out of narcissism, what makes us vote, political grammar and baby introspection:

Is Narcissism Good For Business?
Narcissists, new experiments show, are great at convincing others that their ideas are creative even though they're just average. Still, groups with a handful of narcissists come up with better ideas than those with none, suggesting that self-love contributes to real-world success.

Sweaty Palms and Puppy Love: The Physiology of Voting
Does your heart race at the sight of puppies? Do pictures of vomit make you sweat? If so, you may be more likely to vote.

Politicians, Watch Your Grammar
As congressional midterm elections approach in the United States, politicians are touting their credentials, likability, and, yes, sometimes even their policy ideas. But they may be forgetting something crucial: grammar. A new study indicates that subtle changes in sentence structure can make the difference between whether voters view a politician as promising or unelectable.

‘Introspection’ Brain Networks Fully Formed at Birth
Could a fetus lying in the womb be planning its future? The question comes from the discovery that brain areas thought to be involved in introspection and other aspects of consciousness are fully formed in newborn babies...

More Evidence for Hidden Particles?
Like Lazarus from the dead, a controversial idea that there may be a new, superhard-to-spot kind of particle floating around the universe has made a comeback. Using a massive particle detector, physicists in Illinois have studied the way elusive particles called antineutrinos transform from type or "flavor" to another, and their data bolster a decade-old claim that the rate of such transformation is so high that it requires the existence of an even weirder, essentially undetectable type of neutrino. Ironically, the same team threw cold water on that idea just 3 years ago, and other researchers remain skeptical.

Update 6 November 2010: added a new story by Nathan, on hidden particles.

posted November 5, 2010 08:04 AM in Scientifically Speaking | permalink