Monthly Archives: September 2013

Episode 006: Circling Uranus

Topics discussed: Ancient nuclear reactors, giant moons, Richard Feynman scooping the entire field of cognitive psychology while doing his laundry, burning oneself and touching snakes in the name of science, kikis, boubas, and more! Listen to (and/or see/smell/taste/feel) us talk about synesthesia! And somehow we manage to get through the entire episode without making a “Uranus” joke… until the title.

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Note #1: These show notes were prepared somewhat hastily as MJ was waiting on a plane to take him back to the United States — so errors/omissions are likely. Feel free to contact us if you spot any!

Note #2: You are still welcome to donate to the microphone/bandwidth fund (see button at the right of this page), of course… or if you are interested in any of the books we mentioned on the show, maybe use our Amazon affiliate links (in the show notes) to buy them? Thanks!

Note #3: You might notice the notes look unfinished. Will finish pretty-linking and upload a couple of the promised pictures later — my flight is boarding!

Note #4: OK, it is *WAY* after these notes were posted, but I had to get the last few links/pics out of my mental and literal inbox so I could move on with my life. It’s the two pictures denoted [pic] (both kind of towards the end of the post), and the final link.

SHOW NOTES

XKCD popular science size comparisons: http://xkcd.com/1257/
Liz Cheney’s fishing license woes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/liz-cheney-wyoming_n_3797880.html
Wyoming population: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming
– the story of Wyoming’s statehood: http://www.wyohistory.org/essays/wyoming-becomes-state-constitutional-convention-and-statehood-debates-1889-and-1890-—-and-the
– statehood requirements: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_requirements_for_statehood
– turns out what MJ was thinking of wasn’t statehood, it was representation. The current population of Wyoming is less than the average size of a congressional district in other states, but they still get one representative in Congress: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_congressional_apportionment#Controversy_and_history
Naturally occurring fission reactors on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor
– and on Scientific American: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/07/13/natures-nuclear-reactors-the-2-billion-year-old-natural-fission-reactors-in-gabon-western-africa/
– couldn’t find much on miner butt-smuggling, but here’s a discussion of it: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=625882
Fine-structure constant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-structure_constant
– The God Particle (link to Kindle edition on Amazon; looks like the print version is not readily available): http://amzn.to/15DAR3h
Natural fusion reactor creates the moon? http://phys.org/news183884450.html
– “That’s no moon” (TIME-WASTING WARNING: LINK TO TV TROPES!): http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThatsNoMoon
– (Actually, I think MJ screwed up the “That’s no moon” quote a bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVekNsgUqn4)
– Blowing up the moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csj7vMKy4EI
– Paul and Storm: http://www.paulandstorm.com/
– – their podcast (iTunes link; can also find their podcast on their main website): https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/paul-storm-talk-about-some/id287795097
– Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series (we strongly recommend you read them in order of publication, not prequels-first… the “correct” order is listed below):
– – Foundation: http://amzn.to/182GALb (paperback), http://amzn.to/13OB5lG (Kindle)
– – Foundation and Empire: http://amzn.to/17RbY3d (paperback), http://amzn.to/15XSkh8 (Kindle)
– – Second Foundation: http://amzn.to/1ejLMn8 (paperback), http://amzn.to/17Rc8Yg (Kindle)
– – Foundation’s Edge: http://amzn.to/182HBmi (paperback), http://amzn.to/13OBHYK (Kindle)
– – Foundation and Earth: http://amzn.to/13OBLYm (paperback), http://amzn.to/1ejLY5Z (Kindle)
– – Prelude to Foundation: http://amzn.to/13OBTHi (paperback), http://amzn.to/1d6SYz2 (Kindle)
– – Forward the Foundation: http://amzn.to/1ejMcdf (paperback), http://amzn.to/1d6T2yJ (Kindle)
– Earth’s moon (Luna; size info on right sidebar): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon
– compare to Mercury: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(planet)
– moons of Saturn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moons_of_Saturn
Leaflet propaganda (apparently there’s no special name): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airborne_leaflet_propaganda
Eddie Izzard flag routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEx5G-GOS1k
PDF of the Richard Feynman chapter we discussed: http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/607/2/Feynman.pdf
– which is from “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”: http://amzn.to/18dyfdC (paperback), http://amzn.to/1aDCjWo (Kindle)
– (which is the sequel to “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” that we’ve linked before: http://amzn.to/186ZT8y)
– the Hypercritical podcast: http://5by5.tv/hypercritical
– a well-known model of working memory, separating visual/spatial from verbal memory stores: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baddeley%27s_model_of_working_memory
– – more of the same on Scholarpedia: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Working_memory
Liz Phelps paper on fear expectation (link to academic paper PDF): http://www.psych.nyu.edu/phelpslab/abstracts/NatureNeuro2001.pdf
– New York Times article on out-of-control institutional review boards: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/28/arts/28board.html
– Snakes on a Conveyor Belt: http://www.cell.com/neuron/retrieve/pii/S0896627310004678 (click “Download this Video”)
– – PDF of the snake/conveyor belt paper: https://www.weizmann.ac.il/neurobiology/labs/dudai/pages/PDFs/Nili_et_al.pdf
Review paper on the working memory limit of ~4 items (academic paper PDF): http://web.missouri.edu/~cowann/docs/articles/2010/Cowan%202010%20Current%20Directions,%20Magical%20Mystery%20Four.pdf
John Tukey, all-around cool dude: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tukey
Sternberg’s “High-speed scanning in human memory”: http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~saul/hss.pdf
Blog post on the bungee-jumping study to assess the feeling of time slowing down during stressful events: http://psychologyrich.blogspot.com/2011/04/does-bungee-jump-slow-down-subjective.html
– BBC documentary segment about the study (about 4-5 minutes in): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjAzmGpD19s
– (still looking for the face-punching video… here’s another video but the face punching is not super obvious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8De2NY-GOE8)
Synesthesia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia
– more on color-grapheme synesthesia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapheme-color_synesthesia
– a related and somewhat overlapping concept, ideasthesia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideasthesia
– one particularly cool, rare form of synesthesia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexical-gustatory_synesthesia
– Fisher-Price alphabet synesthesia on the Neurocritic blog: http://neurocritic.blogspot.com/2013/01/fisher-price-synesthesia.html
– the actual paper (link to academic paper PDF): http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~winawer/Pubs/papers/Witthoft_Winawer_2013.pdf
– one study finding a low-level pop-out-like effect in color-grapheme synesthesia (link to academic paper PDF):http://chip.ucsd.edu/pdf/Synaesth_P_Roy_Soc.pdf
– however, this study found interference in visual attention from color-grapheme synesthesia, but no visual pop-out (link to academic paper PDF): http://bid.berkeley.edu/files/papers/2006-Synesthesia-Cortex.pdf
– this paper follows up on the previous ones and discusses the issue in finer detail (nice, clear introduction too) (link to academic paper PDF): http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Users/anils/Papers/WardEtalRSPB2009.pdf
– can’t find a great reference on color-time synesthesia and memory, but here’s a bit on the general phenomenon: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/synaesthesia/faq#mostcommon
– – and here (the article’s not much, but several interesting personal anecdotes in the comments): http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/synesthesia-and-color-98544
– – another article briefly mentioning time-color synesthesia (with more anecdotes in comments): http://www.livescience.com/169-rare-real-people-feel-taste-hear-color.html
– one memoir of a synesthete (we have not read it yet… but it has 4 stars on Amazon): http://amzn.to/18Xwv3c (paperback), http://amzn.to/18TDPhr (Kindle)
The Tetris effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris_effect
– an article on it in Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=tetris-dreams
Mental rotation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_rotation
Paper on cross-sensory correspondences that exist in non-synesthetes (link to academic paper abstract; can’t find a public link to the PDF): http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=p7149
– related: A review paper on strong and weak synesthesia, where “strong” refers more to what synesthetes perceive and “weak” is more like the cross-sensory correspondences above: http://www.neuro.uoregon.edu/wehr/coursepapers/synesthesiastrongandweak.pdf
The “bouba/kiki” effect, first described by Wolfgang Köhler in 1929: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect
– a more recent study on the effect in adults and children: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00495.x/abstract;jsessionid=6F188089820910D6632E3A5B9017A406.d02t03#b2
Apparently there are about 10^80 atoms in the universe — so you’re going to have to tell a few more friends about the podcast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe#Matter_content_-_number_of_atoms
– a short article on estimating that number: http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-universe/
Naughty-looking knitted brain: [pic] UPDATE: FINALLY HERE
MEG: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetoencephalography
– apparently different from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Griffin
The ROI is dead, long live the ROI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_king_is_dead,_long_live_the_king!
Journal of psychohistory: [pic] UPDATE: FINALLY HERE
Adolphe Quetelet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolphe_Quetelet
– More on his invention of the Body Mass Index: http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/1/47.full

UPDATE: ONE LAST LINK. At this point, I don’t even remember in what context we talked about this (or if we did, but it’s in our show notes)… but here is the video of a whole lot of people playing “Ode to Joy” on theremins: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/08/17/beethoven_s_ode_to_joy_9th_symphony_played_on_theremins.html

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Episode 006 show notes placeholder

Hey friends — Episode 6 is out. Show notes are almost done — check this site soon for those. In the meantime, the episode should already be available on iTunes or through our RSS feed — see the About page for those.

Will hopefully have the notes done (and a link to download the episode directly from this site) soon, but these are busy times. Will try to have it within the next day or so, though.