Quick links from the past week of experiments in the World Wide Lab
In I haven't used soap or shampoo in a year, and it's awesome: personal experiment update, Boing Boing's Sean Bonner says "I stopped using soap a year ago. It was easily one of the best moves I've ever made in my entire flippin' life." Now that's a strong experiment!
Budding scientists at primary and secondary school level will be asked to carry out four tests on water as part of the International Year of Chemistry, due to be launched in Paris on January 27.
Excellent! Sesame Street's Interactive YouTube Experiment: I'm really excited about "Sink or Float," an interactive YouTube experiment that "lets kids play a part in the science fun." It's hosted by Cookie Monster and a human friend of his, and is designed to get kids curious about science--specifically, the scientific method. The experiment centers around a fish tank full of water and several objects, and the goal is to determine which objects sink and which objects float. It uses a simple interactive branching to allow you to say what you'll think will happen. Along the way they give a straightforward description of the scientific method. Brilliant!
Ellen Tarlin at Slate is running a Clean Plate series - "Outlandish experiments in sensible eating." A recent example is Eating Experiment No. 2: Preliminary Findings where her goal was to spend as little as possible on food while still getting all my nutrients. For each experiment she lists: her goal, what she loved, what she hated, what she learned, and her conclusion. Great, detailed series.
Oak Cliff residents accept car-free challenge: Sixteen families in Oak Cliff, Dallas, TX are going car-free for 52 weeks, challenging residents to walk, bike or rely on public transportation. Of course not all communities can do this, given sprawl and big box stores, but at least some folks are trying to make a difference.
BBC Radio 3 and BBC Lab UK are launching a scientific experiment that asks the public to help discover how musical Britain is. By taking the How Musical Are You? test, participants will reveal their own musical profile, while at the same time helping scientists to define what it really means to be "musical".
Take the test at BBC - Lab UK - Experiments - How musical are you?
Daryl Bem, a psychology professor emeritus at Cornell University, summed up nine experiments he has conducted over the years into precognition - the idea that human behavior at a given moment can be influenced by information they're given at a later time. Bem's long-running experiments suggested that there was indeed a slight influence. ... The critics cite the same rule of skepticism promulgated by the late astronomer Carl Sagan: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Makes me a bit embarrassed of the Cornell brand! More at NYTimes.com. (A plug: If you want to support a bunch that promotes skeptical thinking, hop on over to CSI - The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.)