ResearchBlogging editor's selections: Soothing troubled waters, zombie stars, risky business with oil, visual recognition, and time and power

Jun 28 2010 Published by under General science, Science news

  • Pouring oil on 'troubled waters'. Historically, sailors believed they could calm choppy water by pouring oil on it, and small-scale tests indicate at least a partial truth to this.  Could the Gulf oil spill have a similar effect?  In a fascinating post, Kevin at Deep Sea News describes the history and science of this odd idea.
  • Night of the living dead stars. We know that stars can gobble up smaller objects with their gravitational fields.  At his eponymous blog, Professor Astronomy looks at the evidence that a "dead" white dwarf star has recently gobbled up a dwarf planet!
  • Inevitability and Oil, Pt. 1: the inherent risk for accidents in complex technology. We all know that BP screwed up big time in the Gulf, but are we learning the wrong lessons from the accident by making them the only villain?  Hannah at Culturing Science discusses the disaster in terms of commonly-used theories of risk.
  • Putting visual recognition software to the test. How close are we to having computers that can identify objects visually as well as a person?  Not very close at all, apparently; Greg Fish at Weird Things describes research on the effectiveness of visual recognition software.
  • Standardized time and power relations. Finally, Krystal at Anthropology in Practice takes some time to talk about time, and how forced changes in culture and politics can affect a people's perception of it.

Check back next week for more "miscellaneous" selections!

4 responses so far

  • Hannah says:

    Thanks for the editors selection! I appreciate it.

  • Jim Meadows says:

    I was fascinated by the piece on "pouring oil on troubled waters". I had always assumed the phrase had a biblical and metaphorical origin, and did not know it referred to something people might consider in a literal sense. In "Utopia" (aka "Atoll K"), Laurel and Hardy's last movie, Stan Laurel attempts to calm a storm at sea by squirting oil out of a ship's porthole from a small oil can. It works --- but only momentarily. Until now, that was my only look at a literal depiction of the phrase "pouring oil on troubled waters", but now I know there are other, more serious views.

    • I also had no idea that there was a history behind the "oil on troubled water" phrase! That's what I love about scienceblogging -- one can learn about some very surprising and obscure stuff.