RB Editor’s selections: Memories of 2010, Desert crocodiles, CAPTCHAs and shifty looks

[cross-posted from the ResearchBlogging.org News blog.]

Happy New Year to all the ResearchBlogging contributors and readers out there, I hope you all have a fab year full of love, joy and awesome science. I’m happy to kick off the year with my very first post here, so let’s take a look at the latest in the physical sciences blogs.

  • 2010 – Twelve months of great science. ‘Tis the season for contemplation and reminiscence, and at All That Matters Joerg Heber gives a month-by-month review of what was hot in physics and materials science in 2010. There’s graphene, solar cells, special anniversaries, skyrmions, cuprates and more.
  • Completely Automated Public Turing Test-to-tell Computers and Humans Apart. It took me ages to realise that those little tasks websites use to verify that we’re not spambots are called “CAPTCHAs” – now I even know what that acronym supposedly stands for. In this Sciencetext post, David Bradley talks about research into a new type of CAPTCHA based on recognition of human faces in a composite image, which is much harder to crack for bots than current text-based tests. Anything to keep spammers at bay sounds good to me.
  • Mapping the “Green Sahara”. Razib Khan of Gene Expression describes new research that seeks to explain human migration through the Sahara desert based on geological data without simply relying on the Nile as a fertile corridor. The idea is that past climatic fluctuations in the Sahara rendered it more hospitable to life, and thus to migration of animals and early humans. This may explain, for instance, why we see populations of crocodiles in desert oases.
  • How a change of gaze affects the eye optics. In Optics Confidential, Pablo Artal answers a question from an optometrist reader wondering how our vision is changed when we look in different directions. Artal describes his research into the effect of stresses on the eye from the action of the extraocular muscles
  • with changing gaze direction.

Keep the great writing coming and I’ll be back in a week with more selections.