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So, a scientist walks into a bar . . .

I notice that researchers in Italy have published further evidence that humans show a preference for information that comes in through their right ear over that which arrives via their left. In principle this asymmetry is quite well known, and I seem to recall that this preference is not exclusive to humans. Image by adselwood This time, however, Dr. Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University "Gabriele d'Annunzio" took a somewhat novel approach.

While most previous studies have been based on laboratory settings, Tommasi and Marzoli took their studies to street, or rather to the nightclub. They were specifically examining if hearing through either ear is preferred for processing verbal information. What better place to test this in the “real world” than in the noisy world of the nightclub, and it’s great to think that they had a chance to have a bit of fun on the job. More . . .

Pre-Coital in Melboune

Despite the fact that 'Pre-Coital' was originally workshopped in Melbourne, we have never performed it here ("at home") since then. Well the good news is that it's hapenning! On 8 July (just the one show) we're performing at Kaleide Theatre in Swanston street as a special science week preview event. Obviously we'd love to see as many people as we can squeeze into the theatre.

Bookings are via TrickyTix and we're excited!

Canaries, Chemists and Quantum Mechanics

I presented a short piece on ‘Einstein-a-go-go’ linking canaries (specifically those in coal mines) to some important advances in chemistry. It goes a little something like this . . .

Most people are familiar with the concept of the “canary in a coal mine”. The phrase refers to the miners’ technique of carrying a canary in a cage to warn of adverse conditions as they moved through a mine. If the canary stopped singing, fell off it’s perch, died or was generally in distress (aside from what you might expect of a small bird placed in a cage and taken underground) this was an indicator that the miners might have come across an area of changed atmospheric conditions. Other animals were also used, but canaries are particularly sensitive to some gases including carbon monoxide and methane – both of which can occur in mines - especially if there has been a fire or explosion. Image by Alex Clauss

If a change in the atmosphere in a mine was detected there were 2 main concerns: that reduced oxygen might lead to asphyxiation or that flammable gasses (such as methane) might cause an explosion, an eventuality made more likely by the use of open flames as a source of illumination. Either eventuality would spoil your day.   More . . .

Adventures in the Nation's Capital

It was great to be performing at the Australian Science Festival again last weekend. Luke, Skov and I had a fun time and the audinece was fantastic. The nice Festival folk looked after us and Canberra was rocking. I've never seen Canberra nightlife buzzing so hard. I've never seen Canberra nightlife. I was also glad to catch Reid's show (CSIRO Education) and Lish Fejer's (Carbon Cops). Big thanks to Mary-Anne, Kirsty, Stephanie and the ASF team. Big thumbs up to Tony and the technical team as well. Now we need to sort ourselves out for the Melbourne gig in July.

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