From: GeekWire - What’s next for science and tech? Key posts are in limbo as Trump takes charge

Although President Donald Trump says he’s ready to delve into the mysteries of space, he still has to make key appointments at NASA and other agencies dealing with science and technology policy. And some of the picks he’s already made pose challenges. For example, his nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency has in the past filed lawsuits against the EPA. And his nominee for energy secretary, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once sought to have that Cabinet department eliminated (even though he couldn’t remember that during a debate). Here’s a quick rundown on the questions surrounding seven agencies that deal with… Read More

From: Boing Boing - Can you “hear” flashes of light? Do you have synesthesia? Take a test.

Can you “hear” motion or light flashes? If so, according to new research from City University London, you may be experiencing a not-so-rare form of synaesthesia. Synesthesia is the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. For example, a synesthete might taste sounds or hear colors. (In this study, 8 out of 40 participants, a very high percentage, were considered to have hearing-motion synaesthesia.) Here is their test for you to take yourself. From The Guardian:

(This new study) suggests that many more of us experience a less intrusive version of (synesthesia) in which visual movements or flashes are accompanied by an internal soundtrack of hums, buzzes or swooshes. Since movements are very frequently accompanied by sounds in everyday life, the effect is likely to be barely discernible.

When tested under laboratory conditions, the “hearing motion” effect appeared to enhance a person’s ability to interpret fine visual movements, but also interfered with the ability to hear real sounds when visual and audio signals were mis-matched.

“These internal sounds seem to be perceptually real enough to interfere with the detection of externally-generated sounds,” said Freeman. “The finding that this ‘hearing-motion’ phenomenon seems to be much more prevalent compared to other synaesthesias might occur due to the strength of the natural connection between sound and vision.”

In a separate study, the team tested for the phenomenon in trained musicians and found that it was much more common in the group. It is not clear if this is due to a natural disposition to link sounds and visual cues or whether thousands of hours of training might have strengthened the neural circuitry behind the effect.

From: Gizmodo - How Long Until Sea Level Rise Prevents Inauguration From Happening in DC?

Donald Trump was excited about hosting the inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial. So excited, in fact, he bragged that he “didn’t know if it has been done before.” It has, of course—both of his predecessors had an event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Trump is also excited about burning fossil fuels like coal and…

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From: GeekWire - Tech shines as bright spot in Donald Trump’s dark inaugural speech

Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s first address as president may have sounded like a “Make America Great Again” campaign speech, but he did include at least a few bright words about the promise of science and technology. “We stand at the birth of a new millennium,” he said at the U.S. Capitol after his swearing-in, “ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions.” Trump’s references to the technologies of tomorrow provided some… Read More

From: Gizmodo - NASA’s Goddard Director Explains What Really Matters In 2016’s Extraordinary Temperature Data

For the third consecutive year, NASA and NOAA have announced record high temperatures. It’s upsetting yet unsurprising, given the dearth of fucks we seem to give about the state of our planet. As Gizmodo previously reported, temperatures were 0.07 degrees F (0.04 degrees C) higher last year than they were in 2015—but…

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From: GeekWire - UW Hyperloop team unveils its purple pod racer, and gets ready to let ‘er rip

Purple pod
The University of Washington’s Hyperloop team showed off its sleek pod racer and let fans take a peek under the carbon composite hood, one week before a national competition in California. For the team’s roughly 35 students, Thursday night’s unveiling at the GloCal Composites Lab in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood was an opportunity to celebrate the purple-tinted fruits of their labor. “Everyone is committed to being a part of something bigger than themselves, grander than the team itself, and ultimately as a part of history as we think about the next mode of transportation,” UW engineering student David Coven, one of… Read More