Galactic voting, lethal injections and nutritious bat dung…

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about galactic voting; what playing on-line games reveals about you; executions by lethal injection; plants that feed on bat dung; and more

Online games reveal players’ personalitiesA new American study of computer gamers has revealed that a player’s behaviour within a game mimics the way they act in the real world. So, using information freely available on the internet, it might be possible to profile a web surfer’s personality.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at–to-who.html

Coral marches to the poles—Reefs may simply move house when the oceans heat up. Already the corals around Japan are fleeing northwards, according to Japanese researchers, one type at the rate of 14 km a year. So ocean ecosystems may be able to shift rapidly in the face of climate change, the researchers say.—Geophysical Research Letters

A Nature story on this topic can be found at

Drug shortage delays US executionsSodium Thiopental, the main anaesthetic in the cocktail of chemicals used in US executions, is no longer to be made in America because a European supplier of the raw materials does not want its product to be used in capital punishment. As a result, executions in California and Oklahoma already have been postponed.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

What do you call a group of stars?A pair of astronomers, one of them from Swinburne University of Technology, are putting the question of what defines “a galaxy” to a public vote. The line as to when a cluster of stars becomes a galaxy is not clear, and the astronomers want to avoid the sort of controversy that surrounded Pluto being stripped of planet status.

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

Read/download the short paper on the alternatives for defining a galaxy at

Cast a vote in the poll on “What is a galaxy?” at

How the seahorse gained its bodyThe classic, delicate form of the seahorse is not just for show. A Belgium biologist and his colleagues have shown that seahorse necks have the inbuilt elasticity and stability to allow them to lunge forward and capture passing shrimps at a considerable distance, something their pipefish cousins cannot do—Nature Communications

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

The carnivorous plant that feed on bat dungA species of pitcher plant in Borneo makes a snug roost for tiny bats. The bats in turn do the right thing and drop their nutritious excrement into their host’s digestive fluid. The dung contains nitrogen and other nutrients lacking in the poor soil in which the plant grows.—Biology Letters

A Science story on this topic can be found at