Friday, 12 November 2010

Stuff on the Internet (12 November 2010)

This will be an occasional post whenever we've accumulated enough links of interest to things on the internet. These were just two things I wanted to link to but not make full posts about.

Practice really does make perfect
One of the classic ideas in motor control and development is how skill improves with maturation. There's a lot of discussion about what a typical child at a given age should be able to achieve; motor milestones get taken quite seriously by all kinds of people.

I've been fascinated by this for a while, because you often see kids zooming round on scooters or those shoes with wheels in the heel. I've watched a lot of small kids produce smooth, excellently controlled actions, far beyond what you might expect from a milestones perspective. This video came via BoingBoing and is a great example of what hours of practice buys you in terms of motor control. This boy is 6 years old and has been skateboarding for 14 months; his dad is a big supporter and he clearly is highly motivated and into it.

Quirks and Quarks  Website, on Twitter @CBCQuirks
This is hands down the best science radio show I've ever heard. It's made by Canadian public radio, and unlike every other science show I've ever seen they actually talk to scientists, rather than try to simply report science news. Bob McDonald is great; he walks the scientist through a clear exposition of their results and the stories cover a full range of disciplines. If you aren't listening to this show, you're missing out.

A couple of weeks ago there were quite a few perception/action type stories: 
  • The Breaking Curve Ball Illusion (with links to the experimental stimuli). While you can make a baseball actually curve, the break is the result of not being able to move your eyes fast enough.
  • The Man Who Mistook Every Face (prosopagnosia)
  • Wet Dogs Rule (the dynamics of shaking water out of your fur; great example of animals tuning into a dynamic and optimising their behaviour accordingly; includes hi speed video of animals shaking).

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