Weekly Space Hangout – May 29, 2015: Dr. Bradley M. Peterson

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: This week we welcome Dr. Bradley M. Peterson, whose research is directed towards determination of the physical nature of active galactic nuclei.
Jolene Creighton (@jolene723 / fromquarkstoquasars.com)
Charles Black (@charlesblack / sen.com/charles-black)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein / briankoberlein.com)
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
Read the rest of Weekly Space Hangout – May 29, 2015: Dr. Bradley M. Peterson (482 words)

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Yes! Acquiring ‘Perfect’ Pitch Is Possible For Some Adults, Scientists Say

It turns out that some people can be trained to be the next Mariah Carey.

A team of psychologists recently revealed that they were able to successfully teach adults the prized musical skill of so-called absolute pitch, widely known as “perfect” pitch. The ability helps you to identify a note without using a reference pitch.

An elusive skill. Scientists previously thought that perfect pitch was either something you were born with, or something that could only be learned during childhood. The ability is considered remarkably rare — only around one in 10,000 individuals has perfect pitch.

“This is the first significant demonstration that the ability to identify notes by hearing them may well be something that individuals can be trained to do,” Dr. Howard Nusbaum, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and part of the research team, said in a written statement. “It’s an ability that is teachable, and it appears to depend on a general cognitive ability of holding sounds in one’s mind.”

Practice makes perfect? For the research, 47 men and women at the university — with varying musical experience — listened to musical notes through headphones and were asked to recreate the note that they heard. They also were asked to identify notes by name, such as middle-C or F-sharp.

After the tests, the men and women participated in a training program, during which they listened to and identified piano notes, receiving feedback on whether they named the correct notes or not. The researchers retested the men and women after the training and found that the participants retained most of what they learned, showing improvements in identifying notes.

“We demonstrate three important findings in this paper,” Nusbaum said in the statement. “First, in contrast to previous studies, we are —> Read More

Ardent Creationist Finds Fossilized Fish, Still Isn’t Convinced Evolution Is Real

Edgar Nernberg is a creationist. And he won’t let a little thing like discovering a crucial link in the evolutionary chain change his mind.

Nernberg unearthed a perfectly preserved school of fossilized fish while digging a new basement in northwest Calgary, Alberta, the University of Calgary reports. He had a feeling he’d discovered something special.

Darla Zelenitsky, a paleontologist at the school, confirmed that the five fossil fish are 60 million years old. There are few complete fossils from that time period, so the fish are an influential tool in helping scientists show how animals evolved after dinosaurs went extinct.

“These fossil fish are important because they are very primitive representatives of a large group of bony fish known today,” she said.

Nernberg, however, thinks evolution is a sham. He lobbies to have creationism included in school syllabi and sits on the Big Valley Creation Science Museum‘s board of directors.

The museum’s website says its exhibits “refute the lie of evolution.” Visitors can check out a display about dinosaurs and humans, which purportedly disproves that dinosaurs went extinct long before humans lived on Earth.

Paleontologists’ feedback on the fossils hasn’t changed Nernberg’s mind about evolution, he told the Calgary Sun.

“We all have the same evidence,” he told the paper, “and it’s just a matter of how you interpret it.”

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