Why Google Glass might actually be useful, and other tales from around the web

May 14, 2014 /

Today’s round-up of need-to-know stories features a rare argument in favor of Google Glass, a lyrical description of the true nature of worms and jellyfish, and a new discovery that might help explain how galaxies really work.

OK, Glass. Make yourself useful
Early promotion for Google Glass focused on social situations. (Wear them to parties and bars!) To which the world responded, ew, no.  So we all missed that wearing Glass while on the job might make actual sense. In a recent trial, doctors in a Boston emergency room have been wearing a heavily modified Glass to look up patient records on the fly. As MIT Tech Review says: “The experiment is one of many tests to see if face-worn computers can be beneficial for workers who need fast access to small amounts of information without taking their hands or even their full gaze away from other tasks.”

Because worms have minds too, you know
Charles Darwin argued that worms are intelligent, as neurologist Oliver Sacks writes in this beautiful piece that examines the “mental life of plants and worms, among others.” The piece is also a lyrical history lesson, spinning from Darwin’s lesser known theories to those of modern writers grappling with the same question: just what is “intelligence,” anyway? “Nature has employed at least two very different ways of making a brain — indeed, there are almost as many ways as there are phyla in the animal kingdom,” writes Sacks. “Mind, to varying degrees, has arisen or is embodied in all of these, despite the profound biological gulf that separates them from one other, and us from them.”

How stars are formed
It’s both humbling and inspiring to remember: There’s still so very much we don’t know. That’s why this latest research intrigues: a team of French astrophysicists thinks it’s figured out why “starbursts” take place when galaxies collide. Why care? Says lead scientist Florent Renaud, such discoveries are “helping us unlock the nature of galaxies and their contents in ever more detail, helping astronomers to slowly assemble their complete history.” To create the simulations, the scientists used the equivalent of 20 million hours of time on two supercomputers.