The Neanderthalizer and other weapons of mass instruction

Want a Neandertal makeover? There’s an app for that. There’s also an app to keep tabs on NASA. And a couple for beating climate-change skeptics and anti-evolutionists at their own game.

These and scores of other nerdy downloads are some of the coolest reasons to like Apple products, even if you don’t like Apple people.

After scanning a dozen scientific, pseudo-scientific and downright disturbing apps, here’s a run-down of a bunch that I liked, some of which are totally worth a look and others that are totally worth a free (or 99cent) download.

The “fun-for-the-entire-family” category

A much loved Homo neanderthalensis

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History released this one a few weeks ago (for both the iPhone and the Android). The “MEanderthal” is presumably meant to evoke the ‘Neanderthals-are-us” bonds and emotions, now that science has proved that we’ve inherited a decent amount of genetic material from them (but not their looks, thank God!).

The app, which could be better, is based on a paleo-artist’s interpretation of Neandertal facial features from fossil data. You choose one of your best mugs, adjust it so it fits the app’s facial recognition markers, and choose an early human species that you’re dying to look like. Let me say by way of warning, ladies – you’re in for a jolt. Guys – you go right ahead.

(The image here, btw, is of a loved one transformed into Homo neanderthalensis, a caveman who lived 200,000 to 28,000 years ago.)

The “Good Heavens!” category

NASA app: A must for space junkies. Amazing imagery and up-to-date info such as launch schedules and mission reports – enough to make you feel like a NASA insider.

The “Let’s take it outside” category

Skeptical Science: This is an absolute must for anyone who’s had or anticipates having run-ins with folks who say things like, “You know, global warming and/or climate change is one giant left-wing/liberal conspiracy to scare us into paying yet another tax for carbon emissions.” (Disclosure: Heard by yours truly from a cabbie who talked non-stop during a 20 min. ride)

Creationist Claims Index: Another absolute must for those readying for battle with proponents of creationism and intelligent design.

An example of a Creationist Claim and a rebuttal

These are it for now – go forth and download!

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