July 2011 Archives

Addicted to Our Smartphones

I consider myself a very "tech savvy" person, but I still draw the line when it comes to owning a phone that's smarter than me. However, for one-third of Americans, smartphones seem to have supplanted canines as "man's best friend," and new research is...

"Neuromusic" Gives New Meaning to "Formula" Music

The recording industry is locked in a constant search for the next hit song. They currently rely on tried and true methods such as hooks, sex appeal, formula structure, and catchy lyrics, but a future answer could be to create "neuromusic" - music designed...

Cities Cause Animals to Adapt and Evolve

For its human residents, New York is a melting pot of multiculturalism. Millions of people with vastly different religions, customs, characteristics, and beliefs interact and intermingle. This mixing creates confrontation and adaptation among New York's human...

Video Games Learned From Skinner; Will Our Employers?

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You have just slain the Black Dragon of Towmak and have discovered an epic treasure!DING! You have just reached level 24!KA-BOOM! You successfully destroyed your objective and have attained a higher rank!BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP Fifteen...

Oh Me, Oh Methane: My Favorite Climate Change Horror Story

A number of possible cataclysmic outcomes of human-caused climate change have been suggested over the last few years. We've all been treated to previews of an ice age in Europe, abrupt rises in the sea level, and the end of agriculture as we know it. All of...

The Navy Wants You... To Be Energy Efficient

Despite the charged American political climate that now envelops the issue of global climate change, the United States Navy is now boldly moving forward with plans to reduce their massive consumption of energy and foreign oil through a project called Task...

Follow Up: Plastic Bioaccumulation in Ocean

On June 20th, the Newton Blog raised the issue that widespread oceanic plastic pollution could lead to a bioaccumulation of plastic up the marine food chain, potentially even some day ending up in our food. A new study from the Scripps Institute of...

Sad Music Can Make You Happy

With my music collection being what it is (dominated by rock and metal, with a smattering of less mainstream rap and classical), I've often fielded this question from friends: "Ross, your music is depressing; doesn't it make you sad?"To which I've always...

Baboons & Humans: Being Beta is Not So Bad

A new study from Princeton research associate Laurence R. Gesquiere and his colleagues has shown that being an alpha male may not be quite as glamorous as it seems (if you're a baboon at least). Studying five different troops of wild baboons in Kenya over...

Wireless Power is the Future

All around us, we now have wireless phones, wireless internet, wireless charging, wireless speakers, wireless remotes, wireless controllers, etc. - the desire is apparent: we refuse to be tethered by our appliances. But we are not free yet... there is still a...

Male Soccer Players More Likely to Fake Injury

If you were lucky enough to view the United States pull off an amazing comeback against Brazil in the FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday, you also had a chance to view a medical miracle. In the 115th minute, Brazilian defender Erika Christiano Dos Santos...

Criticism of 'Questionable' NSF Projects Misguided

In April, Senator Tom Coburn released a report examining wasteful spending at the National Science Foundation. His report attempted to highlight incidents of "mismanagement of taxpayer funds," acts of "cheating taxpayers out of scientific funds," and wasteful...

End of Shuttle Program Only a Temporary Setback

While space shuttle launches are often momentous occasions, my viewing of last Friday's liftoff of Atlantis was a somewhat hollow experience because it heralded the end of an era of American spaceflight. Over forty years have passed since America won the race...

Blind Doctors Have Much to Offer

Tim Cordes graduated as valedictorian of his Notre Dame class in 1998 with a degree in biochemistry. He knew he wanted to go to medical school, yet the road to his dream was far from guaranteed. Despite his enviable resumé, Cordes was rejected by eight...

Genetic Modification Fixes Inbred Bananas

Opponents of genetic modification often make the case that traditional or organic agricultural techniques sufficiently address the needs of a modern society. This is not true, and this could not be better illustrated than with the problem plaguing the banana...

There Are a Lot of Reasons to Smile

You're walking down the sidewalk on a cloudy day, feeling rushed because you're late to an appointment. Thus, you're walking fast with your head tilted down to ensure that your quickened pace doesn't cause a misstep in the cracked cement. The flowers along...

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Writing for Scientific American, Bob Roehr revealed the following information from a report released on June 29th by the Institute of Medicine:Chronic pain affects at least one in three adults in the U.S., which is more than the sum total of those with heart...

PRT Offers Great Possibility and Difficulty

My brother, a devoted Georgetown alumnus, does not have a lot of good things to say about the Mountaineers of West Virginia. But even after spitefully thrashing his rivals he does have one compliment to offer."They have that cool tram doohickey for their...