July 2012 Archives

Social Networking for Dairy Cows

Several years ago, California dairy farmers released a myriad of cutesy advertisements depicting comical cows backdropped by blue skies and green pastures, all of the ads featuring the slogan, "Happy cows come from California." At the time, I was attending...

Make the Real World More Like Video Games

There is a vast misconception that video gamers, especially those who play massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGS) like World of Warcraft, are lazy. But this couldn't be farther from the truth.The reality is that most gamers are incredibly...

Does Soda Actually Erode Teeth?

I recently received a mass email from a coworker that reported some scary facts about soft drinks. I instantly realized that one fact on the list was not correct. It said that the acid in Coca-Cola dissolves the rust off a nail, thereby implying that Coke...

How to Detect a Mummy's Immune Response

Let's pretend that you're wandering around in the Andes Mountains, and you come across some dead, well-preserved, 500-year-old bodies. Intrigued, you take a closer look. One of the bodies looks relatively unhealthy, while the other body looks relatively...

Live Chat: Are Invasive Species Threats, or Misunderstood?

Are invasive species threats? Or, are they merely naturally occurring phenomena? Tune in to Newton Blog at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 26th for a live chat hosted by Science Magazine.<a...

The Venomous Climate of Climate Change Denialism

Inflammatory rhetoric has been a mainstay (sadly, on both sides) of the climate change debate for a number of years now. The vitriol continued this past week in a blog post by the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Rand Simberg. Referring to Penn State...

World's Coolest Science Lab to Shut Down?

If you imagined what would be the coolest science lab to work in, what would you think of? A monastery on top of a mountain? How about a secret underground base in the sub-zero Arctic?I already have my pick in mind: an underwater lab on a coral reef!...

It's Watermelon Season!

Just in case the record heat hasn't clued you in, summer is here. That means long days, short nights, sunburns, and water balloon fights. It also means that watermelon season is upon us!Across the country, kids and adults at picnics and dinner tables are...

Learning from the Enemy

Bacterial pathogens are tricky little blighters, incredibly adept at infecting human cells and propagating disease. Certain tools in their arsenal are used to interface with host cell signaling pathways, allowing the invading microbes to fool and evade the...

Release the Franken-Skeeters!

The British biotech firm Oxitec has applied to the FDA to release a genetically modified mosquito in Florida to prevent the spread of dengue fever. Predictably, this has caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Already, an online petition has gathered...

Live Chat: Science at the Olympics

With the advent of cutting-edge prosthetics and novel drugs that help athletes outcompete their rivals, are the Olympics growing to be just as much about science as they are about athletic ability? Tune into Science Magazine's live chat at 3 p.m. EDT, here,...

Let There Be Free Journal Access for All!

This week, the government of the UK announced that it will require all published research funded by its subjects to be free for those people to read. Researchers will pay publishers up front when they submit articles, and then every accepted article will...

The 'D' Debate: Can Vitamin D Solve All Your Problems?

Looking for a simple solution to remedy depression, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, bone loss, influenza, asthma, allergies, migraines, and even low-back pain? Look no further than vitamin D, many experts insist.Yet all of the evangelizing...

You Can Feed Your Remains to Mushrooms

Being buried or burned is so passé. That's not to say that they're altogether bad ways to deal with the deceased. Even though cemeteries take up a large amount of land, there's still something intrinsically natural and sacred about being returned to the...

Why Are Blondes Considered Dumb?

Blonde hair is light in color because it lacks a pigment called eumelanin. Somehow, blonde hair has also become associated with the lack of another component--intelligence.This "dumb blonde" stereotype doesn't just exist in the world of teen movies and humor...

Keep Psychology Out of the Science Club

In the Los Angeles Times, a psychologist expressed his resentment over the fact that most scientists don't consider psychology a real science. Essentially, he thinks that scientists are big, mean, condescending bullies:Once, during a meeting at my university,...

Live Chat: Physics After the Higgs

Science Magazine's ScienceLive is hosting a live chat at 3 p.m. EDT today on what comes next for particle physicists in the wake of last week's monumental Higgs discovery. You can follow the chat on the Newton Blog. <a...

What are Quantum Computers?

A quantum computer is built to crack the thorniest cyphers employed by governments to encrypt their secrets. It can break in seconds a code that would take millennia or geological eons for a regular supercomputer to defeat.A quantum computer can simulate...

Could Buddhism Unify Science & Religion?

Great thinkers and everyday people have long pondered how to reconcile the deep-rooted differences between science and religion. At first glance, it can seem an insurmountable task. The debate pits evolution versus creationism, belief versus proof, certainty...

Like Chess, You Can Learn to Train Your Emotions

On a particularly hectic day, one might find Richard Davidson stealing a few precious minutes sitting peacefully on a plump square cushion, his body wrapped in a wool blanket and his eyelids delicately sealed. The University of Wisconsin psychologist leads a...

Oh No! Ohno's Sex Chromosome Theory Rejected?

The longstanding hypothesis about the evolution of sex chromosomes has just been shaken by a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Female mammals possess two X chromosomes (XX) and males possess one X and one Y chromosome (XY)....

For Worms, Is Space a Fountain of Youth?

Spaceflight affects earthly life forms in strange ways, from decreasing muscle and bone mass in humans and other vertebrates to altering gene expression in microbes. And there's plenty still unknown. Scientists are just beginning to understand how the effects...

Science Can Be Scary, But Don't Be Afraid to Learn

Want to take a brief lesson in vocabulary? Simply peruse the published papers of PLoS One, or almost any scientific journal for that matter. Your literacy will be stressed to the very limits.Here's a selection of paper titles that I found in a matter of...

Video Games or TV: Which is Worse?

As humans, we employ a myriad of methods to keep ourselves entertained and our time occupied. Two of the most popular and demonized of these activities are video game playing and television watching.I've often wondered, if a battle-royal was waged between...

Don't Become a Fireworks 'Fail'

We all love to watch a fantastic pyrotechnical display to celebrate the 4th of July. While many of us prefer to marvel at a distance or stick to tame ground-dwelling fireworks, some of us lust for more BANG.Sometimes this leads us to do things which may be...

Soccer Fascinates Fans and Scientists Alike

On Sunday, millions of fans across the globe watched with excitement and trepidation as Spain and Italy battled for the Euro 2012 Championship. Spain handily defeated the Italians by a score of four to nil with a blend of selfless teamwork and staunch...