For a long time, the study of dreams was marred in mysticism and pseudo science to warrant academic respect. But in the 1970’s, a man named Stephen LaBerge gained a measure of credibility for his research into the phenomenon called “lucid dreaming”, but he ultimately remained on the fringes of mainstream science. In more recent years, films like Inception and The Matrix have been increasing public interest into the mysteries of the dream-state. Mirroring this rise in pop culture appeal, lucid dream research is beginning to move out of the fringes and into the scientific mainstream. Dorian Rolston is a freelance writer covering cognitive science, mental health, and the mind. His article on the work of Stephen LaBerge, and new efforts to understand lucid dreaming appeared in the online publication, Matter.
Star Trek's seemingly miraculous 'tricorder' is a device which can measure anything from a patient's vital signs to geological activity with the push of a button. Now, a company called Scanadu has developed a device called the 'Scout,' which they hope can be as useful for the health industry as tricorders were on the Enterprise. We talked with the company's co-founder to learn more.
In 2007, researchers from the University of Texas categorized 237 motivations for humans to have sex. Recently, researchers at the University of Toronto divided the most common into two broad categories: approach motives pursue a positive outcome, like increasing intimacy; avoidance motives aim to avoid conflict or guilt. The Canadian team found that adding the fairly un-sexy drives of duty, resignation and guilt which significantly affect the health of a relationship, and could spell the difference between a happy marriage and a rocky one. Elizabeth Bernstein is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, where she wrote about the studies published by University of Toronto in October.
Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness…whatever he's called, some seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil. That’s according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, and that number has increased steadily since 1990, when only fifty-five percent believed in evil personified in the form of Satan.
Now, researchers are looking at the implications of belief in “pure evil” on psychological and social behaviors. Piercarlo Valdesolo is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Mckenna College and contributor to Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” blog, where we found his article, “The Psychological Power of Satan.”
In the spirit of thinking about how we eat over what we eat, a team at Cornell University conducted a study to see how we can make the buffet—that most tempting and often fattening arrays of food — into part of a balanced breakfast.
And now for a project that sounds more like something from a Pixar movie than the next big thing in space exploration…the High Altitude Lensing Observatory, or HALO, could be the Hubble telescope’s successor in deep space imaging – but instead of orbiting earth from space, scientists are hoping to hang this giant telescope from a great…big…balloon.
One of the scientists working on the project is Dr. Richard Massey, an astronomer at The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, Scotland.
One area of funding hit hard by the government shutdown is science. Since so much basic research and development is funded by the government, the partial shutdown means labs have had to close their doors, research centers are operating with skeleton crews, and many clinical trials have ground to a halt and experiments put on ice. All these factors have some scientists complaining that their time-sensitive work is in jeopardy.
Fred Guterl is the Executive Editor of Scientific American, which is covering the shutdown’s effect on scientific research.
The internet provides a forum for public conversation, debate and interaction. At times, it may seem more less public square and more like the Roman forum…where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults can devour conversations and proclaim judgments by like an unruly mob.
Media outlets have long-debated how best to moderate online comments, where some of the worst internet trolling takes place…last month, Popular Science shut down comments on its website, citing, in part, a study from the University of Wisconsin measuring the influence negative comments have on other readers. (We spoke with study co-author Dietram Scheufele back in March about the phenomenon he calls “the Nasty Effect.")
Jake Ward is Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, he’s with us to talk more about the decision and response so far.
A lot of kids go through a “dinosaur phase,” begging parents to buy every book with a Tyrannosaurus on the cover. While the T-Rex, Velociraptor and Tricerotops have a kind of celebrity status among dino-crazed kids, the truth is not so static. For nearly three centuries, an ever-growing fossil record and scientific progress reveals the importance of a number of unsung species that may have far more to tell us about ancient biology than our popular paleo-crushes.
Brian Switek is author of My Beloved Brontosaurus, a book about the history of paleontology and the transformation of dinosaurs in the popular imagination.
Here in Concord, flocks of fourth graders are boarding school buses to get a glimpse of something you definitely won’t see in a classroom: falcons. Right now, birds of prey are migrating in massive numbers from their breeding grounds in the north to their wintering grounds down south. Independent producer Jack Rodolico met up with a group of kid scientists on a field trip at the Carter Hill apple orchard, and filed this report.
Of all the features on Apple’s newest iPhone, the one generating the most buzz by far is the finger print scanner. The iPhone 5s allows people access to their phones without entering a passcode or even a swipe. So, is this the latest gimmick to sell phones or the beginning of the end of the password? David Ewalt writes about technology, games, space, and other geeky stuff as senior editor at Forbes…which is where you can find his blog, “Spacewar.”
If you think there are too many food deserts in cities across the United States, try finding some fresh produce in outer space. Naturally, NASA makes sure astronauts living on the International Space Station don’t go hungry, but since it costs about $10,000 to send a single pound of food to the I.S.S., you can bet they don’t see a lot of leafy greens.
That cost is just one reason growing fresh food in outer space is a crucial step in the future of manned space exploration. Jesse Hirsch is a staff writer for Modern Farmer, where you can find his article, “Space Farming: The Final Frontier”.
Science is supposed to be objective, value neutral, a noble pursuit of truth – whatever that may turn out to be. In recent years though, some science skeptics have sought to associate objectivity with amorality - and meanwhile, a few well-publicized academic frauds and political battles over funding have revealed that researchers are just as capable at deception as anyone else. Despite these setbacks, research at the University of California Santa Barbara reveals that people do indeed carry deep and positive associations with the scientific method. Piercarlo Valdesolo wrote about the experiments for Scientific American.
The University of New Hampshire has started a new school of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, focusing on newer topics such as adaptations to climate change and coastal planning, in addition to marine biology and oceanography.
The school is the first interdisciplinary one at UNH and will provide graduate and undergraduate courses.
Imagine a world where eating and preparing food was a thing of the past. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction, right? Well, that world might be closer than we think. A new product, Soylent, claims to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs. The creator of Soylent sees it as not only a solution to the inefficiency of producing and preparing food, but potentially the world’s hunger problems.
Lee Hutchinson is senior reviews editor at Ars Technica. He lived on Soylent for a full week, and blogged about the experience.