Today on Word of Mouth, we're unpacking big data. Should we fear or embrace it? Then we get a lesson on ICANN - what it is and how the decision made by the Obama administration not to renew its contract to oversee see it actually affects the way the internet functions. Finally, bodies! How do you study the effects of certain conditions on human remains? With a body farm, of course.
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For some time now in New Hampshire, consumers and businesses who install and use solar panels have been able to earn refunds for the power they generate and return to the electric grid. This is known as “net metering.”
For many of us the science of chocolate begins and ends with that great literary and cinematic candyman, Willy Wonka, who insisted chocolate was only best when it was churned by waterfall.
Of course, Wonka lived in the world of pure imagination, but the science of chocolate is pretty interesting in this world as well, as a group of Granite Staters found out in a recent "Science on Tap" event in Manchester.
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.