Category Archives: Research

Our Use Of Little Words Can, Uh, Reveal Hidden Interests : Shots – Health News : NPR

But in retrospect he says it makes sense. We use “I” more when we talk to someone with power because we’re more self-conscious. We are focused on ourselves — how we’re coming across — and our language reflects that.

So could we use these insights to change ourselves? Like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, could we bend our personalities by bending the words we use? Could we become stronger? More powerful? Healthier?

After 20 years of looking at this stuff, Pennebaker doubts it.

“The words reflect who we are more than [they] drive who we are,” he says.

You can’t, he believes, change who you are by changing your language; you can only change your language by changing who you are. He says that’s what his research indicates.

via Our Use Of Little Words Can, Uh, Reveal Hidden Interests : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Science::Why diets don’t work? Starved brain cells eat themselves

Science please advance enough before I eat myself to death. I need a miracle drug. wink wink!!

Why Diets Don’t Work? Starved Brain Cells Eat Themselves

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2011) — A report in the August issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism might help to explain why it’s so frustratingly difficult to stick to a diet. When we don’t eat, hunger-inducing neurons in the brain start eating bits of themselves. That act of self-cannibalism turns up a hunger signal to prompt eating.

“A pathway that is really important for every cell to turn over components in a kind of housekeeping process is also required to regulate appetite,” said Rajat Singh of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The cellular process uncovered in neurons of the brain’s hypothalamus is known as autophagy (literally self-eating.) Singh says the new findings in mice suggest that treatments aimed at blocking autophagy may prove useful as hunger-fighting weapons in the war against obesity.

The new evidence shows that lipids within the so-called agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons are mobilized following autophagy, generating free fatty acids. Those fatty acids in turn boost levels of AgRP, itself a hunger signal.

via Why diets don’t work? Starved brain cells eat themselves.

rePost::::Your Brain in Love “A new meta-analysis study… – Lapidarium notes

Addicted to love is not a figure of speech it is physical reality.

Results from Ortigue’s team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression. The love feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image. (…)

Other researchers also found blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF, also increased. Those levels were significantly higher in couples who had just fallen in love. This molecule involved plays an important role in the social chemistry of humans, or the phenomenon ‘love at first sight.’ “These results confirm love has a scientific basis,” says Ortigue. (…)

The study also shows different parts of the brain fall for love. For example, unconditional love, such as that between a mother and a child, is sparked by the common and different brain areas, including the middle of the brain. Passionate love is sparked by the reward part of the brain, and also associative cognitive brain areas that have higher-order cognitive functions, such as body image.”

via Your Brain in Love “A new meta-analysis study… – Lapidarium notes.

rePost::Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium – Telegraph

We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin. History will move on fast.

Muddling on with the status quo is not a grown-up policy. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (£16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West.

There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Thorium burns the plutonium residue left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. “It’s the Big One,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

“Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels,” he said.

Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium.

via Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium – Telegraph.

Is the science of this sound? WTF.

Great News :: Freakonomics » Economic Research Wants to Be Free

I’ve long hated how I can’t access JSTOR , and IEEE and a host of other publications. I was spoiled by EEE and College of  Engineering by providing free access to IEEE. Hope the other important journals follow suit,


Economic Research Wants to Be Free

Post by: Justin Wolfers

March 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

Photo: istockphoto

Here’s a test of basic economic literacy: What is the socially optimal price of online access to economics journal articles?

If my students learn only one thing, it’s this: Price equals marginal cost. And the marginal cost of accessing a journal article is pretty much zero. The research has been written, the type has been set, and the salaries have already been paid — usually thanks to a university, think tank, or government grant. So the socially optimal price is: free.  Every time we charge a price higher than this, we risk pricing out someone who might benefit from the insights of an academic scribbler.

The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity – the journal that David Romer and I edit — has decided to take this piece of economic wisdom seriously. The Brookings Papers are now entirely open access. Yep, we’re charging zero; nada; nothing; zip.

Folks in the ivory tower have always had access to the archives through JSTOR, but now you’ll also have access to the most recent volumes. Going open access though is really about providing access to many of the folks who read this blog. Previously, congressional staffers, journalists, think-tankers, private-sector economists, or any variety of policy wonk — or even just folks for whom keeping up with economic debates is a passion, but not a profession — had limited access to academic research. Now, it’s online, and free.

via Freakonomics » Economic Research Wants to Be Free.

Experiment of The Day :: People In Doubt Of Their Closely Held Beliefs Advocate Their Beliefs More???

I think this is a perfect post for the Freethinkers page.

Across three experiments, people whose confidence in closely held beliefs was undermined engaged in more advocacy of their beliefs (as measured by both advocacy effort and intention to advocate) than did people whose confidence was not undermined. The effect was attenuated when individuals affirmed their beliefs, and was moderated by both importance of the belief and open-mindedness of a message recipient. These findings not only have implications for the results of Festinger’s seminal study, but also offer new insights into people’s motives for advocating their beliefs.

rePost :: Op-Ed Columnist – New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer –

I know only smart people read this blog but I think I have to give the context or subtext of this article. I am assuming that  Kristoff highlighted that the two doctors in the 3 doctor panels were both appointees of former president bush to inform the readers of how grave these results/reviews appear to be. The Bush appointees have had a long reputation proven time and time again of an ideological problem with regulation and in general government intervention of any kind. To declare make a report like this is akin to a climate change skeptic (the rational evidence based ones) warning against climate change. Now my problem with this is what the fuck do I drink when I travel?  damn.

Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

In particular, the report warns about exposures to chemicals during pregnancy, when risk of damage seems to be greatest. Noting that 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, the study warns that: “to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’ ”

It’s striking that this report emerges not from the fringe but from the mission control of mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel. Established in 1971, this is a group of three distinguished experts who review America’s cancer program and report directly to the president.

One of the seats is now vacant, but the panel members who joined in this report are Dr. LaSalle Leffall Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Both were originally appointed to the panel by former President George W. Bush.

“We wanted to let people know that we’re concerned, and that they should be concerned,” Professor Leffall told me.

The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary.

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

via Op-Ed Columnist – New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer –