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« Science: November 2006 | Main | Science: January 2007 »


Finally, A Use for Shakespeare

Because Shakespeare had poor grammar, reading his works stimulates your brain. Your brain has to work harder to figure out what the hell he's talking about, so in essence, reading his stuff is good for you. Who knew?

"The brain reacts to reading a phrase such as 'he godded me' from the tragedy of Coriolanus, in a similar way to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If it is easy to see which pieces slot together you become bored of the game, but if the pieces don't appear to fit, when we know they should, the brain becomes excited. By throwing odd words into seemingly normal sentences, Shakespeare surprises the brain and catches it off guard in a manner that produces a sudden burst of activity - a sense of drama created out of the simplest of things."

By min | December 20, 2006, 1:12 PM | Science | Comments (2)| Link

The Nose Knows

I don't know what they're so excited about. fnord12 and adam did this experiment years ago when they located the Hostess factory using nothing but adam's nose to navigate.

In a paper appearing this week in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, UC Berkeley researchers report conclusive evidence from these experiments that humans do indeed gain a performance advantage from cross-nostril comparisons. They also found that humans can scent-track, and that, with training, they can improve their accuracy significantly while nearly doubling their speed along the scent trail.

adam could have out-tracked all of these suckers.

By min | December 20, 2006, 1:07 PM | Science | Comments (6)| Link

Alcohol Good For Brain

Or something. The Canadians did a study that shows those who are mildly intoxicated have a greater chance of recovering from brain injuries than those who are highly intoxicated or not intoxicated at all. They don't exactly say why.

Perhaps it's a trick. They put out this "study" and then people in other countries start drinking up thinking it's good for their brain. Instead, it just makes them more likely to kill themselves and others in drunk driving ("drink driving" if you're British) accidents. Then the Canadians finally get revenge on all the people who made fun of them for being Canadian! It's brilliant!

But Dr. Tien stressed that the research in no way suggests that drinking can prevent injury. On the contrary, it is well established that alcohol use increases the likelihood of severe injury.

"Let me be clear: Drinking and driving will not protect your head," he said.

If anyone would like to test out this theory, i'd be willing to supply the blunt head trauma. I'll need you to sign a waiver first, though.

By min | December 19, 2006, 11:52 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link

Younger Siblings Give You Brain Tumors

A study done in Sweden shows that people with four or more siblings were twice as likely to develop a brain tumor as people with no siblings. The correlation was only found with the number of younger siblings, not with the number of older siblings.

"Since the size of a family and the number of younger siblings correlate with the incidence of brain tumors, this suggests infectious agents may be causing the disease," said study author Andrea Altieri, DSc, with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. "The number of siblings a person has indicates they were exposed at an early age to infections, since children come in close contact with each other and thereby share exposures to many infectious agents."

According to Altieri, the finding that brain tumor rates were higher among people with younger siblings, and not older siblings, suggests infections or re-infections in late childhood may play an important role in causing the disease, while exposure to infections in infancy, birth to five months old, may be beneficial.


"The two to fourfold increased risks for individuals with a high number of younger siblings are stronger than most established risk factors for the disease," said Altieri.

Tank goff my mom decided against having 8 kids.

By min | December 13, 2006, 3:39 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link

I Don't Care How "Nice" You Think It Is

70 degree weather in December in New Jersey is freakishly weird and totally unnatural. And it's not just us experiencing the global warming trend. Moscow is snowless this winter.

"In 1953 the temperature was plus 4.2 degrees Celcius (39.6 Fahrenheit), and tonight it will be plus 4.5 degrees (40.1 Fahrenheit)," she said. "We can call it a new record."

The average temperature for December in Moscow is around minus 4 degrees Celcius. The spokeswoman said cylcones in the north Atlantic have created unusually warm weather in central Russia.

You might be enjoying the warm temperatures because the idea of freezing your ass off in 30 degree weather is unpleasant. But weather should be cyclical and there should be seasons in our region. Warm weather allows diseases to travel faster. Plants and animals that should be taking their cues from the weather are prolly completely confused about what they should be doing. Today it's 70 degrees. Mebbe next time it will be a week long freak blizzard. Or a hurricane the likes of Katrina to wash away our shores. In the big picture, this "great" weather we're having is a very bad sign.

By min | December 1, 2006, 3:51 PM | Science | Comments (5)| Link

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