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April 06, 2009

Ten scientific terms that came from Science Fiction

Nine Words You Might Think Came from Science but Which Are Really from Science Fiction

 : OUPblog

1. Robotics. This is probably the most well-known of these, since Isaac Asimov is famous for (among many other things) his three laws of robotics. Even so, I include it because it is one of the only actual sciences to have been first named in a science fiction story (”Liar!”, 1941). Asimov also named the related occupation (roboticist) and the adjective robotic.

2. Genetic engineering. The other science that received its name from a science fiction story, in this case Jack Williamson’s novel Dragon’s Island, which was coincidentally published in the same year as “Liar!” The occupation of genetic engineer took a few more years to be named, this time by Poul Anderson.

3. Zero-gravity/zero-g. A defining feature of life in outer space (sans artificial gravity, of course). The first known use of “zero-gravity” is from Jack Binder (better known for his work as an artist) in 1938, and actually refers to the gravityless state of the center of the Earth’s core. Arthur C. Clarke gave us “zero-g” in his 1952 novel Islands in the Sky.

April 03, 2009

Surfing the Internet at work boosts productivity

Study: surfing the Internet at work boosts productivity - Ars Technica

Workers are more productive when they are able to occasionally do non-work stuff online, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found. Dr. Brent Coker studied the habits of 300 workers and found that the large majority engaged in what he calls "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" (WILB)—surfing the Internet for personal reasons. But despite the common perception that such a behavior is a drain on employers, Coker says that these employees are able to focus better when performing tasks for work.

In his report, Coker said that 70 percent of workers engage in WILB, the most popular of which involved looking for information about products, reading news, playing games, and watching YouTube videos. "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," he said in a statement. "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity."

April 01, 2009

On April Fool's Day I can never tell who is fucking with me

Masturbation could bring hay fever relief for men - health - 01 April 2009 - New Scientist

Like this New Scientist article about using masturbation to review allergy symptoms . . .

Spring is here and with it come the woes of hay fever. Never fear, however, as there may be a quick and pleasurable treatment to clear those bunged noses, for guys at least – a well-timed ejaculation.

That's what Sina Zarrintan, a neurologist from the Tabriz Medical University in Iran proposes, anyway. The logic behind the proposal is based on the fact that the nose and the genitals are both connected to the same part of the nervous system that controls certain reflexes – the sympathetic nervous system.

A blocked nose is caused by swollen and inflamed nasal blood vessels, irritated by an infection or pollen in the air. But during ejaculation, the sympathetic nervous system constricts blood vessels across the body. That should soothe the swollen nasal blood vessels, freeing the airway for normal breathing, according to Zarrintan.

March 28, 2009

Science: Crabs feel pain, have memory

Boiling Mad: Crabs Feel Pain

Yes, researchers now say. Not only do crabs suffer pain, a new study found, but they retain a memory of it (assuming they aren't already dead on your dinner plate). The scientists say its time for new laws to consider the suffering of all crustaceans.

The study involved using wires to deliver shocks to the bellies of hermit crabs, which, being hermits, often take up residence in left-behind mollusc shells. The crabs that were shocked scampered out of their shells, "indicating that the experience is unpleasant for them," the scientists concluded; unshocked crabs stayed put.

March 27, 2009

Ooops, turns out our science on giving kids speed for hyperactivity and attention was utter shit

Enjoy life as speed addicts, you shrunken little junkies. Study reignites debate over drugs for hyperactive youths | Chronicle | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
One principal scientist in the study, psychologist William Pelham, said that the most obvious interpretation of the data is that the medications are useful in the short term but ineffective over longer periods, but his colleagues had repeatedly sought to explain away evidence that challenged the long-term usefulness of medication. When their explanations failed to hold up, they reached for new ones, Pelham said. “The stance the group took in the first paper was so strong that the people are embarrassed to say they were wrong and we led the whole field astray,” said Pelham, of the University at Buffalo. Pelham noted that the drugs, including Adderall and Concerta, are among the medications most frequently prescribed for American children, adding, “If 5 percent of families in the country are giving a medication to their children and they don’t realize it does not have long-term benefits but might have long term risks, why should they not be told?”