Surprise! Taking notes with pen and paper proven to be more effective.

From: For More Effective Studying, Take Notes With Pen and Paper

According to a new study, Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University and UCLA Los Angeles respectively, students who write out their notes by hand actually learn more than those to type their notes on laptops. Over the course of several experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer tested students’ memories for factual detail, conceptual comprehension, and synthesizing capabilities after half of them took notes by hands and the other half took notes by way of computer. Students who used laptops cranked out more words than hand-writers did, but the hand-writers ended up with a stronger conceptual understanding across the board.


Why? You can read the article, but the short version is that when we write by hand we have to process the material more, and thereby learn it better. Makes sense.

Of course, the converse would also be true. If you just want to dump your unedited ideas in text form (for say, brainstorming) then a computer would be a better tool because it has less steps between you and the data output. Something to think about.

Now if could only convince my students that their laptops aren’t helping them study!


Brass fixtures fight Bacteria and Spread of Germs.

Hmm. I might just have to have copper handles on the doors of my next home!

Plastic and stainless steel surfaces, which are now widely used in hospitals and public settings, allow bacteria to survive and spread when people touch them.

Even if the bacteria die, DNA that gives them resistance to antibiotics can survive and be passed on to other bacteria on these surfaces. Copper and brass, however, can kill the bacteria and also destroy this DNA.

Professor Bill Keevil, head of the microbiology group at Southampton University, said using copper on surfaces in public places and on public transport could dramatically cut the threat posed by superbugs.

via Fit brass fixtures to cut superbugs, say scientists – Telegraph.

Do people really love cats? Or are they actually compelled to by brain parasites?

So here’s a weird thought- Cat Lovers are Cat Lovers not always because they naturally love cats, but because they’re actually compelled to be close to cats by a parasite they’ve picked up which is affecting their brains. Scary, eh?

Impossible? Not at all, from the article:

Why is it that the elite French perfumers (known as “noses”) and sommeliers (“upturned noses”) of the world spend so much of their time inhaling cat effluvia from expensive glass bottles? A guess: It may have to do with a mind-control parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. The tiny protozoan may be getting into our brains and tricking us into liking cats—not to mention certain perfumes and wines.

In a recent study, Czech scientists gave men and women towels scented with the urine of various animals—horses, lions, hyenas, cats, dogs—which they rated for “pleasantness.” Turns out, men who tested positive for Toxo found the smell of cat urine more pleasant than men without Toxo. For Toxo researchers like me, this was a shock but not entirely surprising. Why? Toxo does approximately the same thing to rats.

via Chanel No. 5: A brain parasite may be the secret to the famous perfume. – Slate Magazine.

Who wants to live forever?

What if people could live to 200 instead of just 80 years?

Dr. Stuart Kim has already done the equivalent in his studies on how to reverse the aging process in worms, and has learned incredible things about aging. Traditionally, we’ve always thought that aging was the result of wear and tear on our cells, but it turns out that isn’t quite true.

ideacity on Broadcast Live Free

I heard this lecture last night on CBC radio and was blown away by it, and the implications it offers about aging in the future. It’s almost one of those things which makes me think I was born a touch too early, because I might just miss the benefits of this kind of research. On the other hand, it kinda terrifies me, because it also offers a real prospect of a future where the options are a) the rich (who can afford the treatments) live for hundreds of years while the poor continue to die as normal. Or, b) a world where people age at 1/2 to 1/3 the rate they do now, and which will see terrifying overpopulation like we can’t even imagine.

Neither seems all that pleasant. But hopefully we’ll find a happy middle.

America’s Science Decline – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson shows North America’s (sadly, Canada as well) place on the world stage in terms of the development of new science and technology as we fade into irrelevance. Watch it and weep!

CTV News | Nice guys make less than ‘highly disagreeable’ men

Men who score on personality tests as highly disagreeable tend to earn more than 18 per cent more – an average of $9,700 more a year – than men who were scored as most agreeable. Agreeableness made less of a difference in women, but it still meant an average 5-per-cent salary gap for nice gals.


Wow, not only do the jerks get more girls when they’re young, they actually make more than the nice guys later in life too. Being nice is seriously not an advantage in human society for males.

via CTV News | Nice guys make less than ‘highly disagreeable’ men.

Neutrinos still faster than light in latest version of experiment | Science |

Interesting, especially the idea that we could send messages back in time. Of course, if we can, why aren’t we doing it already? Or are we, and we just don’t have the means to hear them?

The scientists who appeared to have found in September that certain subatomic particles can travel faster than light have ruled out one potential source of error in their measurements after completing a second, fine-tuned version of their experiment.

Their results, posted on the ArXiv preprint server on Friday morning and submitted for peer review in the Journal of High Energy Physics, confirmed earlier measurements that neutrinos, sent through the ground from Cern near Geneva to the Gran Sasso lab in Italy 450 miles (720km) away seemed to travel faster than light.

The finding that neutrinos might break one of the most fundamental laws of physics sent scientists into a frenzy when it was first reported in September. Not only because it appeared to go against Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity but, if correct, the finding opened up the troubling possibility of being able to send information back in time, blurring the line between past and present and wreaking havoc with the fundamental principle of cause and effect.

via Neutrinos still faster than light in latest version of experiment | Science |

UC Irvine Release: World’s lightest metal developed :: UC Irvine TODAY

A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world’s lightest material – with a density of 0.9 mg/cc – about one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam™. Their findings appear in the Nov. 18 issue of Science.

The new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique “micro-lattice” cellular architecture. The researchers were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 percent air by designing the 0.01 percent solid at the nanometer, micron and millimeter scales. “The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler of HRL.

via UC Irvine Release: World’s lightest metal developed :: UC Irvine TODAY.

5 Sci-Fi Medical Procedures We’ll Have in Our Lifetime |


As I know a number of people who suffer from various types of depression, this one sounds especially promising. Although I have to wonder what other tricks they can use this technique for, hopefully not #5…

#3. The Anti-Depression Magnet

The Problem:

Depression and the various ailments that spring from it are the scourge of modern society. Sure, most of us get the blues every now and again, but when things really go off the rails, that shit goes clinical. Clinical depression is a dead serious thing that goes way beyond listening to shitty country ballads and sulking, deeply affecting the life of the person and likely everyone they’re close to.

And here’s the problem: Depression is a bitch to treat. Even in fictional universes where they have beams that instantly heal wounds, they’d never depict some kind of invisible depression-curing ray that they could just shoot at your brain.



Depression: Cured.

The Sci-Fi Solution:

Well, here it is:



Nothing treats depression like a dentist’s chair attached to a bewildering array of soulless machines.

The secret is magnets, and we’re not talking about the pseudoscience bullshit magnetic bracelets that are intended to cure your arthritis. This is no placebo, this is transcranial magnetic stimulation, where a patient’s head is exposed to a powerful electromagnet that stimulates the mood-controlling areas of the brain. The principle isn’t that much different from electroshock therapy, only without the electrodes and without so many patients running away screaming at the mention of it.

And experiments show it apparently works. Once they figured out a way to perform tests in a reliable way (which was, for some reason, bombarding everyone’s brain with electric shocks to mask the magnet), the magnet proved its effectiveness and is currently getting tweaked for widespread use. And it’ll be available pretty damn soon, considering the fact that magnetic therapy devices have already been approved by the FDA.

via 5 Sci-Fi Medical Procedures We’ll Have in Our Lifetime |

Subtly shaded map of moon reveals titanium treasure troves


Looks like we might have a reason to stick some colonies up on the moon after all, or at least cloned workers who think they’re the original…

“Looking up at the Moon, its surface appears painted with shades of grey – at least to the human eye. But with the right instruments, the Moon can appear colourful,” said Robinson, of Arizona State University. “The maria appear reddish in some places and blue in others. Although subtle, these colour variations tell us important things about the chemistry and evolution of the lunar surface. They indicate the titanium and iron abundance, as well as the maturity of a lunar soil.”

via Subtly shaded map of moon reveals titanium treasure troves.