This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them:
- Not such a comfort — To see how a man’s stress levels and diet might alter his shape, one might give comfort food to a stressed rat and study its penis. Researchers at the State University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil did exactly that, but with a larger number of rats (32 in total, though not all were given comfort food and only some were stressed)….
- Somewhat missing stuff — … A Polish journalist tells Feedback that during those four months from December to April, everyone was aware that the object was somewhere in Poland, but the government apparently made no effort to find it or acknowledge its existence. The journalist says, “It was probably a missile sent into Poland by mistake in a typical Russian army screw-up. It was unarmed.” The horseback rider’s discovery forced the government to officially stop not noticing the object’s existence….
- Unskilled and unaware — … One group, psychologists, sometimes tries to use mathematical tools to analyse human behaviour that can be difficult, maybe impossible, to analyse using only mathematical tools. The other group, mathematicians, also sometimes tries to use mathematical tools to analyse human behaviour that can be difficult, maybe impossible, to analyse using only mathematical tools. Each group tends to see itself as more competent than the other at analysing human behaviour….
- Distance learning — Having surveyed Feedback’s list of trivial superpowers, Mandi Brooker adds one that is educational. She says: “I am a high school maths teacher with absolutely no sporting/throwing/ kicking ability whatsoever, but when I find that a whiteboard marker is getting irritatingly faint, I can hurl it right across a big classroom unerringly into the bin, every time. It impresses the kids no end, which is all there is to teaching, really”.