To deal with climate change… make people smaller

The plan to engineer a shorter, smaller human race to cope with climate change is almost as big and bold as the schemes of people working to convince themselves climate change won’t affect them. The plan, at this point still sketchy, has three engineers. S Matthew Liao [pictured here] is a professor of bioethics at New York University. Anders Sandberg and Rebecca […]

Watson and Crick and Pippa Middleton’s bottom

A three-page study called “And Bringing Up the Rear: Pippa Middleton, Her Derrière and Celebrity“, written by a Birkbeck, University of London scholar, Janet McCabe, marks Britain’s instant new status as top dog and intellectual driver of an entire academic field. It is, in that respect, as mentally electrifying as was a one-page study called A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic […]

First attempts to model bipolar patients as harmonic oscillators

People with bipolar disorder swing between mood extremes. A team of mathematicians decided to see how much of that swinging they could describe mathematically. Mason Porter, then at the Georgia Institute of Technology and now at Oxford University, with several US colleagues, published a study in 2009, Mathematical Models of Bipolar Disorder. It appeared in the journal Communications […]

Hydraulic invention: No need to clamber for theater seating

Next time someone disrupts your evening by clambering in or out of a nearby theatre seat, remember: it needn’t be this way. In 1924, Louis J Duprey of Dorchester, Massachusetts, patented a system that “permits any patron of the theatre to enter or leave his place without at all disturbing other patrons”. You, the patron, entered vertically, […]

The scariness of spiders to people scared of spiders

Here is one way to measure people’s fear of spiders. Post flyers seeking individuals who are very afraid of spiders, and who are willing to be paid a small amount of cash to participate in a research project, said project turning out to be the repeated answering of survey questions before and during the following activities: 1 approaching […]

The patent blossoming of artificial cauliflower ears for fight fans

In the spirit of making-lemons-into-lemonade, a few individuals have realised that, when life produces cauliflower ears, it might also be coaxed to produce customers who will pay money for replicas of cauliflower ears. A patent application (US 20130326793 [a detail from it is pictured here]) describes the fruit of their ingenuity: “An apparatus and method for wearing replica […]

What, When, or How Do Students Complain?

There may be no truly satisfactory way to measure how much or how well students complain. But several teams of researchers have tried. One attempted to measure how students complain; another, how they intend to complain. A third team tried to gauge students’ attitudes to complaining. These are not easy to measure well, or consistently. In 2010, David […]