The Frontal Cortex

Archives for October, 2006

Republicans for Raising the Gas Tax

Here is the best argument yet for raising the gas tax, and it comes from George Bush’s former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. (Sorry Thomas Friedman, you’ll just have to try harder.) With the midterm election around the corner, here’s a wacky idea you won’t often hear from our elected leaders: We should…

String Theory and God

Try this fun game. In the following paragraph, clipped from Brian Greene’s elegant defense of string theory in the NY Times, I’ve taken the liberty of substituting a “belief in God” for “string theory”: To be sure, no one successful experiment would establish that [a belief in God] is right, but neither would the failure…

Everything Must Converge?

Brian Greene mounted a lengthy defense of string theory today in the NY Times. He maintains that string theory is the grand finale of physics, the logical bridge between the contradictions of quantum physics and general relativity. Central to this argument is the concept that physics itself has been steadily “converging”. String theory, in other…

Somebody Pissed Off The Stingrays

First, they go after the beloved Steve Irwin. Now, they’ve begun attacking us outside of the water: An 81-year-old boater was in critical condition Thursday after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stabbed him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest, authorities said. “It was a freak accident,” said Lighthouse Point acting fire Chief…

Violence and Nutrition

Is there a connection between omega-3 fatty acids and violence? Does a shortage of essential nutrients cause thuggish behavior? I’m skeptical of any direct causal connection – human behavior just isn’t that simple – but I’m still going to eat more fatty fish. The evidence is tantalizing: The UK prison trial at Aylesbury jail showed…

No More Menstrual Cycle?

Wyeth is currently waiting on FDA approval for a new birth control medication that stops women from menstruating. It’s called Lybrel, and it delivers an uninterrupted flow of hormones (there is no week of placebo pills). As Sarah Richards notes, Wyeth isn’t the first pharmaceutical company to reimagine the menstrual cycle. In 1992, the FDA…

David Brooks on Obama

David Brooks annoys me just as much as the next Democrat – I especially dislike his oversimplifications of neuroscience – but he has a great column today on Barack Obama. Since it’s behind the wall of Times $elect, I’ll quote liberally: Barack Obama should run for president. He should run first for the good of…

Frum and Gore

David Frum, the speechwriter and conservative pundit behind Bush’s “axis of evil” line, has officially endorsed Al Gore’s latest policy proposal: a tax on carbon. What’s even stranger is that Frum endorses this policy without believing in global warming: You don’t have to believe that global warming is a problem to believe that a carbon…

Space and Unilateral Action

Because our foreign policy of unilateral action has worked out so well here on earth, the Bush Administration has decided that we should also apply it to the rest of the universe. Just think how many distant solar systems will welcome us as liberators! From the Washington Post: President Bush has signed a new National…

Killing Mosquitoes with Sugar

Mosquitoes like blood, but they love sugar. A team of Israeli scientists are exploring how to use this sweet tooth against them: We have all suffered the irritation of being the food source for hungry mosquitoes. While it is generally well known that female mosquitoes need a meal of blood before laying their eggs, less…