The Frontal Cortex

Archives for November, 2006

Drink Sardinian Wine

You’ll live longer. From the latest Nature: Regular, moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality1, but the relative contribution of wine’s alcohol and polyphenol components to these effects is unclear2. Here we identify procyanidins as the principal vasoactive polyphenols in red wine…

David Brooks, the Democrat

So David Brooks is now a swing voter. He’s grown so disenchanted with the Republican leadership that he has started giving them advice on how to woo him back. For the most part, I agree with his advice and support his policy proposals. He advises the Republican leadership to “support stem cell research,” “spread assets,”…

Can Michael Crichton Be Forgiven?

Until he became a global warming skeptic and an environmental advisor to the Bush White House, I’d always been a fan of Michael Crichton. His scientific dystopias always made for excellent pool-side reading and, when he was good, he could be very good. Say what you will about his didactic dialogues, or penchant for cinematic…

Analyzing Body Language

Maybe I’m just ignorant, but this sort of body-language interpretation, as featured in the NY Times today, struck me as about as scientific as palm reading and hand-writing analysis: Tonya Reiman and Maxine Lucille Fiel do not know much about football, but they are fluent in body language, one of many areas in which the…

Singer and Animal Rights

It’s ironic that scientific research on animals has ended up becoming an important source of evidence against animal research. After all, it’s only because we sacrifice chimps that we understand the deep connections between the chimp brain and the human brain. If we didn’t experiment on rats, or dogs, or monkeys, then we wouldn’t know…

L.A. Auto Show Goes Green

At last, an auto show that doesn’t revolve around thirsty V-12 engines and gigantic SUV’s. The L.A. Auto Show, which starts today, is notable for the debut of several environmentally friendly vehicles. And these aren’t just futuristic fantasies. For the most part, these are practical technologies that will be introduced in the next few years:…

Obama and Ethanol (His First Mistake)

Obama is coming to town! Since I live in New Hampshire, that also means that Obama is going to run for President. (I suppose Obama might also just have a soft spot for Manchester. . .) So what am I going to ask Obama about? I’ve already confessed to a serious man-crush, but I’m dismayed…

My Accent

Fun for the whole family. If Judith Rich Harris is correct, then kids should have the same accent as their peers, not their parents. According to this quiz, my childhood friends in Southern California were actually from the Midwest. (Or maybe I just watched too much TV, since most television voices speak in the accentless…

The Achievement Gap and The Brain

There’s a thorough article in the Times Magazine on the persistence of the “achievment gap” in public education. The conclusion of the article is rather simple: the “achievment gap” persists due to a series of entrenched inequalities, but very good schools (and I mean very good) can actually compensate for a lot of these disadvantages.…

Science Goes YouTube

This is a briliant idea: Youtube for test tubes. Instead of trying to translate the methodology of experiments into technical prose, why not just videotape the experiments? Most of the time, science is just a fancy form of manual labor, and as most researchers can tell you, trying to replicate a lab experiment is often…