The Frontal Cortex

Archives for February, 2008

Cheap Meat

First, a warning: the video below is very disturbing. It’s footage of cows being prepared for slaughter at Hallmark Meat Processing. This video, which was surreptitiously shot by the Humane Society, led to the largest ever recall of beef – 134 million pounds – although most of the recalled meat has already been eaten. (A…

Body Image Disorders

A fascinating, if macabre, interview with a man who intentionally cut off his hand: BME: We’ve touched on it, but I guess now the big question — “why”? I’m one of those body-integrity-disorder (BIID) dudes. As long as I can remember, having two hands was a defect in my body — something that was not…

Laughter and Power

Michel Foucault wouldn’t be surprised to learn that yes, even comedy is defined by power-relations. Here’s Ellen Horne of Radio Lab: Tyler Stillman, a psychologist at Florida State University, did a series of studies showing that laughter isn’t always about how funny something is. He found that when a boss tells a bad joke to…

InnoCentive

Have you heard about InnoCentive? It’s my new favorite website. The premise of the site is simple: “seekers” post their scientific problems and “solvers” try to solve them. If the problem is successfully solved, then the “solver” gets a specified monetary reward. (The money is the incentive part of InnoCentive.) The questions on the site…

A Neural Correlate for Social Class

Exciting news! I’m the new curator of the Scientific American expert blog seminar Mind Matters. (Thanks, David!) For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it features commentary by real scientists on recent scientific papers. This week’s blog is by Mauricio Delgado, a neuroscientist at Rutgers, discussing a paper that found a neural…

Shattered Glass

First, read this: Prince Rupert’s Drops are a glass curiosity created by dripping hot molten glass into cold water. The glass cools into a tadpole-shaped droplet with a long, thin, tail. The water rapidly cools the molten glass on the outside of the drop, while the inner portion of the drop remains significantly hotter. When…

Animal Minds

There’s a nice overview of recent work on animal cognition in the latest National Geographic. Certain skills are considered key signs of higher mental abilities: good memory, a grasp of grammar and symbols, self-awareness, understanding others’ motives, imitating others, and being creative. Bit by bit, in ingenious experiments, researchers have documented these talents in other…

Diversity and Problem-Solving

There are so many reasons to despair about human diversity. There’s Iraq, Kenya, the immigration debate, the research of Robert Putnam. It seems that, in tragic example after tragic example, humans react to diversity by splintering into tribalisms, regressing to an Us vs. Them mentality. So that’s why The Difference, a new science book by…

Radio Lab

To call “Radio Lab” a science radio show is like calling “This American Life” a radio show about, well, what the hell is “This American Life” about? (Quirky themes? Good stories? Bourgeois dilemmas?) The point is that the best radio shows defy easy categorization. And Radio Lab is definitely one of the best radio shows…

The Orgasmatron

Woody Allen was a prescient man. Dr. Stuart Meloy has created a device that seems to help women with sexual problems regain their ability to have an orgasm: The experimental implant — now trademarked by Meloy as the Orgasmatron after the orgasm-inducing cylinder in Woody Allen’s 1973 movie “Sleeper” — rests on the skin just…