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In this post: the large version of the Brain & Behavior and Technology channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Brain & Behavior. From Flickr, by zorilla


Technology. The workings of a Victorian machine shop. From Flickr, by Elsie esq.

Reader comments of the week:

In Kids and Happiness, Jonah Lehrer of the Frontal Cortex reports on new evidence which contradicts a widely held notion- that adults with children are happier than those without. A handful of studies have shown that being a parent may actually lead to a greater risk of depression, and that looking after your kids is not rated as a highly enjoyable activity.

Jonah wonders though, how accurately you can measure something like the happiness derived from children; it’s like asking a marathoner, he says, how they’re feeling in the middle of a race. Reader MikeS agrees:

I call BS on all these “happiness” surveys because they are static. As you say, it’s like surveying someone in the middle of a marathon. Here’s just one factor to consider:

Suicide rates in this country peak for people in their 70’s and 80’s. The primary reason? Loneliness. People without children find themselves old and alone. People with children always have someone in their lives. For my parents, my wife’s parents and many others, their grown-up children are their best friends.

Over on the new Next Generation Energy blog, Joe Romm follows up Sheril Kirshenbaum’s post on biofuels with Electric Vehicles: The Next Generation. Though electric cars may cost more initially to manufacture, the money they will save consumers in the long run is far greater; the cost per mile for electricity as a fuel is only a fifth that of gasoline as it is priced now. Though second generation biofuels are a useful alternative fuel, he argues, market demand will force prices too high for consumers- just as high as gas.

Reader bwv thinks a combination of technologies is best:

You cannot really separate the ethanol / biofuels issue from moving to electric based cars. Ethanol would make little sense if everyone continued to drive 12 MPG SUVs. But an 70 mpg plug in hybrid could potentially get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline and 88 miles per gallon of ethanol.

And travc agrees:

I’d like to add a hearty ‘amen’ to the first comment.

It is really important that we separate ‘fuel’ from ‘energy source’. Being able to use a true variety of methods to produce fuel from different energy sources is real ‘flex fuel’. Economically, it enables substitution, which would be incredibly good stabilizing and controlling the price of fuel.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (at least serial drivetrain ones) use electricity as their fuel the overwhelming majority of the time (short trips), and we can produce electricity in an ever growing variety of ways. (BTW: Parallel drivetrain hybrids like the Prius always use the IC engine, but can still get a gain from being ‘plug-in’… it is just a bit more complicated and not quite as good.)

Some other Brain & Behavior posts we thought were cool this week were:

How Prozac Really Works

Pig in Boots

Phunctional Imaging Is The Phrenology Of The Twenty First Century

I Can’t Understand Your Accent, So Keep Talking

Nevada Loves the Vicodin, Delaware Prefers OxyContin

And from the Technology channel:

StickyBot and Directional Adhesion

Some Thoughts About the Open Access Kerfuffle


A Planetary Perspective on the Next Generation

Will video games solve sex-discrimination in science?

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!