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Archives for February, 2011

Astro News Near and Far

On Life at the SETI Institute, Dr. Franck Marchis shares the latest results from Kepler, a telescope in an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit which keeps a distant eye on 156,453 stars. Kepler watches for tell-tale reductions in brightness, which “could be due to the transit of an exoplanet passing between its star and us.” As of…

Google: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then what of the hand that rocks the world? Dr. Jeffrey Toney reports that Google recently showed its revolutionary colors with speak2tweet, a service that enabled netless Egyptians to access Twitter over the phone. After breaking with China over censorship issues last year, Google’s political…

Remembering Challenger

January 28th marked the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, when one of the rocket boosters separated from the external fuel tank after liftoff and aerodynamic forces tore the shuttle apart. Like millions of Americans, Ethan Siegel and Greg Laden watched the orbiter disintegrate live on TV. Ethan writes that while “we found…

The Science of Kissing

Kissing remains popular among the people of the world, and in a new book former scibling Sheril Kirshenbaum delves into the emerging science behind the age-old practice. For one, the sensory experience of osculation (as sucking face is more formally known) forges new neuronal connections in the brain. On Dean’s Corner, Dr. Jeffrey Toney says…

Excelsior?

We heard recently that 36% of university students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” upon graduation, although they may have bettered their Xbox skills, social lives, and tolerance to alcohol. Physics professor Chad Orzel isn’t surprised by this number, saying it “seems consistent with my experiences both as a student and as a…