A zebra can’t change its stripes — and why would it want to? Its coat is more than just fashionable: researchers at UC Davis have discovered that those black and white striations may prevent bites from flies carrying fatal diseases. Learn why flies are averse to a zebra’s stripes in Discover.
Alexa Staley ’11, interviewed in the documentary, “LIGO, A Passion for Understanding.”
Alexa Staley ’11, currently a graduate student at Columbia, is featured in the documentary, “LIGO, A Passion for Understanding,” which shares the work of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and those who help support it. Staley, daughter of Bowdoin College Trustee Jes Staley ’79, thought perhaps she’d be an economics major when she first came to the College, but after encountering Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in a course taught by Professor of Physics and Astronomy Thomas Baumgarte, Staley says she was hooked. Staley speaks of her work in experimental physics about 7:00 into the film.
The ‘lead’ in your pencil is actually graphite — the stablest element of carbon, the element that makes diamonds. Researchers at Stanford recently discovered that, by controlling the structural transition between carbon atoms at the nanoscale, they can actually turn graphite into diamonds.
What happens in your brain when you take a giant bite into an ice cream cone? What happens if you couple this bite with an ambient music in your ears? A field of science called neurogastronomy studies exactly this, inspring companies such as Starbucks to pick up on the research.
Since then, Starbucks has compiled a playlist to improve the coffee-drinking experience. Hear the sound associated with bitterness and the sound associated with sweetness on Marketplace.
It is difficult to associate spite with anything good. Fairy tales and parables warn us about the negative effects of spite, encouraging us to “take the high road.”
However, evolutionary theorists have recently discovered spite can have some benefits.
In a study testing game theory, researchers determined that the presence of spiteful players influenced others to behave more fairly. In other words, witnessing spite can trigger a greater commitment to altruism and human decency.
Ariye Krassner ’14
Compared to an American childhood, does a Danish upbringing make for a happier kid? Traditionally, temperament has been considered an innate trait, but Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Putnam and Ariye Krassner ’14 have reason to believe that there’s more to the story. Under Putnam’s supervision, Krassner has developed a senior honors project focusing on the effects of Danish versus American culture on infant disposition.
It all started when Krassner, while studying abroad in Denmark last spring, worked with researchers at the University of Copenhagen to examine interactions between mothers and young children throughout development. While her study began as an exploration of parental and environmental influences on temperament, it turned into a cross-cultural analysis upon her return to the United States. Krassner worked with Putnam to replicate the same procedures, this time using American families as her study subjects.
Krassner has made some tentative conclusions: for instance, Danish children appear to experience less negative emotion – such as frustration, fear, and sadness – than their American counterparts. This July she and Putnam will be presenting their research at an international conference in Berlin, Germany. Read about their findings here.
Hoyt Peckham ’95. Photo by Brian Wedge ’97.
Hoyt Peckham ’95 has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship to continue his work incentivizing sustainable fishing. Peckham is the founder and director of La Paz, Mexico-based SmartFish, a nonprofit that enables small-scale fishermen to produce high quality, sustainably caught seafood by using ocean-friendly practices that reduce by-catch. Pew’s award will allow him to expand this program, first developed in Baja California Sur, throughout northwest Mexico to determine whether it could be replicated to restore value in fisheries around the world. The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation awards recipients $150,000 for a three-year project to address conservation challenges facing the oceans.
Researchers have recently discovered surprising new benefits to behavioral drugs. Studies indicate that drugs used to treat epilepsy or vision can actually return the brain to early periods of development — the times during childhood when the brain is acquiring new skills. Such medications can be utilized to rehabilitate alzheimer’s patients or stroke victims, and can even help adults quickly master new skills, such as learning an entire language.
Slow Life from Daniel Stoupin on Vimeo.
All of are used to watching fast-moving human and animal life. Slow moving things like coral and sponges? Not so much. Here’s a stunning look at “slow life” that doesn’t take very long to watch. For an explanation, visit Director Daniel Stoupin’s photography blog.
From left: Russ Rymer, Susan Faludi, Sarah Braunstein, and Jaed Coffin (Photo: James Marshall)
Right now Bowdoin is a writing powerhouse. No fewer than four illustrious writers – Susan Faludi, Russ Rymer, Jaed Coffin, and Sarah Braunstein – are on campus this year as visiting faculty members, joining Professor of English Brock Clarke to teach courses in fiction and creative nonfiction.
Between the five of them they have authored a wide array of published works – books on feminism, articles on science, novels, memoirs, short stories, and more. “Having these distinguished writers with us is an inspiration and invaluable resource for our students,” said Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd.
As part of a series of readings by the visiting writers, Rymer will read from his novel Paris Twilight on March 31 at 4:30 p.m. in Massachusetts Hall.
Click here for the full story, which originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Bowdoin Magazine.