This is your friendly reminder that daylight saving time (and not “daylight savings”) returns to most of the U.S. at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 9. We hope we save you from both arriving late for something and from the wrath of the grammar snob in your midst. You’re welcome.
And while we’re speaking of how the times are a-changin’, scientists who specialize in atomic clocks have long realized that the Earth’s rotation — and therefore, the length of a day — vary and may actually be slowing down slightly. Interestingly enough, atomic clocks reflect such variability, transitioning from 23:59:59 on some days, and 23:59:60 on others.
Upgrade your reading experience: a soon-to-be-released Samsung app called Spritz can allow the the user to read upwards of 500 words a minute. Flashing one word at a time, Spritz marks the “Optimal Recognition Point” (ORP) or “the precise point at which our brain deciphers each jumble of letters” by making the letter red and presenting the ORP of each word at the same space on the screen. This app allows people to instantly process information without having to even move their eyes. Try it out here.
Catastrophe struck in 1783 when a volcanic fissure in Iceland belched forth a lethal fog of hydrofluoric acid that spread across Europe, devastating the landscape and its inhabitants along the way. But according to volcano expert Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, that was nothing compared to the Siberian Flood Basalts eruption of 252 million years ago – which caused a change in climate that may be to blame for the largest extinction in history.
In a recent lecture titled ‘Volcanoes and the Great Dying,’ hosted by Bowdoin’s Earth and Oceanographic Science Department, Elkins-Tanton compared that major atmospheric change with the one going on today.
Elkins-Tanton is the director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science, a Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, and an expert on all things volcano. Read more about her talk at Bowdoin.
Google now offers a new way for you to witness polar bears up close - or at least, from the comfort of your computer screen. In Manitoba, Canada, where the bears roam freely, Google Street View works in conjunction with the park service to capture the animals in their natural habitats. As the specialists drive the Google Trekker through Northern Canada, they can showcase what the animals are experiencing in real time in the Arctic tundra. Click here to get a glimpse of just what Google is doing.
John Harthorne ’95 (Illustration: Chelee Ross ’12)
Andy Palmer ’88
Two Bowdoin alumni are included in Mashable’s list of the Top 15 people shaping Boston’s technology sector — John Harthorne and Andy Palmer. Harthorne is the founder and CEO of MassChallenge, an organization that supports fledgling entrepreneurs. Palmer founded Koas Labs, a shared workspace in Harvard Square for promising start-ups.
Climate change might not be all bad — at least for English winemakers. Once deemed “undrinkable” land, warmer climates have helped sparkling English wine compete favorably with its French cousin. However, England still has a ways to go before it can truly be on par with France. Last year, England developed four million bottles of wine, while France supplied eight billion.
A new study has shown that people with the highest sugar intake had a 400 percent increase in their risk of heart attacks. This disproves 50 years of medical advice from doctors who advised patients to reach for their cereal boxes instead of frying pans when choosing their breakfast. The research would suggest the debate has been settled: fat doesn’t cause heart attacks — sugar does.
A study conducted in Sweden encouraged children diagnosed with ADHD to practice computerized games for about 10 hours over five weeks. The results indicated that memorizing the games both reduced hyperactivity and increased fluid intelligence. Cogmed turned that working-memory training into a business, one that caters to adults and children with cognitive disorders of all types, and has since sold it to Pearson, the largest education company in the world.
Quantum computing, which uses the principles of quantum physics to create processing systems, is heralded as the next major innovation in technology.
The only company currently selling the quantum computer is D-Wave, a small Canadian company supported by Jeff Bezos, NASA and the CIA.
Quantum computers are predicted to help build safer airplanes, discover new planets, create self-automated vehicles and reduce travel time by analyzing traffic patterns, among other impressive feats (and they ought to be impressive, at $10 million per device).
In a recent episode of the series Sea Rescue, ABC TV featured the tale of a stranded harbor porpoise named Noodle and his remarkable journey of recovery back into the wild. The original heroes of the story? A group of Bowdoin students, who discovered the porpoise trapped in a Brunswick, Maine, salt marsh during a Biochemistry lab last year.
Watch a preview of the Feb. 1 episode “Locked and Found!” (Noodle’s segment starts at 0:18) and read the full story of the porpoise rescue by Catherine Yochum ’15.
Noodle, the harbor porpoise found by Bowdoin students in 2012 and featured on ABC’s Sea Rescue this month (Image credit: Riverhead News-Review/Carrie Miller)