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1955 — The Fat Boy Drive-In opens on Bath Road in Brunswick.

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Frogpocalypse: Bowdoin’s Wheelwright on How Mysterious Frog Die-off Raises Warning (NBC News)

Mysterious Frog Die-Off Raises Warning from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

Nat Wheelwright, Bowdoin’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences, and chair of the Biology Department, documents what “was like a nuclear detonation” in his backyard pond when more than 200,000 wood frog tadpoles died within a day. As Wheelwright tells NBC News, and as he and his collaborators at the University of Tennessee reported in a study published by Herpetological Review, the culprit is likely an insidious type of virus.

Passwords Are Still In, But Strong Ones Are Out (The Guardian)

Cyber securityThe (pass)word is in from Microsoft researchers, who say you’re wasting your time crafting unique passwords for all the sites you use that don’t really hold any secure information. Save your memory for the important ones, and use your pet’s name for everything else. Additionally, password managers might create problems rather than solve them, since the managers could always be hacked – or you could forget the password to all your passwords.

Though inconvenient, don’t expect the internet to phase out passwords anytime soon — most options for password replacement makes only “marginal gains” that aren’t worth the extra effort.

Bowdoin Team Heads to Brazil for Robot Soccer World Cup

Soccerball with flags in net

Now that the FIFA World Cup contenders have finished battling it out, another international soccer competition is just getting started in Brazil — only this time, the players aren’t human.

Five Bowdoin students are on their way to Logan Airport this morning for a flight to João Pessoa, Brazil, for RoboCup 2014 — an annual competition between teams of autonomous, knee-high robots whose soccer-playing prowess reflects the skill and hard work of their programmers.

“Everything the robots do on the field is the result of a program written by students,” said Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown, coach and faculty advisor to the team, noting that the technology has made remarkable advances in the past decade. “We make progress every year, and over the years that’s a lot of progress.”

Read more about the exploits of Bowdoin’s robotic soccer team.

Bowdoin NewsRead more Bowdoin News »

Coastal Studies Symposium Previews Summer Research, Marine Lab Expansion

Lobster (Illustration credit: Abby McBride)Summer may be a break from classes, but right now things are busier than ever at Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center: students and faculty have launched into scientific research projects investigating green crabs, blue mussels, lobsters, sea stars, eelgrass, fish, clams, and more. This week they converged to share their research with each other and with visiting audience members during the Coastal Studies Summer 2014 Research Symposium.

Fifteen students and seven faculty members from several departments and programs presented their research, ranging from studies that use marine organisms as models for understanding fundamental biological processes – locomotion in sea stars, for instance, or cardiac neural control in lobsters – to investigations of how coastal organisms and ecosystems are responding to environmental shifts such as rising ocean temperature and acidity.

In his introductory remarks, Coastal Studies Center director and Associate Professor of Biology David Carlon described not only the ecological changes that are taking place in the Gulf of Maine but also the changes in store for the Center and its on-site Marine Lab. Read more about it.

Bowdoin NewsRead more Bowdoin News »

Our Friends Share Our Genes (Time)

DNA flipDNAGood friends are often genetically similar, sharing as much as one percent of the same gene variants, according to a new study by researchers from Yale University and University of California at San Diego.

“In genetic terms, that’s a lot,” says Time, “as close as, say, fourth cousins.” More than this, the genes friends share also evolve more quickly than others, opening up the question of whether friendship plays a role in evolution.

The scientists looked at 1.5 million gene variants from a dataset that contains details on the participants’ friendships and genetics.

 

Christine Parsons ’15′s Summer Job: Helping to Cure Cancer

christineparsonsFor the second summer in a row, Christine Parsons ’15 is working at Yale University’s Slack Lab, which studies the intricately linked processes of aging, cancer and development in the model organism C. elegans. In particular, the lab’s researchers are trying to better understand microRNAs, which are tiny regulatory molecules that control gene expression and are implicated in many diseases.

Parsons has a summertime grant from Bowdoin’s Career Planning office to fund her internship. Her grant, from the Bowdoin College Alumni Council, is one of several fellowships awarded to students who want to pursue interesting internships or projects around the world. Read the full story.

How To Think About Your Thoughts (Scientific American)

TheThinker128What if metacognition — that is, the way we think about thinking — was just as important as the thinking itself? New research shows a connection between the beliefs people hold about their thoughts and anxiety disorders. For example, children with anxiety disorders were more likely to report both positive (“worrying helps me feel better”) and negative (“worrying might make me go crazy”) beliefs about worry than children without anxiety disorders. Scientists are now exploring the possibilities for metacognitive therapy in alleviating symptoms of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Bowdoin College Breaks Ground on Maine’s Largest Solar Project

Solar panels line the roof of Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Solar panels line the roof of Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Bowdoin College has broken ground on a solar power complex that is to be seven times the size of the largest existing solar installation in the state.

The 1.2 megawatt complex, to be built partially on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station land acquired by the college, will include approximately 4,500 solar panels.

The project includes five solar installations. There will be rooftop systems on the Farley Field House, the Sidney J. Watson Arena, Greason Pool, and a residence hall located at 52 Harpswell Road, in addition to the 700-kW ground-mount installation on three acres owned by the college at the former Navy base.

“Our college is proud to be moving forward with this significant investment in clean and renewable solar energy,” said President Barry Mills. Read more about the project.

Twice As Much Pi in One Day (Scientific American)

Ever heard of Tau? Hint: you can’t serve it a la mode. Tau is a mathematical measurement equivalent to twice the value of pi. Mathematicians have recently been debating the relative merit of tau vs. pi, considering that the radius (rather than the diameter) is often the important measurement and is mostly associated with 2π rather than pi alone. In other fields of mathematics beyond the geometry of circles, such as Riemann zeta functions, Gaussian distributions, roots of unity, integrating over polar coordinates and pretty much anything involving trigonometry, pi is preceded with a 2 more often than not – one reason why Tauist argue that we should celebrate Tau instead. While Pi Day (March 14th, i.e. 3/14) may be officially recognized by Congress, be sure to remember Tau on June 28 (6/28) next year.

TED Talks Turns Eight (TED)

Alicia Eggert gives a talk at TED2013 in Long Beach, Calif., earlier this year (Photo credit: Ryan Lash)

Assistant Professor of Art Alicia Eggert gives a talk at TED2013 in Long Beach, Calif. (Photo credit: Ryan Lash)

Happy eighth online birthday to the series of lectures that continuously boggles the mind. The aim of TED talks is to spread ideas on all subjects, from linguistics to mental disorders, from physics to life satisfaction. Speakers aim to transmit their messages in 18 minutes or less, at conferences across the globe. The first conference took place in 1984, and in late June 2006, TED put its first six videos up online. It has since expanded to include TEDx, independently organized events that take place at universities, high schools, and more. In honor of the anniversary of its online presence, the TED site has published a list of the first six videos it ever uploaded to the web (now six among over 1700), which are full of ideas that are still relevant today.