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Buzz Aldrin: It’s Time to Put a Man on Mars

There are eight U.S. astronauts left out of the 12 who walked on the moon. All of us are in the eighth decade of our lives. Each of us can attest to the importance of continuing human exploration of space and the tremendous impact it has had on so many facets of our society. The technical innovations, scientific achievements, medical breakthroughs, environmental enhancements, national defense improvements and educational impacts have…

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The Uses of Being Wrong

Unlike that of most physical and natural scientists, the ability of social scientists to conduct experiments or rely on high-quality data is often limited. In my field, international relations, even the most robust econometric analyses often explain a pathetically small amount of the data’s statistical variance. Indeed, from my first exposure to the philosopher of mathematics Imre Lakatos, I was taught that the goal of social science is falsification. By…

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Boys And Girls Memorize Words Differently

Girls were more likely to memorize words and phrases by relying on their mental dictionary, while boys tend to use their mental grammar. Mental dictionaries of the mind store sounds, words, and common phrases, while mental grammar stores the composition of longer words and sentences, such as going from “walked” to “walk.” They also compared the children’s test results to data collected from 71 adults, ages 18 to 50 and…

Preschoolers Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets

This is flexible, fluid thinking — children exploring an unlikely hypothesis. Exploratory learning comes naturally to young children, says Gopnik. Adults, on the other hand, jump on the first, most obvious solution and doggedly stick to it, even if it’s not working. That’s inflexible, narrow thinking. “We think the moral of the study is that maybe children are better at solving problems when the solution is an unexpected one,” says…

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Academic study concludes that teaching kids to touch-type can make them better writers

Improving students’ handwriting skill did improve their writing ability, but improving their typing skills improved their writing even more. From 1999, so not exactly news, but interesting info in light of the pro-handwriting links that have been making the rounds on the Intertubes. There was a significant relationship between orthographic-motor integration — handwriting and the length and quality of handwritten text, and a stronger relationship between orthographic-motor integration — typing…

No Money, No Time

We tend to assume that pressure makes us more efficient. I work fastest when I’m on deadline. I stretch my grocery budget the most when my funds are running low. But in reality, it’s not that you’re working better when you’re stressed. It’s that the opposite situation, overabundance, often makes us less efficient. It’s a fine balancing act: Overabundance makes us less efficient, but we need to reach a certain…

Water discovered deep beneath Earth’s surface

The water in the mantle rock, which could equal the amount of water in the world’s oceans, may be an integral part of sustaining water on the surface, Smyth said. It also implies that the Earth’s oceans likely formed from water stored deep beneath the Earth, rather than from a comet or asteroid, as other scientists have theorized, Smyth said. “Geophysicists have debated where…Earth’s water came from,” Jacobsen said. “From…

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Astronauts cloaked Klingon space patch: Star Trek-inspired emblem revealed

The current commander of the International Space Station initially designed a mission badge that paid homage to Klingons. Too bad that design didn’t fly. Swanson, who currently is commander of the International Space Station, collaborated with his daughter to create an insignia for the outpost’s Expedition 40 crew. What he and his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts ultimately launched with to the space station was a patch depicting the “past, present,…

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What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

When I used a Windows XP Tablet computer a few years ago, I got more interested in handwriting, so that Windows could better recognize my scrawled text. I’m a traditionalist in many ways, but truthfully I’m not all that worked up about the loss of handwriting. (Having said that, I felt like a very bad parent when my daughter received a congratulations note that she couldn’t read because it was…

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What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

Generally, it is the chemical breakdown of compounds within paper that leads to the production of ‘old book smell’. Paper contains, amongst other chemicals, cellulose, and smaller amounts of lignin. Both of these originate from the trees the paper is made from; finer papers will contain less lignin than, for example, newsprint. In trees, lignin helps bind cellulose fibres together, keeping the wood stiff; it’s also responsible for paper yellowing…