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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…

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DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)

Live in the DC area? June 19 I’ll be speaking about the play Rossum’s Universal Robots for a panel on “robots and theater,” sponsored by Cultural Programs of National Academy of Sciences. (The event will also be webcast.) D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) is a monthly discussion forum on art science projects providing a snapshot of the cultural environment of the region and fostering interdisciplinary networking. This month, DASER explores…