Quick Study: Neuroscience: Crosswords don’t make you clever

Many people think classical music is going to enhance brain function (the Mozart effect) or playing particular games sharpens ones cognitive function. These theories have been looked at in detail and they don’t stand up. It is disappointing in a way, but what we have learned is that exercise is the key thing for brain function. Doing crosswords isn’t good for your brain? It is good for improving your crossword…

Family catch and eat octopus with six tentacles during Greek vacation

I keep a silly personal blog devoted to a six-legged toy that both my kids have outgrown but which still amuses me. I sometimes use that blog, and that toy, in classroom activities, and occasionally students develop an affection for what I called a “hectopus” (combining “hexagon” with “octopus,” though I concede “hexapus” would have been a better choice). Anyway, one of my former students sent me this story about…

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Study: Singing together synchronizes your heartbeat

The researchers found that each singer’s heartbeat was linked to the song’s melody – i.e. the speed and structure of the music. They also found that when the choir sang together, their heart rates tended to increase and decrease at similar times. “As soon as the singing begins, (the hearts) start following each other,” Vickhoff told CNN in an e-mail. Humming and performing the mantra as a group resulted in…

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In Defense Of Metaphors In Science Writing

We live in an elegant universe. The cosmos is like a string symphony. Genes are selfish. There is an endless battle between thermodynamics and gravity. Do you love these statements, or hate them? The reading world gets pretty divided over whether or not it’s okay to apply metaphors and similes to descriptive science writing. It even gets hot and bothered over the use of that most practical parent of metaphors…

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The Physics Behind Traffic Jams

In between today’s various events, I dashed into the store for milk. As I was preparing to back out of my space, I saw a little old lady pushing her cart along, not realizing that my engine was running and I was about to back out. To make a long story short, I didn’t try to dash out in front of her, or honk to hurry her along, I just…