The Week: Most Recent Science Posts recent posts.en-usSun, 23 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Science Posts from THE WEEKSun, 23 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500Why insects are the future of food<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">AT FIRST MY </span></strong>meal seems familiar, like countless other dishes I've eaten at Asian restaurants. A swirl of noodles slicked with oil and studded with shredded chicken, with the aroma of ginger and garlic. And then I notice the eyes. Dark, compound orbs on a yellow speckled head, joined to a winged, segmented body. I hadn't spotted them right away, but suddenly I see them everywhere &mdash; my noodles are teeming with insects.</p><p class="p2"><span class="s1">I can't say I wasn't warned. On this warm May afternoon, I've agreed to be a guinea pig at an experimental insect tasting in Wageningen, a university town in the central Netherlands...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By Emily AnthesSun, 23 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500Why we gossip, according to science<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Did you hear what happened at yesterday's meeting? Can you believe it?</p><p>If you find those sort of quietly whispered questions about your co-workers irresistible, you're hardly alone. But why are we drawn to gossip?</p><p>A new study suggests it's because the rumors, innuendo, and hearsay are ultimately all about us &mdash; where we rate in the unofficial local hierarchy, and how we might improve our standing.</p><p>"Gossip recipients tend to use positive and negative group information to improve, promote, and protect the self," writes a research team led by Elena Martinescu of the University of Groningen...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Tom JacobsSat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500How science is accelerating our search for alien life<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Why are scientists so optimistic?</strong><br /> The Kepler space telescope gets much of the credit. Before it was launched into orbit in 2009, astronomers couldn't be sure whether planets existed outside our solar system. The search for extraterrestrial life was mostly focused on our own solar system &mdash; on Mars and a number of moons around Jupiter and Saturn &mdash; and on an intergalactic eavesdropping project known as SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). For 50 years, SETI has been using radio telescopes to listen for signals from an alien civilization somewhere out there in the cosmos...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -05006 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Even when things go according to plan, applied science is rarely cheap and always complicated &mdash; and when things go badly, the smallest mistake can end up costing millions or billions of dollars, and even, sometimes, human lives. Here are six reminders of why it's always good to double-check your work, especially when dealing with spaceflight.</p><p><em>(Note: Numbers are not adjusted for inflation.)</em></p><p><strong>The crash of NASA's Genesis probe</strong></p><p><em>The mistake:</em> A pair of parts were installed backwards</p><p><em>Estimated cost: </em>Over $260 million</p><p>(<strong>More from <em>World Science Festival</em>:</strong> Alan Turing vs. the mechanical Nazi)</p>... <a href="">More</a>By Alison BruzekFri, 21 Nov 2014 08:36:00 -0500The psychology of bribery and corruption<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>This one's a head-shaker. In 2011 and 2012, Robert Lustyik, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent on the counterintelligence squad in White Plains, New York (now retired), and his childhood friend Johannes Thaler, a shoe salesman at a Macy's, solicited bribes in exchange for confidential government information that Lustyik had access to at work &mdash; and they texted and emailed about the plan in great detail the entire time.</p><p>An acquaintance of Thaler's from Macy's, Rizve Ahmed, paid the pair $1,000 for the FBI's "Suspicious Activity Report" about his political rival back in his home of Bangladesh...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Lauren KirchnerThu, 20 Nov 2014 15:46:00 -0500How neuroscience can help us understand political partisanship<img src="" /></P><p>"Read Montague" is not some command your prelapsarian political science professor gives you. It's the name of a computational neuroscientist who studies decision-making. He's the latest to release research showing something unusual going on in the brains of people who affiliate with a particular ideology.</p><p>Specifically, he reports that Democrats and Republicans have different reactions when they're shown disgusting pictures, so much so that the reactions themselves can predict, reliably, whether the person looking at the image identifies voluntarily as liberal or conservative.</p><p>He recruited a random...</p> <a href="">More</a>Marc AmbinderThu, 20 Nov 2014 08:50:00 -0500Meet one of the greatest living scientists you've never heard of<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p class="TextBlock" data-role="paragraph" data-type="text" data-align="left" data-effect="dropcaps">When Isabella Lugoski Karle makes her weekly errand run to Shoppers Food Warehouse, she navigates the store quietly, weaving her cart through aisles of canned goods and around the produce section. At ninety-one, her cropped white hair is neatly combed and she holds herself up straight, loading the ingredients for a braised chicken recipe into her cart.</p><p class="TextBlock" data-role="paragraph" data-type="text" data-align="left">What Isabella Karle's fellow shoppers don't know as they wait beside her in the checkout line is that she revolutionized the method of discovering the medicines that many of them regularly purchase over at the pharmacy counter. In the narrowly...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Antonia MassaSat, 15 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -05009 helpful germ-fighting products<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p >Whether you use public transportation, need to pump your own gas, or end up in a crowded movie theater, you'll run the risk of catching something this fall and winter. You're also perpetually in danger of getting sick at the office, as germs are often found on keyboards and at coffee stations, as <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> reported recently.</p><p >You can prevent being contaminated by taking some the simple precaution of washing your hands regularly. One of my colleagues who gets around town by taxi recently told me that she rarely gets a cold since taxis take credit cards. "I rarely get sick since I...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Marine ColeWed, 12 Nov 2014 16:02:00 -0500Why is the Rosetta mission so important? A short history of comet exploration.<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The Conversation<br /></p><p>Exciting as it is (and it is incredibly exciting), the Rosetta mission is just the latest in a history of comet exploration that has added to our knowledge of these icy dirtballs.</p><p>Comets are usually just a few kilometres across and consist of a mixture of ice, carbon-based material, and rock dust. A comet can develop a spectacular million kilometer-long tail of gas and dust when its elongated orbit brings it close to the sun.</p><p>The warmth of the sun vaporizes water, carbon monoxide, and other volatile substances that are otherwise held as ice. Jets of gas escape from the solid part of the comet...</p> <a href="">More</a>By David RotheryWed, 12 Nov 2014 13:49:00 -0500No, plants don't have feelings<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Why on Earth would somebody seriously entertain the notion that plants have feelings? One possible answer might be that the topic is too seductive to ignore. When Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird gave in to seduction and published <em>The Secret Lives of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man</em> in 1973 they were roundly accused of pseudoscience. But no matter: The book was a hit.</p><p>And a hit is blood in the water for scribblers seeking popular subjects to elucidate. Thus the book's swift dismissal by mainstream science hasn't deterred...</p> <a href="">More</a>By James McWilliamsMon, 10 Nov 2014 16:41:00 -0500