The Week: Most Recent Science Posts recent posts.en-usMon, 29 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Science Posts from THE WEEKMon, 29 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400Confronting our twisted relationship with food<img src="" /></P><p>Several years ago, Tatiana Gulenkina had her first brush with an eating disorder, when a classmate abruptly left school. Everyone had thought the girl was "just a skinny teenager." It was only after she left that they discovered she had been battling depression and anorexia nervosa. Soon after, a close friend of Gulenkina's admitted she too was struggling with eating &mdash; austerely dieting all week and then going on weekend food benders. Those experiences left a lasting impression.</p><p>Today, the Washington, D.C., photographer, now 26, is confronting these issues the best way she knows how &mdash...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sarah-eberspacher" ><span class="byline">Sarah Eberspacher</span></a>Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0400This is the dark side of empathy<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Public figures from President Obama to Neil deGrasse Tyson have suggested a lack of empathy is one of our species' fundamental problems. "Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes," writes author and prominent business-world thinker Daniel Pink. "Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place."</p><p>A lovely thought. But new research suggests it isn't always true.</p><p>A paper just published in the journal <em>Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin</em> provides evidence that feelings of empathy...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Tom JacobsMon, 29 Sep 2014 08:18:00 -0400How ancient DNA is rewriting human history<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>There are no written records of the most important developments in our history: the transition from hunting and gathering to farming, the initial colonization of regions outside Africa, and, most crucially, the appearance of modern humans and the vanishing of archaic ones. Our primary information sources about these "pre-historic" events are ancient tools, weapons, bones, and, more recently, DNA. Like an ancient text that has picked up interpolations over the millennia, our genetic history can be difficult to recover from the DNA of people alive today. But with the invention of methods to read...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Michael WhiteSat, 27 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0400The battle over e-cigarettes<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Are e-cigarettes dangerous?</strong><br /> They're clearly less dangerous than cigarettes, but that doesn't mean they're safe. Electronic cigarettes are small, battery-powered devices that heat up a liquid containing nicotine and create an inhalable vapor instead of smoke. Like cigarettes, they provide a nicotine buzz, but they do not produce the tar, arsenic, benzene, vinyl chloride, and dozens of other carcinogens that result from burning tobacco. But critics contend that the health risks of "vaping" are still not known, especially because the liquid used to produce vapor contains various chemicals; some brands...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 27 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0400Earth to climate-change deniers: Neil deGrasse Tyson's errors won't help you<img src="" /></P><p>Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most recognizable scientists and advocates for the public understanding of science in the world.</p><p>That means that when he speaks, the world listens. Carefully. And recently, his critics have found errors in some of his public statements.</p><p>Sean Davis, former economic adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and co-founder of the conservative blog <em>The Federalist,</em> has discovered a few holes in some of Tyson's recent presentations. He found Tyson using the term "average" to mean "median" in a lecture on popular misconceptions of data and statistics. He nailed Tyson for...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/john-aziz" ><span class="byline">John Aziz</span></a>Thu, 25 Sep 2014 06:06:00 -0400The surprising reason most birds can't taste sugar<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The Conversation<br /></p><p>Chickens are not fussy eaters. Any object resembling food is worth an exploratory peck. But give a chicken the choice between sugary sweets and seeds, and they will pick the grains every time. This is odd. Many animals, including our own sugar-mad species, salivate for sugar because it is the flavor of foods rich in energy. New research suggests that many birds' lack of interest in sugar is down to genes inherited from their dinosaur ancestors.</p><p>Most vertebrates experience sweet taste because they possess a family of genes called T1Rs. The pairing of T1R1 and T1R3 detects amino acids and gives...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Hannah RowlandWed, 24 Sep 2014 12:20:00 -0400What is driving the increasingly weird behavior of the polar jet stream?<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>A big link between climate change and severe weather may be lurking 30,000 feet above your head. More and more scientists are interested in the links among the increasingly weird behavior of the polar jet stream and the disappearance of ice and snow in the Arctic and other extreme weather trends. The linkage is suggestive, though not proven, but if true would clearly demonstrate that what happens in the Arctic affects more than just polar bears.</p><p><strong>What's happening to the polar jet stream</strong></p><p>One of the biggest drivers of weather in North America is the polar jet stream, a ribbon of high-speed winds...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerTue, 23 Sep 2014 09:06:00 -0400The incredible symbolic power of emptying your pockets<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Consider, for a moment, the word "empty." It doesn't convey anything positive, does it? Empty wallet. An empty suit. Empty promises.</p><p>The very concept is enough to put one in a churlish, self-centered mood. And according to newly published research from Israel, that's exactly what it does.</p><p>In a series of experiments, people who emptied a receptacle &mdash; anything from a jar to a coat pocket &mdash; were subsequently more likely to eat snack foods, and less likely to provide help to others.</p><p>According to a research team led by Liat Levontin of the Israel Institute of Technology, the results...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Tom JacobsTue, 23 Sep 2014 08:46:00 -0400The incredible evolution of prosthetics<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p><p><strong>For more of <em>The Week's</em> videos, subscribe to our YouTube page.</strong></p><p><em>Sources:</em> Amputee Coalition<em>, </em><em>Forbes, Gear Patrol, io9, Live Science, </em></p><p> </p><p > </p><p> </p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 22 Sep 2014 14:05:00 -0400Study: 3-D movies aren't that special<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>In theory, three-dimensional video heightens the emotional impact of a movie scene &mdash; imagine if that guy from <em>My Bloody Valentine</em> appeared to be swinging his pickaxe straight at you, or if <em>The Polar Express</em> swooped out of the screen and just narrowly avoided running over your popcorn.</p><p>Pretty exciting, huh? Perhaps, but psychologists &mdash; who are a bit more even-tempered about the latest technology and a bit less interested in your wallet, compared with movie producers &mdash; say otherwise in a recent study.</p><p>Though movie makers might well take note, Daniel Bride, Sheila Crowell, and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Nathan CollinsMon, 22 Sep 2014 08:36:00 -0400