“Thinking fluids” and the science of studying crowds

By Molly Kozminsky

Although we have to wait until December 18 for the next Star Wars movie, some characters have already made an appearance in our lives as toys. Eager fans lined up for the release of the new toys at midnight on Force Friday, September 4, giving retailers a taste of the Black Friday crowds to come. So how should stores prepare for the upcoming sea of shoppers craving Star Wars swag?

Holiday shoppers on the warpath
Image credit

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The brain game

By Ellyn Schinke

What if you could play a game to improve your memory or rehabilitate after a stroke? And I don’t mean Sudoku or crossword puzzles either. I’m talking video games!

It’s no secret that gaming systems that involve whole body movement like Wii and Microsoft Kinect could be used as a tool to battle obesity in children in the United States. But many people have legitimate fears that video games could lead to addiction, social isolation, or excessive violence. Despite these concerns, research has shown that video games may be beneficial for reasons other than weight loss or hand-eye coordination. This research has suggested that there are neurological benefits of video games that could vastly outweigh the cons!

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What the nose wants: Why the scent of gasoline is irresistible to some

By Shweta Ramdas

A month or so ago, I casually mentioned to my labmates that I can’t get enough of the smell of gasoline, and that I had stolen a whiteboard marker from our lab to sniff when I was particularly frustrated with research. This had two results: my labmates now tease me mercilessly, and I realize that not everybody is as enamored by these smells as I am.

The latter was quite an epiphany: I had imagined that everyone finds the smell of gasoline ambrosial. So why isn’t it true? Being a geneticist, of course my first thought was that it must be all in the genes.

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Health literacy — It ain’t just about education

By Silver Lumsdaine

Literacy Drug_Package_Insert
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Drug Package Insert (FDA 115)

“The great enemy of communication…is the illusion of it.” –William H. Whyte

What if 9 out of every 10 Americans had trouble understanding and responding to ordinary traffic signs? It would be a national emergency, of course. Imagine the chaos, the crashes, and the loss of life that would occur if people didn’t know how to interpret stop signs, one way signs, do not enter signs, speed limits, and sharp curve ahead warnings. The public’s health and safety would be in grave danger and immediate action would be required.

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