Monthly Archives: May 2012

Greening up JFK

A layover at JFK International Airport could actually be quite refreshing if you could breathe cleaner air in a literally green room. That is Carnegie Mellon University architecture student Anna Rosenblum\’s idea: an airport terminal extension that uses walls and roofs made of aeroponic plants that filter and clean the polluted outdoor air before it […] … learn more→

Freecycling has viral effect on community spirit and generosity

Reinforcing that the best things in life are free, a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that online freebie-exchange communities such as “Freecycle” and “Couchsurfing” foster greater team spirit among their members than do cash-for-goods websites. The results, published earlier this month in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly, may help explain why […] … learn more→

Is \’Tudor England\’ a myth?

The term ‘Tudor’ was hardly used in the 16th Century and its obsessive modern use by historians and writers generally gives us a misleading impression of the period, an Oxford historian has found. Cliff Davies of Oxford University’s History Faculty and Wadham College scoured official papers, chronicles, poems, plays and pamphlets for the ‘Tudor’ name […] … learn more→

Let’s stick together: composite materials, aeroplanes and you

What do Novak Djokovic’s tennis racket, Mark Webber’s F1 car and the new Boeing 787 have in common? They all extensively rely on composite materials. A composite material is a strategic combination of multiple materials that results in a material with better properties than its individual components. In other words, by combining multiple materials, composite […] … learn more→

10 million years to recover from mass extinction

Life was nearly wiped out 250 million years ago, with only 10 per cent of plants and animals surviving. It is currently much debated how life recovered from this cataclysm, whether quickly or slowly. Recent evidence for a rapid bounce-back is evaluated in a new review article by Dr Zhong-Qiang Chen, from the China University […] … learn more→

Should the latest research about plastics exposure worry us?

Bisphenol A (BPA) – a solvent added to a synthetic resin to promote plasticity and flexibility and reduce brittleness – has been in the news quite a bit lately. Headline-grabbing news items have been breathlessly reporting on a recent study showing that after consuming a bowl of soup, urine levels of BPA soared by 1200%. […] … learn more→

Getting smarter while getting older

Brains that maintain healthy nerve connections as we age help keep us sharp in later life. An Age UK-funded project at the University has found that older people with robust brain wiring – that is, the nerve fibres that connect different, distant brain areas – can process information quickly and that this makes them generally […] … learn more→

Is that smile real or fake?

Do you smile when you’re frustrated? Most people think they don’t — but they actually do, a new study from MIT has found. What’s more, it turns out that computers programmed with the latest information from this research do a better job of differentiating smiles of delight and frustration than human observers do. The research […] … learn more→

Egypt’s election and the rise of crime

As Egyptians went to the polls this week in an historic first ever free presidential election, David Kirkpatrick reports in the New York Times that prominently on their minds is the rise of crime since the fall of the dictatorship (read the story here). On the eve of the vote to choose Egypt’s first president […] … learn more→