Making others laugh is a tough job, but surely there are a few who have mastered it. So, what is the secret of their success? Is there a formula or a trick to being funny? This blog post tries to answer this question by discussing what psychologists and cognitive scientists (who take humor very seriously :p) have found out. (more…)
Each year around a thousand people attempt to reach the peak of Mount Everest, which is the tallest mountain on Earth, rising approximately 9 km above sea level. On Mars, the mountain Olympus Mons goes up about 22 km, which more than doubles the height of Mount Everest. Furthermore, Galileo Galilei observed that the Moon also has mountains. What about mountains on other types of astrophysical bodies? How tall are they? Can we climb them? (more…)
Have you ever been to a stand-up comedy show and wondered how someone is able to make other people laugh? Or perhaps you were awestruck by how the writer of your favorite comedy show/movie was able to identify exactly what a whole bunch of strangers will find funny? This blog may be able to quench some of that curiosity. (more…)
In celebration of Black History Month, please enjoy this post by our Managing Editor, J Wolny.
Researchers use rats to provide evidence that biases in the extension of helping behavior is a product of experience—not genetically ingrained.
Imagine that you wake up in a small room with no doors. You quickly realize that there is no way out. Oh, shoot. Further, you see that there is another individual trapped in a small cylindrical Plexiglas container in the middle of this arena, with barely any room to move. You are not sure what the consequences could be if you go investigate—something could hurt you. Someone may grab you and trap you in a claustrophobia-inducing container as well. The first thought that comes to mind may be the Saw movie series, so you would likely be reluctant. (more…)
“This isn’t nicotine, it’s just a vape!” Have you heard this before? Well, if you have, you’re probably not the only one. The real question is, is it true? There is so much information online, it’s hard to really know! Turns out, there is also a lot of misinformation about vaping. Lucky for you, kind reader, Miss Understanding (that’s me – hi) is here to debunk a few of the misconceptions surrounding vaping. (more…)
Proceed with caution as there are some movie spoilers here for those who haven’t already seen the Wakanda Forever: Black Panther movie. If you have seen the movie or even read the Marvel comics, then you should be familiar with the powerful element, Vibranium. Vibranium is an element that possesses astonishing chemical and physical properties. So, let’s take a moment to discuss what the big deal is about elements. In the world, everything is made of matter. Matter can be broken down into tiny puzzle pieces called atoms, which make up building blocks called elements. Elements are any pure substance that cannot be decomposed into smaller components by a regular chemical process. Elements are the fundamental materials of which all matter is composed.
Zoos, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries are really important because they support animal conservation, species survival, insightful animal research, and educational programs. However, there’s a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about zoos and animal sanctuaries that animal activists, such as PETA, use in order to deter people from enjoying, learning from, and supporting facilities that house wild animals. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to spot whether a facility that houses and cares for animals is a legitimate source for conservation, research, and animal care, or, if the animals are being exploited for money.
A healthy heart is not a metronome. Even though most of us can follow our heartbeat with ease, in between each heartbeat is a period of time that varies in duration from one beat to the next. This difference in time between any consecutive heartbeat is known as heart rate variability (HRV), and researchers are increasingly using it as a tool to understand mental health.
HRV reflects the delicate balance between two branches of our nervous system, the sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) arms. These branches operate largely outside of conscious control and function to maintain balance within our body. The interaction between these systems is what keeps us from sweating when we are relaxed, for example, or causes us to sweat when our internal temperature gets too high. In both cases we aren’t consciously deciding whether to sweat or not. Instead, our nervous system is responding appropriately to our environments. (more…)
This post was written by Jorge Morales.
In 1916, Einstein predicted there are ripples in the fabric of space that travel through the universe at the speed of light. Today we know those ripples as gravitational waves. A century after Einstein’s prediction, science gave Einstein one of his biggest victories: the detection of gravitational waves. The detection came from gravitational waves emitted by black holes, which are the densest astrophysical bodies known in the universe, so dense that even light can’t escape their gravitational pull. Two black holes with a total mass of 65 solar masses (or 22 million Earth masses) danced around each other, until they collided to form a new black hole of 62 solar masses. The mass of approximately three solar masses was converted into the enormous energy that these gravitational waves carried. These waves traveled through space for more than a billion years, until the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) was able to catch them on September 14, 2015. (more…)
When it comes to Art and Chemistry, we typically see these two subjects as lying on opposite ends of a spectrum. Chemistry is typically associated with someone in a lab coat, mixing up some chemicals in the hopes of not blowing anything up. In contrast, art is often viewed as a form of expression crafted in some type of studio, using creative juices to design a masterpiece. But there is, in fact, a notable overlap between these two subjects. Specific chemical reactions have been involved historically in the creation of paints, dyes, clays, and metals used for artwork. More recently, it has also played a role in forgery detection and authentication.
Accounting for inflation, the original Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci is valued at well over $834 million dollars. It is believed that there are at least four authentic versions of this world-renowned painting. Replicas have been sold at a fraction of the cost and one recently sold for $3.4 million at an auction in Paris. Using analytical testing, scientists can help reveal if paintings are authentic or forgeries. Just imagine spending all your hard-earned dollars on a gorgeous piece of artwork that you think is authentic, only to have it later tested and find out it is a fake. This is where the wonders of chemistry and science become your allies.