Sun, 07 Dec 2008 19:46:03 GMT
A Day for Darwin
Next February 12th will be the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Darwin"s Birthday. Queens College will be celebrating the occasion with a symposium and panel discussion on Friday February 13th in the LeFrak Concert Hall beginning at 9AM.
This event is free and open to the public. If you are in the New York area, swing on by!
Dr. Foster is a Professor of Biology and the Warren Litsky Endowed Chair in Biology at Clark University, the President-Elect of the Animal Behavior Society, and editor of the books The Evolutionary Biology of the Threespine Stickleback (with Michael Bell) and Geographic Variation in Behavior: Perspectives on Evolutionary Mechanisms (with John Endler). Dr. Foster"s research focuses the evolution of reproductive and antipredator behavior, color, morphology, and life history following the post-glacial adaptive radiation of the threespine stickleback fish.
Dr. Schwartz is a Professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and President of the World Academy of Art and Science. Dr. Schwartz"s books include The Red Ape: Orangutans and Human Origins, What the Bones Tell Us, and Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species. As a systematist working with skeletal biology and dentition, Dr. Schwartz is interested in the research and theory underpinning our understanding of the origin and significance of morphological novelty.
Dr. Turner is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University and Chair of the American Society for Microbiology’s Division R. Dr. Turner is the recipient of the Top Ten Emerging Scholars Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education and a Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. He is interested in the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases and the use of laboratory populations of microbes as models to address these topics.
Dr. Wittkopp is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan and a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award, and a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. She is interested in understanding the genetic basis of development, evolution and disease, with an emphasis on the molecular mechanisms controlling gene expression. Her laboratory uses the Drosophila pigmentation as a model system for understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic evolution.
Posted by: Dennehy Read more Source
Sat, 06 Dec 2008 20:50:09 GMT
Who spiked the punch and didn''t tell us about it? There''s a hallucinogenic drug out there called BZP that''s not yet illegal in Canada. People are calling it "Legal Ecstasy".
BZP offers users feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy, as well as hallucinations in larger doses. Reported side effects include appetite loss, nausea, moodiness, elevated blood pressure and rapid heart rate.
Health Canada is looking to ban the drug, citing a New Zealand study where 61 people were admitted to emergency rooms because of BZP side-effects. Those side effects sound like any given Tuesday to me! Actually I could use a bit of appetite loss....I''ve been eating my way through life lately. But really folks, don''t do BZP. It bad.
NOTE: BZP has been illegal in the USA since 2004
Posted by: Kevin Read more Source
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 04:24:37 GMT
How Poor Gifts Affect Relationships
But new research by Elizabeth W. Dunn at the University of British Columbia and colleagues, published in the journal Social Cognition, suggests that men and women react quite differently in the short-term to receiving good and bad gifts (Dunn et al., 2008).
Gifts to strangersTo test their theories, Dunn and colleagues set up two experiments, each with a twist in their tail. In the first experiment participants (students at the University of Virginia) were sat down to chat with a new opposite sex acquaintance for four minutes. After this they were asked to select a gift for their new friend from a list of gift certificates for a variety of stores and restaurants. The idea was that each participant then looked at the gift chosen for them and evaluated their perceived similarity with the other person.
Here''s the twist: before the experiment each participant had been asked to rank the gift certificates in the order they themselves would like to receive them. Then the experimenters simply fed these preferences straight back to participants as though they had come from their new acquaintance. Half the participants were told the other person had chosen their top choice, and the other half their last-but-one choice. This created two conditions: those who got what they wanted and those who didn''t.
When the experimenters looked at the ratings of perceived similarity, the results showed a marked difference in how the men and women had reacted to good and bad gifts. Men who got the gifts they wanted perceived themselves as more similar to the gift-giver, suggesting the better gift would have the expected positive effect on the relationship. Women, though, seemed to be relatively unaffected by whether the present was good or bad.
This is a rather puzzling finding: shouldn''t good gifts also increase perceived similarity - and so liking - for women just as the men? A possible solution to this puzzle emerged in the second experiment.
Gift-giving in established relationshipsInstead of participants who hadn''t met before, the second experiment involved men and women who were already in (heterosexual) relationships. Otherwise the experiment was almost identical, with the same twist that each received what they had indicated were their own best (or worst) gifts. The only difference was that in addition to asking about perceived similarity with their partner, each participant was also asked how long they expected their relationship to last after the gift.
Again, men who received poor gifts, on average, perceived less similarity with their partners and thought their future together was significantly shorter - as you''d expect. But this time women who received the poor gift from their partners actually saw greater perceived similarity and thought that their relationship would continue for longer than those who had received the good gift. Now what''s going on?
Psychological defence mechanismDunn and colleagues explain that the more threat women felt to their relationship (i.e. from the poor gift), the more they tried to protect against this threat. With a new acquaintance in the first experiment there wasn''t much relationship to protect, so the bad gift had no effect compared to the good gift. But when there was a substantial existing relationship to protect, women were motivated to guard against this potential threat. Men, in contrast, made no such effort, saying they didn''t like their partner''s choice and, by extension, their partner.
Now before men start thinking they can use these experiments to justify giving their partners poor gifts, remember that these studies are short-term and probably only represent men and women''s first instinct when receiving good and bad gifts.
The real lesson is that women are more motivated than men to marshal psychological defence mechanisms to protect against the damaging effects of poor gifts. Over the long-term the story is likely to be the same for both sexes: bad gifts damage relationships by chipping away at their heart; the feeling that in this big, bad world you''ve found someone who really understands you, and knows what you like.
[Image credit: monettenriquez
Posted by: Jerry Read more Source
Sun, 09 Nov 2008 19:23:16 GMT
New King of Bhutan
The residents of Bhutan started celebrating yesterday to commemorate the crowning of their new king, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. They will party for three consecutive days to honour the His Majesty. Circuit Party, Buddhist style!
Posted by: Kevin Read more Source
Sat, 04 Oct 2008 14:14:47 GMT
Sunday sorry sentiments
If you haven’t been able to tell, I’m in a bad mood. When my hard drive failed, I lost the bulk of my photos taken over the past years. I’ve also lost some data files for other projects I’m working on, so I’m generally in a dark funk. I have a brand new hard drive (the bad one was still under warranty) and a brand new attitude, so I’ll get over it, and I’ll get back to regular posting here at Roundrock Journal. Don’t feel too sorry for me. It was my stupid mistake not to make backups more frequently.
In a way, this crisis has been liberating. I feel lighter in some sense. Like I have a fresh start with less of the baggage of the past weighing me down. Whatever.
So let’s see, what’s going on in my world? The next edition of The Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Jade Blackwater of Arboreality. Her deadline for submissions was yesterday, but if you have some particularly juicy contribution that just can’t wait until the next edition, you may be able to persuade her to slip it in. You can reach her at jadeblackwater (at) brainripples (dot) com. You can read more about it all here
This is Jade’s third round hosting the Festival, and she’s happy for the chance. You could be happy too. We’re always on the prowl for new hosts, and I know you’d be perfect for the job next time.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I sometimes put in links to other, similar blogs that are not well known or otherwise overlooked. You can read more about it all here
Or this guy!
One of the “advantages” of losing so much of my photo library is that I now no longer have those hundreds and hundreds of bad pix of deer parts from the two game cameras. Granted, they are not top-of-the-line cameras, and granted I am still learning how to place them, but without that old inventory, I am now much more encouraged to set them out again and see what other portions of deer (and invisible critters) I can capture. I think on my next trip to Roundrock I’ll put some fresh batteries in the cameras and try setting them out. Lucky you!
One year ago today I was chattering about You can read more about it all here I’d found in the wet area below the dam.
Two years ago today I was babbling about You can read more about it all here.
Three years ago today mumbling about You can read more about it all here.
What’s Pablo reading now? I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here that I was part of a two-year voyage of discussion of the novel Moby Dick. One Wednesday night each month we would discuss a half dozen or so chapters of that epic novel, and in two years to the month, we finished the thing. I understand how some people can devote their entire lives and careers to studying that work. It really is the greatest novel in the English language, as many have asserted. Anyway, it’s made me want to read other works much more carefully, and to help me do that, I’m now reading a nonfiction book called Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. The author takes passages from many great works of fiction and parses them almost word by word to show how the writer developed the passage and why it works so well. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but I’m enjoying it a lot.
- Snakes begin winter dormancy.
- Bittersweet starts to ripen.
Today in Missouri history:
- On this date in 1953, six-year-old Bobby Greenlease was taken from his Kansas City school by a woman claiming to be his aunt, who told the nuns there that the boy’s mother had just had a heart attack. The woman and her boyfriend accomplice kidnapped the boy and held him for ransom in St. Joseph. Though the $600,000 ransom was paid, the boy was murdered. The kidnappers were later caught. It would be nearly thirty years before half of the ransom money was accounted for, it having been stolen by a cab company president who escaped justice.
Posted by: Roundrockjournal Read more Source
Sat, 04 Oct 2008 13:39:08 GMT
Why Loud Music in Bars Increases Alcohol Consumption
Drink upOne study by Gueguen et al. (2004) found that higher sound levels lead to people drinking more. In a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, does back up the idea that people do, at least partly, drink because they can''t talk to each other. Perhaps further studies comparing lone drinkers with dyads and bigger groups would confirm or disprove this idea.
Whatever the real reason, or combination of reasons, this kind of study is very persuasive about the causal connection between louder music and more drinking because the experimenters have taken the time to go to a bar, set up the random experimental manipulation and then actually observe people to see what they do in a real live environment.
On top of that, from the point of the view of the participant, I think it would definitely enhance your night-out to find out that you''d been inadvertently furthering psychological science by sinking a few cold ones. Or is that just the researcher (or beer-drinker) in me coming out?
[Image credits: john
and Thomas Hawk
Posted by: Jerry Read more Source
Wed, 17 Sep 2008 03:21:59 GMT
Palos Verdes, an Exceptional Concours in a Beautiful Setting
There is no doubt in my mind that places of exceptional beauty make for exceptional concours. California is blessed in that regard and so the 15th annual Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance, commencing Friday evening, September 19 with a charity gala at a private Tuscan Villa Estate, promises to be exceptional, indeed. On Saturday the participants have the fun of participating in the Tour d'Epicure Road Rallye, meandering through the Palos Verdes Peninsula and arriving for lunch at the Trump National Golf Club. On Sunday the judged Concours is presented, with the promise of nearly 200 collector and exotic classic cars on display, celebrating 100 years of GM Design and in particular, Cadillac. Of course, modern concours events are about the past, but among the special features planned is a look at the future with an alternative fuel display. (I'll confess that before writing this I had to use Google Maps to learn where the Palos Verdes Peninsula is located. By the ocean cliffs south of Long Beach, a lovely area, indeed.)
[Photo: 1931 Cadillac V-16. Owners: Sharon and Valerie Weiss]
Posted by: Philip Powell Read more Source
Thu, 11 Sep 2008 03:09:44 GMT
Fairfield Concours Highlights 60 Years of Racing at Watkins Glen
For me, as a young enthusiast, Watkins Glen was the Valhalla of road racing, the place I wanted to be when the annual weekend festival occurred. The circuit was superbly located in the hills above scenic Seneca Lake and the atmosphere was exhilarating. Even the main street would be lined with sports and racing cars that I'd never seen beyond the pages of Road & Track, while local garages were used as service areas by the teams with the fastest, most exotic machines. I can still remember being among the crowds of onlookers at night, kept out by ropes but able to watch, up close, as the cars were readied for the next day's racing. You can appreciate, therefore, why I'm so pleased that the is featuring an elaborate, authentic Watkins Glen display that re-lives those wonderful racing years.
Said John Shuck, co-chairman of the Concours, "We will have a host of truly significant race cars on display, many of which have never been shown together like this. From Briggs Cunningham's 1939 Bu-Merc to Mario Andretti's Lotus 79, we are showing an incredible array of original and important race cars. But we didn't want to just show them statically- we created a display to give these cars an historic context. The cars will be lined up in a Le Mans start configuration, complete with a starter's stand, a period start/finish banner, period ads and the lot." Now get this, folks! At the noon Reveille on Sunday, September 21st, every race car's engine will be started exactly at 12 PM, creating an enormous cacophony of sounds and sensations. The 60 Years of Racing at Watkins Glen highlights a presentation featuring 190 cars and motorcycles in a chronological display covering a century of motoring. Worth the trip to Fairfield, Connecticut.
[Photo: Mario Andretti's Lotus 79 F1 Car]
Posted by: Philip Powell Read more Source
Wed, 10 Sep 2008 04:31:41 GMT
Do You Challenge Queue-Jumpers and Line-Cutters?
in social psychology: study the queue itself.
Excuse me, I''d like to get in hereMilgram considered the queue a classic example of how groups of people automatically create social order out of chaos. But this social order can be fragile when faced with chaotic threats, like that of the queue-jumper. Suddenly we have a social psychology experiment on our hands: how fragile is this spontaneous social order and what will people do to protect it? In the answer to this seemingly mundane question may lie an important truth about our behaviour in groups.
Early research found that people were strangely reluctant to challenge queue-jumpers, suggesting our spontaneous social order is fairly week. But this wasn''t a properly designed experiment and so Milgram set about testing people''s reactions to queue-jumpers using a real-life experimental study.
Milgram had assistants travel around New York to 129 different queues in betting shops, railway stations and elsewhere. At each one his experimental assistant followed a strict protocol laid down in advance:Enter queue at between the third and fourth person.Say in a neutral tone: "Excuse me, I''d like to get in here."Step into line and face forward.Only leave the queue when someone admonished them or after 1 minute, whichever was sooner.
People''s responses were quite meek. On only 10% of occasions were queue-jumpers physically ejected from the line. And on only about half the occasions did anybody in the line do anything at all. Anything at all included, in this case, dirty looks or gestures as well as actual verbal objections. This seems remarkably low.
Hey, there''s a line here you know!Milgram also used two variations to find out under what conditions people would protest at queue-jumpers. The first variation was the number of intruders. Milgram found that doubling the number of jumpers almost doubled the rate of objections, which then rocketed up to 91%.
A second variation involved introducing a ''buffer'' person. This was another experimental confederate who was already stood in the queue legitimately. The queue-jumper did their jumping in front of them. The introduction of a buffer was to examine what people would do when they were two or three places back in the queue behind the jumper. The results showed that increasing the buffer decreased the number of objections. When there were two people between them and the queue-jumper, objections dropped to just 5%.
Too scared to question the queue-jumper?Milgram''s most interesting insights are his attempts to explain why people don''t intervene. Are people just too scared? Not necessarily:Group formation is difficult when people are stood one behind the other, all facing in the same direction. Consequently social order is weak.Challenging queue-jumpers could mean losing your own place in the line.Social systems have to tolerate some deviance otherwise they may quickly break down, i.e. a fight may start and everyone is delayed while it is sorted out.The line is co-opting those who threaten it by tacitly accepting them so that they gain an interest in the queue and the queue becomes stronger.
Milgram thought queue-jumping is tolerated as long as it doesn''t threaten the line too much. People want to avoid social disorder because their own interests (getting served) are tied up in an orderly queue.
Coping with queuingSo the next time you''re in a queue or spot a queue-jumper think about Milgram''s study and how the queue might reflect society at large. If that fails it''s fun to imagine the look on people''s faces as Milgram''s brave assistants pushed in to queues all over New York, while another watched and recorded people''s reactions.
Over to you: what strange behaviour have you spotted in queues and do you ever queue-jump or challenge queue-jumpers?
[Image credit: butterflysha
Posted by: Jerry Read more Source
Fri, 22 Aug 2008 00:27:55 GMT
The photographer behind today''s image is Jack Dykinga, who I assume must have done some work for the USDA''s Agricultural Research Service at one time (unless there are two exceptional photographers named Jack Dykinga). Artistic work commissioned by the US government has few restrictions on its reuse, and in this case, the photograph is licensed under the Creative Commons.
As noted on the above-linked page, this is a photograph of an Osmia ribifloris on a species of Berberis. The bee is commonly known as a blue orchard bee or, due to its success as a commercial pollinator of blueberry crops, the blueberry bee. In the wild, it is typically a pollinator of Californian manzanitas.
Wikipedia has an intriguing entry on Berberis (or barberry); the write-up for the genus includes details about the use of some species as spices or foods in Asia and South America. Somewhere around five hundred species of barberry are thought to exist, growing in temperate and subtropical regions of most continents except Australia (and, it goes without saying, Antarctica).
Posted by: Daniel Mosquin Read more Source
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