Clench Your Fist to Get an A

It’s true! At least according to a study published in the online journal PLOSone (the Public Library of Science) and titled Getting a Grip on Memory: Unilateral Hand Clenching Alters Episodic Recall.  Researchers Ruth E. Propper, Sean E. McGraw, and Michael Weiss of the Department of Psychology, Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey; and Tad T. Brunyé of the Psychology Department, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts conducted a study to determine if fist clenching could improve memory. Participants were divided into several groups. One group was given a rubber ball to squeeze…continue reading →

Science and Beauty

Q: What Hollywood movie star of the 1930s and 40s known for her pin-up posters during World War II developed the technology that makes wireless communication possible today? A: Hedy Lamarr, once considered the most beautiful woman in the world and star of Samson and Delilah and Ziegfeld Girls invented and patented a frequency-hopping device that allowed torpedoes to be remotely controlled and today allows for multi-channel digital communications. Her invention, part of the war effort to defeat the Nazis was so militarily sensitive that the patent remained classified until 1985. March honors…continue reading →

Spot the International Space Station

  “Hey, Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?” “Pumbaa, I don't wonder; I know.” “Oh. What are they?” “They're fireflies. Fireflies that, uh... got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.” “Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.” “Pumbaa, with you, everything's gas.” Neither a firefly nor a ball of gas, the International Space Station is the third largest visible object in the night sky after the sun and the moon according to NASA. On a clear night it is easy…continue reading →

And the word is: GIF

Each November since 2005 lexicographers (“n., a writer or compiler of a dictionary”) at Oxford English Dictionary announce the word that qualifies as word of the year. After watching word trends to determine what word best illustrates the current zeitgeist, the 2012 winner is GIF. You probably recognize GIF—an acronym standing for graphic interchange format—after all it has been around for over 25 years, but like the word “Google” before it, GIF is morphing from strictly a noun into a verb. From popular tumblr sites such as That Disney GIF to gymnastic GIFs…continue reading →

Go Back to Bed!

According to an AP story appearing in major newspapers including the Washington Post and the Worcester, Massachusetts Telegram increasing the number of hours you sleep may also increase your grade point average. Colleges and universities are paying attention to such wisdom. At Brown University a campus-wide program publicizes the importance of a good night’s rest and the University of Louisville is offering Flash Nap Workshops to “lock in learning while you easily and efficiently restore vitality.” A search on the library database Academic Search Complete revealed several studies of college student sleeping patterns…continue reading →