Posted by Erik Swan on Friday, February 08, 2013 08:00 am
A lot of wishy-washy, sentimental stuff has been said about the positive benefits of nature – stuff that we appreciate but often find a bit unsubstantial – but a new study gives some scientific support for that idea.
The preliminary results of a new study showed that feelings of awe can make people less self-centered and more generous. The study had subjects stare at our very own Valley Life Sciences Building and our eucalyptus grove. Those looking at our lovely trees reported more “humility, compassion and cooperation.”
In an urban environment like Berkeley, most people probably neglect to experience nature. This is why we love the fact that our school has areas dedicated to nature. It’s calming and apparently improves our willingness to cooperate.
Maybe all group projects should have a mandatory meeting in our eucalyptus grove? We could all sit in a circle, sing kumbaya and tree-hug our differences away.
Or imagine corporations having their offices in a building symbiotic with nature, complete with little capuchin monkeys delivering all memos? We know our productivity would rise just by being around awesome trees all day. This is our attempt to surreptitiously convince all of those Randian leaders of industry to plant a damn tree for once. read more »
Posted by Erik Swan on Tuesday, February 05, 2013 08:00 am
Nowadays, we are all pretty familiar with the term “cloud” as it relates to our Internet gadgets. Information is stored off of a device, with the device simply accessing it. So researchers on a multi-university team are taking this idea and looking into how to implement it on a massive scale. They are calling this the TerraSwarm.
Ambitious? Oh yeah. Risky? Of course. We already publish a ton of private information on the Internet. Mobile devices also have a ridiculous amount of access to your information: where you are, who you’re talking to and what you say. Being connected to a TerraSwarm — as the name suggests, an Earth-spanning network — may leave people vulnerable in ways we can’t predict.
But it also has the potential to improve everyone’s quality of life. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this ambitious research project led by campus EECS professor Edward A. Lee.
According to a press release from the TerraSwarm Research Center, sensors would collect data such as “embedded vision, audio, location, movement, temperature and air quality,” and actuators would put that information to work. These things could be used to “direct the control of physical devices in smart buildings, transportation systems, medical systems, security systems, and homes.”
Just think about it: fully automated transportation systems (coupled with Google’s self-driving car), houses that sense when you’re hungry and cook you a meal (maybe we’re taking this too far) and phones that sense when you’re drunk-dialing and call you a jackass.
Posted by Erik Swan on Friday, February 01, 2013 08:00 am
It’s a perennial question: Are there other Earth-like planets – or planets full of life – out there?
New research suggests that Earth-like planets are actually pretty common, according to an analysis of the results of Nasa’s Kepler mission. As the diameter of a planet decreases, its frequency increases. Once the diameter reaches twice the diameter of Earth, it remains about the same.
If you love astronomy like we do, then this news should be exciting. The research focused on Earth-like stars in a similar orbit as Mercury, but the article noted that “further evidence suggests that the fraction of stars having planets the size of Earth or slightly bigger orbiting within Earth-like orbits may amount to 50 percent.”
This is timely news, especially as the availability of resources on our planet becomes more worrisome. We finally have new planets for us humans to dominate and exploit of resources. We can skip any lessons in moderation — our galaxy is a treasure trove of planets waiting to be harvested!
Not to mention all of the food. Orion’s baked space-beef. Soda made from corn starch from the corn planet Gliese 876 d.
And it only gets better if there is intelligent life. Let’s get some space wars going on. Finally something to unite the human race: killing other intelligent life. Think of the economic and social benefits of a totally awesome space war.
Posted by Erik Swan on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 08:00 am
We at the Clog know inequalities between men and women in the workplace sucks. A new study led by a UC Berkeley psychologist has looked into the issue and found that these obstacles affect women who also run their households more than we thought. (Basically, they have fewer career ambitions.)
Of course, the study also found that men’s ambitions weren’t affected when they were in control of the household.
We have empowered women without the appropriate shift in gender values. As of the 2010 census, more working women over 25 have bachelor’s degrees than men. Yet among the Fortune 500, they hold just 16.6 percent of board seats and just 14.3 percent of executive officer positions, according to an NBC news article. There’s more qualified women, yet they’re underrepresented at the highest positions. What’s the deal? Nothing makes sense.
Out of college, women earn 82 percent of what men earn. Women are just as ambitious and capable as men, but the glass ceiling is real. Our expectations of women have not changed to recognize their capabilities.
“Being in charge of household decisions may bring a semblance of power to women’s traditional role, to the point where women may have less desire to push against the obstacles to achieving additional power outside the home,” said UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen in a press release.
In education, we are in 2013; but when it comes to “traditional roles,” we may as well be in the 1960s. read more »
Posted by Erik Swan on Friday, January 25, 2013 08:00 am
According to a new study lead by sixth-year graduate student Amie Gordon, sleep deprivation makes some people more self-centered and consequently express less gratitude toward romantic partners.
Gratitude is vital in relationships of all kinds. But maybe there is a link between that all-nighter spent writing a paper and that argument that happened the next day?
This is why we at the Clog now have the best prescription for relationship health: Sleep all day. Preferably together. Adopt the sleeping schedule of cats. When you and your partner manage to wake up for the same three hours once a week, the conversation will be all excuse-me’s and thank-you’s.
Remember that Depeche Mode song “Enjoy the Silence”? Well, you can’t talk when you’re sleeping. We believe we have taken this study to its natural conclusion.
This is also why we believe us mega-sleepers are so generous and friendly. Thanks Ms. coffee-lady, we’re well rested and can now properly empathize. Have a massive tip. And Mr. cut-me-off-on-the-freeway? Thanks for not crashing into us, we guess.
Another point in Gordon’s study — who’s pursuing a doctorate in social-personality psychology — is that the expression of gratitude actually affects a person’s mental and physical health. It can lead to “fewer headaches and stomachaches, as well as better cardiovascular health.”
In the back of our minds, most of us know that emotions are biological. Chemicals and whatnot. But sometimes we like to pretend that they’re not. This may be why the expression of gratitude improving someone’s physical health comes as a surprise. Good emotions, good health.
Gordon also said that this “could be another point of research for how other bodily mechanisms, such as feeling hunger or being cold, can affect emotions.” Truly fascinating. Who knew our emotions were so much at the whim of our physical circumstances? We look forward to hearing more.
Posted by Erik Swan on Saturday, December 08, 2012 09:42 am
Diving into a caffeine-driven, sleep-deprived information vortex for the next week is the recommended way to get those Berkeley grades. Sleep is your worst enemy, as well as any sense of moderation or pacing.
To facilitate this, Late Night at Crossroads —UC Berkeley’s largest dining common — is giving out free coffee and tea. Now you have no excuse to fall asleep before 6 a.m. and a very flimsy excuse to fall asleep at all. How else are you supposed to learn all of that new material your professors dumped on you for RRR week? Not by consolidating your memories in your sleep, that’s for sure.
Posted by Erik Swan on Friday, November 16, 2012 08:00 am
It’s an epidemic of obsolete style that we’ve been running into a lot. Somehow the old rule that we should put two spaces after every period has survived well into the 2010’s. We suppose it’s a testament to the force of cultural habit, as the practical reasons for this rule’s implementation have long since disappeared.
Writers used to do this because typewriters used a monospaced font, which gave equal space to all letters. M’s would take up as much as space as i’s. They adopted the double spaces after periods to make it easier for the eye to spot sentence breaks. Fonts these days, however, are proportionally spaced, meaning that the extra space after periods is superfluous. Single spaces are now the formally correct way to do it, according to the Chicago Manual of Style. read more »
Posted by Erik Swan on Monday, November 05, 2012 04:49 pm
We got a lot of good answers to our questions, and we appreciate the people who took time out to talk to us.
For NorCal residents, people had the impression that they were hella hip, liberal and environmentally conscious. At least in the Bay Area, these things are easy to run into, even though they’re not entirely representative. The stereotype that people from NorCal are distinctly “pot smokers” is funny (and erroneous), as people from SoCal smoke all the time – at least from what we’ve experienced. We think this is just a Californian thing. Weed solidarity, brothers and sisters! read more »
Posted by Erik Swan on Monday, November 05, 2012 11:00 am
If you have even a passing interest in contemporary literary geniuses, this free talk about David Foster Wallace should catch your interest. It’ll be at North Gate Hall in the Berkeley Graduate School for Journalism Library on Nov. 7, from 12:00-1:00 pm.
The talk will be given by D.T. Max, who recently published a biography of Wallace’s life titled Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. Known most for his novel ‘Infinite Jest’, Wallace was troubled by addiction and severe depression, which ultimately lead to his suicide in 2008. Max – who spoke with Wallace’s family and friends and had access to Wallace’s unpublished letters read more »
Posted by Erik Swan on Monday, October 29, 2012 08:00 am
Tired of beer pong? Want to try something different? Check this shit out.
Basket pong. We decided to accept the burden of drinking and having a good time with this new game. And it was all for you, the reader. We’d do anything for you.
So you set up this backboard and put cups in that 3-2-3 formation you can see in the picture. There’s another slot farther down the pole (which is not pictured) to hold the water cup. It also collapses into a portable suitcase. Then you throw balls into the cups according to the rules you just made up, at least until it starts devolving into a free-for-all-let’s-get-drunk-fest. read more »