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Media Hoaxes Galore!

Monday, May 26, 2008

After hearing the War of the Worlds show, many listeners wrote to the Lab with their favorite media hoaxes.

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I Am Jen

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hey everyone, Jad here. If you happen to have caught our "brain on love" podcast a while back, you may remember those groovy mini-jingles we made for the 3 different love chemicals (dopamine, norepinephrine, oxcytocin).

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Individualism or Interdependence

Friday, May 23, 2008

During our show Who Am I? we got worried that spending so much time thinking about the 'self' would make us a little.. well.. self-centered. But what's wrong with that? Nothing really, but apparently we wouldn't do well on this puzzle.

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The focal point

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fluorescent microscopy can illuminate neurons genetically engineered to express fluorescent proteins. "Two-photon" microscopy is special because it lights up the fluorescent neurons only at the focal point allowing scientists to piece together multiple sections in order to obtain a 3D image.

So how does this "two-photon" technology produce fluorescence only at the focal point if the fluorescent laser beam is penetrating all of the surrounding tissue? The theory is that the chances of two low-energy photons hitting the fluorophore at the same time with enough energy to produce a fluorescent event are extremely slim.

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When’s the Last Time You Cachinnated?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Though it’s practically a truism by now that anthropologists’ reports often say more about the writers’ assumptions than about the cultures in question, the valiant attempt by Mahadev L. Apte to compile an anthropology of laughter is laudable, if often hard to believe.

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Biological voyeurism

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scientists communicate with pictures (graphs, images, flowcharts, etc) because it's often impossible to convey experimental results with just words. So a picture is truly worth a thousand words, right?

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Music Lab #2

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Here's the second installment of 'Music Lab.' A place on the blog where Jad gets to play some of his favorite music and tell you why he likes it. Take a listen.

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You and Your Irrational Brain: An evening of experimentation under the stars

Monday, May 12, 2008

The World Science Festival and WNYC Radio present You and Your Irrational Brain, a live, outdoor event (rain or shine) Thursday, May 29th at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City, Queens, NY.

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Lies are only skin deep?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Over the course of human history, the methods used to determine if someone is telling the truth have ranged from horrific to downright silly. The legend of La Bocca della Verita holds that if someone fibs with their hand in the mouth, it gets bitten off.

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Technology and Human Rights

Friday, May 09, 2008

Many of you probably remember last year's release of satellite images documenting human rights violations in Myanmar (Burma). Scientists have teamed together at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to use sophisticated technology to alert us of the atrocities against civilians in Darfur, North Korea, and Burma. How else can we apply the tools of science to enhance human rights work?

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the bloody truth about Narcissus

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hello Jad here. First off, thanks to everyone who sent me Starbucks cards for my birthday (what a nice surprise!)

And while we're on the subject of ME, let me say a few words about about narcissism. Actually, no. What I'd really like to do is to play you a song I've had on repeat for the last month, a song about a boy who falls in love with another boy who lives in a river.

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Insect Porn

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Isabella Rosellini stars in these gorgeous and bizarre bug sex videos. (She also wrote and directed these short films.) I will warn you, they are disturbing at times...but only in a nature-is-so-strange-as-to-be-utterly-unreal way.

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Robert gets a Webby!

Monday, May 05, 2008

This just in: Robert Krulwich was selected as an Official Honoree of the 12th Annual Webby Awards, for the animated component to his NPR stories about carbon. Krulwich and his video team (animator Odd Todd, Aneal Mundra, and BPP Video Producer Win Rosenfeld) were honored in the Online Film and Video - Best Use of Animation/Motion Graphics category for their cartoon feature, "It's All About Carbon", which was a part of NPR's Climate Connections series. The videos have an unexpected level of quirk and insight. Check them out here.

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A formula for the perfect joke

Monday, May 05, 2008

In our research on the show Laughter, we came across Dr. Helen Pilcher's formula for writing hit British comedy.

x = (fl + no ) / p

where funniness (f) of the punchline times length of build-up (l) is added to the amount someone falls down (n) times the physical pain or social embarrassment (o for 'ouch'). All this is divided by the pun (p), which reduces laughter and produces more of a groan.

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Re-wilding Tigers

Friday, May 02, 2008

Earlier this week, an article in the New York Times reported some good news about the genetic diversity of captive tigers. Apparently, a new study found that up to 20% of captive tigers are purebred, with genetic variations that no longer exist in the wild.

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What is fMRI and what is it measuring?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

As Radiolab explores some of the tangents from our show on Deception, we've interviewed neuroscientists attempting to detect lies using changes in brain activity. But how do we see brain activity and get such colorful pictures of it? You might think it's based on neural electric activity. This is true for EEG but not for fMRI, which is used in the majority of these brain function studies. As Wired.com's Steve Silberman explains, it all starts with hemoglobin. Yes, the tiny protein responsible for carrying oxygen to the brain or any other organ for that matter, is the basis for studying brain activity.

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Where do lies come from?

Monday, April 28, 2008

We interviewed Dan Langleben while researching for our show on Deception. He says he can see differences in brain activity when a lie is told about a playing card in your pocket. He identified a few regions in the brain that changed in metabolism during a lie. That is, it seemed as though it took more energy for the brain to lie.

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The Fifth Annual Bent Festival hath begun!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gearheads, take note! The Bent Festival is in NYC all weekend long!
It's a three day-long exploration of hardware hacking, DIY electronics, and circuit bending. Artists from around the globe perform music with their homemade or circuit bent instruments each night of the festival, teach workshops to adults and children alike, and create amazing, interactive art installations. The festival brings together artists of all ages and showcases the state of the art of DIY electronics and circuit bending culture.

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Free Joy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last month, a report came out detailing some of the ways in which expectations affect our responses to pain medications. And according to an article about this report in The Baltimore Sun, one factor that influences our expectations is price. The article goes on to explain that two groups of test volunteers were given placebos after receiving an electric shock. One group was told the placebo pills they were given cost 10 cents each. The other group was told each pill cost $2.50. 85% of the volunteers in the $2.50 group reported pain reduction with the placebo, while only 60% of the volunteers in the 10-cent group did.
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My kid the bioengineer

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In our show (So Called) Life, we interviewed undergrads at MIT giving bacteria genes to make them smell minty fresh. If you are at all disquieted that such young minds are given such profound tools, sorry, bioengineers are getting ever younger. As part of a program designed to help teachers in NYC schools run a DNA transformation lab, I've seen 5th graders engineer bacteria to glow like a certain species of jellyfish found off the coast of Washington State.

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