Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Wildfire Strategy: Let It Burn

July 14, 2017

Wildfire Strategy

Every year since the dawn of time, the Santa Ana winds lash Southern California’s dry autumn brushlands into explosive, blazing infernos. Every year since the dawn of the last century, Southern Californians express surprise as they are engulfed in a sea of flame. With climate change, things won’t get better.

“We will never be able to control wildfire,” explains Tania Schoennagel of the Institute for Alpine and Arctic Research, “We have to learn to live with it and adapt, just like we do with droughts and flooding. Our current wildfire policies can’t protect people and homes.”

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

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Male & Female Brains Are Different

June 28, 2017
Male & Female Brains Are Different

              Above: The male brain.

Research at the University of Edinburgh indicates that that the brains of men and women are shaped differently. While men’s brains are bigger overall, brains of women tend to have thicker cortices, which are associated with intelligence. We’re going to ask some women to look into that for us and tell us what it all means.

More:

“Women have bigger brain regions associated with intelligence,” Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz

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White Collar Crime Risk Zones

May 8, 2017

White Collar Crime Risk Zones

White Collar Crime Risk Zones uses machine learning to predict where financial crimes will happen across the U.S. The system was trained on incidents of financial malfeasance from 1964 to the present day, collected from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a non-governmental organization that regulates financial firms.

The system uses industry-standard predictive policing methodologies, including Risk Terrain Modeling and geospatial feature predictors, which enables the tool to predict financial crime at the city-block-level with an accuracy of 90.12%.

Predictive policing apps are designed and deployed to target so-called “street” crime, reinforcing and accelerating destructive policing practices that disproportionately target impoverished communities of color.”

— White Collar Crime Risk Zones,” Sam Lavigne, Francis Tseng, and Brian Clifton, The New Inquiry

Use it online and read the white paper.

Related:

“Why big-data analysis of police activity is inherently biased,” William Isaac and Andi Dixon, The Conversation

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Four New Elements

January 4, 2016

Four New Elements

Four new chemical elements were officially added to the Periodic Table last week. The four new super-heavy elements were produced in the laboratory, and do not exist in nature.

Update:

“It’s official: 4 new elements added to periodic table have formal names,” Ben Guarino, Washington Post

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Angus Deaton

October 13, 2015

Angus Deaton has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

“To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices. More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding. By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics.”

— Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

More:

“Princeton professor Angus Deaton wins Nobel Prize in economics,” Jeff Guo, Washington Post

“Why Angus Deaton Deserved the Nobel Prize in Economics,” Christopher Blattman, Foreign Policy

Video [21:02]: Angus Deaton addressing the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) on “Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality.” October 17, 2013. A complete audio recording of his remarks is here.

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A Growing America

June 23, 2015

A Growing America

“Adults who are obese now outnumber those who are merely overweight, according to a new report in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

A tally by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis estimated that 67.6 million Americans over the age of 25 were obese as of 2012, and an additional 65.2 million were overweight.”

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Perfect Pizza Through Science!

October 8, 2014

Perfect Pizza Through Science!

Researchers at the University of Auckland (in partnership with Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy products exporter) used a machine to measure the integral elements of possible pizza ingredients as precisely as possible, and then published a paper about it in the Journal of Food Science. … ‘Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality.’”

“For cheese to brown, the paper explains, it needs to lose moisture first. For the moisture to evaporate, blisters need to form, because where they lift the surface of the cheese, free oil can run off and expose the surface to raw heat. And for a blister to form, steam needs to collect in a pocket and push up the cheese.”

“This is why mozzarella makes for good browning. First, it doesn’t have much free oil. Second, it is very elastic. Third, it contains a lot of moisture. So steam pockets form easily, which create healthy blisters, which quickly expose the surface to browning.”

— “Here is the recipe for perfectly browned pizza cheese as established by science,” Sonali Kohli, Quartz (links added)

More:

“Science Crowns Mozzarella The King Of Pizza Cheese,” Maanvi Singh, NPR

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Huh?

May 31, 2014

New research by Mark Dingemanse and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics … has uncovered a surprisingly important role for an interjection long dismissed as one of language’s second-class citizens: the humble huh?, a sort of voiced question mark slipped in when you don’t understand something. In fact, they’ve found, huh? is a “universal word,” the first studied by modern linguists.

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Grocery Bags Carry Unintended Consequences

May 12, 2014

Grocery Bags Carry Unintended Consequences
People who bring their own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store to help the environment are more likely to buy organic items … and then buy ice cream and cookies, according to new research. Hey, those folks saved the environment, they deserve a treat, right?

More:

“How Grocery Bags Manipulate Your Mind,” Carmen Nobel, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Facebook is Like a Disease, But Recovery is Near

April 3, 2014

Facebook is Like a Disease, But Recovery is Near

“A new study of Facebook has predicted that the social network’s rapid growth will prove unsustainable and that the site will lose 80 per cent of its users between 2015 and 2017.

A group of Princeton researchers has compared Facebook to a highly infectious disease, claiming that after it reaches a certain critical mass of ‘infected’ users, these individuals will ‘recover’ and quit the site.”

— “Facebook is an ‘infectious disease’ and will lose 80% of users by 2017, according to researchers,” James Vincent, The Independent

If you’s like to see how Princeton’s engineers apply an epidemiological model to social media, you can read study here:

“Epidemiological modeling of online social network dynamics,” John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler, arXiv

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