The Latest, Top 5 Science — May 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Top Five Science Stories: Vol #6

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This week’s top five science stories include a look at messy desks, aliens, your morning coffee and the biggest dinosaur ever discovered.

1. Revealed: What your desk says about your creativity.

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It was Albert Einstein who famously said: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” It was also Einstein, I believe, who said: “Your booty don’t need explaining.” I could be wrong about that, however. Anyway, Einstein’s quote has resulted in some fascinating research to determine what affect, if any, sitting at a messy desk has on the desk’s occupant. Occupants of neat desks were also observed in order to form a comparison. What researchers discovered was that after sitting at a neat desk, occupants were more inclined to make a donation to charity. The scientists are operating under their assumption that tidiness promotes behavior considered “right.” On the down side, research also revealed that the clean desk occupants proved less creative, coming up with fewer suggestions for new uses of ping-pong balls. In this instance, the scientists are operating under the idea that cleanliness encourages a disposition towards conventionality. The occupants of a messy desk were more likely — on the way out of the experiment — to take a free snack that was worse for their health, choosing chocolate more often than apples. Read more HERE.

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2. Your morning coffee is doing more than giving you bad breath and jitters.

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In the new book, Sensation by leading human behavior expert, Dr. Thalma Lobel, the author suggests that physical experiences affect decision making. For example, in one experiment where participants were asked to determine the personality of a person based just on their photos, participants were offered a cup of coffee — half of whom got coffee that was hot. Half of whom got coffee that was cold. Dr. Lobel notes that participants who were given the warm cup of coffee were more likely to look at faces and decide they had warm or kind or caring personalities. Conversely, the participants who held cups of coffee that were cold, were more likely to look at faces and decide they were cold, cynical, cruel or mean. Read more HERE.

3. New app for the blind helps them navigate through the world…and kick the ass of an angry bird.

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Scientists working at a South American university have developed a phone app that will help the blind navigate through the world in a way that the traditional cane can not. For the blind who navigate out into the world, the cane can alert them to obstacles that are on the ground. However, that still leaves quite a bit of external space that goes unexamined. This new phone app works in connection with the 3-D camera installed in some smart phones. The user wears the camera around their neck…and it sends out a signal much the same way the back up camera does on a car. When the signal bounces off an obstacle in front of the person — that is between head and feet — the phone both vibrates and makes a beeping sound. Beeps and vibrations were chosen as the indicators after blind users rejected the first signals, a voice that yelled “Get the fuck out of the way.” Read more HERE.

4. During Senate hearing, respected scientists predict discovery of alien life. Are immediately invited to Comic-Con.

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Two astronomers based at the University of California Berkley told a Senate sub-committee this week that with proper funding, they expect to find aliens in the universe in less than 20 years. Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI [search for extraterrestrial intelligence] Research Center  said that the possibility of extraterrestrial microbial life is “close to 100 percent.” Werthimer’s colleague, Dr. Seth Shostack added:

Estimates are that at least 70 percent of all stars are accompanied by planets, and since the latter can occur in systems rather than as individuals (think of our own solar system), the number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy is of order one trillion. It bears mentioning that the Milky Way is only one of 150 billion galaxies visible to our telescopes – and each of these will have its own complement of planets. This is plentitude beyond easy comprehension.

Read more HERE.

5. Scientists Uncover the Kareem Abdul Jabaar of Dinosaurs. World’s largest… with best hook shot.

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Archeologists and researchers from Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina unveiled the discovery of seven dinosaurs’ remains this week, including the bones of a what they believe is the largest dinosaur ever discovered. It is believed this dinosaur lived on earth 95 million years ago, during the Mezozoic era… and it has been dubbed “Titanosaurs.”  To give you an indication of the animal’s size, it’s femur alone is more than 8 feet in length. Scientists exploring the area note they have only uncovered about 1/5 of what they expect to find. Leading some scientists to predict that along with more fossils, they will also find the remains of the first “Big and Tall Dinosaur’s Shop.”

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