Quickies: Space Toilets, Lower Back Pain and Therapy, and GMOs

  • Why Do Rich Kids Do Better Than Poor Kids in School? It’s Not the “Word Gap.” – “Following the ‘word gap’ logic, teachers often view vocabulary building as the most important aspect of education. However, in reality, there is a wide scope of early learning experiences that all young children, particularly those experiencing poverty, need to develop.”
  • When Neighborhoods Gentrify, Why Aren’t Their Public Schools Improving? – “The ups and downs of gentrification have been chronicled thoroughly, but one of its consequences hasn’t been widely addressed: the effect on neighborhood schools when a critical mass of well-educated, well-off people move in. Gentrification usually brings some benefits with it to a neighborhood, such as more attention from the city—as Spike Lee noted, suddenly the trash gets picked up! But does an influx of children from wealthier families make a positive difference to local public schools?”
  • In Space, Using The Toilet Is Quite An Operation – For one, you need to have very good aim!
  • Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages – The short answer is, it has to do with the sounds a baby makes when they are first learning to talk.
  • Physical Therapy May Help For Back Pain, But Time Works Best – The most important part of the article is this: “Although this study found that physical therapy doesn’t have a statistically significant effect on lower-back pain, it can still impact the patients going through it, Fritz says. ‘People who feel that they’re being treated and cared for will improve a bit more rapidly regardless of what’s actually being provided to them.’ And while we’ve traditionally labeled that as a placebo effect, part of medical treatment is about allowing patients to feel more optimistic because they’re being helped. ‘And that’s not something we should try to limit,’ Fritz says. ‘It’s indeed something we should try to maximize and take advantage of.’ “
  • Girls Of Brazil Face Slurs And Taunts If They Play Soccer: #15Girls – “So on a recent steamy Rio de Janeiro night, a group of girls are engaging in a subversive act. They’re kicking a soccer ball on a kind of a poured concrete basketball court surrounded by a high chain link fence. It looks more like a cage than a soccer field. But it’s all they have in this neighborhood in Rocinha, one of the city’s biggest favelas, or shantytowns, home to about 150,000 residents.”
  • What happened when a roomful of engineers watched ‘The Martian’ – Overall, the engineers agreed that the movie was more science than fiction, and they also brought up good points about the science that the movie didn’t address.
  • Famous Scientist Does Something Bad – “This is a template comic created for convenient linking whenever somebody famous in science (or any field) does something bad.”
  • The complex nature of GMOs calls for a new conversation – “Most recently, the director of a science communications program asked if I could engage her students on a few topics: Is there a scientific consensus on GMOs? How is the media doing when it comes to covering biotech in the food system? Where are the biases and blind spots in reporting?” I thought this article had a lot of good points and that GMOs are not just a black-and-white issue. What do you think of this?

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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