Quickies: Roombas, Bacteria, and Medical Marijuana Studies

  • They were strangers at the starting line. Less than 20 minutes later, they were eternally linked. – “In a sport measured by a running clock and at a global event where only the victors are bestowed shiny medals, the display of sportsmanship Tuesday morning resonated far beyond the track.” From Amy.
  • The Anthropology of Optical Illusions – “The Müller-Lyer illusion, then, is a great example of how our brains get acculturated in ways that shape even simple and straightforward perception tasks.”
  • I asked 8 researchers why the science of nutrition is so messy. Here’s what they said. – “Today, our greatest health problems relate to overeating. People are consuming too many calories and too much low-quality food, bringing on chronic diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”
  • A Roomba smeared dog poop all over this man’s house. There’s an economic lesson here. – “A similar story can be told about iRobot, the company behind the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. The company is hardly a failure, having sold 15 million units since it was introduced in 2002. But the Roomba remains a niche product, and iRobot hasn’t come up with another hit. These companies are struggling for similar reasons: Their products demand too much from their users while providing too little value in return.”
  • Simone Biles’s Physics-Defying, Incredible Flip – “Watching U.S. gymnast Simone Biles land her gravity-defying signature move leaves you feeling disoriented. On what planet is it physically possible for a tiny young woman, not even five feet tall, to cap a series of rapid-fire somersaults with a single leap so high in the air it allows her to complete not one but two full revolutions, only to land solidly on her feet? The unprecedented move, named after its 19-year-old creator, has even physicists mystified.” From Alex.
  • How the world’s tiniest organisms explain our evolution, our health, and our eventual demise – “We’d later learn that this vast system of bacteria, fungi, archaea, and other microbes is vital to life on Earth, and that we’ve actually evolved from and with these organisms. But people at the time didn’t know what to make of Leeuwenhoek’s wild descriptions — the ‘little animals’ that were ‘a-swimming more nimbly than any I had ever seen’ — which would ultimately lay the groundwork for microbiology.”
  • This is your brain on pot: Neuroscientist studies long-term effects of medical marijuana – “The patients in MIND’s studies bring their own marijuana products, which Gruber’s team analyzes for potency. Studying marijuana can be challenging because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for substances with a high potential for addiction and no medicinal value. The DEA recently considered changing that classification — but decided not to.”

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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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