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Believe it or not, Columbia scientists actually have better things to do than Frontiers. Bwog presents a review of Columbia’s week in science. Headlines were compiled by Ricky Raudales, who may or may not have submitted the hawk-themed short.

Imagine what Pixar could do with this

  • One panel of judges at last week’s Tribeca Film Festival included two familiar scientists, Stuart Firestein (Columbia) and Janna Levin (Barnard), who helped select the winners of this year’s TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund. Among the rejected pitches was Bwog’s own indie romance, Hawkma, Je T’aime, for which a release date has not yet been set. (Wired)
  • Evolutionary ecologist Dustin Rubenstein sat down with The Scientist to discuss how slime molds, also known as social amoebas, engage in a primitive form of agriculture. What he apparently didn’t mention is that the trials are being conducted inside communal fridges in Harmony (seriously, people, throw out your expired milk cartons.) (The Scientist)
  • Columbia’s own Klaus Lackner shares his latest global warming antidote, an artificial tree capable of sequestering carbon dioxide one thousand times faster than the real stuff. Shove these things in the tailpipes of every New York cab, and you’ve practically solved global warming. (Wall St Daily)
  • Findings from a recent epidemiological study suggest that frequent business travel may be bad for your health, in some cases even increasing one’s risk for cardiovascular disease. Somebody, quick! Tell that to our favorite Dean of Student Affairs by day, pop sensation by night. (Science Daily)
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Healthy food is good. Thank you, Science.

Researchers at Columbia University’s New York Obesity Research Center concluded that sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain as well as an unhealthy change in diet. Something to keep in mind the next time that you’re gobbling down a plate of artery-clogging food at JJ’s Place.

If you’ve found the city’s recent HIV scare tactics to be crass and even offensive, then you are not alone. A Project Coordinator at the Mailman School of Public Health derides the latest campaign for its role in stigmatizing and misrepresenting people living with HIV.

The recent Fukushima Daiichi mishap has lent attention to the Hudson River’s own potentially dangerous nuclear plant, following a review by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. While still 38 miles north of New York City, we can only hope downstream Morningside Heights doesn’t get turned into a Stanley Kubrick remake.

Professor Dickson Despommier welcomes a future Manhattan in which high-rise vertical farms supply residents with home grown greens and beans. Bwog can only imagine navigating through anything larger than a Trader Joe’s (like the rest of country does, anyhow).

A study of New Zealand glaciers led by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory discredits the climate theory that the changes to Northern and Southern Hemispheres occur in tandem to one another. One geological period examined by the scientists, namely the Little Ice Age that ended around 1860, makes us wonder about Columbia’s more youthful days.

BunsenBwog

Alchemy is not Science

When they’re not headbanging or answering our inane questions, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Blip-Spotter-Spotter-in-Chief Ricky Raudales.

In a lengthy New York Times piece, Siddhartha Mukherjee, self-proclaimed biographer of cancer (and Pulitzer Prize winner!), tackles overreaching claims that link cell phone radiation to brain cancer. Though perhaps not carcinogenic, cell phone radiation can still apparently cause bright orange splotches to appear in your brain.

Columbia and University of France researchers have identified an antagonist known as ANA-12 that could potentially be used to treat anxiety and depression. In a recent, unpublished, non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed study, Bwog found that sunshine on the steps of Low makes Columbia students happier.

The Gray Lady recently dropped by Pupin to join in the latest data-crunching search for dark matter. While nothing was immediately apparent, the appearance of three blips on a computer screen (compared to the usual two due to background microwave radiation) left researchers hopeful for more blips in the future.

Columbia and NASA have teamed up to make space travel less stressful for astronauts, enlisting some of our architecture students in the redesign of future spacecraft interiors. Or, you know, they could just steal the space-agey furniture from NoCo.

Painting by a bank clerk via Wikimedia Commons

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When they’re not rocking out or helping the community, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Northside Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

Just your everyday elementary aerodynamics

  • David Helfand, co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, was recently featured in a Canadian magazine for his lesser-known role as Prezbo to up-and-coming Quest University. The school’s unique curriculum immerses its students “in the works of Homer, Plato and Thucydides for one month.” And you thought the Greek stereotype was bad at Columbia?
  • According to a study conducted by the School of Public Health, global warming has increased the length of the pollen season in northern parts of the country. In spite of the recent warming trend, we could all use more free hot chocolate. Are you listening, Business School students?
  • A Columbia University ecologist helped found the new science of telecoupling at the recent conference for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). On that note, we remind you that you can find a piece of your own coupling right on campus (and remember to share your literotica with Bwog Sex, afterwards).
  • Medical researchers uptown have traced the hormone osteocalcin, an enhancer for testosterone in males, to the bones of rats, suggesting for the first time a regulatory function to the mammal skeleton. For the quick of wit, or just the bawdy, there’s bound to be a Foner reference somewhere.
BunsenBwog

The first rule about science is science rules.

When they’re not rocking out or helping the community, Columbia faculty enjoy pushing the frontiers of science. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Northside Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

  • Columbia’s medical superstar, Dr. Oz, known by many for his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, encourages Americans to take healthcare reform into their own hands. On a related note, watching Oprah in bed won’t help you get over that cold sooner.
  • A team of Columbia physicists used quantum mechanics to melt glass in an entirely new way— by cooling it to near-absolute zero. Depending on your wave-mechanical interpretation of reality this may destroy  Thursday’s Glass House Rocks party.
  • An assistant professor is developing a groundbreaking medical search engine named PERSEUS. Bwog hopes it comes with an autocomplete feature.
  • Russian scientists may soon drill into a precious underground lake in Antarctica. Don’t tell B-school, or we could see Vostock join ranks with Fiji.
  • Our very own architect professor, Kate Orff, appeared on TED where she proposed dumping millions of pollution-chomping oysters into New York’s rivers. Students have are reminded to never ever swim in the Hudson.
  • Columbia geologists helped locating New Zealand’s Pink Terraces, a rare geothermal formation considered by some to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. All Harmony Hunter jokes end here!

Image via Wikimedia.

BunsenBwog

There’s more to Columbia faculty than cute nicknames and good music taste. They also invent, prod, design and destroy all kinds of nifty things. In our newest feature, Bwog takes a moment to look back at this week’s science news, from the ultra-specific to the just-plain wacky. The headlines were compiled by our Northern Side of Campus Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

Tuesday

A scientist!

  • Still can’t connect to Times Square’s wifi? You can now ping Columbia’s Rachel Sterne, the city’s first chief digital officer.
  • Columbia’s Dr. Mukherjee has published a book chronicling the history of cancer and providing a six-point formula to help battle humanity’s killjoy in India.

Wednesday

  • H1N1 hates itself—A team which included Columbia researchers found swine flu survivors have super immunity to multiple strains of influenza.
  • Researchers at Columbia successfully extracted stem cells from healthy teeth. British not amused.

Thursday

  • Obama reminded Americans that Sputnik was just a shiny quadripod.
  • Columbia’s Richard Sloan explained why skipping along to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” won’t solve your health issues. Sorry Kingsmen.

Friday

  • Columbia launched its Bamboo Bike Project, providing cheap, reliable transportation in sub-Saharan Africa. Bwog wonders how long we have until hipsters start buying them.

Saturday

  • Thanks to a Columbia scientist, iPads now have a purpose—exploring deep-ocean trenches.

Photo via wikimedia.

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"I hate when petroleum-based products cover surfaces" - scientist.

When they’re not jamming or answering our inane questions, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Resident Scary-Number-Things Expert Ricky Raudales.

  • Using cutting-edge computer models, scientists at the Earth Observatory determined that the depletion of ozone over Antarctica has directly affected climate patterns as far north as the tropics. If you’re somehow still not convinced of global warming, here’s a time-lapse progressionillustrating the formation of the now 11.5 million square-mile hole. (CNN)
  • The Times recounts the efforts of our own Ponisseril Somasundaran, chemical engineer and a leading expert in surfactants, who developed safer alternatives to the petroleum-based dispersants used in the recent oil spill. Because fighting oil with even more oil just sounds, you know, silly. (NYTimes)
  • Bigshot, a pet project of the director of Columbia’s Computer Vision Laboratory, invites children to learn about the science behind digital cameras by providing them their own DIY kits. Bwog wonders how long it’ll take for a Brooklyn startup to start marketing the camera to hipsters. (NYTimes)
  • Thanks to data collected from the growth rings of ancient trees, Columbia researchers have pinpointed several record droughts that may have contributed to the decline of the Mayan and Toltec civilizations. So you see, real hard science can help out its cousins in the bunkum pseudosciences anthropological sciences, after all. (InsideScience)

Wrenching image via Wikimedia.

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No time to look at the camera when you're doing science

When they’re not headbanging or answering our inane questions, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Strong-Willed but Gentle- Handed Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

  • A team of scientists recreated functioning enzymes that date back between one and four billion years ago, revealing, in turn, that the earth was once hotter and more acidic. Sorry 90’s retro junkies, but we’re not closer to hatching a baby Velociraptor anytime soon.
  • When in doubt, adding more is better. Columbia neuroscientists discovered that mice with more hippocampal neurons make wiser decisions and, when combined with exercise, exhibit fewer signs of anxiety.
  • Researchers at the B-school’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CERD) determined that various social factors, such as perception of the current weather affect people’s acceptance of global warming. In a less innocuous correlation, self-identifying Democrats are more likely acceptors than those who identify themselves as Republicans.
  • Researchers at Columbia and Israel’s Ben Gurion University found that judges were hungry for justice. Literally. Apparently judges are less likely to grant prisoners parole if they have not eaten in a while.

Labrats via Wikimedia Commons.

BunsenBwog

Science is classy

When they’re not having a jamboree or bringing light to the world, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Not Bill Nye But Still a Science Guy Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

  • Following the publication of the two largest studies of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers believe the disease may be linked to a failure to metabolize cholesterol. The recent findings, which lend credulity in implicating the role of the dynamic ApoE gene, have at least one Columbia researcher giddy.
  • Columbia University scientists confirmed that the virus that killed two wild mountain gorillas in 2009 had human origins. While it’s perhaps the first of such recorded human-to-gorilla transmissions, we’re certain gorillas have stronger reasons to fear us.
  • Turns out Art and Science look out for one another. Working with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a team of Columbia researchers employed immunological techniques to analyze centuries’ worth of canvas masterpieces.
  • A Times Op-Ed piece entitled “Tools for Thinking” recently featured the “path dependence” theory of CU linguist John McWhorter. While useful in explaining preferences for some human conventions over others, we doubt Housing Selection will ever be explicable.

Dapper scientist via Wikimedia Commons.

BunsenBwog

Tell me about it.

When they’re not rocking out or helping the community, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Northside Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

Columbia neuroscientist David Sulzer recently helped get the band back together—the Thai Elephant Orchestra, that is. Just like their human counterparts, the percussion-heavy elephants composing the troupe must endure make-or-break auditions and the occasional scuffle between members. You can ease away those midterm woes by tuning into their chill vibes, here.

Professor Steve Feiner, often accredited with coining the term “augmented reality,” forecasts a day when advanced eyewear will stream Internet feeds directly into our eyes. We just hope the spills of oblivious freshmen on the steps of Low continue to remain entertaining.

Recent findings by a team of Columbia scientists hope to bolster the survival of endangered species by paying more attention to local populations. For New Yorkers, this translates to “save the whales, stop feeding the squirrels.” We think they would approve of the whales’ recent reported comeback.

A project led by Professor Keren Bergman aims to redirect fiber optic traffic in the hope of making the Internet substantially faster. Hopefully, more reliable Wi-Fi in Butler?

Neuroscience graduate student Carl Schoonover was recently featured in Smithsonian magazinefor his published book Portraits of the Mind. The New York Times and others have lauded the book for its illustrious tribute to humanity’s continued fascination with the brain.

BunsenBwog

Scientists-saving the world one soybean product at a time

When they’re not rocking out or helping the community, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Northside Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

  • Know what’s the surest way of getting into Columbia’s top-rated Medical School? Watson, the latest supercomputer and reigning Jeopardy champ, apparently does and will soon be flexing its HAL-like powers to diagnose patients.
  • Scientists from Columbia’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) think Saharan dust storms may contribute to Africa’s rampant meningitis outbreaks. Meanwhile the rest of Columbia, still not quite sure how to help, has offered to add their own “-pocalypse” suffix to Africa’s endemic storms.
  • A Columbia psychiatrist reasons that solar flares like the ones from last week’s display could be throwing off your mood. One way or another, the recent weather has been nothing short of a tearjerker.
  • A 30-year epidemiological study conducted in part by Columbia researchers reveals a link between folic acid intake and a lowered risk for mouth cancer. Luckily for residents of Morningside Heights, the biweekly Greenmarket delivers farm-fresh vegetables rich in folic acid.
  • With potential treatments for Alzheimer’s just a few years away, researchers at the uptown Taub Institute have identified the transport protein SORCS1 as a possible mechanism for amyloid beta accumulation. Columbians that read the Odyssey may recall the lotus flower, which had similar amnesic effects but carries plenty more wit at alumni cocktail parties.
BunsenBwog

Science is nuts.

When they’re not rocking out or helping the community, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by our Northside Correspondent Ricky Raudales.

  • In light of recent findings, a Columbia psychiatrist predicts that only about fifty percent of antidepressant users are medically diagnosed with a relevant condition. Bwog reminds you that your frat’s armchair psychologist should not be prescribing you medication.
  • Collaborating with Harvard, Columbia researchers have announced that iPS stem cells are effectively identical to conventional hESCs stem cells. With this Columbia hopes to move a step forward in solving its rodent problem—that is, by creating hundreds of Hawkma clones.
  • Call it the “Year of the Higgs.” Columbia physicist Gustaaf Brooijmans will cohost a webcast on the CMS and ATLAS projects, marking the long-awaited revival of CERN.
  • According to a comprehensive study of Manhattanites, consumers of diet soda had a 61 percent elevated risk of heart attack or stroke over a nine-year period. As spring not yet sprung (nor waltzed), Bwog thinks you should try a more appropriate beverage anyway.
  • One campus climatologist vouches for the severe weather predicted for New York over the next century. With that said, we predict next year’s snow season may see the likes of a Snowpocalypse 3, giving rise to many a snow phallus.
BunsenBwog: Everyone Walk The Dinosaur
photoshopped by zach!

Talk about a "Distant Origin"

Back from Bacchanal? Get back in the spirit of science with more far out stories of the hubris of man, brought to you by your paleontologist pal Zach Kagan.

There comes a point in the career of any great scientist where he or she can get away with a lot. Legendary chemistry professor and arbiter of first year orgo, Ronald Breslow, knows exactly what position he’s in, that’s why he concluded his most recent paper with a paragraph describing “
advanced versions of dinosaurs” that may have evolved on other planets. His statements have attracted media attention, to to the point where space dinosaurs are the biggest science story coming out of Columbia this week. See, Breslow’s been interested for years in the origins of life on Earth, with his personal belief being that life was seeded via a meteorite carrying biological material. The paper supported this theory, proposing that the reason most amino acids on Earth have left-chiralities and most sugars have right-chiralities (a term describing a type in asymmetry in molecular structure) is because those were the types present on whatever body seeded the earth millions of years ago. Breslow then speculates what life on other planets that have been seeded with similar molecules would look like, which is where he brings up the alien dinos. Of course evolution doesn’t work that way and life doesn’t inevitably go though a dinosaur phase. In all fairness, ol’ Breslow knew this and probably threw in the dinosaur bit to spice the writing up. Prof. Breslow, here’s a free piece of advice: next time throw in a line about zombies or vampires, then see how much media coverage your paper gets.
BunsenBwog: Brave Blue World

In this weekly feature, Man about Science Zach Kagan takes a close look at some of the fascinating things Columbia scientists are brewing in the labs.

In the last 50 years, scientists have found the universe is more wobbly then we ever imagined! (click this image to see it shake, shake, shake that hydrogen)

Last week Columbia’s own Brian Greene sermonized science across the nation in his latest PBS special “Fabric of the Cosmos“, where many a blue, shiny spinning thing appeared inside his hands. The first part of the special was screened in the Miller theater to an audience of eager physics fanboys and fangirls. Greene held an amusing Q&A session afterward, which is well worth a watch just to see how Greene handles awkward questions about UFOs.

  • But while some physicists are hobnobbing with the public television elite, others are in the lab, building stuff out of lasers ‘n shit. Professor Szabolcs Márka shows us all how science really gets done by building a light barrier that repels mosquitos. Márka has received over a million dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue his research to fight malaria. What does he do with that money? Raise an army of mosquitos in the basement of Pupin, of course! Saving lives has never so close to mad science.
  • new Columbia study shows the power that a gateway drug can have on facilitating addiction, but not the one you think. Nicotine is the nogoodnik here: mice that were primed with nicotine saw a much greater reaction to cocaine then regular mice. Nicotine reprograms gene expression so that mice are much more likely to become dependent on addictive substances. Science is important, but it’s a shame that these mice went to Columbia University just to get hooked on coke.
  • Here’s one for the com-sci majors! A team of Columbia engineers have developed a solution to the problem of ‘data races’ created in multithreaded programming. For the uninitiated, a data race is when a program’s success is dependent on what order things are completed by program. If the wrong thread finishes first the program could crash. The team’s new system fixes this by analyzing and planning the order that threads need to be executed. The breakthrough is important for the stability of multithread systems, whatever that means.
BunsenBwog: Diet of the Stars

Some galaxy somewhere

After a brief hiatus, BunsenBwog is back, bringing you the best science happenings at Columbia. This week, Bwog’s resident stargazer Zach Kagan discovers that when you stare into a black hole, it stares back into you.

While Columbians have been bogged down with hurricanes, blizzards and midterms, NASA’s plucky  NuSTAR X-ray telescope has been enjoying clear skies in orbit 550 km above Earth’s surface. BunsenBwog has been keeping close tabs on NuSTAR because A) it’s awesome and B) Columbia Engineers are responsible for the device that allows the telescope to focus and amplify X-rays as they are collected. Now NuSTAR has been directed at the center of our galaxy, to observe the massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. To be more accurate, it’s aimed at Sagittarius A*, a very compact radio-source that is thought to be a black hole.

However, Sgr A* doesn’t act like black holes in neighboring galaxies, which have a habit of gobbling up whatever star or gas cloud passes too close to their event horizon. That cosmic consumption results in temperatures of over 100,000 million degrees Celsius and massive emissions of radiation, but scientists haven’t seen the same behavior from Sgr A*. Then again, there’s been no way to directly measure the X-rays created during such events, until now. NuSTAR is already  collecting X-ray data from Sgr A*  which will allow astrophysicists to learn more about the eating habits of black holes. According to Columbia’s Professor Chuck Hailey, “astronomers have long speculated that the black hole’s snacking should produce copious hard X-rays, but NuSTAR is the first telescope with sufficient sensitivity to actually detect them.” Your sleeping and smoking habits after the jump