skepticism Archive



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img September 30, 20113:49 pmimg 3 Comments

Liquid nitrogen: it's like getting iced, but... much worse.

The physics community’s collective world was recently rocked by the latest results from CERN, with some now claiming that they have measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. While the discrepancy is small (only 60 nanoseconds), it could force physicists to reconsider Einstein’s theory of relativity. Columbia’s go-to physics rock star, Brain Greene, remains skeptical: “I would bet just about everything I hold dear that this won’t hold up to scrutiny.” Ouch.

One million Americans suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but researchers have yet to understand its causes. Earlier studies suggested that the condition might stem from the XMRV virus or one of the related mouse leukemia viruses. However, recent data from patient blood work finds no correlation between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome. Mailman School of Public Health Professor W. Ian Lipkin is conducting his own study, though other faculty members such as Vincent Racaniello agree that “it’s clearly time to move on.”

The blood-brain barrier makes it impossible for doctors to intravenously deliver drugs to the brain. Or at least it was impossible until Columbia professor Elisa Konofagou developed a method using short ultra sound pulses to safely open the blood-brain barrier. Konfagou believes this method will lead to treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cue an updated Frontiers curriculum.

Graphene has already established a reputation as an incredibly versatile material, but things might just get even better—a new paper published by a large collaboration of Columbia professors and graduate students hints at an unplumbed frontier in the nitrogen doping of graphene. The embedded nitrogen atoms profoundly change the electrical properties of the graphene, albeit only in a two-atom radius, making it highly tunable and useful for electronics. That’s all well and good, but could it possibly be worth all those Girl Scout cookies?

IcyHawt image via Wikimedia Commons.



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img May 12, 20117:08 pmimg 7 Comments

We admit that, though still goofy, those T Magic signs has been around for a while. However, this perplexing sign outside Mel’s is brand new. Bwog can get down with Früli, but we remain unconvinced by watermelon beer. Gourmands and beer snobs of Columbia, give us your verdict!

Just looking at this makes you think of Double Bubble



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img March 08, 20075:37 amimg 70 Comments

Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible hit stores on Tuesday.  Bwog Music Critic Bryan Mochizuki looks quizzically at the hype. 

arcadeNME, the UK’s equivalent to Rolling Stone, recently called Neon Bible, Arcade Fire’s new album: “A record that – as much as London Calling or What’s Going On – holds a deep, dark, truthful Black Mirror up to our turbulent times.”

Language like this is usually saved for press releases (ie: “Jet’s new album combines the best parts of Sgt. Peppers, Zeppelin IV, and Oops, I Did It Again!”).  But Arcade Fire has the world’s media outlets actually talking like this.   

Besides having the closest thing possible to a consensus opinion among music writers, The ‘Fire and their Bible are being compared the greatest groups/albums of all time.  See, for example, our own New York Times: the review nods to Springsteen and U2, and in the Times Magazine feature, Clash comparisons run rampant. Coming on the heels of The Strokes, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and The Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire looks like the most recent resting point in search for the next Great Rock Band. 

There’s no use going into the quality of the album, as hundreds already got there first.  My question is this: can Arcade Fire really measure up to the hype?  To liberally quote the non- neon Bible: “Eat bread, quirky Canadian band, till thou returneth unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for blog-fodder thou art, and unto blog-fodder shalt thou return.”  In other words, while Arcade Fire may be a great rock band, they’ll never reach Great Rock Band status, because they rose on the shoulders of the music blog phenomenon.  Their core fanbase – music bloggers, blog readers, and people who are always looking for new-new music – is inundated with dozens and dozens of new songs and bands each week.  (more…)

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