Just about every week, Bwog collects stories about some of the ground-breaking research being done here at Columbia or by Columbians around the world. For this edition of BunsenBwog, Zach Kagan collects all of the best holiday-themed research our scientific community has to offer. 

The Ebola virus

Bwog has been watching a bunch of scary movies in preperation for Halloween. Did you know that the virus in 28 Days Later was a mutated version of Ebola, which is already pretty much the most horrific virus ever? Oh, and the first filovirus, the family that Ebola belongs to, was just discovered by doctors from the Mailman School in Europe. It’s not turning people in rage zombies just yet, instead infecting Spanish bats… oh no, we can see where this is going.

When robots inevitably rise up and enslave the human race, we can at least take some solace in the fact that they will be pretty easy to mislead. After all, robots are notoriously bad at lying, so how hard could it… Oh, great. Comp Sci professor Julia Hirschberg has taught computers how to detect whether you are lying or not with 70% accuracy (while humans only guess correctly 58% of the time). If they can detect lies, how long until they can tell lies? Who’s side are you on Prof. Hirschberg?

Professor Vijay Modi has developed a sustainable energy model of New York City, which he can use to see what energy sources are used to power different areas. Currently each New Yorker consume the equivalent of 7 gallons of oil a day. Modi hopes his model can be used to create a more sustainable future than this one.

Stepping away from theorizing about the post-apocalypse, Columbia’s scientists have been real busy this week making waves while society is still standing. Nobel Prize winner Martin Chalfie was grilled by The Daily Show, exposing the corrupt underbelly of peer reviewed research. Columbia’s quantum guru Brain Green has a new PBS special, “Fabric of the Cosmos” which premiers Nov. 2. Finally, Columbia alum and UC Berkeley Prof. Richard Muller, a once famous global warming skeptic, has switched sides after undergoing a project to collect and review all the current global warming data.

One last loving tip for Halloween weekend from BunsenBwog: New research suggests that eating strawberries can protect your stomach’s mucus membrane from the harmful effects of alcohol. You could even work it into your costume, for science!

of questionable cuteness via ThinkGeek