"If you have to ask, you don't want to know" - a scientist

When they aren’t whispering stories in our ear, Professors enjoy cooking up knowledge in the lab. In this weekly feature, Propugnator Scientiae Zach Kagan gives the low-down on what scientists at Columbia have been up to.

  • In a new experiment neutrinos are detected to be still traveling faster than the speed of light. That’s right, the not-sure-if-trolling team of OPERA scientists from Gran Sasso, Italy have repeated their experiment and got the same results. Another Gran Sasso team have refuted the “superluminal” claims of OPERA with their own experiment. Now Bwog doesn’t know what to think, but at the very least be kind to you physics prof., that’s one hell of an existential crisis.
  • Any good professor knows that if you need something done, you can get someone to do it for you. Usually that someone is a grad student, but in this case it’s bacteria! Engineering prof Scott Banta is working on creating microbes that will eat CO2 and ammonia waste and crap out sustainable biofuels. On a related note, why not honor our monocellular friends by giving a giant microbe plushie this holiday season? I hear salmonella is popular.
  • If any of you southwesterners are nostalgic for the Dust Bowl era, it might be your lucky day. For everyone else, not so much, because according to Richard Seager of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Dust Bowl conditions “will become the new climatology of the American Southwest.” After conducting 19 different climate simulations, the team concluded that extreme droughts will be commonplace in the coming decades. Coulmbians from the southwest, now might be good time to move, or at least brush up on your Steinbeck.
  • In past BunsenBwogs we have talked about how W. Ian. Lipkin is a stone cold pathology fightin’ badass. Well, turns out disease never sleeps and neither does Professor Lipkin. This time he’s got Kawasaki disease in his sights. Kawasaki affects young children and causes inflammation of blood vessels, but the origins of the disease are a mystery. The latest theory is that particles of dust in the wind carry the infectious agent across Asia, so Lipkin and his team are sequencing dust samples from all over Japan to find the culprit.
  • If you’re from outside the tri-state area then you are well aware of the TSA and its shenanigans in the name of safety. Well, if you’re heading out on a plane back home this holiday season you better pack an extra set of lead underpants: Columbia’s Dr. David Brenner believes that X-Ray body scanners not only let TSA agents see you in the buff, but also may cause up to 300 extra cases of cancer a year.
Devious device via wikimedia.