Study aid

Each week Zach Kagan, Bwog’s resident Lab Rat Wrangler researches Columbia’s hottest advances in science and breaks them down for the rest of us.

  • Even to seasoned physics majors the phrase “quantum memory” sounds like something coined by Deepak Chopra. It is, however, a real thing related to quantum computation.  The Air Force has awarded a team of universities, including Columbia, 8.5 million to investigate it. The goal is to develop new techniques to store, transmit and convert quantum data.
  • Good news for students who Facebook to help them get through that torturous problem set. According to new Columbia research, distraction actually reduces the amount of pain experienced. Not only that, the pain reduced by distraction adds up with pain reduced by a placebo affect. That means that the two operate via two distinctly different neuromechanisms, so they can be done simultaneously without interfering, leading to new techniques in pain relief.
  •  While frogs, beetles, and monkeys choose partners indiscriminately, birds tend to stay true to the one they love. Or so scientists have always assumed. Until, that is, Columbia evolutionary scientists found that most common birds, from sparrows to geese, will stray when the going gets tough. When the weather gets bad our feathered friends get promiscuous but it’s for good reason: multiple partners mean more genetic diversity necessary for passing on genes in harsh conditions.
  • Both Warfarin and Aspirin are widely-used anti-clotting medications and doctors have long debated the befits of one over the other. A new study from the medical school attempted to give an answer once and for all, but in the end they found that their effects are largely the same. The results show that neither medication is statistically superior to the other.
  • At Bunsen Bwog we save the best for last, but sometimes the best comes from outside of Morningside campus. Researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that being slightly drunk improves your ability to solve problems creatively– an assertion that has been tested by many cultural icons. Subjects were asked to drink vodka with cranberry juice, watch cartoons, and then perform creative exercises. We knew Don Draper had something right.

Inspiration via Wikimedia Commons