Leaks from the Lab 9.22.2010

Experiment examines why scientific consensus fails to create public consensus

Scientific evidence has little sway over one’s cultural biases, according to a recent survey conducted by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School and the Center for Applied Social Research at the University of Oklahoma. In the study of 1,500 Americans, the researchers found that individuals were likely to discredit experts on subjects such as climate change and the dangers of nuclear power when the experts’ opinions disagreed with theirs.

Professor elected fellow of Biomedical Engineering Society

Biomedical engineering and chemical & environmental engineering professor W. Mark Saltzman was elected as a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the leading professional society for biomedical engineers. Saltzman, who research focuses on tissue engineering and on creating better methods for drug delivery, will be formally inducted Oct. 7 in at the society’s annual convention in Austin, Texas.

Glaciers may encourage mountain growth, study finds

According to a study published in the Sept. 16 issue of Nature, some glaciers in the southern Andes may shield peaks in the 25 million-year-old mountain range from erosion. Previously, scientists thought that glaciers ubiquitously eroded mountains to form valleys.

Yale physicists use lasers to cool molecules

A team led by researcher David DeMille has cooled molecules to temperatures near absolute zero, which may eventually lead to the use of individual molecules to code for bits of information in quantum computing, according to a study published online in the journal Nature. While scientists have used lasers to cool individual atoms, this is the first time that scientists have cooled complex molecules.

Frightened animals opt for sugary foods

Grasshoppers living in fear of being eaten by spiders tend to eat more sugary foods to boost their metabolisms, according to research done by Dror Hawlena, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. But when these grasshoppers die, their bodies make far poorer fertilizer than less fearful grasshoppers because their bodies are made up of far more carbon — the building blocks of sugars — than nitrogen, which is needed to enrich soil.

University mathematician awarded prize

Computer science and mathematics professor Vladimir Rokhlin was awarded the Maxwell Prize by the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for his work on the fast multipole method, an algorithm that speeds up calculations of the gravitational motion of objects in space. The fast multipole method algorithm has also been used for radar and molecular dynamics in chemistry. The prize carries an award of $1,000.

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