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Tuesday
Jan042011

2011-01-04: They did WHAT?

Test Tube Terrarium

Quick links from the past week of experiments in the World Wide Lab

Study: Living Near a Highway May Contribute to Autism Risk. I always wonder why people live near major roads, and my main conclusion is for convenience or affordability. I'm biased by loving in-town life.

Brigada Creativa Shop - Life Calendar: How was your day?: In the high-tech self-tracking world (the Quantified Self aspect of Think, Try, Learn), I think there's a definite role for this retro recording tool. Pattern recognition would be hard, though.

The Smartest Way To Find a New Job On Google: A brilliant experiment where a Alec Brownstein found a job in advertising by making ads that showed up as the first result when several big New York creative directors Googled themselves. He got interviews with nearly all of them, and a job. Total cost to him: $6.

Could It Be? Spooky Experiments That 'See' The Future: An ESP experiment by a famous psychology professor that suggests that "ordinary people ... can be altered by experiences they haven't had yet." The PDF article is here, with some critical responses from my hereos (The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) here. Makes you wonder why it took so long to find evidence for. Maybe multitasking has some benefits after all!

Families living an experiment in sustainability: An effort to create a "sharestead" where an older couple shares a house with a younger family to "mimic the multi-generational family structure of ages past." Wood stoves, rainwater collection, gardening, local lumber - an admirable and large personal experiment, no? Why not start with one of these things?

The Compact - Issue 007 - GOOD: Buy nothing for a year: barter, borrow, or buy secondhand for a year-food, drink, health, and safety necessities excluded. They say they've attracted 9,000 "acolytes," though I couldn't tell whether those folks were actually trying the experiment or not. Related: No Impact Project via the No Impact Man blog.

Behave and feel like young attitude reduces old age ailments: "A recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard revealed that people who dress up like young people are much healthier than those that act their age." This by Ellen Langer, author of the important book Mindfulness. An experiment for Halloween 2011?

BMW, Daimler experiment with upscale rent-by-the-ride: Alternatives to owning your own vehicle, especially for young buyers coping with increased urban congestion. My bias is that we're solving a symptom, not the underlying problem of a national car culture, sprawl, and public transportation that almost any other country would put to shame.

Chile's Grand Innovation Experiment: Instead of "government-sponsored (top-down) tech-cluster efforts," which the author claims have all failed, Chile is experimenting with importing entrepreneurs from all over the world.

The Reusable Cup Experiment: The author shares his experience in reusing a standard Starbucks cup. He got a week out of it, then bumped heads with a Starbucks policy of ... not reusing cups!

Experiment goes awry - and dish turns into an amazing meal: A nice example of a cooking accident that yields something new. I've been thinking for some time about the value of certain kinds of accidents, and (safe) ones in the kitchen are a classic. I wonder if many recipes are the result of unintentional experiments.

Schoolchildren announce bumble-bee breakthrough in top science journal: Describes a scientific paper published in the prestigious Royal Society journal Biology Letters by a class of 8 to 10 years olds. From the paper:

Students in secondary school routinely produce original works of art in their art lessons, compose original pieces of music in their music lessons and write original poems, stories and plays in their English lessons. However, except perhaps at A-level, it is rare for schoolchildren to produce original scientific research in their science lessons. Instead, they carry out the same "experiments" children have been doing for decades ... classic school science practicals. [And] while they may be useful for teaching some aspects of science, it is wrong to call them "experiments" because most students know what the results will be before they do them.

How could we set up schools to do actual science this way?

Reader Comments (2)

Thanks Matthew for this post. Alec Brownstein's job hunting experiment with Google is really ingenious. What a clever idea to get a job.
February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJob Description Templates
Thanks for commenting, Dan. I'm happy that you read this - I wasn't sure the They Did WHAT? experiment was useful to anyone :-)
February 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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