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Friday
Mar112011

2011-03-11: They did WHAT?

Test Tube Terrarium

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

The Fish Pond: Vazquez's velocity increasing: I don't follow sports, but "experiment" comes up constantly in that context. In this case, pitcher Javier Vázquez is reported to have changed his form to use his lower body more. It seems to be working: "On Wednesday against the Nationals, Vazquez was clocked at 90 and 91 mph, after he was about 87 mph in his first outing." What's interesting is that experimentation is prevalent in sports (and probably has been forever), and that there are straightforward metrics for evaluating impact.

Facebook experiments with streaming movies: In "Tell me, Betty. Has your husband always been..." I mentioned Amazon's recent addition of instant video to their Prime program. Well apparently Facebook and Warner Bros. Pictures are getting into the spirit with an experiment to offer The Dark Knight for 30 Facebook credits (AKA $3). From the Think, Try, Learn perspective, this highlights how experiments can impact others. In this case, Netflix Investors Spooked By Facebook Video Experiment. Of course our personal and group experiments don't have this kind of massive impact, but they do affect those around us. Relationship experiments in particular come to mind.

Plastic-free experiment an eye-opener for Kanata family: Here's an experiment I admire, and that anyone could try. A family of four stopped buying things containing plastic. Wow! Given that nearly everything has - or is wrapped in - plastic, it's a challenge. The article mentions what we eat, what we wear, and how we wash and brush our teeth. It also shows the power of experimentation to change behavior, in this case naturally using much less plastic.

I was pleased to find recent stories on killing your TV (or at least not paying for it), such as What it's like to cut the cord and stop paying for TV and Savings Experiment: Cutting the Cord on Cable's Pricey Monthly Bill: We've not had cable for years, which I admit gives me an embarrassing and smug sense of superiority, along with the more humble satisfaction of not rewarding crappy programming by paying for it. That said, for us the experiment wasn't difficult because we haven't spent the time to find a series that we like.

In this Book review of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, the author mentions some fascinating experiments, such as the 1995 "sweaty T-shirt experiment":

By getting 44 men to wear T-shirts without deodorant for two nights and then having women sniff them, Wedekind discovered that "women nearly always preferred the scents of T-shirts worn by men with MHC genes different from their own - suggesting that we can determine our genetic compatibility with potential partners simply by following our noses."

What I particularly like is the comment that the best science experiment is the kind that defies your expectations. Edison experiment, anyone?

Finally, what list of experiments could fail to mention Amy Chua's provocative Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (covered in Time's Tiger Mom: Amy Chua Parenting Memoir Raises American Fears)? To me, of course, its potential for experiments leaps out. So, I was pleased to see someone trying it out: Valerie Frankel: My Tiger Mother Experiment: Using Chua's Book as a Parenting Guide. Do you have any thoughts on this one? I haven't studied it yet.

Reader Comments (1)

[Comment from Facbook:]

Erik wrote: "FWIW... despite the title, that wasn't really a Tiger Mother Experiment... more of a joke by clever writer with happy kids. But yeah, experimenting is nice."
March 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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