News for Nerds - The Left Brain Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 9/6/2013 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The Left Brain Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll explain how a building can melt a car, we'll learn about the future of passwords, and we'll show you why it's sometimes pretty easy to ignore your girlfriend. But first, here are your headlines.

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You've heard it before: logical, analytical people are left-brain dominant, while creative, artistic types are right-brain dominant. Sound familiar?

There's just one small problem. Science never supported this notion of left-brain vs. right-brain. In fact, thanks to a study from the University of Utah, science has debunked it altogether. It's not true.

Now, to be clear, different functions do take part in different areas of the brain. For example, for most right-handed people, speech emanates from the left side of the brain. However, that doesn't mean that brilliant speakers use the left side of their brain more than their right side. In fact, scientists tell us that it is the connections between all of the regions of your brain that allows for both creative and analytical thinking.

The left-brain / right-brain myth likely dates back to the 1960s, when research into the causes of epilepsy first revealed which parts of the brain were responsible for tasks such as language and math. But those findings were distorted over time, and despite never being endorsed by the medical community, the left brain / right brain myth has persevered among the general public.

This new study should help put an end to that. Scientists analyzed more than 1,000 brains, looking at activity in more than 7,000 brain regions and examining all sorts of neural connections. "We just don't see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected, or the whole right-brain network is more connected in some people," said the lead author. And I'm pretty sure he used both sides of his brain to deliver that quote.

- from LiveScience

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Here's an interesting question: who owns the moon? And can I buy real estate there?

The answer isn't cut-and-dry, but let's start with the Outer Space Treaty, signed by the U.S. and Soviet Union in 1967. The treaty states that no nation can own any piece of the moon or an asteroid. That line of thinking held for more than 40 years, but it might be in jeopardy.

An organization called the Space Settlement Institute is pushing for new laws that will allow space colonists and private industry to stake moon claims, start a colony, and build a business. They argue that because a corporation is not a nation, the Outer Space Treaty doesn't apply. (Of course corporations aren't nations; the Supreme Court has made it very clear that they are, in fact, people.) And private corporations do have a long history of settling new worlds, including at Jamestown.

It's unclear how this will play out, as there are differing opinions on both sides, and lots of money at stake. The Space Settlement Institute would like to see an open lunar market, while others advocate that the moon should be treated like Antarctica. (In case you're not familiar, the Antarctica Treaty designates the entire continent as a scientific preserve and prohibits any military or mining activity; 28 countries maintain research stations there, and their activities are subject to oversight by an international committee.)

For now, nobody owns the moon. I am not allowed to buy real estate there, despite the fact that interest rates are at an all-time low and my realtor says that the moon is in an up-and-coming neighborhood with a good school district and lots of open space.

- from Popular Science

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Here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:

  • A London skyscraper is responsible for catching carpets on fire, smoldering front doors, and now, melting a Jaguar XJ. How? Its concave shape and glass panels are reflecting light in much the same way as a magnifying glass would. If this sounds familiar, it's because a similar issue came up in Las Vegas a few years back.
  • If it sometimes seems like your significant other is ignoring whatever comes out of your mouth, cut them some slack. It might not be their fault. There's science afoot.
  • And finally, here's a story from the future. A startup company is working on a wristband that will recognize your specific heartbeat -- and which will then communicate with your other devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. The idea is that this could be the 'password' of the future, doing away with that four-digit code that is probably just your kid's birthday anyway.

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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