Skip to content

This Week in Science 2017–09–10


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2017/09/10

“There’s nothing particularly alarming about the aroma of acetophenone, a chemical whose sweet smell reminds people of almonds.

But for a set of mice in Atlanta, it became a source of fear. Brian Dias of Emory University repeatedly let them sniff the chemical, then gave them mild electric shocks, until the mice learned that the smell was a sign that something bad was about to happen.

But the real news came a generation later. The offspring of that first group of mice also reacted in fear at the smell of acetophenone, even though they had never experienced an electric shock themselves.

And their own offspring — now two generations removed from the shock experiment — also inherited a fear of the distinctive smell.”


“Women at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival are donning their lab coats and space suits, and wrestling with cryogenic freezing, GMO apocalypses, atomic particles, and neurobiology.

Female characters are delving deep into sci-fi and science — a sign, perhaps, that women have fully busted into these once male-dominated fields in force?

“I find that in the science and technology world there is quite a bit of the attitude — even in very progressive fields — that women aren’t good at science,” says Mily Mumford, whose Fringe solo show Distractingly Sexy is precisely about that topic. With an undergrad degree in neurobiology and a master’s in interactive technology, the multitalented Vancouver actor and playwright behind sci-fi–happy works like Frankenstein, 1945 andGeneration Post Script is speaking from experience. “It’s been dominated by males for so long they believe women can’t do it — even though neuroscientifically there’s no difference in the brain.”


“The sting of rejection doesn’t just linger, it leaves us writhing emotionally — often as we challenge the healthy upper human limits of carb loading. Still, not all heartbreak is created equal. With regards to unrequited feelings, there is a hierarchy of suck and science can prove it.

new study out of Cornell University examined two types of rejection to see which was more crushing, being rejected or being rejected for somebody else. And yes, the latter hurts more, by far. The authors write that “while nobody likes to be rejected, these rejections vary and some feel worse than others.” Something to trot out next time you’re competing with friends in the heart stomp olympics over a bottle of red.”


“After you hurt someone’s feelings or do something wrong, it turns out that saying sorrymight not be the best solution. In fact, an apology might just add fuel to the fire, a recent study by researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Texas has found.

To assess the impact of apologies after social rejections, researchers approached thousands of people and asked them questions and had them participate in experiments. When asked to write “a good way of saying no,” 39 percent of participants included an apology in their notes with the belief that they’d lighten the situation. However, when they were put on the receiving end of these apologetic notes, they reported feeling more hurt.”


“As hundreds of thousands of students and academic staff return to their respective colleges and universities in cities and communities across the country, they are no doubt inspired by the famous words of Carl Sagan: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

Yet for nearly a decade, the government of Canada has failed to keep pace with other countries in supporting the pursuit of knowledge. Scholars, scientists and students wishing to pursue independent research have seen a decline of available resources of about 35 per cent. Canada is no longer in the top 30 nations worldwide when it comes to total research intensity.


“What are hurricanes?

Hurricanes are part of a family of storms called tropical cyclones — storms that rotate rapidly around a low-pressure centre and produce heavy rain and strong winds. If one of these storms hits a sustained top wind speed of 119 kilometres an hour and appears in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific, it qualifies as a hurricane. (Similar storms in the western North Pacific are called typhoons.) The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale goes up from there, through to Category 5, which has no ceiling and represents storms with wind speeds greater than 252 km/h. Anything from Category 3 and up is a “major” hurricane.

How do hurricanes form?

Hurricanes begin as atmospheric disturbances over the tropical waters due west of Africa near the Cape Verde islands. Typically, when sea-surface temperatures are above 26.5 C, water vapour from the ocean condenses and releases heat, which rises and generates an inward movement of air. The air begins to spiral toward the centre of the disturbance, which graduates to a tropical depression and then a tropical storm. As long as winds in the upper atmosphere do not produce a shear force to disrupt the system, it can increase in height and breadth until it reaches hurricane status, gaining strength as it moves westward toward the Caribbean and picking up energy from the warm Atlantic waters.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: