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December 5, 2006, 9:10 PM CT

Why We Buy Bad Gifts For Loved Ones?

Why We Buy Bad Gifts For Loved Ones?
This holiday season, another woman who loves the rock band No Doubt will receive a plaid skirt that only the band's singer, Gwen Stefani, could pull off. Another athletic guy will receive an oversize sports jersey even though off the field he prefers Brooks Brothers. Why are we so terrible at predicting the tastes of the ones we love? A new study from the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explains why familiarity with another person actually makes predicting their tastes more difficult.

Past research has argued that lack of diagnostic information causes this sort of misperception, but Davy Lerouge (Tilburg University, the Netherlands) and Luk Warlop (Katholieke University, Belgium) found that we buy unwanted gifts even when we have plenty of knowledge. In fact, we frequently have the most trouble understanding the tastes of those we know a lot about.

Not only do we feel overconfident that we'll pick something they like, but our tendency to assume that we are extremely similar to the ones we love also motivates us to ignore cues that don't support preconceived notions.

"Our results suggest that familiarity caused [people] to put an overly heavy weight on pre-stored information," write the authors. "The pre-stored information that people possess about their partner is extensive. This elaborate knowledge makes predictors overly confident, such that they do not even attend to product-specific attitude feedback".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 9:05 PM CT

Concerned About After-School Care

Concerned About After-School Care
Millions of working fathers and mothers are less productive at work due to concerns about what their children are doing in the after-school hours, as per a new study released recently by Catalyst, the leading nonprofit research and advisory organization working to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. The report, entitled After-School Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business, was conducted in cooperation with the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.

The study outlines a number of factors that contribute to employed parents' concern about the after-school hours (called "PCAST," for Parental Concern about After-School Time) and the consequences both for parents and their employers. Though a majority of working parents are faring well, the report finds that both men and women are vulnerable at significant levels to the negative consequences of PCAST, which potentially affects one-third of the labor force, based on census data. (1).

"Our findings show that PCAST can be very toxic to employee attitudes, work performance and well-being," said Karen Gareis, a social psychology expert at Brandeis' Women's Studies Research Center and a lead researcher on the study. "However, companies can help all employeesnot just parentsperform at their most productive level without breaking the bank. By giving employees greater job control and cultivating a results-oriented agile workplace,' companies can benefit their bottom line as well as their employees".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 8:23 PM CT

Nanotechnology's Potential Threatened

Nanotechnology's Potential Threatened Dr. Neal F. Lane
"Nanoscale science and engineering promise to be as important as the steam engine, the transistor, and the Internet, and have the potential to revolutionize all other technologies" as per Neal Lane, former science advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. "But that outcome is not guaranteed".

Dr. Lane made his remarks today at a Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The program marked the release of a new article in the December 2006 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, "What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology"".

"A recent poll by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies shows that while public awareness of nanotechnology is increasing, fully 69 percent of Americans have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology," said Lane. "More young people are seeing nanotechnology in advertisements for MP3 players than are learning about nanotechnology in schools".

"In my view, given whats at stake, this situation is unacceptable. I fear that nanotechnology may be heading for a fall. A major environmental, medical or safety problemreal or boguswith a product or application thats labeled nanotechnologywhether it actually is nanotechnology or notcould dampen public confidence and financial investment in nanotechnologys future, and could even lead to unwise regulation. We should not let this happen," stated Dr. Lane.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 7:32 PM CT

Not Everyone Enjoys A Murder Mystery

Not Everyone Enjoys A Murder Mystery
Not everyone enjoys a murder mystery with a surprise ending, new research suggests.

People who have lower levels of self-esteem prefer crime and detective stories that confirm their suspicions in the end, while those with higher self-esteem enjoy a story that goes against expectations.

"Personality plays a role in whether a person wants to be confirmed or surprised when they read mysteries," said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"People with low self-esteem like to feel they knew all along who committed the crime, probably because it makes them feel smarter".

But everyone seemed to enjoy mysteries where there were no strong hints of how the story would end, the study found.

Knobloch-Westerwick conducted the study with Caterina Keplinger of the Hanover University of Music and Drama in Gera number of. Their research was published in a recent issue of the journal Media Psychology.

Scientists know very little about what makes various forms of crime fiction popular or appealing to consumers, Knobloch-Westerwick said. This study is an attempt to find out more about how a classic genre of fiction appeals to different kinds of people.

The mystery and crime fiction genre draws large audiences, for example, with the "Law & Order" TV series and best-selling novels by John Grisham or Mary Higgins Clark.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 5:10 AM CT

Can the Stanley Cup playoffs harm your hearing?

Can the Stanley Cup playoffs harm your hearing?
During last year's NHL playoffs, Edmonton Oilers' fans tried to earn the title of loudest arena in the game, but new University of Alberta research shows that even a few hours of exposure to that level of noise can be harmful.

Bill Hodgetts from the U of A's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and Dr. Richard Liu, from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry measured the noise levels during games three, four and six during the Stanley Cup finals against the Carolina Hurricanes last year. Liu attended the games and wore a noise dosimeter near his ear every second of the entire game. No matter where he went in the building, the dosimeter would sample his noise exposure. The research is reported in the current edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The scientists observed that for the levels experienced in game three, it took less than six minutes to reach the maximum allowable daily noise dose. Or everyone at the game received approximately 8100 per cent of their daily noise dose without any hearing protection. "Given the vast numbers of fans that do not wear hearing protection to hockey games, thousands are at risk for hearing damage," said the researchers.

Most people don't consider the risk of excessive noise exposure when participating in leisure activities, say the researchers, even though such noise over a period of a few hours can be harmful. "The risk of hearing loss for those who attend hockey games frequentlyseason ticket holders, workers in the arena, hockey players themselveswarrants serious consideration," they write in the paper. Even the cheapest foam earplugs would make a difference.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 4:43 AM CT

Dreaming Of A Nanotech Christmas

Dreaming Of A Nanotech Christmas
Will parents put an iPod Nano or Head Nano Titanium tennis racket under the Christmas tree for their children this year? Will holiday revelers hang a Nano-Infinity stocking on their fireplace mantle for Santa Claus to fill? Just what does compel shoppers to either buy nanotechnology products, or avoid them because of real or imagined risks?

With over 350 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products available for purchase this gift-giving season (see:, and with $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods incorporating nanotechnology expected by 2014, there is a lot at stake in how these questions are answered.

The results of the first large-scale empirical study of how consumers consider risks and benefits when deciding whether to purchase or use specific nanotechnology products will appear in the December 2006 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The article's lead author, Steven C. Currall, University College London and London Business School, and a co-author, Neal Lane, Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and former U.S. Presidential Science Advisor, will report their findings at a program and live webcast on Tuesday, December 5th at 2:00 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ( The Nature Nanotechnology article is embargoed until December 5th at 2 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 4, 2006, 5:08 AM CT

Robotic Pets May Be Bad Medicine

Robotic Pets May Be Bad Medicine Sherry Turkle
In the face of techno-doomsday punditry, Sherry Turkle has long been a proponent of the positive. In her books, "The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit" and "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet," Turkle has explored the relationship between human and machine and found much to ponder and even praise.

But now the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self has a confession: "I have finally met technology that upsets and concerns me."

Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, outlined her concerns about the implications of increasingly personal interactions between robots and humans during a Nov. 20 lecture on "What Questions do 'Sociable Robots' Pose for STS?," part of the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS) fall colloquium.

Turkle, a clinical psychology expert, spoke earnestly and openly about her fears, acknowledging that some parts of her research "gave me the chills" on a very personal level and that she is "struggling to find an open voice".

A pioneer of the now accepted notion that "technologies are never just tools," Turkle set the stage with a discussion of her work on machines as "evocative objects" and "relational artifacts." She cited quotes from children about how they see robots. For example, she cited a 6-year-old describing his Furby: "It's alive for a Furby. You know something this smart should have arms. It might want to pick up something or to hug me".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 4, 2006, 4:49 AM CT

Coffee and tea brewing wands

Coffee and tea brewing wands Available at each at Wisdom Wands.
Here's a drinking concept for tea and coffee lovers that I've never seen before -- brewing wands that you use to brew your hot drink then use as a straw to sip through. Normally, you don't drink hot beverages through a straw (I vaguely recall trying to once or twice and burning my throat because I couldn't guage the temperature before it was too late). And then there's the straw melting issue with normal straws. Makes me wonder how much of the pleasure of drinking hot tea and coffee has to do with the sensation of sipping from the edge of a cup. But I do like the idea of brewing from loose tea leaves or ground coffee beans one cup at a time. And maybe drinking tea and coffee through a straw would be a nice change of pace.

The Java Wand is basically a mini French press filter attached to a glass straw. You add coffee straight into your cup of hot water, let it brew, add milk and sugar, then drink through the wand. The similar Health Tea Wand is a glass wand with a strainer at the bottom to strain your tea leaves as you drink.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 3, 2006, 8:58 PM CT

How Mirrors Can Light Up The World Guardian

How Mirrors Can Light Up The World Guardian
I have to admit that I am not up-to-date on the latest alternative energy solutions. However that said, I was surprised to find out the latest on solar technology. If this BBC article is accurate, then the solution to the energy crisis may be closer than fusion energy.

Again, I am not up on the technology here and do not know if the costs are prohibitive for these mirrors. Here is an excerpt from the article to get you started:

Most people in Britain think of solar power as a few panels on the roof of a house producing hot water or a bit of electricity. But as per two reports prepared for the German government, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa should be building vast solar farms in North Africa's deserts using a simple technology that more resembles using a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper than any space age technology.

Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.

Read the rest of this article at the Guardian link at the top of this post.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 1, 2006, 4:55 AM CT

Glucocorticoid, Skin Abnormalities And Stress

Glucocorticoid, Skin Abnormalities And Stress
Inhibiting glucocorticoid, a type of steroid, can prevent skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress, as per a new study from the recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. The new study also shows how psychological stress induces skin abnormalities that could initiate or worsen skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

The study, "Glucocorticoid blockade reverses psychological stress-induced abnormalities in epidermal structure and function," was carried out by Eung-Ho Choi, Marianne Demerjian, Debra Crumrine, Barbara E. Brown, Theodora Mauro, Peter M. Elias and Kenneth R. Feingold of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco and the University of California at San Francisco. Choi is also linked to Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea. The American Physiological Society published the study.

Prior research has shown that psychological stress increases glucocorticoid production. In addition, it is well recognized that psychological stress adversely affects a number of skin disorders, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

"In this study, we showed that the increase in glucocorticoids induced by psychological stress induces abnormalities in skin structure and function, which could exacerbate skin diseases," Feingold explained. This provides a link for understanding how psychological stress can adversely affect skin disorders. Blocking the production or action of glucocorticoids prevented the skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

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