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In the Headlines

June 2012

New York Daily News (June 11)

sunglassesResearchers come up with new definition of ‘cool’

What does it mean to be cool these days? Is it still the James Dean-like bad boy who flouts the law? What about the impenetrable colleague at work who oozes mystery and intrigue, or the fearless thrill-seeking adventurer friend? … But after analyzing the survey results of 1,000 participants from the Vancouver area, researchers from the University of Rochester found that respondents judged a person’s “cool” factor by traits like likeability, friendliness, attractiveness, confidence, and success. The study was published in the Journal of Individual Differences. “If anything, sociability is considered to be cool, being nice is considered to be cool,” said lead author Ilan Dar-Nimrod in a statement.  (Also Reported in: ABC News, Daily Beast, Yahoo! News, Globe and Mail, Psychology Today, and others)

UPI (June 8)

Combat brain injuries linked to PTSD

Brain injuries so subtle they’re detected only by a very sensitive scan may predispose combat soldiers to post-traumatic stress disorder, U.S. researchers say. Lead author Dr. Jeffrey J. Bazarian of the University of Rochester Medical Center said the nature of the interaction between traumatic brain injury and PTSD had been unclear until now. “Most people believe that, to a large extent, chronic stress from intense combat experiences triggers PTSD,” Bazarian said in a statement. “Our study adds more information by suggesting that a physical force such as exposure to a bomb blast also may play a role in the genesis of the syndrome.” (Also Reported in: Science Daily, Business Insider)

Philadelphia Inquirer (June 1)

Babies are born to learn

Researchers are calling it the “Goldilocks Effect”: Turns out that babies’ brains are wired to focus on “just right” experiences and information to help them learn. In a fascinating new study from the University of Rochester, 7- and 8-month-olds quickly lost interest in video animations of balls, pacifiers and colorful boxes that were too ho-hum predictable or too complex. But they were riveted by those that held some surprises – like a ball appearing from behind a new set of boxes.

Fast Company (June 26)

How To Avoid Toxic Chemicals? Drop Out Of Modern Society

BPA, as we have mentioned many times before, is a potentially toxic endocrine-disrupting chemical compound that’s virtually impossible to avoid in modern life. It’s found in soup can linings, plastic-packaged foods, medical devices, and dental sealants, among other places. Even if you vigilantly avoid all things plastic and canned, you’re not in the clear – BPA is also found in store receipts. And yet, there is at least one community of pregnant women that have shown significantly lower levels of BPA and phthalates (a toxic group of industrial chemicals used to make PVC) in their urine than those of other pregnant women in the U.S. Meet the Old Order Mennonites (OOM). Researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine selected a group of 10 OOM pregnant women from a Western New York community and collected a single sample of urine from each. The women were also quizzed on their habits 48 hours before the urine collection, including stress, water sources, daily transportation, personal hygiene products, cosmetics, household cleaners, and more.  (Also Reported in: Mother Jones, Science Daily, Good Magazine)

Wired (May 31)

‘Schrödinger’s Hat’ Uses Invisibility to Measure Quantum World

"Conceptually, a Schrödinger's hat is like an invisible battery. It captures a tiny bit of energy without fiddling with the [energy] waves so you can later get a measurement," said Allan Greenleaf, a mathematician at the University of Rochester. Greenleaf co-authored a study of the Schrödinger's hats published May 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If you're trying to image something at the nanoscale, say a computer chip or nanodevice, you might get very close to it without disturbing it," continued Greenleaf.  (Also Reported in: Science 2.0, Science Daily, Research & Development)