Category Archives: Miscellaneous

July 9, 2021

As Finland swelters in the summer heat, I started to wonder why exactly severe heat causes memory loss and overall cognitive confusion. An article in the Journal of Neuroinflammation suggests this is in part due to the activation of non-neuronal cells in the nervous system:

Together, these findings suggest that heat stress can lead to activation of glial cells and induction of inflammatory molecules in the hippocampus, which may act as causative factors for memory loss, neuronal death, and impaired adult neurogenesis.

May 13, 2018

The Weird, Dangerous, Isolated Life of the Saturation Diver

When the divers finally come out of the chamber, the adjustment is both emotional and physical. They emerge pale and disoriented, like prisoners released from solitary, drained and irritable, body clocks out of whack. Tweddle finds it hard to train his body not to eat quite so much. He has to be on guard for waistline expansion since there are now strict body mass index guidelines for North Sea divers.

Hovey owns some land in the central Texas pine woods, and he usually spends a few days there alone before trying to reintegrate with the noise and chaos of family life. His kids give him a wide berth after a job, and he and his wife like to start dating all over again as a way to reconnect. It’s hard to shake the feeling that he is in suspended animation while in sat, even though life goes on. “My family is constantly trying to grow and be better versions of themselves,” he says. “Sometimes being away for work, I get left in the dust.”

A fascinating piece by Jen Banbury on what might just be the most bizarre job in the world.

April 29, 2017
March 2, 2016

Your Candidate in a Word

We looked at transcripts from the fifteen main presidential debates that took place between August 6, 2015 and February 13, 2016—six Democratic Party debates and nine Republican Party debates. From these transcripts, we created six candidate files (Clinton, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio, Sanders, and Trump) that contained all the words spoken by individual candidates during the course of these debates. Using a corpus analysis tool, we compared the individual candidate files to the corpus of all the debate transcripts during this period. This allowed us to identify words that were used more frequently by an individual candidate than by the larger group.

February 5, 2016

Three and a half degrees of separation

How connected is the world? Playwrights [1], poets [2], and scientists [3] have proposed that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else by six other people. In honor of Friends Day, we’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is 3.57. Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. The average distance we observe is 4.57, corresponding to 3.57 intermediaries or “degrees of separation.” Within the US, people are connected to each other by an average of 3.46 degrees.

Well, there we are. Not six but something closer to four. Or maybe even closer to three, given that the figure has shrunk each time Facebook—which continues to grow—has done one of these studies.

January 29, 2016

You know when someone holds a presentation and uses the word we when discussing something that could be done better? “We can improve here”, “we should not do this”.

In my experience, it always translates into “you, the audience”. Just because someone uses the collective we doesn’t mean the audience doesn’t see right through it.