Today in research: golfing has grey matter potential, gold is extraterrestrial, fall allergy season will be unbearable and a very clickable supercomputer headline.
- Plenty of things will shrink your brain. Golf isn't one of them. It looks like it bulks up grey matter, in fact. A new study from brain-scanning researchers finds that a case-study of 40 to 60 year-old beginning golfers had "increases in gray matter in parts of the brain" at a 3.5 to 5 percent clip, the Journal reported, also noting that it "reaffirmed the plasticity of the mature [i.e. older] brain." [WSJ Ideas Market]
- Different types of fiction will affect your mood accordingly. Earth-shattering stuff, right? The New Yorker points to two new studies, one showing Twilight and Harry Potter increasing empathy among undergrads and the other showing that aggressive literature breeds aggressive mentalities. "Those who read a fictional description of physical violence were more likely to punish an irritating stranger by making him or her physically uncomfortable," reported Miller-McCune. [The New Yorker, The Guardian, Miller-McCune]
- Impossible not to click on: 'Supercomputer predicts revolution'. Even though that BBC News headline is a little foreboding, the actual research that it's based on is just merely interesting. A supercomputer called Nautilus, based at the University of Tennessee, digested millions of archived articles (including the NY Times archive) and spit out certain patterns that could be used to help predict future events (Arab Spring and bin Laden's hideout were mentioned in the patterns). Lead researcher Kalev Leetaru told the BBC: "It is very similar to what economic forecasting algorithms do." [BBC News]
- News about fall allergy season: it doesn't sound good. Meaning, it will be more intense and last longer. "Ragweed pollen levels are surging and standing water left over from summer flooding and Hurricane Irene has increased the amount of mold, a common year-round allergen, in the air," ABC News confirms, coupling the weather report with dreary research finding that allergy season will be longer due, in part, to rising temperatures. [ABC News]
- Gold: it's not from around here. After testing some very old meteorite rocks, University of Bristol researchers concoted this theory that 4 billion years ago the Earth was peppered with meteorites containing traces of gold. Discovery News stressed that it's only one theory among many. We, however, are hoping a gold-infused meteorite harmlessly sails into our living room. [Discovery, Science Daily]