Today in research: a Nobel phone call, classical music weather patterns, space ship Earth, and sedentary iPad owners..
- The Earth is just a thing hurtling through space. This is one of those spaceship-like moments when a bunch of stuff is about to hit Earth's proverbial windshield: "As many as 750 meteors an hour are expected Saturday, as Earth travels through streams of dust and ice from Comet Giacobini-Zinner." Unfortunately, NASA relayed to the AP that the shower will happen between "3 and 5 p.m. EDT, so the sun will obscure everything" for United States viewers. But just imagine it. [Associated Press]
- Being informed of a Nobel Prize win is like hearing you won an Oscar--on the phone. As science's awards week rolls on, we've seen plenty of surprised honorees react to the news. But hearing about the win on the phone seems disorienting. Take, for instance, U.S. scientist Adam Riess who won the prize in physics and, as Ideas Market flagged, wasn't quite sure who the Swedish people on the line were: "Riess learned of the award in a predawn phone call. "I was home, and I was trying to sleep, and my 10-month-old was kind of yipping and yapping," he said. "The phone rang, it was 5:30, and it was Swedish-sounding people, and I knew they weren’t from Ikea." [The Washington Post via WSJ Ideas Market]
- There's less drinking and driving for some reason. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released an encouraging report saying that, on the whole, drunk driving is significantly down nationwide. "One possibility is that people are drinking at home more and therefore driving less after drinking," was CDC's director theory given to reporters. It didn't add up for Foreign Policy: "If Americans are getting their drink on at home to save money, shouldn't there be an increase in the sales of inexpensive beers?" [Reuters, Foreign Policy]
- The weather patterns that inspired European classical music. As highlighted by New Scientist, two UK researchers with a fondness for classical music have authored this paper compiling a "database of 35 works of Western classical music from Baroque to contemporary, sometimes relying on clues left behind by the composers." The idea was to trace the weather patterns that inspired these composers work, and they surfaced a few interesting details: "while those writing music in continental Europe more often evoked convective storms, marked by thunder and lightning, UK composers tended to portray frontal storms, characterized by wind and rain." [New Scientist]
- Newer, sadder excuse for not excersing: it's the iPad's fault. Just like every other flickering screen device before it, the tablet computer has been linked by research to a few depressingly sedentary statistics. As Jeff Bercovici flagged from a survey of 3,000 tablet owners: "19% say they are less likely to play sports since buying one, and 9% say they’re less apt to socialize with family or friends." This seems as good time as any to take a nice walk, no? [Forbes]