Discovered: An HIV prevention treatment is crowned "Breakthrough of the Year," women govern just as poorly as men, two-year-olds have real memories, what makes teens nerdy, and Microsoft Kinect in space.
- Presenting the scientific "breakthrough of the year." The Internet isn't the only one that gets to reflect on the year's best (and worst) contributions. Scientists like to judge, too. The brains over at Science have settled on an HIV treatment as their "Breakthrough of the Year." Back in August, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of an exciting study that proved treating aids with antiretroviral drugs, which reduce HIV levels in an infected person, can also prevent transmission of the virus. "Because of HPTN 052's profound implications for the future response to the AIDS epidemic, Science has chosen it as its Breakthrough of the Year," writes Science. The world isn't totally doomed! [Science]
- Women aren't better politicians. As male politicos tweet pictures of their penises and go around (allegedly) sexually harassing women, female politicians at least look like the more moral choice. Looking at female mayors, a new study refutes that, finding that gender did not effect policy outcomes such as municipal spending and employment, or crime rates. Some have argued that women have better personal characteristics for governing, as they are not "prisoners of their testosterone and libido." Turns out neither testosterone or estrogen has anything to do with the ineffectiveness of most politicians. [National Bureau of Economic Research]
- Watch what you say around your kids: They will remember. Two-year old children are pretty helpless humans. This might lead parents to believe that their kids don't understand or retain anything from such a young age, leading them to do inappropriate things -- swear, pick their nose, have sex -- in front of these babies. Even previous research had suggested that kids didn't start forming memories until about 3-years-old. And, they even gave it a scientific name: "childhood amnesia." Turns out that youngins can actually form solid memories from as young as 2 years of age, found a New Zealand study. While only a third of the kids in the trial accurately recalled events from those young years, parents might as well expect all kids to have the cognitive abilities of Mikey. [iO9, Child Development]
- Teens that are friends with their parents are also probably nerds. Ok, so that's not exactly what the research found. But a group of scientists figured out that teens who openly discuss viewpoints with their parents better resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink. We all know the coolest kids are either pressuring or being pressured to participate in illicit behavior. So, we guess, talk to your kids if you want them to have zero friends.
- Using video-game technology in space. Maintaining one's figure in space is tough. Traditional scales don't work and due to pressure and other space-related stuff, astronauts can lose up to 15 percent of their muscle mass. To stay on track, space folk work out a lot. As for the weighing conundrum, as of now astronauts still use technology thought up in 1965. An Italian researcher, who presumably plays a lot of video games, figured out that Microsoft Kinect's "depth sensing abilitiy" can create a 3D model of an astronaut, which can help calculate someone's weight in space. Good news for the image conscious frontiersman.