Discovered: A new type of computer, gossiping is healthy, why even the rich stop spending during a recession, 6.7 million bat deaths and how fruit flies navigate.
- The future of computers. It might not look like as pretty as the latest Apple Macbook, but that silicon crystal those two scientists are holding above is the future of computing. Researchers at Princeton think standard computers have reached their limit. "We are trying to find a different way of doing computing, using additional degrees of freedom involving quantum computing and things like spins," said researcher Alexei Tyryshkin. The physics behind it sounds very science-y it us, but from what we gather, using that purified Silicon over there (right), these Princeton brains have sustained electron spins longer and better than any other attempt. Once science figures out how to manage and control these spins, we will have a super-duper computer that can solve the most complicated of problems. Take that, Apple. [Princeton]
- Of course gossip is therapeutic. It's not like we do it to fulfill some type of civic duty, but science has confirmed that we gossip because it feels good. "Spreading information about the person whom they had seen behave badly tended to make people feel better, quieting the frustration that drove their gossip," explained Berkeley researcher Rob Willer. But for those looking for some scientific justification for talking trash about others, the researchers say we shouldn't feel guilty for our habits because we do it for altruistic reasons. A central reason for engaging in gossip was to help others out – more so than just to talk trash about the selfish individual," lead author Matthew Feinberg. We'll take that. Gossip on! [Berkeley]
- Why even the rich stop spending during a recession. No it has nothing to do with empathy; it's about status. As we know all too well, the recession doesn't have the same effect on all. But during hard times, even those with money cut back their spending because they don't have to spend as much on what researchers call "nonessentials" -- dinners, fancy clothing -- to look like they have a better life than the peons. Vain. We'd continue spending exorbitant amounts on fancy dinners and outfits to match. [Journal of Consumer Research]
- 6.7 million bat deaths. Another day, another animal disappearance tale. From birds, to fish, to bees, the animals are dying en masse, including the bats. 6.7 million of them have died since a killer white-fungus was discovered 5 years ago. [The Washington Post]
- How fruit flies get around. This is embarrassing for us, as we have to use both Google Maps and our iPhone maps feature to get anywhere. But all the fruit flies need to fly across continents is the sky, specifically "using the polarization pattern of natural skylight," explains the study out of the University of Washington. Putting the flies in a magnetic field, researchers tracked their flight patterns, finding that the flies navigated based on different light patterns. For those interested, some video of the experiment. [University of Washington]