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(Comstock/Thinkstock)
(Comstock/Thinkstock)

SOCIAL STUDIES

When it’s really hot, violent crime rises Add to ...

Heat wave, crime wave

“Summer may be vacation time for most people, but for police in high-crime areas, it’s the hot time,” writes Anthony Wood of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Research in recent years has affirmed that the connection between heat and violent crime is more than lore. Even screening out other factors such as economic conditions, age, and education levels, heat in itself has been shown to be a significant contributor to explosive behaviour. … ‘As temperatures go up, you’ll get more irritable,’ said Kenneth Neuburger of Thomas Jefferson University’s emergency medicine department. How heat affects the mind isn’t as well understood. But once the body temperature reaches about 101F (38.3C), ‘your brain function decreases,’ said Dr. Neuburger. And, yes, you might make decisions you regret. One study documented that major-league pitchers are more likely to hit batters with pitches on hot days.”

Robots with feeling

“We’ve already created robots that are better at driving, cleaning, and detecting pollution than humans, so it was only a matter of time before they outpaced our sense of touch as well,” writes Mike Wehner of Yahoo!News. “The robotics masters at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering are working on tactile technology that allows robots to identify objects simply by grabbing them. Using a robotic hand modeled after that of a human, the scientists overlaid rubberized ‘skin’ capable of gripping delicate objects without crushing them. Using feedback from the fingertips – including resistance and friction readings – the robot can be trained to identify each item based on how they feel. … The feature could be used in the future to test consumer goods before sending them to market. Some day, a robot hand may judge the softness of your clothing, or even how ripe your vegetables are, before you ever see them in the store.”

Showers without water

“With inspiration from a friend too lazy to take a shower and a few months of research on the Internet, South African university student Ludwick Marishane has won global recognition for an invention that takes the water out of bathing,” Reuters reports. “Mr. Marishane, a 22-year-old student at the University of Cape Town invented a product called DryBath, a clear gel applied to the skin that does the work of water and soap.”

For indecisive eaters

“In kitchens across the world, nearly everyone does it,” says The Huffington Post. “Indecisive eaters stand in front of refrigerators with the door ajar, debating what their next snack will be and wasting electricity in the process. To make snacking procrastination more ‘green,’ Chinese designer Changhong has created the S. Home Refrigerator, a full-sized fridge that becomes transparent as you approach it. S. Home’s doors appear opaque from afar but, at a close proximity, contents in the fridge can be seen, much like looking through a glass door. The view allows you to choose your food or make a grocery list without having to keep the door open. The technology could have a big effect on energy use, as the act of leaving refrigerator doors open accounts for 7 per cent of household electricity use per year, according to Home Energy Magazine.”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

“Scientific opinion abhors questions unlikely to be answered soon, whence the general belief that the origin of the Universe is now nearly understood.”

– Sir John Maddox (1925-2009), British science writer and editor

 

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