- A group of reasearchers around Lynn Sykes from Columbia University claims the earthquake risk in the greater New York City area is higher than previously assumed. In their recent publication in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (Aug. 2008, 98; no. 4; p. 1696-1719), they come to conclude “The probability of an earthquake the same size as the 1884 event during a 50-yr period is about 22%.” They add that the Indian Point nuclear power plant is unfortunately located:
“Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident to the plants. This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective. ”
[Via Spiegel Online, see also SciAm 60 Seconds Science]
- A note in the recent SciAm Mind issue titled “Call me Sleepless” claims (once again) that researchers have shown electromagnetic radiation from cellphones influences brain activity: “Neuroscientist Rodney Croft and his colleagues at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia strapped a Nokia 6110 cell phone to the heads of 120 men and women and then monitored their brain waves. When the researchers switched on the phone without the subjects’ knowledge, they saw a sudden power boost in the volunteers’ alpha brain waves.”
Since I recently had an argument with a friend about the issue (after I read Madonna sleeps with her BlackBerry under the pillow), I looked up Croft's website to find the relevant publication (not cited by SciAm), and found that his most recent study on the topic listed there (“The Sensitivity of Human Event-Related Potentials and ReactionTime to Mobile Phone Emitted Electromagnetic Fields” , Bioelectromagnetics 27:265-273 (2006)) explicitly states “As previous positive findings were not replicated, it was concluded that there is currently no evidence that acute mobile phone exposure affects [certain investigated indices] of brain activity.”
So you can leave the BlackBerry under the pillow. Anyway, warning of cancer risks, whether backed up by research finds or not, is always sure to get you into the headlines.
- Magnetic Movie: “The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries.” Awarded Best Film at Cutting Edge at the British Animation Awards 2008.
- I'm on my way to the Emergent Gravity Conference at MIT which is certain to be a very interesting meeting, and after I'm back PI will host “A Debate in Cosmology - The Multiverse”, the second 'Debate' in that series after last year's on the Arrow of Time at NYAS. This means however, I am unfortunately missing the SciBlog conference in London, which is too bad.
- Quotation of the week
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no
account be allowed to do the job.”~ Douglas Adams