The NYT Social Media team pulls the curtain back on how Twitter works for them with detailed examples of how changing text and descriptions and focus in their short messages resonated with readers, and which fell flat. Really interesting bit of transparency on their process, and results.
"Is organic produce better for you?" is a simple question asked by a middle schooler in a science fair. Using fruit flies fed organic vs. conventional produce, Ria Chhabra tracked the flies and saw improvements based on their diet. Now barely a sophomore in high school, the project lead to university research labs, science fair awards, publication in top-tier peer-reviewed journals, and quite likely, scholarships at her pick of top-flight universities.
Nova Science Now recently ran a segment on lightning (quicktime, real, and windows video here). I figured that subject was over and done with shortly after Franklin flew a kite, but it turns out we don't really know exactly what causes a bolt to start. The coolest part of the segment was these researchers in Florida. Scientists know how hard it was to observe, monitor, and even find lightning bolts, so these guys built their own rig. High-powered model rockets attached to a couple thousand feet of wire, which is grounded to larger metal structures on the ground. The result? Shoot a rocket into a storm cloud and you get instant lightning you can count on, measure, and control.
The Extreme Gravity Racing Series: featuring cars from Porsche, Volvo, and mazda among others. Yeah, it's basically soap box derby racing for adults. [via red ferret]
Scientific American has an interesting article on brand loyalty on the web. Researchers at MIT are concluding that people stick with familiar commerce sites. Even though the web is supposed to enable shoppers to choose from any site, they instead stay with their favorite, even paying more for the security and familiarity. The researchers also concluded that $20 off coupons and bargain deals aren't going to bankrupt top sites, because it's a considerable investment (from a user's prospective) to shop at a new commerce site, and the offers offset that cost accordingly.
Do we all need to get out more? Although they're putting the "too much time with computers, not enough social interaction" spin on this study's findings, there are actually some good results of it. Heavy internet users spend less time in traffic (because they look up traffic before going anywhere?), less time in malls (shopping online instead, duh), and less time watching TV (this is the best news of all, I barely watch it anymore because it's mostly inane garbage, whereas on the internet, I can find interesting things to read and enjoy). As for the less face time with friends and family, I have a growing number of friends online that I consider to be as close as any Real Life friend could be.
NASA scientists are successfully growing heart tissue in bioreactors. Need a kidney? No prob, need a heart? Got one. With tech like this, I should probably take up smoking!