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Attachment Research Says It's Okay To Throw Pine Cones At Your Kids

I was at the park the other day throwing pinecones at my kids when a horrified mother asked, ...

Why Calvin's Dad Rocks At Explaining Science To Children

Gary Larson tapped into the universal absurd. Charles Schulz helped us identify with the underdog...

A New Kind Of Reward Teaches Intrinsic Motivation

I would like for my son, Leif, to play the violin. I’m a serious ex music geek and so in addition...

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Garth SundemRSS Feed of this column.

Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »

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Put a hand on your widow's peak. About an inch below your fingertips in your medial prefrontal cortex is the home of your sense of self. Julian Keenan, director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab at Montclair State University, did a nifty trick: He used what is effectively an electric Ping-Pong paddle to zap this region in healthy subjects, overexciting every neuron within range, and thus for about a fifth of a second, knocking that one-cubic-centimeter area of the brain off the grid.

And while he did this, he flashed pictures of faces. Blasted subjects retained the ability to recognize faces of loved ones or even learned strangers, but for this fifth of a second, they failed to recognize themselves.

So goes popular opinion: the lottery’s an egregious societal evil implemented and overseen by shape-shifting, blood-drinking reptilian aliens. And that may be largely true – designed to slowly and quietly bleed dry your pockets – that is, unless you learn to drive it.

Assuming drawings actually are random, all the science in the world can’t help you pick the winning numbers. But some fiendishly simple stats can make the dollar you put down likely to win back that dollar and more.

I don’t multitask. Or, I do it so badly that I end up dropping everything in a massive tangle of badness with me standing baffled at its center. This frustrates my wife to no end. She can balance on a beach ball while writing things in her calendar, listening to Radio Lab, text-messaging, and juggling chainsaws (it’s a neat trick — and also kind of hot). I hold that monotasking allows me to get a string of things done right, one at a time. Kristi thinks that multitasking is a prerequisite for inclusion in post-Stone Age society and that monotaskers should be rounded up and reprogrammed at underground government facilities.

Signals can tell cells to act cancerous, surviving, growing and reproducing out of control. And signals can also tell cells with cancerous characteristics to stop growing or to die. In breast cancer, one tricky signal called TGF-beta does both – sometimes promoting tumors and sometimes suppressing them.

A study recently published in the journal Oncogene details how tumors may flip the TGF-beta signalling switch, allowing doctors to delete the pathway entirely when it promotes tumors, and leave it intact when it’s still working to suppress them.

Last week I wrote a somewhat half-baked post describing simple numbers that parents can use to pick an elementary school (the first and second were solid!). This week, I called around to get experts’ take on the topic. Here’s what they said.