Plants glow for water, office humor rubs people the wrong way and girls gone wild on spring break.

Feed Me, Seymour.
In the future, when a farmer gazes out onto his fields to see his crops glowing green, he needn’t worry that he’s caught in an awful new M. Night Shyamalan film. Students at Singapore Polytechnic announced that they have successfully spliced a jellyfish gene into a plant, so the plant will fluoresce when it needs to be watered. The glow is weak—you need an optical sensor to see it—but the students hope their bioluminescent flora will help farmers develop better irrigation systems.

The Singapore students are following a newly popular line of scientific questioning: How can we find an excuse to make something glow? Other pioneers of “glowism” include the pig people and the mouse heart people.
(source: Reuters)

Nick Carter on Your Wall? Today, You Are a Woman.
Parents of adolescents have unwittingly handed over their fatherly and motherly duties to the likes of Lindsay Lohan and R. Kelly, and a new study says that may not be such a bad thing. Researchers John Maltby and David Giles have announced that a healthy bit of celebrity worship can ease teenagers through the transition to adulthood by creating a substitute for parental influence.

Teen idols can dictate how kids dress and what music they listen to, areas that were perhaps once ineptly covered by Neil Diamond-worshipping parents. They also found that celebrities serve as a point of common interest among groups of teens, allowing them to bond with their friends. The researchers did note that kids with fewer friends were more likely to be particularly celebrity-obsessed, and that girls between the ages of 14 to 16 who had an intense celebrity focus were less happy with their own body image. Fortunately for these sad teens, the scientists said these intense celeb-crushes usually disappear by the late teen years. Disappear? Obviously he hasn’t seen my ever-growing Devon Sawa shrine.
(source: Scotsman)

Incompetent Design
In half of the occasions when consumers return products to their manufacturer, the items are in perfect working order, but the consumer just couldn’t figure out how to set the darn thing up. In her thesis at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, Elke den Ouden investigated what causes product complaints and returns, concluding that many new electronics are poorly designed and difficult to operate. She found that the average American works on setting up a device for 20 minutes before getting frustrated and giving up.

When den Ouden cruelly forced product developers to watch average consumers toiling with their devices, the developers were shocked and appalled by the disastrous results. When den Ouden asked managers from the consumer electronics company Philips to use newfangled devices over the weekend, the managers returned with their tails between their legs. Untying the Gordian knot doesn’t hold a candle to setting up a DVD/VCR/TiVo machine. And you can’t just cut the machine. If you did, you wouldn’t be able to return it.
(source: Reuters)

Str8 M4M
Continuing in the “I-can’t-believe-someone’s-getting-a-doctorate-for-this” vein, Michael W. Ross of Malmö University in Sweden just finished defending his dissertation, “Typing, Doing and Being—A Study of Men Who Have Sex with Men and Sexuality on the Internet.” According to Vetenskapsrådet, the Swedish Research Council, Ross found that “[Ten percent of] heterosexual men, who have previously merely fantasized about it, take the plunge and have cyber sex with other men.”

Ross has interesting criteria for what makes a man heterosexual: “When I examined the data regarding the Internet and sexuality in Sweden, I understood that it was in fact a new space for sexual interaction, an ‘erotic oasis,’ that does not resemble other spaces for sexual encounters,” Ross said. He studied the phenomenon of “misrepresentation,” giving a false impression of yourself on the Internet and using the identity of the Internet as a limbo between fantasy and practice and the impact of the Internet on the creation of sexual cultures.
(source: Vetenskapsrådet)

Mocking Coworkers: Should You Do It?
For thousands of years, human civilization has struggled to produce the finest racial humor, “yo momma” jokes and playful jabs at religion. But the quest for perfection may be a bad idea. Marshall University psychology professor Christopher LeGrow says that using these arts against coworkers might be “offensive” and “threatening” and funny people should “concentrate on circumstances” instead of people. LeGrow found many jokes at the expense of coworkers attacked weight, age, sexual orientation, race and religion. Over 40% of the 170 workers surveyed admitted to making fun of a coworker’s age or weight. LeGrow also found a strong consensus that death, disabilities, sexual harassment and race are not subjects with huge humor potential. Have these people never heard the inspired words of Mel Brooks? Quoth the master, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger; comedy is when you fall down an open manhole and die.”

LeGrow concluded men and women generally are sensitive to the same sort of humor; however, women are more offended by jokes about their physical features. He noted that workers were often offended by jokes intended to be humorous. “Workers recognize that humor can make an office a more pleasant place to work and, while acknowledging that humor sometimes can be negative, they still want a workplace atmosphere where people can joke and have a good time,” LeGrow said. That might be the least funny statement I’ve ever heard.
(source: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology)

You Will Never Believe This Study
A recent survey by the American Medical Association showed that college women drink on spring break and sometimes engage in “outrageous behavior” such as public nudity, dancing on tables, participating in drinking contests and maybe even having sex while they’re drunk. That’s right, your virgin daughters might be using higher education as an excuse to experiment with sin.

“Spring break is broken,” AMA president J. Edward Hill commented in a moment of inspired wit. Over 90% of the 664 women aged 17 to 35 surveyed said it was easy for underage students to drink on spring break. (The remaining 10% are believed to have a devastating genetic condition that caused them not to have mouths.) The survey also found 59% of women surveyed said they knew people during spring break that had been sexually active with more than one partner.
(source: Washington Times)

Originally published March 13, 2006


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