Study Casts New Doubt on Superiority of Stradivarius Violins

Monday, April 07, 2014

So you think you can tell a fine Stradivarius from a modern violin without reading the label? If not, you're in good company: Neither can several professional violin soloists.

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New York Schools Most Segregated in U.S.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The most segregated schools in NYC? Charters, according to a new report.

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Transportation Nation

More Women are Cycling, and Bike Share Riders Are Safer: Study

Monday, February 10, 2014

A new bike study finds more women are riding bikes, and that Citi Bike users are safer riders than other cyclists.

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Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

Thursday, January 02, 2014

They're little flatworms that glide along riverbeds and perform miracles. Chop off their tails, they grow them back. Split them in half, they grow whole again. But chop off their heads, and not only do they grow new heads, but those new heads contain old memories! Whoa!


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The Takeaway

New Study Shows Damaged Products Less Likely to Be Recycled

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does a dent in a soda can or a crumpled piece of paper affect people’s recycling habits? As it turns out, yes. According to a recent study by professors at the University of Alberta and Boston University, what our refuse looks like may be a determining factor in whether or not we recycle. Jennifer Argo, co-author of the study, joins the Takeaway to discuss how people perceive waste and how re-branding recycling may help people to recycle more often.

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Study: When Judging Music Competitions, Looks Matter Most

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Participants in a new study — including highly trained musicians — were better able to identify the winners of competitions by watching silent video clips than by listening to audio recordings.

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Transportation Nation

Young Adults: We're Just Too Busy to Get Driver's Licenses, Says Survey

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Kids today: they just don't drive like they used to. There's been speculation as to what's behind the national decline in driving. Now, a new survey asked hundreds of unlicensed people just why they're not queuing up at the DMV. Here's what they said.

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Mice Puppets and Souls

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Lulu Miller ponders the idea of an afterlife, by way of a puppet show designed by psychologists...and some early childhood lessons about peek-a-boo and how the world works.

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Transportation Nation

GOP to TSA: Happy 10th Birthday, Now Get Your Act Together

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user redjar)

The TSA turns 10 today. In the past decade it has given the perennially maligned IRS a run for the money for most complained-about government agency. Now, Congressional Republicans are joining voters in the griping with a scathing report about the aviation security agency, part of the Executive Branch under the Department of Homeland Security.

According the GOP report out today, the TSA is a bloated bureaucracy, drifting steadily away from its mission of aviation security. Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.) chair of the House Transportation Committee released a joint majority staff report, "A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform."

"Since its inception, TSA has lost its focus on transportation security," the report reads. "Instead, it has grown into an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy," citing that the agency of 65,000 employees is larger than the Department of Labor. The report describes TSA staffing as "top heavy."

The report does not mince words in condemning the TSA as an agency more concerned with human resources management and political turf protection than proactive security planning. It calls on the TSA to audit screening operations and set screening guidelines "based on risk."

Last week, the TSA announced it would experiment with some risk-based screening. That could include, as the Congressional report recommends, using biometric identifiers for trusted passengers. It could also mean using intelligence information to rate fliers on risk levels, and embed that in a bar code on a boarding pass for example. When scanned, and pronounced "low risk" a traveler could be permitted to keep their belt or shoes on under one scenario.

Read the full report here.

No response yet from the TSA.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

The Benefits of Insurance

Monday, July 11, 2011

Medical reporter for the New York Times, Gina Kolata, talks about a new study from Oregon on the effects of Medicaid on patients. 

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Transportation Nation

When It Comes to Transpo Spending: Those Who Can’t Do... Study

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Boy studying, from the album: Miscellaneous. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine, ca. 1924. From the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) I thought there had been some Internet hiccup when I saw a news item saying that the Governor of Pennsylvania had ordered the formation of a Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. Surely this was an article from five years ago, I thought, before then-Governor Ed Rendell turned over every possible rock looking for transportation money. From 2007 through 2010, of course, Rendell tried to privatize the Pennsylania Turnpike, tried (twice) to toll Interstate 80, proposed raising the state gas tax, and suggested a transportation tax on oil profits—all unsuccessful.

But no. Pennsylvania's new governor, Tom Corbett, is creating a new commission, which he has ordered to give a final report by August 1. The commission’s recommendations, I’ll bet you a shiny quarter, will be to do many or all of the things Rendell already tried. A brand new report from the longstanding Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee, not to be confused with the new Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, already hints at all of these same funding sources: tolls, public-private partnerships, increased taxes and fees, and eventually a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) charge.

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Reports suggesting some combination of those solutions were already easy to find. There was, for instance, the January 2008 report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Then, a year later, there were the findings of the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. Most recently, the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform joined the chorus arguing for an increase in the federal gas tax (that choir consisting largely of think tanks and other parties who won’t actually have to vote on such a measure).

But the announcement of yet another study group in Pennsylvania, where an aggressive Governor spent an entire term beating his head against the walls of his state legislature and the toll-wary USDOT, feels like a particularly telling case of hemming and hawing. And it’s by no means an anomaly.

In Indiana, Governor (and potential Republican presidential candidate) Mitch Daniels seems to be punting on funding the last stretch of Interstate 69, the controversial “NAFTA Highway” that he has pushed as a cornerstone of his legacy. The state legislature passed a bill last week giving the governor and INDOT the power to enter into public-private partnerships for toll roads, but rather than wield that power now and risk a backlash, Daniels is allowing—you guessed it—a study committee to explore the various funding options. That committee will take its time: two years, just long enough for Daniels to clear out of the statehouse.

Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT: Pedestrian-on-Pedestrian Crashes Alarmingly Frequent

Friday, April 01, 2011

(Image: CC by Flickr user Professor Bop)

(Rufus Q Stripe, Transportation Nation) According to the first-ever comprehensive traffic study to include the category, pedestrian-on-pedestrian crashes are rampant in all five boroughs of New York City. The Department of Transportation study finds there were just over 38 million crashes in 2010 that involved two or more pedestrians and fewer than one bike, car, truck, train or other vehicle. The most dangerous times and locations, the study concludes, are the Lower East Side late at night, near Port Authority during rush hour, Flushing’s Chinatown on weekends and the Brooklyn Bridge during tourist season.

“Frankly, we were just shocked to find out that the average New Yorker is involved in 4.6 pedestrian-on-pedestrian crashes every year,” said Deputy Transportation Commissioner Gustav Andando, who requested the study as part of a broader campaign of data-based policy making.

“The national average walking speed is 3 m.p.h.,” he said, citing the US DOT's Federal Walking Adminstration.  “In New York, it’s way higher, at 4.4 m.p.h., so this is an especially dangerous epidemic for us here.”

Single pedestrian collisions with stationary objects were not counted, a controversial omission critics say biases the study towards the appearance of safer sidewalks and parking lots. “Thousands of people each year are bumped, knicked, mildly perturbed or worse because of completely preventable sidewalk traffic accidents,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Marchez who is calling for a version of the sidewalk lanes that were successfully piloted by perambulation consultants last summer.

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Stanford University professor of peripatetics Clifford Walker said, "our own research has shown a spike in ped-to-ped collisions, even hard ones, due to texting while walking, iPod shuffling while walking and other mobile electronics usage while on the go." Angry Birds, Walker says, is a particularly worrisome sidewalk scourge.

The detailed DOT study maps out the most dangerous intersections, narrow doorways and train platforms. However, the DOT excluded city parks because the rate of intentional pedestrian collisions there was corrupting the broader message of the data: nobody likes getting bumped into.

For a similar reason, the DOT says, it excluded child-on-child pedestrian collisions. “The number would have been even higher if we had included kids under six. Man do they get in a heap of P-on-P crashes every day,” said DOT statistician Marge N. Overa. “Counting that, wooo, I wouldn’t wish that on any DOT assistant ambulation analyst. No way.”

A high placed official in the Mayor's office, who asked not to be named due to the increasingly contentious and politicized nature of pedestrian-on-pedestrian collisions, stressed that city streets are still pleasant to walk on, and people should not change their commuting habits. “Walking is still safe in New York. In fact, survival rates of pedestrian-on-pedestrian collisions are in the upper 99th percentile thanks to modern medicine, the nature of walking, and what with people being much softer than cars are."

"This is still the safest large city in America," he said.

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Transportation Nation

STUDY: NJ Gov's Decision to Kill ARC Tunnel Growing More Popular with Time

Thursday, December 09, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) NJ Governor Chris Christie keeps getting more support from voters for his decision to kill the trans-Hudson transit tunnel, according to a study released today by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Christie took a stand against what he called wasteful spending in October when he killed the ARC transit tunnel that would have doubled NJ Transit capacity across between New York and New Jersey. At the time it was the biggest infrastructure project in the nation. The federal government wants $271 million back for what they spent on it. Christie's decision made him the darling of fiscal conservatives craving firm budget belt tightening. In New Jersey, just barely half of voters, 51 percent, supported his decision at the time. That number has grown to 56 percent according to the Rutgers poll.

“It is clear that across New Jersey, residents continue to support the governor’s decision to cancel the project,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers poll and professor of political science at Rutgers said in an emailed statement.

The poll also asked about a proposal to extend the New York City #7 subway line across the Hudson river, finding 74 percent of respondents—all New Jersey residents—support that concept. That project is only an idea at this point, without an official price tag, and would likely involve New York City paying a portion of the cost, something that was not the case with the ARC tunnel. Full study and statistical fun after the jump.

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Exercise Will Set You Free. Not!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Ask anyone the best way drop a few pounds and chances are you'll hear that if you exercise, you'll lose weight. But many adults who exercise at the gym or run or bike say their weight has remained the same year after year. A Time Magazine article says the basic problem is that while exercise burns calories, it can stimulate hunger. WNYC's Amy Eddings interviewed John Cloud who wrote the article.

Amy Eddings: First of all, you have got to be kidding me! No! For years we've been hearing that key to weight control was diet and exercise, diet and exercise, like peanut butter and jelly, together forever, one linked to the other -- and you're telling me now, no?

John Cloud: Right and let me just begin by saying exercise is not completely useless, in fact you want to exercise for all kinds of reasons for your heart health, for your mental health for your joints.

Eddings: But we want to get thin, John, we want to get taut.

Cloud: In terms of weight loss and exercise, there are a couple things going on. One study I quote at length in this story was a study with a group of women in Louisiana and Texas, 464 women who were recruited to exercise three to four times a week with a personal trainer. Their exercise was very carefully calibrated, their heart rates were measured. This was a serious exercise group. They were followed for six months. Their diets didn't change. In fact, they were told, 'Maintain your standard diet and everything'. They compared this group to a group of women who didn't exercise. All they did was fill out monthly forms detailing any medical symptoms they had.

At the end of the six months, they found that the women who exercised had lost no more weight than the women who all they did once a month was think about their health and their diets. They filled out these forms, which had the effect probably of causing them to eat a little bit less, so that they lost a little bit of weight, too.

The person who runs the study calls this phenomenon 'compensation.' Whether because you are hungrier or you reward yourself when you get home, you tend to eat more when you exercise a lot.

Eddings: If you rule out compensation. if people get honest with themselves and stop overeating after a hard work out, then does exercise help?

'In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,' Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher.

Cloud: Sure, but we're not really built very well to do that. You know a lot of people have this up and down roller coaster thing with their weight. They'll either go on a diet or they'll adopt some exercise regimen. In the year 2000, these psychologists published a pretty well-known paper in psychology circles about self control. They observed in this paper that self control is like a muscle. If you go out and go running for an hour, it's going to be much harder to get back home and make decisions about anything really, but particularly about food. You've already done this great thing for yourself. That's just kind of how we're built psychologically.