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What Does a Smart Toilet Do and Is It Worth It?

Men's Health

Turning more attention to the bowl is a boom in microbiome research that “has made it apparent just how important the organisms living in our gut really are,” says Joshua J. Coon, Ph.D., a professor of biomolecular chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Video games that teach empathy

The Washington Post

Research provides some support for this idea. In one small study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin created a game based on Jamal Davis, an imaginary Black male science student who experiences discrimination in his PhD program. Players took the role of Jamal Davis and experienced what he experiences because of his skin color. When questioned afterward, the players said they understood how he felt and could take on his perspective, indications that they felt empathy.

Fathers feed babies too — so why are they so scarce in media coverage of the formula shortage?

Salon

Co-authored by Tova Walsh, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network and Alvin Thomas, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Drones Being Used to Bring Defibrillators to Patients in Emergencies

NBC 4

“Time is really of the essence here,” said Justin Boutilier, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Survival from cardiac arrest decreases by between 7 to 15% for every minute that you go without treatment.”

Boutilier describes obstacles to emergency response —such as traffic or difficult-to-reach rural locations — as “the perfect storm.” He has been designing a prototype drone that takes off as soon as someone calls 911.

A Hotter, Poorer, and Less Free America

The Atlantic

Or the world could simply leave the United States and its kludgy economy behind. Gregory Nemet, a public-affairs professor at the University of Wisconsin and the author of How Solar Energy Became Cheap, argues that the world is now on track to transition no matter what the United States does. “There’s so much momentum right now in this clean-energy transition. It will still happen, but it will happen more slowly” if no bill passes, he told me.

Virginia Lottery’s Bank a Million draw yields surprising winning numbers

The Washington Post

“Is it very unlikely that the numbers would show up 13 to 19? Yes,” said Jordan Ellenberg, a math professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison who wrote about the lottery in his book “How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking.”But any other set of numbers is “equally unlikely,” Ellenberg quickly added, speaking by phone from his front porch in Madison. “On the one hand, it’s very striking. On the other hand, a very improbable thing happens every time the lottery numbers are drawn. Every particular outcome is very unlikely. Otherwise people would win too much.”

Calls to boost natural gas can’t ignore fuel combustion’s deadly impacts

The Hill

Then in mid-May, a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that eliminating pollution from fossil fuel combustion in power plants could avoid as many as 11,600 premature deaths in the U.S. every year, with an annual value of $132 billion. The researchers looked at five additional sectors: industrial fuel use; residential and commercial fuel use; on-road vehicles; non-road vehicles; as well as oil and gas production and refining. They found that exposure to the small particulates emitted by combustion in these six sectors combined resulted in 205,000 deaths in one year. And, due to the disparities in the siting of power plants and other facilities, the victims of this pollution are far more often low-income and people of color.

Blue Is Probably Your Favorite Color. Here’s Why, According to Science

Popular Mechanics

From Crayola polls to legitimate peer-reviewed studies, the BBC investigated the science of how we perceive color and found that not only do we adore blue, but our perceptions of color are shaped by our experiences. Highlighting research from University of Rhode Island associate professor Lauren Labrecque and University of Wisconsin psychology professor Karen Schloss, the BBC reports that our preference for blue is longstanding, and that we start to give meaning to colors as we age.

Are Iowa’s Democratic Days Gone for Good?

The Atlantic

“Individual people’s politics is so much more about who they think they are in the world as opposed to policy stances,” Kathy Cramer, a political-science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me. “It’s about ‘Am I being heard? Am I being respected?’” To have any hope of clawing back their former terrain, Democrats need to make voters feel like the answer is yes.

Glyphosate weedkiller damages wild bee colonies, study reveals

The Guardian

“Bumblebees are a vitally important group of pollinators [and] the new findings are especially important given the widespread global use of glyphosate,” said Prof James Crall, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, US, who was not part of the study team. “[Current] environmental safety testing is insufficient for identifying often unpredictable effects on behaviour, physiology, or reproduction that occur at sublethal exposures.”

How Could Life Evolve From Cyanide?

Quanta Magazine

Joining me now is Betül Kaçar. She’s an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the department of bacteriology. She’s also the principal investigator of Project MUSE, a major NASA-funded astrobiology research initiative. Betül Kaçar, thanks very much for being here.Betül Kaçar

Betül Kaçar (18:33): Thanks for having me.

Why the global economy runs on dollars

Washington Post

Ultimately, the question of whether the dollar will remain a global reserve currency answers itself. To misquote a famous authority on political economy, “A day may come when the dollar loses its central role as the dominant global reserve currency, but it is not this day.” It is not even this decade, and quite likely not even this century. It won’t even become a possibility until the E.U. becomes a true fiscal and political union — or until China develops an accountable liberal government and much more developed private financial markets and finally accepts the free movement of capital flows. None of those scenarios seems likely to happen soon.

Mark Copelovitch (@mcopelov) is professor of political science and public affairs and director of European Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is the author (with David A. Singer) of “Banks on the Brink: Global Capital, Securities Markets, and the Political Roots of Financial Crises” (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Foxconn Megafactory Flop Forces Wisconsin Town to Recast Its Net

WSJ

“Right now, it’s a giant white-elephant-type project,” said Steven Deller, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The water lines that they ran into it, the highway infrastructure that they ran into it, the electric lines that they ran into it—it’s all way overcapacity,” he said.

Why Ukraine and Russia Both Look to the Nuremberg Trials

Time

Of course, none of this is inevitable. History shows that it is the victor who gets to organize postwar tribunals. For Ukraine to bring Putin and his circle to justice, it will first have to win the war. There is also a dark alternative: a Nuremberg-type tribunal of Ukrainian leaders held by Russia. This would inevitably be a Soviet-style show trial—a kangaroo court that would degrade international law and could taint the meaning of Nuremberg forever.

-Francine Hirsch, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II(Oxford, 2020).

Foxconn Megafactory Flop Forces Wisconsin Town to Recast Its Net

Wall Street Journal

“Right now, it’s a giant white-elephant-type project,” said Steven Deller, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The water lines that they ran into it, the highway infrastructure that they ran into it, the electric lines that they ran into it—it’s all way overcapacity,” he said.

Gender Stereotypes In Hulu’s Baby And Toddler Programming May Have Lasting Effects For Kids

Forbes

Another problem with children learning these stereotypes at such a young age is that once stereotypes are learned, it’s nearly impossible to unlearn them. Patricia Devine, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained to Wisconsin Public Radio, “A lot of people sincerely embrace egalitarian values, but being socialized into our culture, they learn stereotypes very early in childhood, around age three, four and five. They’re firmly ingrained; they’re frequently activated, very well-practiced, and they end up being the default, or habitual kind of response.” She adds, “I’m not sure if it’s possible to unlearn them…I know I shouldn’t act based on the stereotypes, but it’s not as though my awareness or my knowledge of those stereotypes just goes away.”

Cutting fossil fuel air pollution saves lives

NPR

“These [particles] get deep into the lungs and cause both respiratory and cardiac ailments,” says Jonathan Patz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the authors of the study. “They are pretty much the worst pollutant when it comes to mortality and hospitalization.”

Living with Lead Creates Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbugs’

Scientific American

In December 2021 researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison reported that people with the highest levels of lead in their urine, especially those living in urban areas, were more likely to have antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their bodies, even after accounting for other factors that could drive up resistance. Their results, published in Environmental Epidemiology, are among the first to show this link within the human body. The study adds antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the list of harms visited upon people without much money or social resources, usually members of minority groups, who are most likely to live in these lead-contaminated areas. “It’s really an environmental justice issue,” says environmental epidemiologist Kristen Malecki, one of the study’s authors.

The Memo: Peace in Ukraine? Not anytime soon, experts say

The Hill

“You think you have a chance of winning, so why stop?” said Yoshiko Herrera, a Russia expert and professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She noted that alleged Russian war crimes and reports of thousands of people being forcibly deported from eastern Ukraine is likely to stiffen resolve in Kyiv even further.

The Devastating Economic Impacts of an Abortion Ban

The New Yorker

Tiffany Green, an economist and population-health scientist and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, noted that many of those effects would disproportionately fall on those who were already marginalized—particularly women of color and nonbinary and transgender people.

1 million have died from COVID in the US. Experts wonder how this seems normal.

ABC News

“Virtually everything the government’s done to fight the disease, since the beginning, has placed the burden on individuals to both assess and mitigate their own risk,” Dr. Richard Keller, a professor in the department of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told ABC News. “The implications there, for the people who are dying from the disease, are that they’re dying as a result of their own individual failings.”

In Praise of Anxiety

WSJ

A similar effect comes from being in the presence of others, which can cause anxiety in some contexts but can also provide a pathway out. Research shows that receiving direct social support is one of the best ways to manage all types of distress, including anxiety. A 2006 study from the University of Wisconsin, for example, brought participants into the lab to take part in a high-anxiety situation: They entered a loud, claustrophobic MRI machine to have their brain scanned and were told to expect electrical shocks in the course of the procedure. One third of the group were allowed to hold the hand of a loved one, one third held the hand of a stranger, and the last third were left alone.

The horrific bird flu that’s wiped out 36 million chickens and turkeys, explained

Vox

And not much beyond mass culling can be done to slow the spread once it starts. Adel Talaat, a professor of microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says we should improve disease surveillance and farm biosecurity to help prevent new outbreaks and slow the spread, but a vaccine that could reliably reduce transmission would go a long way.

FACT FOCUS: Gaping holes in the claim of 2K ballot ‘mules’

AP

Absentee ballots are also verified by signature and tracked closely, often with an option for voters themselves to see where their ballot is at any given time. That process safeguards against anyone who tries to illegally cast extra ballots, according to Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and the director of the Elections Research Project.“It seems impossible in that system for a nefarious actor to dump lots of ballots that were never requested by voters and were never issued by election officials,” Burden said.

The Key to Attracting Venture Capitalists: Show Passion

WSJ

That is the conclusion of 12 studies by researcher Chia-Jung Tsay, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She gave investors different types of records of pitch competitions—such as video only or audio only—and asked them to guess which entrepreneur had won each round. The investors who made the best guesses saw only visual images of people making pitches, with no sound or information about the pitch itself.

Was Russia’s decision to cut off natural gas exports a mistake?

Vox

Russia’s decision to cut off gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria — the latter of which had remained undecided in its stance regarding Russia up until the recent ban — is a risky move meant to act as a warning to other European countries.

But some experts have written off the move as a miscalculation.According to Yoshiko Herrera, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in Eurasian politics, it may have the opposite intended effect.

How to make self-affirmations work, based on science

The Washington Post

What’s more, people can mistakenly think affirmations are about “seeking perfection or seeking greatness,” said Chris Cascio, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied the practice. Instead, Cascio said, the key concept of affirmations is: “As you are, you are good enough and you’re valued being you.”

Burned and vandalized: A history of cherry blossoms bearing the brunt of xenophobia

NBC News

Some anthropologists, including Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, are skeptical about whether the trees were, indeed, infested. An editorial published in response by The New York Times also said: “We have been importing ornamental plants from Japan for years, and by the shipload, and it is remarkable that this particular invoice should have contained any new infections.”

Peering Into the Deadliest, Most Destructive Tornadoes with Supercomputers

Newsweek

“They occur under specific atmospheric conditions,” Orf, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. “They require lots of moisture, atmospheric instability, and wind shear. Supercells produce the most violent tornadoes compared to all other thunderstorm types. A recent example of a violent supercell is the storm that hit Mayfield, Kentucky, in December of 2021.”

For many American families a living wage is out of reach: Report

ABC News

“The data reinforces what we’ve known for some time. People in both rural and urban communities face long-standing barriers, systemic barriers — avoidable barriers — that get in the way of groups of people and places in our country from being able to live long and well,” Sheri Johnson, co-director of County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and director of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, told ABC News.

Climate Change: The Technologies That Could Make All the Difference

WSJ

Gregory Nemet is a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs whose research focuses on the process of technological change in energy and its interactions with public policy.

To get the world economy to zero emissions by midcentury, we need to move light and fast. That means aggressively expanding what we know works and is affordable—wind, solar and electric vehicles—on the order of how quickly we built ships and airplanes in World War II. Falling prices, digitization of the economy and more flexible electric grids can enable us to do that.

How to Avoid Getting Covid in a Mostly Mask-Free World

The Washington Post

“It feels like we’re being asked to partake in a trust fall,” says Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist at University of Wisconsin-Madison, referring to the team-building exercise that involves falling backward and counting on others to catch you before you hit the floor. “When is the last time you did a trust fall and enjoyed it?”

A tornado emergency was declared in Arkansas but no twister confirmed

The Washington Post

Such emergency declarations are rare, but they tend to be accurate. An analysis posted to Twitter by Kaylan Patel, a meteorology student at the University of Wisconsin, found of 195 tornado emergencies declared since 1999, 92 percent contained a tornado. Jacob Feuerstein, a meteorology student at Cornell, tweeted the last tornado emergency false alarm occurred in February 2016.

Science Confirms That When White People Read About Covid Racial Disparities, They Respond Selfishly

Mother Jones

“Your goal is to inform. Your goal is to say there are disparities,” says Dominique Brossard, a professor and risk communication expert at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, referring to my role as a journalist. But advocacy groups, “whose primary goal is to inspire change,” she says, “might take a much different approach.”

With climate despair on the rise, this Christian scientist says science isn’t enough

The Washington Post

The University of Wisconsin-Madison ecologist also belongs to an evangelical church and has struggled with deep despair over climate change. He has had a front-row seat observing the effects of a warming atmosphere through the aspen trees he has studied for decades. But he lacks the support of many within the evangelical community.