Culture

Move over, white Christmas, and make way for a "green" holiday. Here are a few tips that can make your holidays more environmentally friendly, courtesy of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute. The Institute works to foster the discovery and design of chemical products and processes that eliminate generation and use of hazardous substances.To reduce your own personal carbon footprint and nudge society a little further toward sustainability:

Passage graves are mysterious barrows from the Stone Age. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that the Stone Age graves' orientation in the landscape could have an astronomical explanation. The Danish passage graves are most likely oriented according to the path of the full moon, perhaps even according to the full moon immediately before a lunar eclipse. The results are published in the scientific journal Acta Archaeologica.

INDIANAPOLIS – In a study published in the Christmas 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal, Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S., and Rachel Vreeman, M.D., M.S., of the Indiana University School of Medicine, explore the science behind six myths commonly associated with the holidays yet relevant year-round.

SAN FRANCISCO — The common wisdom is that the invention of the steam engine and the advent of the coal-fueled industrial age marked the beginning of human influence on global climate.

But gathering physical evidence, backed by powerful simulations on the world's most advanced computer climate models, is reshaping that view and lending strong support to the radical idea that human-induced climate change began not 200 years ago, but thousands of years ago with the onset of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.

Global warming, some have argued, can be reversed with a large-scale "geoengineering" fix, such as having a giant blimp spray liquefied sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere or building tens of millions of chemical filter systems in the atmosphere to filter out carbon dioxide.

PHILADELPHIA –- A team of University of Pennsylvania physicists has demonstrated a simple system based on micron-sized spheres in water to study and control geometric frustration. Their research, published today in the journal Nature, elucidates open questions about frustration and frustration relief and provides a new tool for scientists grappling with these issues in a variety of fields from magnetism to basic statistical mechanics.

Interracial and interethnic interactions can often be awkward and stressful for members of both majority and minority groups. People bring certain expectations to their interactions with members of different groups—they often expect that these interactions will be awkward and less successful in establishing positive, long-lasting relationships than interactions with members of one's own racial or ethnic group.

The fact that many cultures emphasize the concept of "noblesse oblige" (the idea that with great power and prestige come responsibilities) suggests that power may diminish a tendency to help others. Psychologist Gerben A. van Kleef (University of Amsterdam) and his colleagues from University of California, Berkeley, examined how power influences emotional reactions to the suffering of others.

West Lafayette, IN – December 17, 2008 – A new study in the Review of Agricultural Economics compares fast food and table service meals at restaurants. Results show that both are larger and have more calories than meals prepared at home, with the typical fast food meal being smaller and having fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.

Madison, WI, December 1, 2008 – Transport phenomena in highly heterogeneous media can be dramatically different from those in homogeneous media and therefore are of great fundamental and practical interest. Anomalous transport occurs in semiconductor physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, biology, and other areas. It plays an especially important role in hydrogeology because it may govern the rate of migration and degree of dispersion of groundwater contaminants from hazardous waste sites.