Culture

Washington, D.C. – December 17, 2008 – A new study in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management explores ways to target the compensation provided by the free allocation of emission allowances under a CO2 cap and trade policy in order to avoid overcompensation of firms that already are benefiting from the program.

Scientists have shown that tiny crystals found inside bacteria provide a magnetic compass to help them navigate through sediment to find the best food, in research out today.

Researchers say their study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, could provide fresh clues to explain biomagnetism – a phenomenon in which some birds, insects and marine life navigate using the magnetic field that encompasses the Earth.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – A report released today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union provides new insights on the potential for abrupt climate change and the effects it could have on the United States, identifying key concerns that include faster-than-expected loss of sea ice, rising sea levels and a possibly permanent state of drought in the American Southwest.

GREENBELT, Md. -- Earth's magnetic field, which shields our planet from particles streaming outward from the Sun, often develops two holes that allow the largest leaks, according to researchers sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Contrary to a widely-held assumption about heterosexual transmission of HIV, the normal mucosal lining of the female genital tract is not a foolproof barrier to viral penetration, scientists at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago report at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 48th Annual Meeting, Dec. 13-17, 2008 in San Francisco.

"This is an unexpected and important result," says Thomas Hope of Northwestern, "because it is generally believed that the squamous epithelium of the female genital tract is an efficient barrier to viral penetration."

The menu might be different and families might be smaller, but Christmas remains among the most important holidays. "It is sacred," says Université de Montréal Psychologist Luc Brunet. "It's part of our culture to come together to laugh and eat in a festive setting."

Why do we suddenly become generous during the holidays? Why do gifts often bear greater symbolic than economic value? Why do we anonymously give to strangers?

"Because giving back is a societal norm," says Marcel Fournier, a sociology professor at the Université de Montréal. "Human beings are social beings and no society can survive without mechanisms of solidarity and reciprocity. Giving becomes an obligation."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Two Brown University economists have created a new data set explaining differences in the world's current per capita gross domestic products (GDPs). In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, Louis Putterman and David N. Weil introduce a "World Migration Matrix" showing that inequality among countries can be largely explained by where the ancestors of each country's people lived some 500 years ago. "What matters is the history of the people who live in a country today, more than the history of the country itself," they say.

TORONTO, ON – Physicists at the University of Toronto have cracked the mystery behind the strange and uncannily well-ordered hexagonal columns found at such popular tourist sites as Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway and California's Devil's Postpile, using water, corn starch, and a heat lamp.

A new University of Colorado at Boulder study shows the periodic "breathing" of Earth's upper atmosphere that has long puzzled scientists is due in part to cyclic solar wind disturbances, a finding that should help engineers track satellites more accurately and improve forecasts for electronic communication disruptions.