Culture

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, is most often experienced as an irritant, but it may also be used to reduce pain. A new work published by Drs. Feng Qin and Jing Yao in this week's PLoS Biology uses capsaicin to uncover novel insight into how pain-receptor systems can adapt to painful stimuli. Sensory systems are well known to adapt to prevailing stimuli. For example, adaptation happens when your eyes adjust from a dark movie theater during a matinee to the bright sunlight outside.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have found how a citric acid-based Achilles heel used by a pathogen that attacks the popular African Violet house plant could be exploited not just to save African Violets but also to provide a potentially effective treatment for Anthrax.

The researchers examined how a chemical structure is assembled in a bacterial pathogen called Pectobacterium chrysanthemi (Dickya dadantii) that afflicts plants – particularly the African Violet which often appears in many homes as a decorative houseplant.

Princeton, NJ – February 23, 2009 - A new study by scientists updating some of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Third Assessment Report finds that even a lower level of increase in average global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions could cause significant problems in five key areas of global concern.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is titled "Assessing Dangerous Climate Change Through an Update of the IPCC 'Reasons for Concern."

When shopping, we often find ourselves choosing between lower- and higher-cost items. But most people make a choice based on the first digit they see, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Shoppers pay a disproportionate amount of attention to the leftmost digits in prices and these leftmost digits impact whether a product's price is perceived to be relatively affordable or expensive," write authors Kenneth C. Manning (Colorado State University) and David E. Sprott (Washington State University).

If an airline flight is delayed, Asian consumers might take it in stride. But those same passengers might be unhappy if the flight attendants are rude or inattentive. And Western consumers might react differently, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Haksin Chan (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Lisa C. Wan (Lingnan University), and Leo Y. M. Sin (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) believe these generalizations stem from different cultural approaches to the concepts of "fate" and "face."

We all do things to impress others—exaggerate our accomplishments, downplay our faults, even fib on surveys. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research sheds light on why we don't tell the strict truth about ourselves in surveys and what, if anything, can be done about it.

"The tendency of people to portray themselves in a more favorable light than their thoughts or actions, called socially desirable responding, is a problem that affects the validity of statistics and surveys worldwide," writes author Ashok K. Lalwani (University of Texas at San Antonio).

We all complain about commercials, and many people invest in technology to eliminate them. But a surprising new study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that, contrary to popular belief, commercials improve television viewing in many cases.

In legend, sprites are trolls, elves and other spirits that dance high above our ozone layer. But scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that some very real "sprites" are zipping across the atmosphere as well, providing a possible explanation for those other legendary denizens of the skies, UFOs.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A preacher addresses a group of men in a town church in eastern Kentucky, but this gathering is not to hear a sermon. Instead, it is a meeting of a coal miners' union. By studying coal miners and farmers during the early 20th century, a University of Missouri researcher has discovered that religion greatly influenced coal miners' and farmers' lives. The miners used religion to negotiate their surroundings, and many of the resulting traditions exist today.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) should remain the "standard of care" for patients with complex coronary artery disease, concludes the SYNTAX study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (online February 18, 2009, Print edition March 5).