Big Think Interviewees Talk About Water Sustainability, Burlesque, and Comic Books
Big Think interviewed an array of luminaries in a variety of fields this week, touching on such diverse topics as the future of the world's water supply, the physics of comic book heroes, and the history of burlesque.
Chief Sustainability Officer of GE Power and Water Jeff Fulgham stopped by Monday to speak with us about water use. Fulgham said water policy will come to the forefront in the coming years as our aging infrastructure will leak away more and more H2O. Meanwhile, other industries (like energy) will likely increase their demand for the resource. The solution, says Fulgham, is a combination of direct responses and of awareness initiatives—from a smart grid and desalinization tech to recapturing and reusing "waste" water.
Dr. Lucky, probably the only burlesque performer with a Ph.D, graced the Big Think offices as well this week. In anticipation of the release of the new film "Burlesque," starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, Lucky gave us a presentation on the history and politics of the burlesque art form. She also told us why this new film does not, despite the director's claim, depict the "original" burlesque.
University of Minnesota professor Jim Kakalios also sat for an interview this week to talk about how how superheroes in comic books may or may not be defying the laws of physics. Using the examples of Batman and the Flash, Dr. Kakalios described what science fiction writers from the 1950s and '60s got right an what they got wrong about the physical world in their tales of fantastic deeds. He also talked about why we do not yet have jet packs, and why invisibility cloaks (a la Harry Potter) may be a reality not too far in the future.
Marjorie Hill, CEO of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, also came by the Big Think offices this week to talk about the ongoing battle against HIV. She spoke highly about President Obama's commitment to the fight, giving his efforts an A- rating. But the media did not score so highly, rating them a D-. The only thing keeping them from an F rating is World AIDS Day on December 1, she said.
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It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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