Making Life Fairer, From Election Day to Your Birthday
Still miffed about the 2000 election? Or even the 1992 election? Steven Brams feels your pain—and has developed a system that could prevent similar voter aggravation in the future. As the NYU politics professor explains in his Big Think interview, "approval voting" would dampen the spoiler effect of candidates like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, while benefiting centrist politicians over ideologues. If political fairness isn't your thing, Brams has also discovered a solution to a more mundane problem: divvying up birthday cake.
Brams's envy-free solution to the "n-person-cake cutting problem" involves game theory too dense to apply literally, but he still gets handed the knife and asked to do the honors at birthday parties. He's more than willing, too, to apply game theory concepts to other unusual realms, including the study of biblical literature. Citing the Samson and Delilah story as a favorite example, Brams argues that the characters in the Bible are, by and large, savvy strategists—"God included." If only American democracy were half as rational...
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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