Big Think Interview With Dean Kamen
Dean Kamen is an American scientist and inventor whose products include the Segway human transporter (HT) and the iBOT battery-powered wheelchair. His inventions include medical devices and futuristic gizmos that Kamen hopes will revolutionize the way we live and travel.
In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a robotics competition for high school students. In 2007, it held 37 competitions in countries such as Israel, Brazil, Canada, and the United States.
Kamen is the President of DEKA Research and Development.
Kamen was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for his biomedical devices and for making engineering more popular among high school students. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000 by then President Clinton for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide. In 2002, Kamen was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventors, for his invention of the Segway and of an infusion pump for diabetics. In 2005 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the AutoSyringe. In 2006 Kamen was awarded the Global Humanitarian Action Award by the United Nations.
Dean Kamen: I’m Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST and the President of DEKA Research and Development.
Question: How have you helped turn scientists into heroes?
Dean Kamen: Well, about 18 years ago, we [Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers] started a not for profit called FIRST, which is an acronym, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The theory at the time, and even more so today, was that despite popular opinion to the contrary, most kids really are scientists. They really love to discover new things, check their theories out, poke at the world, see what happens.
But we have a society that does a couple of things that I think are constantly gnawing away at kid’s perspective on Science and Technology. Number 1, we have created in this media-driven culture of ours an obsession with two places from which we created all the role models - the world of sports and the world of entertainment. The NBA, the NFL and the Hollywood are all there are. All the role models seem to come from on television, billboards, newspapers, magazines, nonstop.
Second thing we do is we turn science and engineering from a curiosity-based activity to something that gets judged, something that gets measured. Kids are intimidated by the way science and technology is presented. It’s made, frankly, quite boring and it becomes part of a curriculum that chases particularly women and minorities away.
So 18 years ago, we decided that while other people interested in the problem of how we are going to get more kids in our pipeline, how are we going to stimulate the next generation of scientists and engineers and those other people whether they’re governments, teachers, not for profits foundations, all focus and to stay focus on things. On the supply side of the education crisis, they all want more teachers, more standards, more books, more tests, more you name it.
We said, let’s take the contrarian view that the reason so few kids are doing well in math and science, or even choosing to study it all in this country, is not in fact an educational crisis and it’s not about a limitation on supply. We took the contrarian position that science and technology simply aren’t presented as being fun and exciting. We took the position and it’s not a supply problem at all, it’s a demand problem or a lack of it among kids. And we took the position, it’s not an education problem, it’s a culture problem.
In the culture of America, in a free culture, you get what you celebrate. And in this culture, we have two obsessions, become a group that becomes a group that celebrates sports heroes and entertainment heroes. There’s no room left for kids to see even a little bit of the opportunities to really, really get excited about becoming an inventor, an engineer, or a scientist, a problem solver so we formed an organization, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Notice the name? It is not for profit. It doesn’t have the word education in it. We’re not an education foundation. We are for inspiring kids and having them recognize science and technology really are accessible, they really are fun, they really are rewarding and they really are the places where career opportunities abound.
Most kids today that will dribble a ball hour after hour dreaming of being the next Shaquille O’Neal, most of these kids have virtually have no chance of ever making a career in professional sports. But any kid that is willing to spend any reasonable number of hours a day, or even for a week studying math, studying physics, studying engineering, studying science can have literally an unbound set of opportunities for careers in science and technology. But, they don’t know it and our culture works on it preventing them from knowing either how much fun it is, how rewarding it is or how accessible it is going to be.
So FIRST is about changing kids’ perspective, particularly women and minorities, and frankly, changing the perspective of our society and their culture, about what’s important.
Question: What was your first invention as a child?
Dean Kamen: The first thing that I actually remember creating as an invention wasn’t a big seller. I was probably five or six years old. My mother, as most mothers, thought it was a good idea that everyday I get out of bed and make the bed.
Well, I am small even today, but certainly for a six year old, I was particularly small. I could barely see over the side of that bed and running to one corner and tagging on the covers and then running to the other corner and tugging on the cover and if I tugged too far, running back to the first. It takes a lot of time and effort to run around that bed.
And I quickly learn that, for instance, if my old brother helped me, it wasn’t twice as fast as two of us. It was virtually instant because we can each be at one end of the bed, tugging on the cover. It’s taut, you let it go, it’s done.
It was sort of like learning for the first time you can pull a noodle but you can’t push a noodle.
It occurred to me that without his help, I could still in effect be pulling simultaneously from both ends if I could just, for instance, put a little pulley at the other end of the bed frame, put a knot in the end of the cover of the bedspread with a rope around it, come back to the other end and if the pulleys are all right, I could get out of bed, stand in one place, pull on a couple of ropes and everything was taut, the bed was made.
So I have an automatic bed maker. It wasn’t a big seller.
Question: What is the fundamental problem with US healthcare?
Dean Kamen: I think there a lot of issues with the US healthcare system. One of the issues is that people think in many ways that we have a massive healthcare crisis, and if you really dissect what people think of as a crisis, I think it’s a misguided assertion. All you have to do is look at the quality of health even in your lifetime, as you were a kid, certainly go back 50 years, go back 100 years. When you look at how far we’ve come, how fast we’ve gotten here, what people take for granted in terms of healthcare today, it’s pretty hard to be disappointed by the achievements of the medical community.
I think, part of the reason that we all say that we have a healthcare crisis is because there was a time that the cost of healthcare really in fact wasn’t very much, but people forget neither was the quality, neither was the capability.
As the quality got better, still with very little capability a doctor could be very concerned and give you a very high quality statement like, “It looks to us like you have this disease or that disease or cancer and you’re going to die because there’s not much this high quality doctor can do about that.”
We now live in a world where virtually everybody expects there’s going to be some reasonable therapy for virtually any situation. Well, this explosion of capability, this explosion of alternatives, of course has a cost to it. We certainly all love the idea that we will get more and more of the upside and the value and the quality but we’d like to see the cost continue to go down and down as we come to expect it would in computer technology or communications technology. But for lots of reasons, they are all very different.
So again, one of the assertions that I think needs to be questioned about the whole discussion is that we have a healthcare crisis. Really, I think we have now a society which is spending more and more of its money on healthcare as a percent of GDP as a percent of a lot of things. I think that’s a measure of success. Where else would you like to spend money? Now that we created a society where we got a couple of percent of the whole country, 2% to do all the farming and make all the food. Now that we have a society that’s rich enough that we all have access to electricity and clean water and basic needs. What’s wrong with a society that can afford to spend more and more of its resources, giving people a better quality of life, curing diseases, advancing science, advancing medical technology?
But if our measure of whether we are in a healthcare crisis or not is the fact that it cost more, I think we’ll never get out of this problem because it’s not a problem.
I think we have to finally deal with the fact that healthcare is offering us greater and greater value and it will cost more and more money. That is a good thing, that opportunity is a good situation.
The fact that it cost money to get things we want is a reality. We are no longer in a world where you can afford to simply say well, everybody can get all the healthcare that’s available because it’s unrealistic.
And as we move forward, no matter what political side of any issue you are on, no matter what economic side of this problem you want to work at, I think we need, and I hope it’s true, to understand that the value created by the healthcare, achievements that are hopefully in the near term and going on for a long time would be greater and greater happening at an accelerating rate, we’re understanding genomics, proteomics. I think, we will see more and more unbelievable technology developed.
We should become at ease with the fact that it will continue to be of larger piece of our economy and I think that’s a good thing. And once we recognize something as valuable as healthcare isn’t free, and it won’t be free, once we recognize that, the jobs created around it when we pay the healthcare also stimulates the economy, creates clean technologies, technologies that in fact we are the leader in the world, that could create export opportunities.
What’s wrong with creating whole new industries in which you can create exciting jobs for scientists, engineers? What’s wrong with economy that is based more and more on our ability to focus on improving the quality of life and the healthcare, the length of life and the quality of health of all people everywhere?
If we want to focus on doing that, we should be happy that we are such a rich society, rich financially, rich intellectually, rich culturally that we can afford to put more and more of our resources into something like healthcare. If we continue to have the simple shallow debate about, we spend more money today than we did the past year on healthcare, well you know what, 50 years ago you didn’t spend any money on Google, on the Internet, you had no cell phone bill. We don’t sit here and say, we have a crisis in digital communication, we have a crisis in computing, we have a crisis in video games because we spend more today than we did 10 years ago.
Question: How important will personalized medicine become in the future?
Dean Kamen: In some cases the medical technology is now allowing people to diagnose long before there are any symptoms. What might happen if we don’t intercede, or even if it’s going to happen, and we can’t intercede yet, how we can prepare for it.
A world in which you can get a therapy designed to improve your personal quality of life, it doesn’t have to be a pill that was tested against a broad-based of statistical people that are presumed to be somewhat similar to you, in which 30% were cured, and 30% were uncured, and 40% had terrible side effects, and you’re supposed to swallow this pill hoping you’re on the right 30%.
I think in our lifetime, that level of acceptance of “well, we couldn’t do any better,” won’t be tolerated. We’re going to start to see individual therapies customized for individual patients, and it’s going to change the way people get healthcare.
Question: How is it when the creative process hits a dead end?
Dean Kamen: I wouldn’t know what it’s like to hit a dead end. Every project I’ve ever worked on ends up ahead of schedule and on the budget. We always get it right the first time and we shipped it. And it’s always perfect. But I can imagine that there are a lot of people that don’t have that situation.
Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. Every project we’ve ever done without exception, we start out with some simple objective. It always seem simple and then you get into the ugly reality of trying to accomplished that simple objective and nature, it’s not cruel but it’s very subtle and inevitably, you’re surprised along the way as you try to make things happen and almost all the surprises are bad surprises. New problems keep cropping up. Things that seem that they should work, don’t. A simple elegant idea turns out to have a bunch of ugly facts are related to that elegant idea, and no matter how elegant the idea is, the facts win. So you rethink that idea, you try different strategies, you employ different technologies.
And as you said, in the end if it finally works. People think you start it with this idea, you went on a straight line and concluded with this product. In fact, they not only think that but the way media present it, it reinforces that because media has a finite amount of time to tell a story. Media has a finite attention span.
Nobody wants to hear literally the five years of frustration that you took taking the wrong paths. For one thing, no matter how fast you’d speak, if they ask you about this project that took you five years, if they really wanted the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it would take you five years to tell it. You don’t have to tell all the crazy places you got on a piece of spaghetti and you ran through every strand of spaghetti in that bowl until you got to the end. They don’t want to know all about that spaghetti. They want to know where you started and as quickly as they can, they want to know the result and how it can affect them.
So we all, as a matter of course, when I asked about how we do anything in our lives, we start with some big thought, we might tell a few of the funny incidental side-path, but then in a finite amount of time, an interview and a book, we get to the conclusion people want. At best, with a couple of references to a little sidepath here and there.
As a consequence of all of that, people begin to think that some inventor in fact really starts with a big idea, runs along the line, gets to the conclusion, ships it off and starts the next idea, when in fact, at least in my case, you jumped in the spaghetti bowl, you crawled over every strand in that bowl. Some of them will swear you, covered at least five times, and then if you finally ever emerged at the other end, where you want it to be, which does sometimes happen but it is rare. Instantly you forget about all that spaghetti in the bowl. You bask for a moment in the victory of getting where you want it to be. The story gets told as a little quip and you move on. And the great myth that it was a straight line is unintentionally, I think, supported by that.
The most consistent character I have ever seen of people that succeed is that they never give up. They work and they work and they work and they fail, not once in a while, but they fail way, way, way more often than most people fail because they are trying to do something that other people haven’t done yet. And when you try to do something that hasn’t been done, when you have been given the road map, because no road map exists yet, you’re obviously going to get more mistakes and take more wrong turns than anybody that likes to travel with a map.
So those people that go out and try to do a new and different thing fail away more often than the people that don’t. It doesn’t matter however because once they succeed they hand all of us the map, and then we enjoy the benefits of all their failures and they move on to try to solve the next problem.
Question: What was your first medical invention?
Dean Kamen: When I was still in my parents’ basement, busily making money doing our audio visual stuff, I had an older brother at the time who was off in medical school and he’s an extremely bright guy, doing both an MD and a PhD program, and his PhD work was in developing therapies for pediatrics, in fact neonatal cancer patients, babies with leukemia. And he was developing the drug therapy for this neonatal but they are so small. They weigh a couple of pounds. There was no practical equipment out there for him to deliver his therapy.
So, he dropped in the basement on a trip home from med school and whinning and complaining about his lack of equipment designed for babies. It wasn’t surprising to me that there is not a lot of equipment for babies because fortunately, they are not a very large piece of the medical population. Fortunately, old people get sick; babies don’t normally have that problem. But I get sit on the basement and imagine that I could build tiny, tiny, little drug delivery systems essentially using a syringe, for instance, as a whole base of drugs instead of an IV bottle.
So, I built for my brother some little devices that used the syringe as the reservoir and built some electronics in control systems that would allow him to program those things for drug delivery, for his research.
I think he was very proud of my stuff. I certainly wasn’t doing that as business. I was helping my brother. But he would take it to med school with him, and he ended up doing a little time at Harvard, where there are a lot of doctors up in Boston. And he ended up doing a residency in Yale where he met a lot of the adult docs. And one of these docs, at one point said, that little thing is so small it’s great that it sits in a nice set moving around with babies. But it’s so small, you could slap it on a belt or put it on a pocket of an adult who can work around getting chronic therapy for things that might dramatically improve their outcome. Like what? How about insulin for diabetics?
So, suddenly I took this core technology that I develop for this very rare disease--lots of people will never have to deal with pediatric cancer--and it would serve a very, very broad population of people walking around needing high insulin to deal with diabetes.
So we modified the pumps, we moved out of the basement. We started making lots of different pharmaceutical delivery systems. And we ended up building a nice company around that and until this day, we continue to build stuff for home dialysis, diabetes cares. He build lots of products related to helping people get both better therapy and live better lives simultaneously.
Conducted on: June 9, 2009
The co-founder of FIRST talks about creativity, inspiring kids to become geeks and the myth that the US has a healthcare crisis.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
The U.S., China, and Russia are in a "vaccine race" that treats a global challenge like a winner-take-all game.
All for one (vaccine)<p>Launched this April, <a href="https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator" target="_blank">the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator</a> brought together a panoply of governments, scientists, businesses, and global health organizations with the goal of accelerating the development, production, and distribution of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine. The "vaccines pillar" of this initiative is <a href="https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-explained" target="_blank">the COVAX Facility</a>.</p><p>COVAX is coordinated by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The program maintains a diverse portfolio of COVID-10 vaccines, monitoring each to identify promising candidates. It has also partnered with manufacturers to ease investment risks and serves as a purchasing pool for self-financing countries, while offering fundraising efforts to poorer ones.</p><p>"[G]overnments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations, but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere," Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, <a href="https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/boost-global-response-covid-19-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-covax-facility" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "With the commitments we're announcing today for the COVAX Facility, as well as the historic partnership we are forging with industry, we now stand a far better chance of ending the acute phase of this pandemic once safe, effective vaccines become available."</p><p><a href="https://www.vox.com/21448719/covid-19-vaccine-covax-who-gavi-cepi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with Vox</a>, Berkley noted that the ACT Accelerator is the largest global collaboration since the Paris Climate Agreement. He added, "This type of solidarity is critical because otherwise what you're going to end up with is just a constant reintroduction of infections and the inability to go back to normal."</p><p>As of Monday, 64 higher-income countries and 92 low- and middle-income countries—representing nearly two-thirds of the world's population—<a href="https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/boost-global-response-covid-19-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-covax-facility" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have signed commitments to COVAX</a>. Thirty-eight more are expected to sign soon.</p><p>COVAX's goal is to have 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. Experts estimate this amount will cover high-risk and vulnerable people, as well as healthcare workers, worldwide. Participating nations must cover those populations before administering vaccines according to national priorities. As part of the agreement, countries agree to support equal access to the vaccine once it becomes available, a move aimed at preventing hoarding and price gouging. </p><p>Currently, CEPI is supporting nine candidate vaccines, of which eight are in clinical trials.</p>
Why has the U.S. backed out?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7167e0bf1593a7cb29c1a116041116e3"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LUAsKbH7yeY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The United States is gambling that its bilateral deals with various pharmaceutical companies will win the "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/coronavirus-vaccine-trump/2020/09/01/b44b42be-e965-11ea-bf44-0d31c85838a5_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vaccine race</a>." This U.S.-only initiative, named (sigh) <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/16/fact-sheet-explaining-operation-warp-speed.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Warp Speed</a>, has already spent <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/14/the-us-has-already-invested-billions-on-potential-coronavirus-vaccines-heres-where-the-deals-stand.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">approximately $10 billion</a> and is pushing to deliver 300 million doses by January 2021. Many experts worry this speedy push through the regulatory path could result in <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/here-s-how-us-could-release-covid-19-vaccine-election-and-why-scares-some" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">premature and dangerous approvals</a>.</p><p>China and Russia have likewise bet on their own high-priced ponies. Russia is touting <a href="https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/09/russia-offers-its-untested-covid-19-vaccine-for-free-to-un-officials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an unvetted vaccine</a> nicknamed (double sigh) "Sputnik V." This vaccine has only concluded <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30402-1/fulltext" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">phase 1 and 2 trials</a> with a small number of participants, yet Russia claims to have already received international requests. Meanwhile, China has administered <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-vaccines-foc/in-coronavirus-vaccine-race-china-inoculates-thousands-before-trials-are-completed-idUSKBN26705Q" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tens of thousands of doses of a vaccine</a> before completing phase 3 clinical trials. </p><p>An additional barrier to the United States' participation: COVAX is a WHO-led initiative. Earlier this year, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865685798/president-trump-announces-that-u-s-will-leave-who" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">President Donald Trump admonished the WHO as a corrupt organization</a> and claimed it assisted China in covering up the coronavirus outbreak and its severity. Though he presented no evidence for the accusation, Trump has used it as the basis for <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/21/64-high-income-nations-join-effort-to-expand-global-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-but-u-s-and-china-do-not/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his threat to cut ties with</a>, and funding for, the agency.</p><p>"The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China," said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-who/white-house-slams-who-over-criticism-of-push-for-covid-19-vaccine-idUSKBN25S62T" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in a statement</a>.</p><p>He added, "This president will spare no expense to ensure that any new vaccine maintains our own FDA's gold standard for safety and efficacy, is thoroughly tested, and saves lives."</p><p>By shirking COVAX, these countries hope to gain peerless access to a vaccine. Each could secure large numbers of doses for its citizens while also reaping the political boons to follow. In the United States, President Trump has pinned his re-election bid on a timely vaccine, while Chinese officials seem posed to use a vaccine <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/business/china-vaccine-diplomacy.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to repair diplomatic ties</a>. </p><p>But the loss of such rich economies will prove a blow to COVAX and the ACT Accelerator. Vaccines are notoriously expensive and risky to develop; the costs to manufacture doses at scale will be immense. <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/08/1070162" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus</a> stated the ACT Accelerator would cost roughly $30 billion, and the final bill for the tools to combat novel coronavirus would be at least $100 billion. But that's a pittance compared to the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-imf/imf-says-10-trillion-spent-to-combat-pandemic-far-more-needed-idUSKBN23I27P" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$10 trillion already spent on the pandemic</a> so far.</p><p>"COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response," <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/21-09-2020-boost-for-global-response-to-covid-19-as-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-up-to-covax-facility" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tedros said</a>. "Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery. Working together through the COVAX Facility is not charity, it's in every country's own best interests to control the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery."</p>
The winner won't necessarily take all<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNzY2My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjExMzA1M30.2kF2U_8veNWxmaxOnSned_WTQMRtscbB5dmT5efJHsc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="55cd7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c56717cda300a40edc23795c8ee23c2f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="SARS-CoV-2 vaccine" />
Positive, romantic thoughts could produce positive, romantic outcomes while dating.
- Fear of rejection, self-doubt, and anxiety are just some of the obstacles humans need to overcome to make a meaningful, romantic connection with another person.
- According to a 2020 project by a group of psychologists at the University of Rochester (and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), humans see possible romantic partners as a lot more attractive if they go into the interaction with a "sexy mindset."
- Across three separate studies, this team discovered that this sexual activation helps people initiate relationships by inducing them to project their desires onto prospective partners.
Being in a frisky mood improves your chances with potential romantic partners<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNzk0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mjc3MDA5NH0.lwJquRq9_gTYX5c_2sRzCBfkyWldjMqCJig_kGCL1uA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C6%2C0%2C98&height=700" id="f2719" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a29ad6b50ff3868c867fd2d0a64b8aa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man and woman on date woman" />
The right mood could land you the right date, according to a new study.
Credit: BlueSkyImage on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to a 2020 study</a> by a group of psychologists at the University of Rochester (and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), humans see possible romantic partners as a lot more attractive if they go into the interaction with a "sexy mindset."</p><p><a href="https://www.sas.rochester.edu/psy/people/faculty/reis_harry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Harry Reis</a>, professor of psychology and the Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester, and <a href="https://www.idc.ac.il/en/pages/faculty.aspx?username=birnbag" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gurit Birnbaum</a>, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya) have dedicated decades of their lives to studying the intricate dynamics of sexual attraction and human sexual behavior. </p><p>In <a href="https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/relationships-uncertainty-are-you-really-in-to-me-323512/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a previous study,</a> the pair discovered that when people feel greater certainty about a romantic partner's interest, they put more effort into seeing that person again. Additionally, this study found people will rate the possible partner as more "sexually attractive" if they knew the person was interested in seeing them again.</p><p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">For this project</a>, Reis and Birnbaum, along with their team, examined what would happen if a person's sexual system is activated by exposing them to brief sexual cues that induced a thought process that included the potential for sex or heightened attraction. </p><p>Across three separate studies, the team discovered that this sexual activation helps people initiate relationships by inducing them to project their desires onto prospective partners. </p><p><strong>Study one: Immediacy</strong></p><p>In the first study, 112 heterosexual participants (between the ages of 20-32) who were not in a romantic relationship were randomly paired with an unacquainted participant of the opposite sex. Participants introduced themselves to each other (speaking about their hobbies, positive traits, career plans, etc.), all while being recorded. </p><p>The team then coded the recorded interactions and searched for nonverbal expressions of immediacy (such as close proximity, frequent eye contact, smiles, etc.) that could indicate interest in starting a romantic relationship. </p><p>In the study, the team determined that the participants exposed to a sexual stimulus before the meeting (versus those exposed to a neutral stimulus) exhibited more immediacy behaviors towards their potential partners and also perceived the partners as more attractive and/or more interested in them. </p><p><strong>Study two: Interest</strong></p><p>In the second study, 150 heterosexual participants (between the ages of 19-30) who were not in a romantic relationship served as a control for the potential partner's attractiveness and reactions. All participants in study two watched the same pre-recorded video introduction of a potential partner of the opposite sex. They then introduced themselves to the partner while being filmed themselves. </p><p>The researchers found that the activation of the sexual system led to participants viewing the potential partner as more attractive as well as more interested in them. </p><p><strong>Study three: How it all ties together</strong></p><p>In the third and final study, the team investigated whether a partner's romantic interest could explain why sexual activation impacts how we view other people's romantic interest in ourselves. </p><p>In this study, 120 single heterosexual participants (between the ages of 21-31) interacted online with another participant who was actually an attractive opposite-sex member of the research team. This was a casual "get-to-know-you" kind of interaction. The participants rated their romantic interest in the other person as well as that person's attractiveness and interest in them.</p><p>Again, the team found that sexual activation increased a person's romantic interest in the other person, which, in turn, predicted that the other person would then be more interested in a romantic partnership as well. </p><p><strong>The takeaway: Positive, romantic thoughts could produce positive, romantic outcomes. </strong></p><p>The basis of this multi-study theory is simple: Having active sexual thoughts arouses romantic interest in a prospective partner and often leads to an optimistic outlook on dating. </p><p>"Sexual feelings do more than just motivate us to seek out partners. It also leads us to project our feelings onto the other person," <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank">said Reis to Eurekalert</a>. </p><p>Reis goes on to explain, "...the sexual feelings need not come from the other person; they can be aroused in any number of ways that have nothing to do with the other person."</p>
Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
New research conducted on mice suggests repeated heavy drinking causes synaptic dysfunctions that lead to anxiety.
- The study was conducted on mice, who were given the equivalent of five drinks daily for 10 days.
- Images of the alcoholic mice brains showed synaptic dysfunctions related to microglia (immune cells in the brain).
- The results suggest that regulating TNF, a signaling protein related to systemic inflammation, may someday play a part in treating alcohol addiction.
3D surface rendering of confocal maximum projection images showing volume reconstruction of PSD-95 within CD68 structures in microglia (Iba1+ cell) on tissue sections from prefrontal cortices of WT and TNF KO mice after exposure to EtOH or H2O
The role of TNF in anxiety<p>But the new study revealed an interesting finding about TNF. To find out how TNF interacts with anxiety, the researchers gave to the alcoholic mice a drug called <a href="https://www.drugs.com/mtm/pomalidomide.html" target="_blank">pomalidomide</a>, which blocks the production of TNF. After, the mice showed improved synaptic functioning and less anxiety-like behaviors.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This study suggests that regulating the levels of TNF might eventually be useful when treating alcohol addiction," Relvas told Inverse.</p>
Pixabay<p>Still, it's unclear whether or how TNF regulation might work its way into alcohol addiction treatments. After all, even if science can fix the anxiety aspect of alcoholism, heavy drinking still exacts heavy tolls on other parts of the body and brain.</p><p>For now, it's probably best to keep your drinking within moderate levels: <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-9/" target="_blank">Most</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/health/alcohol-drinking-health.html" target="_blank">research</a> suggests that having one to two drinks per day yields no significant negative health consequences.</p>