Domestic Science, News

Schools not inspiring students to participate in civic life

William Damon.

  Schools in the US are failing on teaching children civic involvement Simply learning facts about democracy (for example) is not nearly enough Educators should get their hands dirty and focus more on controversial issues     More and more researchers, teachers and educators are starting to support the idea of a major revolution in education. Now, a new report argues for an overhaul in civics education, saying students aren’t being taught how to become engaged in society. It’s been understood by many for quite a while that focusing on professional skills in schools is simply not enough – school has a major social component, its main purpose is helping…

Domestic Science, News

Cats recognise their owners’ voices but never evolved to care, questionable study shows


Japanese researchers showed that cats are able to recognize their owners’ voices from other voices, but because they domesticated themselves, they never really needed to take notice. The study supports the idea that while cats are often kept as pets, they are beholden to no one. Reserchers Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka tested twenty housecats in their own homes; they waited until their owners were out of sight, then played them recordings of three strangers calling out their names, followed by their owners, and then another stranger. They then their responses by measuring ear, tail and head movement, vocalization, eye dilation and ‘displacement’ – shifting their paws to move. Results…

Domestic Science, Psychology

Benefits don’t make the jobless lazy


There’s quite a common belief that if you provide welfare and lots of financial support to the jobless, they will lose motivation to find work and will become lazy and unproductive; that idea is wrong. High unemployment benefits do not lead to people becoming lazy and satisfied with their jobless status, a Europe-wide study suggests. The levels of benefit have no apparent impact on the well-being of those without a job, according to the study – as a matter of fact, if anything, there is an inverse correlation: people with higher benefits are most unsatisfied and want to become productive. In Europe, the countries which provide the most generous financial…

Domestic Science, Nutrition

GM labeling initiative defeated in Washington

Agustín Aguilar, CIMMYT greenhouse and laboratory assistant, at work in the greenhouse that houses transgenic wheat at CIMMYT's El Batán, Mexico headquarters. In its work on drought tolerant wheat, CIMMYT is here developing lines that are homozygous for drought tolerance transgenes, requiring that they be self-pollinated for several generations. Aguilar is bagging the heads of the wheat to prevent any risk of cross-pollination. 

Photo credit: Xochiquetzal Fonseca/CIMMYT.

Why the US is against GM labeling is beyond me. In the European Union, all products must clearly state if they contain or not genetically modified organisms. However, in the United States, where over 60 percent of processed foods contain a genetically altered ingredient, GM labeling is not required, and consumers remain largely unconcerned about it. Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in the United States has been proposed, but has never been enacted at a national, state, or even local level. We have to be realistic and understand that genetically modified organisms aren’t inherently something bad – on the contrary, they are what feed the world today. But…

Domestic Science, Environment

Children no longer connected with nature


Just 1 out of 5 children in Britain are still connected to nature, and there’s no reason to believe that things lie any differently in the western world. What does ‘connected to nature’ mean? Saying that someone is or isn’t connected to nature, at an intuitive level, is often times fairly simple. But making that statement scientifically is an entirely different thing; in order to do this, RPSB, a charity organization in the UK launched a three year project, and came up with a definition for connection to nature. They then developed a questionnaire with 16 statements designed to assess the level of connection among children and set up a…

Domestic Science

90% of foods endorsed by professional athletes are junk food


Out of 512 brands endorsed by 100 top athletes, nearly a quarter of them (122) were for food and beverages – 44 different brands in 2010 (some brands had more products). A study conducted by researchers from Yale, Stanford, Duke and Harvard universities showed that almost 80% of all the 49 food products were “energy-dense and nutrient-poor,” and 93% of the 73 beverages got all of their calories from added sugar – basically, junk food. It’s strikingly ironical to have the fittest people on Earth promote some of the worst products on Earth – especially considering that their main target are teenagers – adolescents aged 12 to 17 are the…

Domestic Science, Green Living

Tomtato or Pomato? Half potato, half tomato plant increases crop efficiency


The pomato plant exists (feel free to call it tomtato, I just swing between the two names), and is produced by grafting a tomato plant and a potato plant. They yield both potatoes and tomatoes without affecting the quality of the crop. Even though they may not strike you as related, both these plants are part of the same family – the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. Although these plants can’t be crossbred, they can be grafted, and thus growing both tomatoes from the tomato shoot and potatoes from the rootstock, saving valuable space in gardens and fields. How to grow a pomato/tomtato plant Growing a pomato plant is fairly easy: First,…

Domestic Science, Science

A fantastic, concise explanation of why traffic jams happen


Tom Vanderbilt, journalist, blogger, and author of the best-selling book, Traffic gave an awesome 20 minute presentation on why traffic jams happen, and why it’s our fault for rush hour traffic. “[T]he individual driver cannot often understand the larger traffic system,” says Vanderbilt. The video is definitely worth the watch, but I’ve plucked some of the most interesting points on what’s going on and how it can maybe be solved. There’s too many cars and not enough road – yeah, this is a pretty ‘Captain Obvious’ thing, but it has to be said before we move onto why it’s mostly our fault. The solution: it’s not about building more roads,…

Domestic Science, Psychology

The World’s happiest countries: Europe takes 8 out of first 10 places


The United Nations General Assembly has just released its second annual World Happiness Report, measuring happiness and well-being in countries around the world in an attempt to help guide public policy; it has been consistently shown that happiness plays an important role in society – happy people live longer, have more productive lives, earn higher wages, and in general, are better citizens. The happiest countries in the world Before we go into how this top was created and what factors were taken into consideration, here’s the results: Denmark topped the list of the happiest nations, followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The six main factors taken into consideration…

Domestic Science, Environment

Illegal Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found in 98 Well Known Shampoo brands [with full list]


You might think that the worst thing shampoo can do to you is sting your eyes or make your hair look bad, but as it turns out, a study has shown that some 100 well known shampoo brands include a carcinogen known as cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA). “Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo,” said Michael Green, executive director of Center for Environmental Health. Cocamide DEA is also an allergen that may cause contact dermatitis in individuals who are susceptible to skin allergies. The…