The latest pest forecast
Break out the pesticides. Scientists can now better estimate when
insect explosions will occur. A team including ecology and evolution
assistant professor Greg Dwyer and graduate student Susan Harrell
Yee has formulated a mathematical model that more accurately predicts
flare-ups of gypsy moths, which defoliate trees. Likely applicable
to other pests including small mammals, the model, reported in the
July 15 Nature, takes into account such factors as disease
resistance, predator levels, and weather variability.
or quantum dots, emit colorful light.
Nanocrystals have a behavior problem, as far as physicists are concerned.
Also called quantum dots, the microscopic particles emit colorful
light used in lasers, biological studies, and assorted applications.
But they blink like flickering bulbs, a random habit that diminishes
value. Matthew Pelton, a research associate in the James Franck
Institute, has devised a simpler way to measure the property—and
thus to begin understanding it. Composed of standard laboratory
equipment, the system can study numerous dots at once, report Pelton,
Philippe Guyot-Sionnest, professor in chemistry and physics, and
New York University’s David Grier, formerly of Chicago, in
the August 2 Applied Physics Letters.
Adults are no less egocentric than children, according to new findings.
Whatever their age, people automatically assume that others share
their attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge bases. That’s
according to a report in the November Journal of Experimental
Social Psychology by a team including Boaz Keysar, associate
professor in psychology. The team instructed subjects—33 kids
and their parents—to move objects around a box. If the participants
reached for objects that only they, and not the researchers, could
see, the move counted as an egocentric “error.” The
psychologists found that nearly all participants instinctively glanced
toward the obstructed objects. But unlike children, who were more
likely to reach for them, adults adjusted their self-based biases
to accommodate the researchers’ perspectives.
FDR was right
Americans deserve a more socially and economically just society,
argues Cass Sunstein, the Law School’s Karl N. Llewellyn distinguished
service professor, in his new book The Second Bill of Rights
(Basic Books). As a framework for reform Sunstein takes Franklin
Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Address, which
called for entitlements including the right to a job, to a decent
home, to adequate medical care, to a good education, and to protection
from the financial stresses of old age, sickness, accident, unemployment,
and other conditions. Roosevelt’s vision, Sunstein believes,
should inform politics today.
University researchers have pinpointed the genetic root of a common
congenital brain disorder. Afflicting about one in 10,000 births,
Dandy-Walker malformation can slow motor development, impair mental
function, and cause hydrocephalus. Abnormalities in two genes, known
as ZlC1 and ZlC4, are to blame, a team that includes human genetics
professor William Dobyns, assistant professor Kathleen Millen, and
graduate student Inessa Grinberg reports in the September Nature
Genetics and the August 22 online edition. The geneticists
study the disorder in mice—work that could lead to improved
prenatal diagnosis of Dandy-Walker and to clues about other cerebellar
defects, including autism. —M.L. and L.S.S.