Not the Hole Story?

The hole in the ozone layer over Antartica was recently the biggest it has ever been, I learned from this Reuters article:

“From September 21 to 30, the average area of the ozone hole was the largest ever observed, at 10.6 million square miles ,” said Paul Newman of
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington.

If the stratospheric weather conditions had been normal, the ozone hole would be expected to reach a size of about 8.9 million to 9.3 million square miles, about the surface area of North America, NASA said in a statement.

(NASA image top right. More about it here.)

This immediately reminds one of the other story on the hole I mentioned not so long ago. There was good news there, since it was supposed to be stabilizing, as a result […] Click to continue reading this post

Saturday Morning Fun

During the course of a coffee break during Saturday’s all day conference in Cambridge, I looked out of the window to an intriguing sight:


(Click for larger.) They were doing needlework of some sort, and it looked like a lot of fun. They were happy to let the strange man (uh… me) take the photograph he asked for. Little did I know that one of them -Richard- actually reads blogs about science including this very blog and wrote in and asked if I was that particular photographer! Small world! […] Click to continue reading this post

Those Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

You may recall that we were recently discussing stereotypes as a result of an earlier post. Particularly, I was talking about the effects those sterotypes can produce as a result of modifying the expectations of others, making it hard for some people to be taken seriously, and resulting in them having to go that extra mile (or several) as a result.

Well, I’d like to point your attention to a recent study about the direct effects of those stereotypes on the stereotyped. Quoting from an article by AP science writer Randolph E. Schmid:

[Steven J.] Heine and doctoral student Ilan Dar-Nimrod wanted to see how people are affected by stereotypes about themselves. They divided more than 220 women into four groups and administered math and reading comprehension tests between 2003 and 2006. Their results are reported in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

What they actually did was to provide the different groups with different images and reading materials before they did the tests. They seem to have found significant differences in the results that suggest that having a negative stereotype of yourself in mind actually makes things worse. In other words:

It’s a process psychologists call a stereotype threat, Heine explained. “If a member of a group for which there is a negative stereotype is in a position to test the stereotype, they are likely to choke under the pressure.”

So reminding them of the stereotype affects them.

Here’s what they found: […] Click to continue reading this post