Science & Technology

Bigger brains are smarter, but not by much

Using a large dataset and controlling for a variety of factors, including sex, age, height, socioeconomic status, and genetic ancestry, Gideon Nave of the Wharton School and Philipp Koellinger of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam found that people with larger brains rated higher on measures of intelligence, but only accounts for two percent of the variation in smarts.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Two from Penn named to new class of AAAS Fellows

Noted for their contributions to dental and biological sciences, respectively, Hyun (Michel) Koo of the School of Dental Medicine and Joshua Plotkin of the School of Arts and Sciences are part of the newest cohort of fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Katherine Unger Baillie

To resolve inflammation, location matters

A single protein can both restrain the initiation of inflammation and help to actively resolve it, according to new research led by George Hajishengallis of the School of Dental Medicine. He and his colleague found that the type of cell that secretes the protein determines which activity the protein promotes.

Katherine Unger Baillie



In the News


WHYY (Philadelphia)

PGW plan for liquified natural gas facility in Southwest Philadelphia clears hurdle

Christina Simeone of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy discussed the possible environmental impact of the creation of a new liquified natural gas (LNG) facility in Southwest Philadelphia. “The environmental benefit will happen if LNG displaces diesel or fuel oil,” she said. “But it’s just not clear until there’s a client base who is going to be the end user of this gas.”

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NBC News

After a stressful election, experts warn blockchain is not the answer

Matt Blaze of the School of Engineering and Applied Science weighed in on blockchain voting. “The charlatans pushing for blockchain elections and online voting are doing the equivalent of advocating a healthcare policy that assumes we’re about to cure cancer,” Blaze tweeted. “Maybe we will, but best not to bet on it.”

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Popular Science

Cell phones pose plenty of risks, but none of them are cancer

Reviewing the results of a study exploring the relationship between cell phones and cancer, Kenneth Foster of the School of Engineering and Applied Science remains unconvinced of potential dangers. “Health agencies are saying that if there’s something there, it’s probably so small that there’s not likely to be a large effect on the population,” Foster said.

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LiveScience.com

The House science committee is back in Democrats’ control: What that means for science

PIK Professor Jonathan Moreno said that the new leaders of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will need to focus on making sure that “the agencies that are responsible for worrying about climate and the environment are doing their jobs.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn physicists win $3 million Breakthrough Prize

The School of Arts and Sciences’ Charles Kane and Eugene Mele have been awarded the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for their work developing a two-dimensional topological insulator, which forces electrons to travel in an orderly fashion. The material could some day be used to improve energy efficiency.

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Smithsonian Magazine

Scientists break the rules of reproduction by breeding mice from single-sex parents

The Perelman School of Medicine’s Marisa Bartolomei offered commentary on same-sex reproductive experiments, which have proven easier in bimaternal than bipaternal pairings.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Guess what these young dinosaurs ate when their parents weren’t looking

Peter Dodson of the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences offered commentary on young dinosaurs’ ability to independently forage for vegetation. “It seems like a pretty fair bet that there wasn’t parental care,” said Dodson.

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The New York Times

Life with no males? These termites show that it’s possible

Tanya Dapkey of the School of Arts and Sciences discussed asexual termites, saying there was much to learn from “societies in nature run without any input from males.”

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WHYY (Philadelphia)

A Philly-Pittsburgh Hyperloop? State House resolution calls for feasibility study

Megan Ryerson of the School of Design discussed the feasibility and wisdom of investing in Hyperloop lines between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “… It could really change the distribution of economic activities across cities that, right now, we think of as so distant,” said Ryerson.

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National Geographic

This tiny fish can recognize itself in a mirror. Is it self-aware?

PIK Professor Michael Platt commented on an animal sentience study. While he found the research “fascinating and well-executed,” he pointed out that the study doesn’t necessarily confirm that animals have a human-like sense of self.

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