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29 Apr

Through The Wormhole: Studying "Us vs. Them"

Guest Post By: Mina Chikara, Mina Cikara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. (Full bio below)

The human brain is specialized for group living. People who accurately identify, value, and cooperate with in-group members enjoy numerous material and psychological benefits (e.g., protection, belonging, emotional support). However, group life is also a source of social strife and destruction. Conflict between groups, in particular, has been described as one of the greatest problems facing the world today. For example, it has been estimated that over 200 million people were killed in the last century in acts of genocide, war, and other forms of group conflict.

What my lab finds fascinating is how easily people form groups. Sometimes when we’re interested in studying group dynamics and we want to control for factors such as stereotypes or a history of rivalry, we’ll assign people to new groups. For example, we have run studies online with thousands of people and randomly assigned them to either the Eagles team or the Rattlers team. We tell people that they are going to play against each other in a problem solving challenge in order to get them in a competitive mindset. In the end they never actually compete, they just tell us how they feel about teammates’ and competitors’ experiences (which are, by design, irrelevant to the competition they think will happen later on).

  

Even though they’ve only just been assigned to these teams and they never lay eyes on teammates or competitors, the majority of people say they feel worse about negative events when they befall teammates rather than competitors. Moreover, people also say they feel better about negative events when they befall competitors rather than teammates. Some people even leave messages such as, “This was an awesome study! F*#! EAGLES, GO RATTLERS!”

On another occasion, I asked a participant to come back to the lab after she was assigned to a team a few weeks prior. When I asked her if she remembered which team she was on she replied, “Of course!” This was puzzling to me because she had been randomly assigned to the Eagles. When I asked her why she said “of course,” she replied, “My family is a military family so the Eagle is a very important totem to us.”

Groups are important. Even when we haven’t been members for long we make meaning out of them so that they become important. Groups change the way we see the world and ourselves. This why I will never grow tired of studying how people change when they move from thinking about “me and you” to “us and them.”

Mina Cikara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Policy from Princeton University and completed a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Professor Cikara studies how the mind, brain, and behavior change when the social context shifts from “me and you” to “us and them.” She focuses primarily on how group membership, competition, and prejudice disrupt the processes that allow people to see others as human and to empathize with others. She uses a wide range of tools—standard laboratory experiments, implicit and explicit behavioral measures, fMRI and psychophysiology—to examine failures of empathy, dehumanization, and misunderstanding between groups. She is equally interested in the behavioral consequences of these processes: discrimination, conflict, and harm. Most recently, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology selected her as a Dissertation Award Finalist. She has published articles in Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and NeuroImage. She tweets about psychology and neuroscience @profcikara.

9 Apr

Unique Problem Solvers

Sometimes HOW IT’S MADE covers some pretty unique items. They range from the often every day item that makes our life easier, to the out of this world items that fascinate us. The of items all do one thing – solve some of life’s problems.

Humans have always faced problems, but from the start we figured out ways around them. In the beginning, our most immediate problems were finding food and shelter, and thus manufacturing began. Creating flint arrows and stone axes were the solution, and clusters of humanity began the refining the quality and speed with which the items were made.

As humankind has progressed, so have the incredible challenges and needs we’ve faced. How do we build villages and communities? How do we create more food to feed the population? How do we create items that signify value of things we possess? The answer is simple – look for the basic tools and resources around you and then build upon them to make them fit the ever-changing needs of society. The inspiration to create has always been there, but in the early days the scale of mass manufacturing was simply not possible.

With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s it slowly became possible to move from creating bespoke items that met our needs to producing on a grand scale. The invention of the steam engine and eventually harnessing electricity allowed for us to create massive factories and to move the products and resources around in a way that changed our lives forever. The bigger problem of how do you actually make the things that make our lives better was finally able to go wide.

If you’ve grown up in the 20th century you have the confidence of having most products that solve your problems at your fingertips. Hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, cell phones, ATMs, Wi-Fi – they are all things we take for granted and yet we shouldn’t forget that these great ideas needed to be perfected and executed to make it into our homes. We’ve come a long way from the manufacturing technology of the 1700’s; we have robotic production lines, computers, advanced equipment, easier access to resources, and advanced transportation that are entirely focused on the logistics of making things and making them for the masses.

In this world we have the luxury of looking a little problem like “How can I avoiding hauling my heavy luggage through the airport?” and solutions like rolling luggage is invented and now produced on a mass level. We have the ability to take problems like how to create energy when our primary sources go down? Stand-by generators are now a given in places like hospitals where loss of electricity could literally be life or death for patients. And there are the problems we never thought we’d face, like “How do you write in zero gravity where the ink can’t flow? Even in 1920, the idea of going to space, much less living in it was a fantasy and yet humans have advanced and adapted to make their ideas happen, and on a big scale.

Around here at Science Channel we love seeing behind that curtain of how items are made, parts upon parts, pieced together to make something we take for granted or can’t live without. We can look back to the foundation of how items are made into the future as makers, manufacturers and big ideas keep creating amazing items that take us to the next level.

Who among us wouldn’t want to know how a bionic arm is made? Or space planes? Or 3-D printed cars? These lists of challenges we have to overcome will never end, nor will the process and logistics of making items. We can’t wait to see technology advance and future play out in HOW IT'S MADE!

HOW IT'S MADE airs Thursdays, 9p.

24 Feb

The Mysteries of WHAT ON EARTH?

I’m Neil Laird, Executive Producer of WHAT ON EARTH?  Science Channel’s motto has long been to “Question Everything” no matter how bizarre or strange, and put it under the bright glare of modern science to see what might be revealed. Your guesses about the mysterious satellite photos fit right into that philosophy—they are informed, thoughtful, surprising, and just as importantly, entertaining. We’re thrilled you love the mysteries we are able to bring you here on the web and even better, leave you questioning some of these provocative images along with the experts. Many of the world’s top archeologists, meteorologist, geologist and other experts are as stumped as you are! And there are many more to come—so please keep chiming in. We’d love to hear more about what you think of the pictures and what you think of our show.

As a special sneak peak for our blog fans, here is a particularly eye-catching image that has captured everyone full attention---including the US State Department. It was glimpsed during a flyby over North Korea. It may seem like just a huge cloud, or the effects of a forest fire---but satellites reveal its neither--- now people wonder, could it be a man-made smoke screen? And if so, what on earth are they hiding? See scientists and military analysts probe the evidence next week at 9p on WHAT ON EARTH?

M1139_NA_Korea_amo_2014115_lrg_SAT IMAGE OF NORTH KOREA WITH VISIBLE SMOKE MASTER

7 Nov

Get Ready For Space Week

Get ready: Space Week starts Monday on Science Channel. From new series 'Strip the Cosmos' to a live event from the Rosetta comet, Space Week is a truly out-of-this-world experience.

Here's a sneak peek:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

29 Oct

The Science of 'Interstellar'

Wednesday night on Science Channel, Matthew McConaughey takes viewers behind the scenes of Interstellar with a look at the real-life science that went into this out-of-this-world film.

Over on SCI2, we're highlighting the science of sci-fi, including this Interstellar featurette:

Watch 'The Science of Interstellar' Wednesday night at 10/9c on Science.

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

4 Sep

Science Presents Programming For National Hispanic Heritage Month 2014

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), Science proudly highlights a variety of programming that showcases the rich and diverse history of the Hispanic and Latino cultures. The following is a list of programming to commemorate the month:

Survivorman: Sonoran Desert
September 16 at 3p.m. (Eastern)
 
Survivorman: Tierra del Fuego
September 23 at 3 a.m. (Eastern)


 
How Do They Do It? Marca País Episode 1
NEW | September 18 at 10 p.m. (Eastern)
September 18 at 1 a.m. (Eastern)
September 19 at 8 a.m. (Eastern)
September 19 at 11 a.m. (Eastern)
September 19 at 6 p.m. (Eastern)
 
How Do They Do It? Marca País Episode 2 (P)
NEW | September 25 at 10 p.m. (Eastern)
September 25 at 1 a.m. (Eastern)
September 26 at 8 a.m. (Eastern)
September 26 at 11 a.m. (Eastern)
September 26 at 6 p.m. (Eastern)
 
The Unexplained Files: Peruvian Alien Skull & Baltic Sea UFO
September 17 at 1 p.m. (Eastern)
September 21 at 1 p.m. (Eastern)
 
Close Encounters – Examined: Socorro & Plauen (P)
NEW | September 24 at 10 p.m. (Eastern)
September 24 at 1 a.m. (Eastern)
September 25 at 8 a.m. (Eastern)
September 25 at 11 a.m. (Eastern)
September 25 at 6 p.m. (Eastern)
September 27 at 6:30 p.m. (Eastern)
 
Strip the City: Machu Picchu
September 24 at 4 a.m. (Eastern)


Dark Matters: Remote Control Man, Cadavers for Sale, Einstein’s Revenge
September 26 at 4 a.m. (Eastern)

Firefly: All-day marathon feat. Gina Torres and Morena Baccarin
September 27 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

When Earth Erupts: Americas
September 28 at 10 a.m. (Eastern)
 
Aliens of the Amazon: Treehoppers
October 12 at 6 a.m. (Eastern)
 
Aliens of the Amazon: Secret Alliance
October 12 at 7 a.m. (Eastern)
 
Species of Mass Destruction: Fire Ants
October 12 at 9 a.m. (Eastern)

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

9 May

Science Fiction Films Don't Show the Scariest Things That Could Happen to Earth

A recent report from the White House lays out the stark reality of a future affected by climate change: coastal flooding, heat waves and droughts, ocean acidification, hurricanes and food security fears.

So while science fiction movies show some unlikely ways Earth could be destroyed in the future -- aliens or artificial intelligence, for instance -- the biggest threat to our planet comes instead from natural disasters.

Designing for Disaster, a new exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., demonstrates construction innovations designed to protect communities from the devastating affects of natural disasters; for instance, is the U.S. prepared for a massive earthquake like the tremblors that leveled parts of Haiti and Chile in 2010?

Designingfordisaster

On May 25, two Science Channel programs address this issue head-on.

At 9/8c, Swallowed by a Sinkhole looks into the science of sinkholes and why Florida's unique geology makes it the sinkhole capital of the world.

Then at 10/9c, Megastorm: World’s Biggest Typhoon examines super-typhoon Haiyan, which destroyed much of Tacloban in the Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

The future threats from natural disasters are very real. By bringing attention to this issue, and each doing our part, Science Channel and the National Building Museum aim to spotlight efforts keeping people around the world more safe and secure.

Designing for Disaster opens May 11, 2014 and runs through August 2, 2015.

Swallowed by a Sinkhole and Megastorm: World's Biggest Typhoon air Sunday, May 25, starting at 9 p.m. E/P on Science Channel.

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

10 Mar

You Love Science. We Love Science. I F---ing Love Science Is For All Of Us.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 9.11.33 AM

Science Channel broke huge news at SXSW this weekend:

It's true! We're teaming up with Elise Andrew of I F---ing Love Science to turn the popular IFLS Facebook page and website into a TV series.

You know who else f---ing loves science? The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, who will be an executive producer on the show. Here's how he announced the HUGE news:

If you know anything about me, you know I love science. Science has a naughty secret — it’s that all things are connected. And this show is going to explore the randomness of science. Think of it as a late night Google search that goes a hundred pages deep until things get weird — and then you just keep going. And there is no better partner for this kind of smart entertainment like Science Channel and Elise.

No word on whether Geoff will make an appearance on the series.

So what can you expect?

"I F—ing Love Science follows one inalienable truth — that jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, science is present in everything. In each 60 minute episode, the show attempts to prove a grand, outlandish thesis that will take the viewer on twists and turns through the big and small of all things science. Each hour will delve into a bevy of unexpected but related topics, meeting celebrities, scientists, and everyday people – each of whom f-ing love science."

Andrew will be a consulting producer on the hour-long show, scheduled to debut later this year. What started two years ago as a fun hobby for Andrew is now a Facebook page with 10.6 million fans and a social following reaching 50 million people a week.

IFLS isn't the first social media sensation to transition to TV. Lil Bub has her own talk show and William Shatner starred in short-lived series $h*! My Dad Says, based on a Twitter account of the same (but unbleeped) name.

Stay tuned for more news as the show gets underway. In the meantime, check out another Science Channel project to which Andrew is a contributor: SCI2.

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

31 Jan

Science Channel Celebrates Black History Month

SCI-(pos-bw-science)In celebration of Black History Month, Science proudly highlights a variety of programming that showcases the rich and diverse history of the African American culture. The following is a list of programming to commemorate the month.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman | WATCH VIDEO

Monday, February 3rd at 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Friday, February 14th at 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Tuesday, February 18th at 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Wednesday, February 26th at 6:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Through the Wormhole explores the deepest mysteries of existence - the questions that have puzzled mankind for eternity. What are we made of? What was there before the beginning? Are we really alone? These questions have been pondered by the most exquisite minds of the human race.

Outrageous Acts of Science

Sunday, February 9th 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Outrageous Acts of Science Ep. 1: Kings of Carnage

Saturday, February 15th 10:00 p.m. (Eastern) NEW

Outrageous Acts of Science Ep. 2: Show Offs

Saturday, February 22nd 10:00 p.m. (Eastern) NEW

Science is taking to the streets as amateur and professional scientists conduct experiments and post their exploits online, competing with other backyard scientists to go bigger and bolder. Features astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi.

How the Universe Works 2 | WATCH VIDEO

Tuesday, February 11th 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (Eastern)

Tuesday, February 11th 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Sunday, February 23rd 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

This series shows the inner workings of our planet, the Solar System, the galaxies and the Universe itself. Narrated by actor Erik Todd Dellums.

Stuck With Hackett | WATCH VIDEO

Friday, February 14th at 4:00 a.m. (Eastern)

Stuck with Hackett features "alternative engineer" and survival expert Chris Hackett. Each episode finds Hackett left alone in an extreme environment - from deep wilderness, to ruined cities, to arid deserts - with little more than his wits and ingenuity.

Unearthing Ancient Secrets: Unsolved Death of Cleopatra

Friday, February 21st at 6:00 a.m. (Eastern)

For 2000 years, only one verdict has been recorded-suicide by snakebite. Scientific evidence suggests this is not how Cleopatra died.

Futurescape Ep. 1: Robot Revolution | WATCH VIDEO

Sunday, February 23rd at 11 a.m. (Eastern)

Experiments have transformed machines into creatures with consciousness; elsewhere, scientists are enhancing humans with synthetic parts that work better than the real thing. The result: a not-too distant world where man and machine are indistinguishable. Features Neuroengineer, Kwabena Boahen.

Dark Matters 2 Ep. 202: Voodoo RX | WATCH VIDEO

Monday, February 24th at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern)

A doctor uses the power of mind to save his patient.

Dark Matters 2 Ep. 207: Tuskegee Experiment

Monday, February 24th at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

U.S. government experiments illegally on black men with syphilis for 40 years.

Alien Encounters Ep. 1: The Message

Tuesday, February 25th at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern)

What would really happen if we got a message from space? Scientists and sci-fi writers, with cooperation from SETI and Carl Sagan's son, Nick, unravel the impact of this world changing event, forming an intriguing hypothetical scenario. Features astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Alien Encounters Ep. 2: The Arrival

Tuesday, February 25th at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern)

How will humans react when an alien spacecraft is on its way to Earth? Will humans learn from aliens, or become colonial subjects? Scientists and sci-fi writers, with cooperation from SETI and Carl Sagan's son, Nick, unravel the impact. Features astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Alien Encounters 2 Ep. 1: The Invasion

Tuesday, February 25th at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)

A swarm of small spacecraft hover in our atmosphere and deposit thousands of mysterious pods on the earth's surface. Features astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi.

Alien Encounters 2 Ep. 2: The Offspring

Tuesday, February 25th at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern)

A hypothetical encounter with a gigantic alien mother ship is explored. Features astrophysicists Hakeem Oluseyi.

19 Sep

Hispanic Heritage Month on Science Channel

Hispanic-heritage-monthIn celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), Science proudly highlights a variety of programming that showcases the rich and diverse history of the Hispanic and Latino cultures. The following is a list of programming to commemorate the month.

The Unexplained Files: Argentinian UFO | WATCH VIDEO
Sunday, September 22 at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Wednesday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Tuesday, October 15 at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Two strange UFO events make Joaquin V. Gonzalez, a small town in northern Argentina, a UFO hotspot.

Species of Mass Destruction: Venomous Lionfish
Tuesday, September 24 at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Only a half dozen or so Lionfish were set free in the early 21st century, but they’ve already devastated reefs from Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico. They have no predators so they eat everything in their paths.

Wonders of Life: Home
Monday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Physicist Brian Cox travels to Mexico and explains what makes Earth a home for life and asks what ingredients are required for complex life to begin.

The Unexplained Files: Carlos de los Santos Montiel
Wednesday, October 2 at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Sunday, October 6 at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Perhaps one of the most shattering UFO events of the year 1975 involved the near-abduction of pilot Carlos de los Santos Montiel as he flew his small aircraft over Central Mexico.

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