Sunday, July 31, 2005

Science on my Side

Many of you will not be pleased to hear the following fun (?) facts from Popular Science magazine, citing a University of Utah driving study:

1. People who are talking on the telephone were found to take 18% longer to hit the brakes.

2. People who are on the phone were found to drive worse that people who are legally drunk.

In the same issue, findings were reported which indicated that metropolitan areas with greater radio airtime devoted to country music had higher suicide rates. So you never know what you might learn from reading Popular Science magazine.

In National Geographic magazine, I learned that nine European cities are piloting a program using fuel cell buses, and that if you replace one incandescent lightbulb with a compact flourescent lamp, you can save a 500 pound pile of coal and that the driest place on earth is a Chilean desert which averages less than one inch annual rainfall.

Science is fun!


Gye Greene said...

When I read studies like these, I'm always curious about the causal direction.

Like: Was the "cell phone driving study" an experiment, or was it based on people who already drive while talking on cell phones? People who are crummy drivers anyhow?

Similarly, country music: Does it make you depressed? Or is it that rural areas (for example) listen to more country music, and rural areas also have higher rates of suicide.

Interesting stuff, though! :) I liked the Chilean desert.

Hm: What if I don't want a 500 lbs. of coal? ;)


Tara said...

The country music thing is definitely more of a correlation than a causality, although the study was done in metro, not rural areas. But the cell phone thing is trying to show a causal relationship based on something called "inattentional blindness" which people experience while talking on cell phones.