Alexander C. Hart

Is the Masters Golf Tournament Dangerous?
April 04, 2011

Later this week, the world’s top golfers will tee off at the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National in Georgia. Like other golf tournaments, the Masters is a stately, respectful affair. Players dress well, the fans keep their distance, and there seem to be few chances for players to get hurt. But does the game’s high-class, non-contact image mask a hidden danger? According to a couple studies, golf is a surprisingly dangerous game.

Comic Sans is for Children
April 01, 2011

Thanks to a Google April Fools’ Day prank, the font Comic Sans is one of the day’s most popular search term. Unlike the more staid Helvetica, which found itself roped into the prank, Comic Sans is despised by typography aficionados and designers.

Will Our Computer Overlords Celebrate April Fools' Day?
April 01, 2011

Today is April Fools’ Day, a day where people across the world engage in time-honored traditions like finding salt in their sugar bowls, their offices filled with balloons, or a crazy, new feature from Google. But could the end of April Fools’ Day be nigh? Thanks to Watson’s dominating performance on Jeopardy a couple months ago, some people fear the age of computer dominion may not be too far in the future.

The College Board's AP Program Doesn't Make Better College Students
March 31, 2011

College Board President Gaston Caperton recently announced that he would be stepping down in 2012. The College Board is a non-profit organization that claims nearly six thousand schools and educational organizations as members. It’s most famous for two programs it runs: the SAT college-admissions exam and the Advanced Placement (AP) program, which allows high school students to earn college credit by taking rigorous classes and exams.

We Aren't Going to Stop Buying Gas
March 30, 2011

Speaking at Georgetown University today, President Obama warned that thanks to rising demand from developing countries like India and China, the long-term trend of gas prices would be upward. “This is something that everybody is affected by,” he warned. But America has faced energy crises before, and by one important measure, it appears we are less willing or able to respond to higher gas prices. According to research by UC Davis's Jonathan Hughes, Christopher Knittel and Daniel Sperling, Americans are now less responsive to increases in gas prices.

Why Aren't Americans Watching the Cricket World Cup?
March 30, 2011

One of the biggest television events of the year occurred today: a semi-final match in the Cricket World Cup, which saw India defeat arch-rival Pakistan. Some estimates hold that over a billion people watched the game, and Pakistan’s government even declared a half-day holiday so people could watch it. But it’s a safe bet that Cricket World Cup viewership rates in the United States were much, much lower. The United States was, like India and Pakistan, once a British colony.

Will People Ever Stop Being Wrong About Obama's Birth Certificate?
March 29, 2011

President Obama’s birth certificate is once again in the news, thanks to Donald Trump. Trump, whose enterprises frequently seem to find themselves in bankruptcy court, is now intimating that he will run for president and appears to be making a play for the birther vote. Charges that President Obama was born in Kenya and has a fake birth certificate are nonsense, of course, but why won’t they just go away? According to research by Brendan Nyhan and others, it is difficult to change people’s minds when they believe something false about Obama.

The Financial Follies of the NCAA Final Four
March 28, 2011

With April approaching, March Madness is quickly coming to an end. This weekend, the Final Four games will take place in Houston, Texas. It’s a given that two high-quality basketball games will be fun to watch, but does it logically follow that hosting the Final Four will make a ton of money for Houston? According to research by Holy Cross’s Victor Matheson and Robert Baade, it doesn’t. Studying cities that hosted Final Fours from 1970 through 1999, the two found no statistically significant impact.

Are We Running Out of Sudoku?
March 28, 2011

Searching for Sudoku on yields over 5,000 results. Since 2004, when Sudoku became a global phenomenon, hundreds of newspapers have begun publishing a daily puzzle. But unlike the venerable crossword puzzle, there are a finite number of possible Sudokus. Are we at risk of running out? According to research by Bertram Felgenhauer and Frazer Jarvis, Sudoku addicts will be able to get their fix for a long, long time. Using a computer program, the two found there are about 6.7 x 1021 (6,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 6.7 sextillion) possible games of Sudoku.

Kate Gosselin's Birthday and Child-Labor Laws
March 28, 2011

Kate Gosselin turns 36 today. Gosselin is famous mostly for her (and her eight kids’) starring role in the reality show Jon and Kate Plus Eight, now Kate Plus Eight. The show has been good for Kate Gosselin, but was TLC running afoul of federal child labor laws when it filmed the Gosselin kids? Law professor Kimberlianne Podlas says no. She argues that the children are just being filmed in their daily life, not acting.