The Study

Do Floods Hurt or Help Fish?
May 11, 2011

Flooding along the Mississippi River continues to dominate headlines, as Mississippi and Louisiana brace for record water levels. The river has already reached a record 58 feet in Natchez, Mississippi, and is expected to crest there at 64 feet on May 21, while Louisiana officials nervously consider whether to open the Morganza spillway, which would lower the river by several feet, but also deluge thousands of homes and businesses. Cities farther upstream, though, aren't letting days of flooding get in the way of events: Memphis is even going ahead with a World Championship BBQ competition.

Apocalypse Soon?
May 11, 2011

Judgment Day will occur on May 21, 2011, at least according to Harold Camping. No, he's not a movie exec promoting another blu-ray release of Terminator 2 (the Double Secret Skynet Edition). He is a broadcaster and president of Family Radio, a religious broadcasting network with over 150 outlets around the United States, and his "tireless" study of the Bible has led Camping to predict that Judgment Day will take place next Saturday. So confident are Mr.

Can Skype Help Teach English?
May 10, 2011

This morning, Microsoft announced it is purchasing Internet phone company Skype for $8.5 billion. Market analysts interpreted the technology giant's latest acquisition as an attempt to compete in the communications market with Google, Apple, and other rivals who have made big strides into the internet telephony market. There's no disputing Skype's popularity: Over 660 million users have signed up, and, on average, upwards of 25 million of those users are online at any given moment.

Cicadas Confounding Scientists!
May 10, 2011

While some parts of the South are dealing with (or bracing for) record floods, others are anticipating another kind of flood: a flood of cicadas. A brood that emerges every 13 years started appearing late last month in southern Alabama, and the insects have since appeared in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and a number of other southeastern states. The cicadas will mate with each other en masse before dying, which frankly seems like a pretty hasty end after 13 years underground. But why every 13 years (or, with some other species, 17 years)?

Flooding: A National Trend?
May 09, 2011

As mentioned in the last post, flooding along the Mississippi River continues to be the major domestic news story of the day. Residents of low-lying areas of Memphis have been asked to evacuate, as the river rises to 48 feet, just shy of the record set in the terrible flood of 1927, the most destructive in American history. Workers are building temporary levees throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, where the Mississippi is expected to exceed levels reached in that infamous flood in 1927.

The Mississippi River Floods: Is Climate Change to Blame?
May 09, 2011

The Mississippi River has continued to rise through the weekend, flooding thousands of acres in the region. Forecasters expect the river to crest in Memphis on Monday night, earlier than previously expected, and farther downstream, Louisiana officials are bracing for a potential flooding disaster. To lessen the chances of flooding in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other Louisiana cities, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open the Morganza Spillway later this week, after already opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway this morning.

Gluten-Free Bread: Is It Really Worse?
May 06, 2011

On Wednesday, members of the gluten-free community gathered in Washington, D.C. for the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit. In recent years, gluten-free foods have become more common in the United States as more and more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the body cannot absorb gluten, a "protein composite" present in wheat, rye, and other grains. However, though Congress tasked the FDA with finalizing labeling standards for gluten free foods back in 2007, the FDA still has not completed that task, a failure that the summit planners hoped to spotlight.

Oil Prices and the Economy, Then and Now
May 06, 2011

After sinking on Thursday, oil prices recovered Friday, climbing back over $100 a barrel. A stronger-than-predicted jobs report fueled expectations of a stronger economy, and more demand for oil. Still, high prices on the exchanges mean high gas prices, which have been something of a tradition every summer since the OPEC embargo in 1973. But are high prices at the pump as economically damaging as they used to be? No, according to economists at MIT and the University of Rome.

Prayer and Your Brain
May 05, 2011

Today is the National Day of Prayer, a day when, according to a 1998 congressional proclamation, "the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." (As opposed to the other 364 days of the year, when they can't?) The history of the day goes back to the Truman Administration, and every president has marked the day since.

When The Mississippi River Floods A Lake
May 04, 2011

As the Mississippi River continues to rise higher and higher, the Army Corps of Engineers has been forced to blast levies along the river in an attempt to lower the water level. Unfortunately, while the destruction of levees has protected cities along the river, it has also led to the flooding of thousands of acres of farmland.