Upfront Home
In This Issue
News and Trends
 • 
 • 
Features
Times Past
The Ethicist
Debate
Teen Voices
Upfront Topics
Contact
Magazine Info
News and Trends
March 10, 2008


Double-dipping Dangers
Breaking Free of Facebook
Victory in Blue?
Ireland Gets Even Greener
Answer Keys

Double-dipping Dangers
Ten years after it went off the air, Seinfeld's influence is still being felt—even in the halls of academia. In a 1993 episode, George Costanza dips a chip, takes a bite, then dips again. "Did you just double-dip that chip?" demands Timmy, his girlfriend's brother. "That's like putting your whole mouth in the dip!" It turns out that Timmy was right, according to Paul L. Dawson, a food microbiologist at Clemson University in South Carolina. His study revealed that three to six double dips transferred about 10,000 bacteria from the eater's mouth to the remaining dip. Before you dive into the dip at the next party you go to, Dawson suggests that you "look around and ask yourself, would I be willing to kiss everyone here? Because you don't know who might be double-dipping, and those who do are sharing their saliva with you."

Back to Top


Breaking Free of Facebook
Many ex-Facebook members have found it nearly impossible to remove themselves entirely from the site. It took one user two months, several e-mail exchanges, and a threat of legal action to get most, but not all, of his information erased. Frustrated users have been turning to online groups with names like "How to permanently delete your Facebook account." Facebook had said it kept some user information because many former members wind up rejoining. But in February, the company announced that it would make it easier to leave by letting users who want their accounts entirely deleted to inform the company by e-mail or fill out an online form.

Back to Top


Victory in Blue?
Can the color of a uniform affect an athlete's success? A study of men's judo in the 2004 Olympics in Athens suggested the answer was yes. In high-level judo, one competitor wears a white uniform and the other wears blue. The study found that those in blue won more Olympic matches, suggesting that the bright blue might have an intimidating effect. But two scientists who reanalyzed the data found that seeded contestants—who were more likely to win anyway—wore blue. When all factors were considered, the researchers say, there was no advantage to wearing blue.

Back to Top


Ireland Gets Even Greener
An estimated 42 billion plastic shopping bags are given out every month around the world. Because most are not biodegradable, some places are trying to cut their usage. China will soon prohibit shops from handing them out for free and San Francisco has simply banned them. But Ireland has taken a different approach, which has managed to make plastic bags socially unacceptable. Customers who want them must pay 33 cents per bag as a result of a 2002 tax. Within months of the introduction of the tax, plastic-bag use dropped 94 percent, and people began carrying cloth bags. Vincent Cobb, the president of reusablebags.com in Chicago, would like to see this happen in the U.S. "Using cloth bags has been seen as extreme act of a crazed environmentalist," Cobb says. "We want it to be seen as something a smart, progressive person would carry."

Back to Top


Answer Keys
During a recent pop quiz, A.P. physics students at Great Neck South High School on Long Island, N.Y., didn't need either pens or paper. Instead, they furiously pressed keys on handheld clickers, as animated spaceships on a projection screen tracked their answers. Such audience-response systems have been used for everything from surveying game-show audiences to polling voters. Now they're being introduced in schools across the country, including New York City, St. Paul, Minn., Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Dallas. Teachers say the clickers encourage participation even from students who don't usually speak up in class. Jake Zeller, a junior at Great Neck South, easily beat his fellow students in the physics quiz and watched his spaceship land on Mars while those of his classmates vaporized. "I like competition," he says. "I think it also motivates other students to study harder so they can do better in class."

Back to Top


Merging Two Traditions
Ask Kareem Salama—billed as the first Muslim country-western singer—what makes his music "country" and he says, "Probably my accent." It's a genuine Southern drawl, rooted in Salama's rural Oklahoma childhood. The son of Egyptian immigrants, Salama, 29, was born in Ponca City, northwest of Tulsa. His songs highlight typical "country" themes like love and home. Salama performs mostly on Muslim concert circuits in the U.S. and Britain. The question is whether he can find wider acceptance of both parts of his identity. "I am certain there are some people who can't accept it," he says. "But hopefully, even if they don't like you as person, they will like the music."

Back to Top