The Research Project

This page is designed to take note of interesting research that is going on around the world. Did you know that the result of almost every research project is the determination that there is a definite need for more research?

I especially like the kind of research that makes you go, “Well duh, did we really need to spend research dollars on that study?” Like the research project that determined that young people who take babysitter training classes make better babysitters! Another form of research that gets my attention is when new research contradicts older research.

My most recent project has been taking a look at research that is being done at various universities at each of the fifty states across the country. It took me a little over year but it was quite informative. Here is what I found.

Week One – Alabama – Butterflies

Week Two – Alaska –  Climate Change

Week Three – Arizona – Hurricanes

Week Four – Arkansas – The nation’s power grid

Week Five – California – Compost and Climate Change

Week Six – Colorado – Atomic clocks

Week Seven – Connecticut – The Roper Center

Week Eight – Delaware – Learning Fractions

Week Nine – Florida  Mosquitoes

Week Ten – Georgia – Compost and Climate Change, Part Two

Week Eleven, Hawaii – Dolphins, Sentinels Of Ocean Health

Week Twelve – Idaho – Cell Phone Bones

Week Thirteen – Illinois – Bias Research

Week Fourteen – Indiana – Google Maps on Steroids

Week Fifteen – Iowa – Call the Iowa Midwife

Week Sixteen – Kansas – Sleep and Healing

The Five Second Rule

This article has it all:

  • research dollars being spent on something that is not very important
  • wondering how they did the research – did they drop food on the floor and have people eat it and see if they got sick or did they just put the dropped food under a microscope?
  • and the number one conclusion for all research: we need to do more research! (See the end of the article)

Randy Dotinga HealthDay – ‎Friday‎, ‎March‎ ‎14‎, ‎2014

The five-second rule — pick up that dropped food on the floor fast if you want to safely eat it — may have some basis in reality, researchers report.

“Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk, as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time,” Anthony Hilton, a professor of microbiology at Aston University in England, said in university news release.

“However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth,” he added. “We have found evidence that transfer from indoor flooring surfaces is incredibly poor with carpet actually posing the lowest risk of bacterial transfer onto dropped food.”

For their study, Hilton and his students tracked how many germs transferred to toast, pasta, a cookie and a sticky candy after they fell onto carpeted, laminate and tiled floors.

The investigators looked specifically at the germs E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus to see if the foods picked them up after being left on the floor for between 3 and 30 seconds.

The time the food spent on the floor and the type of flooring both had effects on the likelihood of transfer of germs. More time translated to more germs, while carpet was the least likely to transfer bacteria; laminated and tiled floods boosted the risk that germs would transfer to moist foods after 5 seconds or more.

The researchers also surveyed people about their willingness to eat food that had dropped on the floor.

“Our study showed, surprisingly, that a large majority of people are happy to consume dropped food, with women the most likely to do so,” Hilton said. “But they are also more likely to follow the 5-second rule, which our research has shown to be much more than an old wives’ tale.”

Research should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal

How Long Does it Take You to Cook Dinner?

This one is the category of “Why did anyone feel it was important to do this research?” According to a recent episode of the “Christina Cooks” television show, hosted by Christina Pirello, Americans spend an average 17 minutes a day cook their meals. Who would want to know this information? Food companies? The government? Kitchen appliance makers?

Is it wise to spend money to do this research when the money could have been spent a better way? Rather than spend money to find out how much time Americans spend cooking their meals wouldn’t it be better to spend that money on helping feed the hungry?

New Family Structures Research and the “No Differences” Claim

According to Ana Samuel, a Research Scholar of the Whitherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, “The widely circulated claim that same-sex families are ‘no different’ from intact, heterosexual families is not settled science. New studies suggest that children do best when they are raised by their biological parents in a stable, intact marriage.” Dr. Samuel’s summary of the new studies can be viewed at:

I found the article by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the Population Research Center of the University of Texas to be most helpful. Dr. Regnerus was the lead investigator in a 2011 survey of 2,988 young adults called the New Family Structures Study (NFSS). The NFSS had been recognized, even by its critics, as being, “better situated than virtually all previous studies to detect differences between these groups in the population.” The NFSS presents new and extensive empirical evidence that suggests that there are differences in outcomes between the children of a parent who had a same-sex relationship and children raised by their married, biological mothers and fathers.

Will any of this research ever see the light of day in our mainstream media?

From the January 27, 2013 issue of Parade magazine.

Watching TV actually shortens our life span more than smoking cigarettes! A study has shown that for adults over 25 watching an hour of TV can cut 22 minutes from one’s life span while smoking a cigarette only reduces one’s life span by 11 minutes. Scientists figure that hours of sitting leads to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease thus having a greater impact on longevity than smoking. On the flip side, being physically active on average adds 5.4 years to one’s life span.

Taking regular walks improves memory for folks over 50 better than solving crossword puzzles or taking ginkgo biloba.

Doing tai chi, a flowing series of stretches and poses, helps arthritic knees more than taking supplements like glucosamine.

In the category of, “Who actually conducts these studies?” research shows that looking out on natural, outdoorsy scenes reduces blood pressure and stress.

Volunteering decreases depression and improves one’s sex life. Credit the University of Pittsburgh for figuring that one out.

The good folks in Denmark, who I believe did really good in the last World Cup of Soccer, losing in the final to Spain, figured out that soccer improves bone health in women better than running does.

Adopting a dog is a better motivation to be physically active than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer. That’s from a study in Canada, eh?

I don’t know if this will motivate you or not but 100 year old Fauja Singh became the oldest person ever to finish a marathon. At the 2011 Toronto Marathon he finished in 8 hours and 25 minutes, ahead of nine runners that were younger than him!

From the Fall, 2012 issue of Better Health newsletter:

In a review of 69 studies, regularly attending church is linked to a lower incidence of death from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, Psychology Today reports that regular church attendance also boosts mental health by providing feelings of hope and belonging, as well as increasing self-esteem and a sense of self-worth.

According to Parade magazine several studies have concluded that running will not ruin healthy knees. So there is one less excuse for not getting out and exercising.

According to the Sept. 17, 2012 issue of Time magazine, scientists have discovered four million genetic switches in areas of the human genome previously thought to be junk DNA. Russ Miller from Creation, Evolution and Science Ministries calls this new discovery “gems among the junk” and notes that this shows that Darwinian bias has been holding back scientific research for 50 years.

Also from the same issue of Time, according to a new study from Stanford University organic fruit, vegetables and meat contain no more vitamins or nutrients than conventional varieties and are no less likely to be contaminated with microbes like E. coli and salmonella. Organic produce and meat does tend to contain fewer pesticides though. Another advantage to organic food is that it is typically sold “closer to home,” and therefore has lower transportation costs. Conventional food sometimes ends up being shipped long distances – think grapes from Chile being sold in the US – to get to consumers.

Pregnant women were told for years that any alcohol consumption during pregnancy would negatively affect their newborn. Now a study from Denmark, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that children whose mothers drank moderately during pregnancy fared just as well on intelligence and emotional tests as those whose mothers abstained from alcohol. Despite the findings, the authors were quick to caution that they still recommend women avoid alcohol while pregnant.

While we are on the subject of drinking, a 14-year study of Canadians 50 years old and older published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that subjects who kept their weekly consumption of alcohol  sensible reported feeling happier and had fewer complaints compared to non-drinkers and former drinkers. Both of these studies on alcohol are reported in the October 15, 2012 issue of Wine Spectator.

The following research projects were reported in the June, 2012 issue of Florida Trend magazine.

In a study of autism conducted by Florida Atlantic University researchers found that watching how infants respond to speech over time could lead to earlier diagnoses of autism. Most children at around age 6 months shift their focus of attention from the speaker’s eyes to the speaker’s mouth. Then at age one children shift their gave back to the speaker’s eyes. Autistic children, by contrast, stay focused on a speaker’s mouth; they never go through that six month period of focusing on the speaker’s eyes.

A study at the University of Miami found that, by a wide margin, religious people were better able to forgo immediate rewards in order to gain larger rewards in the future.

A researcher at Florida State University invented a pacifier that helps premature babies develop the breathe-suck-swallow reflex. Every time the premies suck on the pacifier a soft lullaby is played. The device has been dubbed the PAL – Pacifier Activated Lullaby.

Research at the University of South Florida has shown that the caffeine in coffee may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. This research backs up previous studies that came up with similar findings.


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