Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘science and lit’

Shop Talk |

Maybe just one more cup…

I know few writers who need another reason for another cup of coffee. But if you need more convincing, how about your health? The reasoning isn’t yet understood, but it’s possible that coffee has health benefits beyond the mental satisfaction of finishing that chapter. This week, the New York Times Wellness blog cited researchers at the National Cancer Institute who have found a correlation between increased coffee intake and decreased risk of colon cancer.  LiveScience also wrote this week about the possibility that drinking coffee could “reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.” […]


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At a loss for words

Yesterday we talked about a tool to help you analyze your writing for “flabbiness” or “fitness” based on your use of prepositions, adjective and adverbs, and so on. But could analyzing your writing tell you something about your mental fitness, too? Researchers now believe that they may be able to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s from a writer’s language. In a recently published paper, scientists at the University of Toronto examined the output of three writers for signs of the disease. From the study (titled “Longitudinal detection of dementia through lexical and syntactic changes in writing: a case study […]


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Why old books smell so good

You know how you go into a rare books library, or maybe an old used bookstore, and you step between the shelves and take a deep breath and there it is: that incredible old-book smell. To me, it always smells like leather and caramel and dust and sunlight, all blended together. Turns out, there’s a scientific answer (as well as a teleoogical one) for just why old books smell so damn good: This sign might be on to something. Smell is the scent most strongly tied to memory, and in my dreams (the real, I’m-asleep ones) I’m often combing the […]


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More powerful than a locomotive…

Not a poet? Perhaps you are. David Brooks points out that we all use metaphors in our daily speech, all the time, without even knowing it: When talking about relationships, we often use health metaphors. A friend might be involved in a sick relationship. Another might have a healthy marriage. When talking about argument, we use war metaphors. When talking about time, we often use money metaphors. But when talking about money, we rely on liquid metaphors. We dip into savings, sponge off friends or skim funds off the top. Even the job title stockbroker derives from the French word […]




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