- Mind's Limit Set at 4
Early research found the working memory cut-off to be about seven items, which is perhaps why telephone numbers are seven digits long (although some early telephone dialing started with a two- or three-letter "exchange," often the first letters of a community name, followed by four or five figures, e.g. PEnnsylvania 6-5000). Now scientists think the true capacity is lower when people are not allowed to use tricks like repeating items over and over or grouping items together.
"For example, when we present phone numbers, we present them in groups of three and four, which helps us to remember the list," said University of Missouri-Columbia psychologist Nelson Cowan, who co-led the study with colleagues Jeff Rouder and Richard Morey. "That inflates the estimate. We believe we're approaching the estimate that you get when you cannot group. There is some controversy over what the real limit is, but more and more I've found people are accepting this kind of limit."
The study was published April 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
2) Ocean Cooling to Briefly Halt Global Warming, Researchers Say
April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Parts of North America and Europe may cool naturally over the next decade, as shifting ocean currents temporarily blunt the global-warming effect caused by mankind, Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences said.
Average temperatures in areas such as California and France may drop over the next 10 years, influenced by colder flows in the North Atlantic, said a report today by the institution based in Kiel, Germany. Temperatures worldwide may stabilize in the period.
3) Republican blogger has Al Franken's Senate campaign reeling
EAGAN, Minn. - Senate candidate Al Franken wants to talk about jobs, health care and global warming. Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb wants to talk about Franken's failure to pay all his income taxes on time.
That's routine stuff in the world of political blogging, but in the last two months Brodkorb has scored two direct hits that have the Franken campaign reeling. Brodkorb scooped the traditional media by detailing extensive bookkeeping problems in New York and California that ultimately prompted Franken, this week, to pay about $70,000 in back taxes to 17 states.
In person, Brodkorb is a dark-haired, soft-spoken and polite 34-year-old whose infant twin daughters sometimes nap not far from his laptop. He dropped out of college in 1995 to work on the failed U.S. Senate campaign of Rudy Boschwitz. In the late '90s, Brodkorb worked for state Senate Republicans, where he started to learn how to do "opposition research" — digging up dirt on opponents. He did it well enough to become director of research for the state Republican Party, and served in similar roles for several Republican campaigns.