OSU and Partners Break Ground on Driverless Vehicle Testing Grounds

The Ohio State University, ODOT and Gov. John Kasich joined together with other organizations to break ground on the Transportation Research Center’s new SMART Center in East Liberty, bringing the unique testing ground for driverless vehicles closer to fruition.

The 540-acre testing grounds, when complete, will be the largest of its kind in North America. The site will offer year-round testing in all different kinds of weather conditions. Part of the proving ground is slotted to open later this year.

Last year the University announced a $45 million investment to build the new SMART Center. The College of Engineering has committed to spending $24 million over five years to help the SMART Center hire staff and faculty to support research into driverless vehicle technology.

Many at the University believe the SMART Center will be a great advantage to students preparing for careers in computer science and engineering. The previously built portions of the SMART Center have already seen a lot of use by students and faculty.

New OSU Study Finds Scheduling Leisure Can Undermine Enjoyment

While many of us may feel we won’t ever get any leisure time if we don’t schedule it into our fast pace lives new research shows that by scheduling leisure we might undermine our own enjoyment. However, the researchers also have a suggestion on how to combat this effect.

In a study completed last year researchers found that scheduling leisure with strict start and end times negates the free form nature of enjoyment. Instead of saying you’ll play tennis at 6pm, just say you’ll do it after work. Rough scheduling rather than strict scheduling is the key.

Next, researchers suggest that you avoid what they call “hard stops.” In other words, don’t schedule something immediately after a leisure activity, even another leisure activity. Researchers found that if one is always looking at the clock, that distracts from what is currently going on.

In one study, they found that most people agreed that if they had something like a massage scheduled they would enjoy it less if they knew something was going on immediately afterwards, even something like a meeting with friends.

Finally, they suggest focusing on the now. This element kind of combines the previous two. Don’t let your mind wander to what is next or what is past. Give yourself room to be spontaneous.

The article appears in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology

Buckeye Researchers Found Out How to Make Old Favorites Novel Again

If you’ve become bored of one of your favorite things, researchers at the Ohio State University might have some suggestions on how to introduce some novelty back into your favorite things. What they found was that whatever the activity or object was—popcorn, videos, even water—when consumed in an unconventional way, the consumer enjoyed them more.

The study suggested that when a subject consumed something via an unconventional method they were more easily able to focus on what it was that they loved about it in the first place. This phenomenon has already been employed in “pitch black” restaurants. These popular eateries serve dinner in the dark.

The researchers conducted multiple experiments. In a study of 68 participants, subjects came to a lab thinking they were there for a study on how to help people eat more slowly. Some of the subjects ate 10 pieces of popcorn using just hands; the others ate the pieces with chopsticks. Subjects then rated their experience in a variety of ways. Some of the measures were overall enjoyment, how much flavor the popcorn had and how much fun they had eating it. Participants using the chopsticks later said they enjoyed eating the popcorn more than the subjects who used their hands.

The research was published online at the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Buckeye Creates Mobile Invention Studio to Support Would-Be Inventors

On the campus of OSU, in the main lobby of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, there is a workspace intended to help bring innovative ideas to life. In fact, it is called the Innovation Studio. It’s mission—to use collaboration to solve health care issues. Chief innovation officer, Tim Raderstorf, conceived the idea for the studio.

The portable setup includes 3D printers, laser cutters and a multitude of hand tools. There is also assistance available in product design and pitch development. The studio will remain in the James until the end of July, but will also visit the College of Nursing and Thompson Library.

Innovation Studio also provides two more critical elements—funding and validation. Teams working in the studio can enter competitions in which top collaborations get funding to continue to develop their ideas.

Buckeye Researchers Find Trend in Obits of People Who Live Longer Lives

Researchers at the Ohio State University conducted a multi-part nationwide study on obituaries and found that people with religious affiliations live almost four years longer on average than people with no religious ties. The study looked at over 1,000 obituaries from all over the country. The study accounted for material status and sex, two factors already known to heavily affect lifespan.

Researchers found that one cause behind the longevity boost of religious affiliation is that many religious persons are also a part of other social and volunteer organizations. Previous studies had already linked these social affiliations to longer lifespans, so making the connection was not difficult. Additionally, the study found that the effects of religion on lifespan could also be linked to the “average religiosity” of where people live and the “personality” of that place.

As previously stated, there have been many studies that have shown that people who are a part of social or volunteer groups live longer than their peers who don’t—when combined with the other data about religious affiliations researchers found there was still something missing from the equation.

Researchers determined that one factor might be morality rules about sex and substance use in religions. These probably have a similar positive effect on longevity. In addition, stress relieving practices such as meditation, prayer, or gratitude are probably a factor.

The study is available online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.