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.

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.

OSU Researchers Study New Pig Virus with Cross-Species Potential

A newly found virus in pigs was seen to easily “jump species” in a laboratory test with cultured human cells and other species. For the OSU research team this raises concerns about potential outbreaks that could threaten humans and animals alike.

Researchers from OSU joined forces with an Utrecht University (Netherlands) team to try to understand the virus’s potential risks. This is the first study on the virus to note the possibility of a “species jump.” The research will be published in PNAS online.

The new virus, porcine deltacoronavirus, was first discovered in ’12 in pigs in China. It was later found in the US in an Ohio-based pig illness outbreak and since then it has been found in various other countries. No human cases have ever been confirmed, but researchers have their concerns.

For many public health officials and those involved in veterinary care, the virus seems especially dangerous because of it being so alike to SARS and MERS. Until there is a documented case of a “species jump” major concerns remain grounded firmly in the pig population.

OSU Researcher Disproves “Dumb Blonde” Urban Myth

The study of 10,878 Americans found that white women who said their natural hair color was blonde had an average IQ score within 3 points of brunettes and those with red or black hair.

While jokes about blondes may seem harmless to some, it can have real-world implications, according to Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at The Ohio State University. Research shows that stereotypes often have an impact on hiring, promotions and other social experiences.

This study provides compelling evidence that there shouldn’t be any discrimination against blondes based on their intelligence.

The study found that the average IQ of blondes was actually slightly higher than those with other hair colors, but that finding isn’t statistically significant. The results for blond white men were similar – they also had IQs roughly equal to men with other hair colors.

The study was published last week in the journal Economics Bulletin.