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Quick Studies: February 2012

Learn, Stanford style, without having to go back to class. Presenting Quick Studies, this month's best articles, videos and podcasts to whet your intellectual whistle—curated exclusively for you.


Water Course
Twelve sophomores spent two weeks rafting through the Grand Canyon with professors Buzz Thompson, '75, MBA '74, JD '76, and David Kennedy, '63, immersed in the issue that will determine the future of the West: Is there enough water to go around? Story, photos and video reporting by STANFORD magazine editor Kevin Cool.
Follow the voyage in STANFORD »

Cancer's Biographer: A Conversation with Siddhartha Mukherjee
Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, '93, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opus, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, explains why he chose to write a biography of cancer, why he thinks cancer may be our "new normalcy" and why we need to rethink our language when we talk about "the race for the cure."
Read the Q&A from Stanford Medicine »

America's Army of Jobless
Professor David Grusky, director of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality and co-editor of The Great Recession, argues that commonly quoted unemployment statistics fail to account for large sectors of the American population (prisoners, returning soldiers), and suggests that the real number may be as high as 26.9 million people.
Read Grusky's Op Ed piece from the Los Angeles Times »


Teaching Students to be Inventive (TED talk) video
Paulo Blikstein, assistant professor at the Stanford School of Education, talks about why we need to give up some of what we taught kids in the first 20 centuries in order to teach them 21st century skills.
Watch the Stanford News Service video » (10 min.)

New Social Media Not So New video
Anas Saint-Jude, director of the BiblioTech Program at Stanford, explains how the 17th and 18th centuries prefigured the "information overload," with its own equivalents of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and how social networks have been key to almost all revolutions throughout history.
Watch the video on YouTube » (1.5 min.)

Extracting Social Meaning from Speed Dates video
Linguistics and computer science professor Dan Jurafsky discusses a system he developed to detect social intentions with more than 70% accuracy. His findings: computers can detect flirting better than humans.
Watch the video on YouTube » (1 hr, 44 min.)


How Trains "Railroaded" the American Economy audio
In Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, Richard White, professor of American History, describes how the rail corporations shaped the U.S. economy as we know it today — and not entirely for the better.
Listen to the NPR Morning Edition story » (8 min.)

Professor Scott Sagan's Playlist on Ethics and War audio
On Stanford Radio, KZSU-FM, guest disc jockey and senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation Scott Sagan plays the songs of ethics and war, including Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers," Nena's "99 Red Balloons," and Randy Newman's "Political Science."
Tune into Sagan's track on the a-Infos Radio Project » (1 hr.)

David Linden on the Neuroscience of Pleasure audio
Whether it's chocolate chip cookies, alcohol, gambling or sex, we're all hardwired to seek pleasure. In this Stanford School of Medicine podcast, Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist David Linden discusses his new book, The Compass of Pleasure, in which he reveals why we become addicted to certain virtues and vices.
Tune in to the School of Medicine's 1:2:1 podcast » (31 min.)