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Science & Technology

How Clinical Trials Work

Prescription medications undergo rigorous rounds of testing and approval before hitting the consumer market. The Onion breaks down the steps involved in this process

Scientists Develop New Extra-Sloppy Peach

DAVIS, CA—Explaining that the latest strain of the fruit was far softer and runnier than previous varieties, agricultural scientists at the University of California, Davis announced Thursday the successful development of a new extra-sloppy peach.

SpaceX’s Plan To Colonize Mars

SpaceX founder Elon Musk continues to lay the groundwork to attempt the human colonization of Mars. Here’s a step-by-step guide to his plan:

The Pros And Cons Of Self-Driving Cars

With Uber’s robot cars debuting this week in Pittsburgh, many wonder whether driverless technology will improve or endanger our lives. The Onion weighs the pros and cons of self-driving cars

How Animals Go Extinct

With an estimated 40 percent of species on earth now considered endangered, many wonder how it’s possible for these animals to be wiped out. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how species go extinct

Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas

MENLO PARK, CA—Assuring users that the company’s entire team of engineers was working hard to make sure a glitch like this never happens again, Facebook executives confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that a horrible accident last night involving the website’s algorithm had resulted in thousands of users being exposed to new concepts.

Team Of Vatican Geneticists Successfully Clone God

VATICAN CITY—Describing the groundbreaking work as a major step forward for theological research, a team of Vatican geneticists held a press conference Tuesday at the Apostolic Palace to announce they had successfully cloned God.

Dad Shares Photo Album Through Never-Before-Seen Website

SECAUCUS, NJ—Wondering aloud how the father of three even managed to find the online image-hosting service, family members of local dad Phil Yates told reporters Monday the 57-year-old had shared a photo album with them through a never-before-seen website.

NASA Discovers Distant Planet Located Outside Funding Capabilities

WASHINGTON—Noting that the celestial body lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and could potentially harbor liquid water, NASA officials announced at a press conference Thursday they have discovered an Earth-like planet located outside their funding capabilities.

‘DSM-5’ Updated To Accommodate Man Who Is Legitimately Being Ordered To Kill By The Moon

ARLINGTON, VA—Saying they were committed to ensuring the influential reference text accurately represented all known psychological conditions, leading members of the American Psychiatric Association announced Monday they would update the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to accommodate a man who is legitimately being ordered by the moon to kill those around him.

NASA Launches First Cordless Satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—In what experts are calling a breakthrough achievement that is poised to revolutionize American space exploration and telecommunications, NASA announced Friday it has successfully launched its first cordless satellite into orbit.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Since its debut last Thursday, the augmented-reality smartphone app Pokémon Go has been downloaded millions of times and has grown publisher Nintendo’s stock by 25 percent. The Onion answers some common questions about the game and its unprecedented success.

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—Saying it had been mulling over the “fun little side project” for a while, an Electroimpact Quadbot reportedly put in some extra work after hours at the Boeing assembly plant Wednesday to try out a few of its own original designs.

Books Vs. E-Readers

Though e-readers have increasingly supplanted books in the digital age, many bibliophiles defend the importance of physical texts. Here is a side-by-side comparison of physical books and e-books
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Report: TV Helps Build Valuable Looking Skills

NEW YORK—A report released Monday by NYU's Center For Media Studies has found that television, accused by experts of diminishing children's attention spans and discouraging them from interacting with others, can actually help children as young as six months develop essential looking skills.

Children sharpen their looking skills with a 27-inch Sony Trinitron.

"In a study of over 5,000 children nationwide," the report read, "those who watched cartoons for three hours had vastly increased looking capacities when tested the next day, compared to children who were encouraged to play sports and board games with other children for the same three-hour period. Staring and gazing skills were also markedly higher."

Data gathered in the study also indicated that visual-reception skills acquired at an early age tend to become lifelong assets.

"Extensive testing of adults who grew up in homes without television showed that such adults had difficulty staring blankly at things for longer than a few seconds," Center For Media Studies director Dr. Edward DeGaetano said. "They frequently shifted their gaze and focus around the testing environment, often engaging others in the room in conversation and generally making a lot of disruptive noise and movement. Television-enriched adults, however, could sit and look at anything: a spot on the ceiling, a fire-alarm box, a stack of magazines on a table."

"And even when the non-television-enriched adults could manage to look at a magazine," DeGaetano said, "rather than deep-focus on the cover, they would open it and start restlessly looking at words and turning the pages."

The NYU study is seen as a major victory for television advocates.

Report: TV Helps Build Valuable Looking Skills

"Fifty years ago, U.S. children were ranked almost dead-last worldwide in looking skills," said child-development expert Dr. Sandy Wexler. "The past five decades have witnessed remarkable progress in that area, so much so that U.S. children now lead the world. Students in supposedly progressive nations like Sweden and France score far lower than Americans in standardized looking tests."

Wexler pointed to TV as the primary reason for the improvement, along with increased media attention, including the best-selling 1977 book Why Johnny Can't Look and NBC's early-'80s "How To Watch Television" public-service announcements.

"These 30-second spots starring zany comedian Lenny Schultz left no ambiguity in the minds of children who viewed them about how to properly watch television," Wexler said.

President Clinton praised the nation's children for their looking prowess at a press conference Tuesday. He also announced the launch of a $1 billion "Looking Good, America!" initiative designed to provide impoverished children with badly needed televisions.

"Far too many of our economically disadvantaged young people," Clinton said, "have nothing better than outdated black-and-white sets, dating back to the '80s or even '70s, to look at."

The president concluded with the sad tale of Beckley, WV, 10-year-old Nicholas Mullins, who, according to Clinton, gets all of his television from "a 1982 black-and-white Zenith TV with a 13-inch screen, an antenna fashioned from a coathanger and aluminum foil, and an unpredictable vertical hold."

"Child-development statistics tell us that Nicholas will probably do no better than graduate from high school looking at a third-grade level," Clinton said. "If we cannot give Nicholas a better chance in life, then we as a nation have failed him."

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