Category Archives: Society & Culture

Don’t run (and don’t laugh): The little-known history of racewalking

By John Affleck

While it was a huge sporting event in the United States in the years after the Civil War and was an early Olympic event, racewalking has been regarded for decades as something of a joke – at least in America. An episode of the sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” was devoted to poking fun at it. The NCAA doesn’t hold a racewalking championship. Sports broadcaster Bob Costas once compared it to a contest to see who could whisper the loudest.

Still, racewalking is an Olympic event, with three medal events held at every Summer Games – and each of the golds counting just as much as the ones that adorn the neck of Michael Phelps.

Today, the races contested at the Olympics are 20 kilometers for both men and women and a 50-kilometer race just for men. The 20-kilometer men’s race was won on August 12 by China’s Wang Zhen with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds – a 6:20 mile pace that would win a fair number of 5-kilometer running races in the United States. The other two events take place August 19.

It may look odd, but racewalking has an interesting past and a controversial present, along with quirky rules that make it unique among track and field events.

Continue reading Don’t run (and don’t laugh): The little-known history of racewalking

So what if some female Olympians have high testosterone?

By Jaime Schultz

On August 12, Dutee Chand became just the second female sprinter to represent India at the Olympic Games. Her road to Rio has been anything but easy.

In 2014, the International Association of Athletic Federations banned her from competition on the grounds that her body naturally produced too much testosterone, a condition called hyperandrogenism. It wasn’t her fault, the organization explained. But her condition gave her an unfair edge over other female athletes, according to the IAAF policy.

Chand appealed the ruling, and in July 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that the IAAF:

“was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category.”

Continue reading So what if some female Olympians have high testosterone?

Talking back to terrorists

To view a larger version of this graphic, please click on the graphic or here.

Countering terrorist recruitment messages requires systematic analysis of the message using communication theory as a guide.

In the example above, Kurt Braddock, lecturer in communication arts and sciences at Penn State, and John Horgan, professor of psychology at the Global Studies Institute, Georgia State University, examine the recruitment narrative of Andre Poulin.

Continue reading Talking back to terrorists

Is reality getting really augmented?

The number of headlines — and Facebook memes — about Pokémon  Go suggest that the game has reached craze status, but could it be more than just a fad? As one of the first augmented reality applications to make it to the mainstream, Pokémon  Go may mean more for the virtual and augmented reality industries than a bunch of people wandering around the park trying to find Pikachus. It could be the birth of a brand new industry.

To help us look at the game craze in context, as well as offer some predictions about the future of Pokémon  Go, AR, and VR, we brought in S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, to offer his insights on this now global phenomenon.

Matt Swayne: What’s the difference between augmented reality — AR — and virtual reality — VR?

S. Shyam Sundar: The difference lies in the degree to which they incorporate the real world. In VR, the entire environment is artificially created, while in AR, artificial elements are superimposed on the real world, creating a mixed reality. In VR, the user enters a virtual world whereas in AR, objects from the virtual world enter the real world.

Continue reading Is reality getting really augmented?

Focus on research: What makes one economy more resilient than another?

By Stephan J. GoetzDavid A. Fleming, and Yicheol Han

Markets have been in turmoil for much of the year on concerns the global economy is heading for another recession. The suspected culprits are many: the plunging price of commodities and oil, crisis in the Middle East, a slowing China and other emerging countries, and weak prospects for financial markets in general.

Coming less than a decade since the global financial crisis dealt a devastating blow to economies around the world, the current challenges raise the question of how resilient our societies are to such shocks.

In our own research, we pondered a different question: what factors make one region more resilient than another? The answer could help us understand how to make our economies better able to resist the next shock, be it financial, a natural disaster, or something else.

The next shock need not come from the finance sector but could result from a melting glacier. Reuters

Continue reading Focus on research: What makes one economy more resilient than another?