Wallingup Research
Past Questions

Q: How does the Placebo Effect actually work? - rhyl_m

A: This refers to the "blank" or control treatment used to test a "real" treatment by comparison. Sometimes the control treatment has a small positive influence called the Placebo effect. When patients self-report how they feel after taking something, what they say is strongly influenced by what they thought was supposed to happen. Thus they may report feeling better even though they received no treatment at all. Perhaps it is only the passage of time, or perhaps they are only saying it. Also, those administering a test are more alert to positive or negative outcomes depending on what they believe the treatment was supposed to do. This happens unconsciously. Therefore the only valid test of medications and treatments is called a "double-blind" test, in which neither the patient or those treating them are aware of which treatment is being given. In this way both fake and real treatments get an equal share of placebo effect, and any real benefit of the treatment under test can be identified. Tests in which actual measurements are taken rather than verbal comments rarely show the "placebo effect."

However, it has been shown that what a person choses to feel or think about strongly influences the person's physiology. If a fake pill can make you believe you're getting better, it's the belief and not the pill that has a positive effect. 30/09/2009


Q: What is the deal with the Doble Steam Car? - Alan

A: High school student Abner Doble had built his first steam-powered car by 1909.  Some later models reputedly performed better than the Ford Model T's of the day, but ultimately petrol engines left steam far behind in power-to-weight performance, specific power, driveability and cost-effectiveness.  Ultimately, burning petrol or diesel inside the cylinder creates higher pressures than steam can, which is heated outside the engine in a separate, heavy pressure vessel.  Higher cylinder pressure means more torque and more power for a given engine size. 10/11/2008
 
Q: Why does light refract when entering a denser substance, like glass?  - Ross

A: Light has to slow down when it enters glass.  Light travels as waves, like the waves washing up on the beach.  Imagine what would happen if a long ocean wave slowed down, but not all at once.  Imagine it slowing down a piece at a time, progressing smoothly from right to left.  Since the part of a light wave inside the glass is going slower than the part sticking out, it has no choice but to change direction.  The angle or amount of direction change depends on the wave spacing, or in other words, on the colour of the light. Consequently passing white light through a prism at an angle splits it into its component colours. 9/11/2008

Q: Will the Large Hadron Collider experiment in Geneva, Switzerland open up a black hole that will suck in the whole earth?

A: The Large Hadron Collider will definitely not suck.  Even if a black hole were to somehow form, Stephen Hawking demonstrated via mathematical proof that black holes below a certain size are unstable and break down of their own accord. 

Past Questions

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