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Triple-Decker Weekly, 132


Scientists say they’ve found a way to slow ice cream’s melting

Criminal investigations often use photographic evidence to identify suspects. Here we combined robust face perception and high-resolution photography to mine face photographs for hidden information. By zooming in on high-resolution face photographs, we were able to recover images of unseen bystanders from reflections in the subjects’ eyes. To establish whether these bystanders could be identified from the reflection images, we presented them as stimuli in a face matching task (Experiment 1). Accuracy in the face matching task was well above chance (50%), despite the unpromising source of the stimuli. […] In a test of spontaneous recognition (Experiment 2), observers could reliably name a familiar face from an eye reflection image. For crimes in which the victims are photographed (e.g., hostage taking, child sex abuse), reflections in the eyes of the photographic subject could help to identify perpetrators. [PLOS]

Dr. Jack Berdy has just introduced “Pokertox,” a program of Botox and facial fillers designed to enhance a player’s “poker face,” their ability to hide any sign of facial emotion that might tip off other card players on whether they have a good or bad hand. [Huffington Post | Thanks Tim]

Forget body language or eye movements. There are much better ways to detect lies

People are not generally great at detecting deception, but new research shows that discussing with others makes a big difference.

Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eye and the ideal eyelash length is about one third the width of an eye. And that goes for 22 different animals, not just humans

Passionate kissing is not a human universal

How to Flirt Best: The Perceived Effectiveness of Flirtation Techniques

The sex life of the American teenager is apparently far less busy than it was in generations past

More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year, according to new research

Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages

Meet a man who has been dating a crowdsourced Internet girlfriend for the last three months

We don’t look like we think we look, study

Researchers help identify neural basis of multitasking

How rudeness spreads like a contagion

Most acts of aggression by toddlers are unprovoked

Hospitality is always a matter of urgency, always a question of speeds. The unexpected guests arrive and there is always a rush of activity: a hurried welcoming at the door, a quick cleaning up, a surreptitious rearranging or putting back into order, a preparing of food and drink. But even when the guest is expected, has been expected for a long time, there is a sense of urgency. The guests arrive — always too early or too late, even if they are ‘on time.’ Coats are taken; tours are given of the immaculate, impossibly ordered home; drinks are served, food presented. For there to be a place for hospitality, for hospitality to take (the) place, the host must hurry. [Sean Gaston | via Austerity Kitchen/TNI]

There is a widespread consensus amongst psychologists that tyranny triumphs either because ordinary people blindly follow orders or else because they mindlessly conform to powerful roles. However, recent evidence concerning historical events challenges these views.

New research finds that sarcasm is far more nuanced, and actually offers some important, overlooked psychological and organizational benefits. “To create or decode sarcasm, both the expressers and recipients of sarcasm need to overcome the contradiction (i.e., psychological distance) between the literal and actual meanings of the sarcastic expressions. This is a process that activates and is facilitated by abstraction, which in turn promotes creative thinking” […] “Those in the sarcasm conditions subsequently performed better on creativity tasks than those in the sincere conditions or the control condition. This suggests that sarcasm has the potential to catalyze creativity in everyone. That being said, although not the focus of our research, it is possible that naturally creative people are also more likely to use sarcasm, making it an outcome instead of [a] cause in this relationship.” […] “While most previous research seems to suggest that sarcasm is detrimental to effective communication because it is perceived to be more contemptuous than sincerity, we found that, unlike sarcasm between parties who distrust each other, sarcasm between individuals who share a trusting relationship does not generate more contempt than sincerity.” [Harvard Gazette]

Effect of climate and seasonality on depressed mood among twitter users

Two options for dealing with climate change — reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a global agreement, and geoengineering proposals such as injecting sulfur into the stratosphere — tend to dominate current thinking. But there is a “third way” that is almost entirely neglected in political negotiations and public debate. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it or using it to create things we need. [NY Times]

“having few social connections is equivalent to tobacco use” Study shows that the quantity of social interactions a person has at 20—and the quality of social relationships that person has at age 30—can benefit her well-being later in life.

You see a man at the grocery store. Is that the fellow you went to college with or just a guy who looks like him? One tiny spot in the brain has the answer. Neuroscientists have identified the part of the hippocampus that creates and processes this type of memory, furthering our understanding of how the mind works, and what’s going wrong when it doesn’t. [Lunatic Laboratories]

Sleep not just protects memories against forgetting, it also makes them more accessible

a gene—called DEC2—associated with people who can get away with less than six hours of sleep without any adverse health effects

Why you should never make your bed

In this study, 100 percent of the participants remained HIV-free.

Why does “schizophrenia” persist?

We present a provisional list of 50 commonly used terms in psychology, psychiatry, and allied fields that should be avoided, or at most used sparingly and with explicit caveats.

Our analysis provides evidence that journals which publish papers with shorter titles receive more citations per paper

A mezuzah is a small case affixed to the doorframe of each room in Jewish homes and workplaces which contains a tiny scroll of parchment inscribed with a prayer. It is customary for religious Jews to touch the mezuzah every time they pass through a door and kiss the fingers that touched it. However, kissing the mezuzah has also become customary for many secular Jews who think of the mezuzah as a good luck charm. In view of a recent revelation that kissing the mezuzah entails a health hazard, the present paper inquires whether it also has some observable benefit. In an experiment conducted among non-religious mezuzah-kissing economics and business students confronted with a logic-problem exam, some were allowed to kiss the mezuzah before taking the exam, whereas the others were asked not to do so or could not do so because it had been removed from the room doorframe. The experiment revealed that participants who did not kiss the mezuzah performed worse than those who kissed it, and that the stronger is one’s belief in the mezuzah’s luck-enhancing properties, the better he performs when he kisses it but the worse he performs when he does not. [Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization]

One woman reported having 8 car accidents in one 150 mile journey. She was also unlucky in love. After joining a dating agency, her first date fell off his motorcycle and broke his leg. The second date walked into a glass door and broke his nose. Eventually she met her future husband and the church they were going to get married in burned down the day before the wedding. […] In total, 80 percent of people who attended Luck School said that their luck had increased. […] Lucky people just try stuff. [Barking Up The Wrong Tree]

“Despite the common belief that remembering our mistakes will help us make better decisions in the present,” says the study’s lead author, “we actually find that thinking about our failures at self-control leads us to repeat them and indulge in the present, so it’s not helpful at all.” [EurekAlert]

40% of the US population would not consider voting for an atheist presidential candidate, regardless of their policies

How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election [Thanks Tim]

Among our findings, 56% of students report changes in the strength of their religious convictions during college, while 45% report changes in religious service attendance frequency

For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change.

Women who exercised during their teen years were less likely to die from cancer and all other causes during middle-age and later in life

Scientists have discovered why running makes you happy

People’s “coming out” experiences are related to their psychological wellbeing years later

Fatherhood at young age linked to greater likelihood of mid-life death

We present participants with coherent and incoherent narratives. When presented to coherent narratives participants remember plots. When presented to incoherent narratives participants remember facts. Plot formation modulate activity in the Default Mode Network of the brain. [NeuroImage]

In daily life, we frequently encounter false claims in the form of consumer advertisements, political propaganda, and rumors. Repetition may be one way that insidious misconceptions, such as the belief that vitamin C prevents the common cold, enter our knowledge base. Research on the illusory truth effect demonstrates that repeated statements are easier to process, and subsequently perceived to be more truthful, than new statements. The prevailing assumption in the literature has been that knowledge constrains this effect (i.e., repeating the statement “The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” will not make you believe it). We tested this assumption. […] Contrary to prior suppositions, illusory truth effects occurred even when participants knew better. […] Participants demonstrated knowledge neglect, or the failure to rely on stored knowledge, in the face of fluent processing experiences. [Journal of Experimental Psychology]

We meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants. Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions. As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased. When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased. Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness. [Psychological Bulletin/American Psychological Association | PDF]

Allegation that ad-serving companies deliberately slow down web pages to maximise profit

A new study from Duke University finds that adolescents ages 10 to 16 can be more analytical in their economic choices than many slightly older young adults. […] Scott Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke: “The new results point to the idea that we should not think of adolescents as being irrational. What’s different about them is they don’t use simple rules as effectively.” Such simple rules are the mental shortcuts people take in decision-making—often to their benefit—as they age and gain more experience. Most adults apply the “don’t drink and drive” rule, for example, to avoid getting in a car with someone who’s been drinking. In contrast, teens may more carefully weigh this decision. “Adolescents are going to be more likely to use cost-benefit analysis than the (simple rules) that adults use.” […] Other research has shown that adolescents aren’t necessarily more risk-seeking but that they are more sensitive to good outcomes compared with adults. [Science Beta]

MIT graduate skips shower for 12 years, uses bacterial spray to keep clean

The “hygiene hypothesis” […] suggests that people in developed countries are growing up way too clean because of a variety of trends, including the use of hand sanitizers and detergents, and spending too little time around animals. As a result, children don’t tend to be exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms, and maybe that deprives their immune system of the chance to be trained to recognize microbial friend from foe. That may make the immune system more likely to misfire and overreact in a way that leads to allergies, eczema and asthma, Hesselmar says. […] In their latest research, the researchers took a look at how people wash their dishes. […] In families who said they mostly wash dishes by hand, significantly fewer children had eczema, and somewhat fewer had either asthma or hay fever, compared to kids from families who let machines wash their dishes. [NPR]

Animals eject fluids for waste elimination, communication, and defense from predators. These diverse systems all rely on the fundamental principles of fluid mechanics, which we use to predict urination duration across a wide range of mammals. […] Using high-speed videography and flow-rate measurement obtained at Zoo Atlanta, we discover that all mammals above 3 kg in weight empty their bladders over nearly constant duration of 21 s. […] Smaller mammals are challenged during urination by high viscous and capillary forces that limit their urine to single drops. [PNAS]

An experiment was carried out in a French bar. A waitress briefly touched (or not) the forearm of a patron when asking him/her what he/she want to drink. Results show that touch increases tipping behavior although giving a tip to a waitress in a bar is unusual in France. The familiarity of tactile contact in France was used to explain our results. [International Journal of Hospitality Management]

London bar where you absorb equivalent of large drink through lungs and eyes in 40 minutes

Scientists have pinpointed a population of neurons in the brain that influences whether one drink leads to two

Intravenous garlic juice herpes treatment (Self-tested!)

Restaurant food not much healthier than fast food

Why Do So Many Hot New Restaurants Have Names That Sound the Same?

Evaluation of environmental impacts: The case of pasta

Seven-year study of adults in China matches regular consumption of spicy foods, such as chilli peppers, to 14% reduced risk of death

Mediterranean Diet Plus Olive Oil Associated with Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Fat should be considered the sixth taste, study

There’s been a ton of news recently about how awesome coffee can be for many aspects of your health – heart disease, longevity, depression, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s.  The scientific data has been so strong that the nation’s top nutrition panel recommended earlier this year that people might even want to consider drinking a bit more. Now comes a sobering report. In a study evaluating 1,445 people, scientists found that consistently drinking one to two cups of coffee each day is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s — compared to those who never or rarely consumed coffee. That supports previous work, published in 2010, that showed that caffeine may have a neuroprotective effect. The surprise was that participants who increased their consumption over time saw their risk of mild cognitive impairment shoot up significantly. Those who went from one cup to more than one cup had twice the rate of MCI as those who reduced their drinking to less than one cup and 1.5 times the rate of MCI as those who continued to drink one cup a day. [Washington Post]

Queuing on the basis of last-come-first-served may sometimes be more efficient

What’s the best length for online news videos? People liked longer videos better than shorter ones. Long videos averaged 2.08 minutes in duration. Short videos averaged 24 seconds.

Between 1999 and 2009, the French Full Scale IQ declined by 3.8 points. Results are inline with 7 studies showing a Negative Flynn Effect in Europe.

Around 1930, the director of an evening newspaper had hired Georges Simenon as an advertising attraction. He’d had a cage constructed in the hall of his newspaper where Simenon, under eyes of the public, was to write a serial, non-stop. But on the eve of the big day, the newspaper went bankrupt. Simenon wrote the book in his room. [Paris Match] In 1927 the publisher of Paris-Soir proposed to place Simenon in a glass cage, where he would spend three days and three nights writing a novel in public. [NY Times]

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of William Shakespeare. Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed. […] Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves. [The Independent]

Artificial-intelligence researchers have long struggled to make computers perform a task that is simple for humans: picking out one person’s speech when multiple people nearby are talking simultaneously. It is called the ‘cocktail-party problem’. Typical approaches to solving it have either involved systems with multiple microphones, which distinguish speakers based on their position in a room, or complex artificial-intelligence algorithms that try to separate different voices on a recording. But the latest invention is a simple 3D-printed device that can pinpoint the origin of a sound without the need for any sophisticated electronics. [Nature]

Thousands of Apps Secretly Run Ads That Users Can’t See Advertisers lose $895 million per year to invisible fraud within mobile apps

Researchers perfect technique that profiles people based on unique keystroke traits.

Finnish schools phase out handwriting classes, in favour of keyboard skills

More data has been created and stored since the turn of the millennium than in the entire history of humanity

Archillect’s curation process works like a simple neural network [] [Thanks Tim]

A password cracker that steals bitcoins from your brain

Electrical engineers demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body

How to Charge $1,000 for Absolutely Nothing

By definition, exponential growth means the thing that comes next will be equal in importance to everything that came before. […] this exponential growth has given us terrible habits. One of them is to discount the present. [Idle Worlds]

Uber’s Phantom Cabs

Google to Start Testing Grocery Deliveries This Year

CrossFit mascot is a homicidal-looking shirtless monstrosity called Pukie the Clown. Thirty days in a gay CrossFit cult

Each house owns at least one black Indian cobra. None of the serpents are defanged but children play with them as if they were toys.

Here’s a mystery: below 8,400 meters there are no fish. At 8,370 meters? There are fish.

Mysterious, blood-sucking fish fall from the Alaskan sky

Dogs can infer the name of an object and have been shown to learn the names of over 1,000 objects. Dogs can follow the human pointing gesture; even nine week old puppies can follow a basic human pointing gesture without being taught. New Guinea Singing dogs, a half-wild proto-dog endemic to the remote alpine regions of New Guinea, as well as Dingoes in the remote outback of Australia are also capable of this. These examples demonstrate an ability to read human gestures that arose early in domestication and did not require human selection. “Humans did not develop dogs, we only fine-tuned them down the road.” Similar to the chimpanzee, Bonobos are a close genetic cousin to humans. Unlike the chimpanzee, bonobos are not aggressive and do not participate in lethal intergroup aggression or kill within their own group. The most distinctive features of a bonobo are its cranium, which is 15% smaller than a chimpanzee’s, and its less aggressive and more playful behavior. Dogs mirror these differences relative to wild wolves: a dog’s cranium is 15% smaller than an equally heavy wolf’s, and the dog is less aggressive and more playful. The guinea pig’s cranium is 13% smaller than its wild cousin the cavie and domestic fowl show a similar reduction to their wild cousins. Possession of a smaller cranium for holding a smaller brain is a telltale sign of domestication. Bonobos appear to have domesticated themselves. In the “farm fox” experiment, humans selectively bred foxes against aggression which caused a domestication syndrome. The foxes were not selectively bred for smaller craniums and teeth, floppy ears, or skills at using human gestures but these traits were demonstrated in the friendly foxes. Natural selection favors those that are the most successful at reproducing, not the most aggressive. Selection against aggression made possible the ability to cooperate and communicate among foxes, dogs and bonobos. Perhaps it did the same thing for humans. [Wikipedia]

Useless Press has obtained a dataset of ten years worth of official reports about decapitated animals discovered in New York City public parks

Four Centuries of Development Surprises on a Single Stretch of a New York City Street [PDF]

Largest of the Five Mass Extinctions Caused By Microbes

Panspermia is a process where life is somehow transplanted from planet to planet.

You can now listen to NASA Voyager’s ‘Golden Record’, intended for aliens & future humans

Distillery that sent unmatured malt whisky into space to study the effect of near-zero gravity on flavour has described its findings as “groundbreaking”

How to get rid of a satellite after its retirement

Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free

Angola was the most difficult of all the countries I visited. Man who traveled to every country on earth explains the most difficult places to visit

Why Britain has secret “ghost trains”?

A night in Japan’s robot hotel

Robot applyed for Screen Actors Guild card. Acceptance into SAG would give the robot health insurance and a pension.

A golden sex toy that contains your partner’s ashes

Rotterdam could be first to pave its streets with recycled plastic bottles, a surface claimed to be greener, quicker to lay and more reliable than asphalt

How Far Can the Human Eye See a Candle Flame?

3D Printed Guided Missiles are Now a Reality

Police in North Dakota can now use drones armed with tasers

After London’s 2011 riots, the superrecognizers combed through thousands of hours of footage; Collins alone identified an incredible 190 faces among the rioters. Today, Neville heads London’s central forensic image team, which has tested thousands of police officers and identified 152 super-recognizers. These face-spotting stars normally work in their local stations, building up a mental library of the area’s criminals, and periodically attach to New Scotland Yard to solve crimes. [National Geographic]

“Asking drug dealers to turn in other drug dealers,” Sheriff Melton said. “It’s comical, and it’s working.” [NY Times]

TYOP (tell you on phone), TOL (talk offline) and LDL (let’s discuss live) are red flags for prosecutors combing through the e-mail transcripts of Wall Street traders suspected of illegal activity

The Effect of Country Music on Suicide [PDF]

Inside the Fondazione Prada

Mount Rushmore before carving

Russia’s lost punks [via Nils Runeberg]

Xiao makes a living by imitating US president Barack Obama

A portable toilet with a woman inside was accidentally carried across a festival site by a forklift truck.

Homeopathy conference ends in chaos after delegates take hallucinogenic drug

RIP Jamiroquai [Thanks Tim]


The US Navy is working on AI that can predict a pirate attack

Triple-Decker Weekly, 131


Catalogue of entrances to Hell in and around the UK

After the near‐collapse of the world’s financial system has shown that we economists really do not know how the world works, I am much too embarrassed to teach economics anymore, which I have done for many years. I will teach Modern Korean Drama instead. Although I have never been to Korea, I have watched Korean drama on a daily basis for over six years now. Therefore I can justly consider myself an expert in that subject. [Uwe E. Reinhardt, Princeton University | PDF]

New research shows that, for most of us, the last experience we’ve had can be the defining one when it comes to taking a decision, coming at the expense of other experiences we’ve accumulated further back in time [ScienceBlog]

Study finds people — even teenagers — unconsciously follow advice from their elders

Google’s Artificial Intelligence Is Learning How To Count Calories In Instagram Photos

Ad tech companies are knowingly selling “garbage” data to customers who are being blinded by the apparent need to load themselves with an endless supply of customer information

An experimental algorithm out of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces […] with 83 per cent accuracy. [NewScientist]

California-based company Face First is rolling out a system for retailers that it says will “boost sales by recognising high-value customers each time they shop” and send “alerts when known litigious individuals enter any of your locations.” […] “You walk into a car dealership and the salesman knows your name and how much you make.” Another company, called Churchix is marketing facial recognition systems for churches. Once the faces of a church’s membership have been added to a database, the system tracks their attendance automatically. It also claims to be able to discern demographic data about the entire congregation, including age and gender. [NewScientist]

The Police Are Scanning the Faces of Every Single Person at Download Festival

Customer suspects annoyed waiter spat in soda; police use DNA to prove it

I was laying on a towel in a parking spot in Soho  — I put money in the meter so it was mine to do whatever I wanted with — and was tanning in a used Versace speedo that I bought on eBay, and got spotted. It all happened so fast, it was truly a blessing. […] I knew that having a mediocre body would one day become the new having a great body, and that time has finally arrived. Those lines you get when you’re super fit that point toward your genitals are way out, having a body like Shrek is way in. [The Fat Jew/Hollywood Reporter]

There is no question that biases exist in self-perceptions of personality. To what extent do people have insight into their positive and negative self-biases? In two samples (total N = 130), people with positive biases (i.e., self-perceptions that are more positive than a reputation-based criterion measure) accurately described themselves as positively biased, and people with negative biases accurately described themselves as negatively biased. Furthermore, people were able to distinguish which traits they were more or less biased about. These findings suggest that people may know more about themselves than they initially admit. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin]

In a patent dispute between two pharmaceutical giants arguing over who owns the royalty rights to a lucrative wound-dressing solution, […] three judges coined a new legal definition of “one”. […] The ConvaTec patent covered any salt solution “between 1 per cent and 25 per cent of the total volume of treatment”. However, Smith & Nephew devised a competing product that used 0.77 per cent concentration, bypassing, or so it believed, the ConvaTec patent. […] Their lordships concluded that “one” includes anything greater or equal to 0.5 and less than 1.5  – much to the chagrin of Smith & Nephew. [The Independent]

The method to achieving what seemed like a superhuman feat was called the Dymaxion sleeping schedule: four naps of 30 minutes taken every six hours. […] Problems began after 36 hours. I was finding it hard staying awake at night. […] I changed to an easier sleep schedule: the Everyman, where I slept for 3.5 hours at night and took three 20-minute naps in the day. […] After three weeks and a few more obstacles, I finally settled into the new schedule. [Quartz]

Why you should answer all your emails at 3PM (The ideal work schedule, as determined by circadian rhythms)

Seven or more hours of sleep per night: A health necessity for adults

In the course of several studies, 22 male and female subjects, ranging in age from 5–75 years, have been stimulated while asleep by simulated sonic booms […] and subsonic jet flyover noise. […] Children (5–8 years of age) are uniformly unaffected by noise during sleep; older subjects are more sensitive to noise than younger subjects; women are more sensitive to noise during sleep than are men. [Journal of Sound and Vibration]

Previous studies reveal relationships between birth month and several diseases including atherothrombosis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and myopia, leaving most diseases completely unexplored. […] We found 55 diseases that were significantly dependent on birth month. […] Seasonally dependent early developmental mechanisms may play a role in increasing lifetime risk of disease. […] Looking at all 10 (9 novel) cardiovascular conditions revealed that individuals born in the autumn (September–December) were protected against cardiovascular conditions while those born in the winter (January–March) and spring (April–June) were associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk (Figure 5). Interestingly, one study found that people born in the autumn (October–December) lived longer than those born in the spring (April–June). [Oxford University Press]

In 1908, an asteroid measuring perhaps 90-190 meters across struck Siberia, damaging over 2,000 square kilometers of Russian forest – an area that measures larger than New York’s five boroughs. Scientists estimate that the energy of that explosion was about 1,000 times that of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. This is far from the only close call that humans have had with asteroids. In 2004, an asteroid big enough to have its own small moon narrowly missed the planet. In 2013, an asteroid struck the Russia countryside with many times the force of the Hiroshima bomb, and was widely captured on video. And of course, it was an asteroid, smashing into the Earth with the force of more than billion Hiroshima bombs, which nixed the dinosaurs and allowed humans to take over the Earth in the first place. [More: The event appears to have hit all continents at the same time | Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain these extinctions] […] The probability that you’ll die from an asteroid may be surprisingly large — about the same probability as dying from a plane crash, according to research. [Washington Post]

How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds

Einstein wondered what would happen if the Sun were to suddenly explode. Since the Sun is so far away that it takes light eight minutes to travel to Earth, we wouldn’t know about the explosion straight away. For eight glorious minutes we’d be completely oblivious to the terrible thing that was about to happen. But what about gravity? The Earth moves in an ellipse around the Sun, due to the Sun’s gravity. If the Sun wasn’t there, it would move off in a straight line. Einstein’s puzzle was when that would happen: straight away, or after eight minutes? According to Newton’s theory, the Earth should know immediately that the Sun had disappeared. But Einstein said that couldn’t be right. Because, according to him, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light — not even the effects of gravity. […] Before Einstein people thought of space as stage on which the laws of physics play out. We could throw in some stars or some planets and they would move around on this stage. Einstein realised that space isn’t as passive as that. It is dynamic and it responds to what’s happening within it. If you put something heavy in space — let’s say a planet like Earth — then space around it gives a little. The presence of the planet causes a small dent in space (and in fact, in time as well). When something else moves close to the planet — say the Moon — it feels this dent in space and rolls around the planet like a marble rolling in a bowl. This is what we call gravity. […] Stars and planets move, causing space to bend in their wake, causing other stars and planets to move, causing space to bend in their wake. And so on. This is Einstein’s great insight. Gravity is the manifestation of the curvature of space and time. [Plus Magazine | Part One | Part Two]

Man who owned house that was slated for demolition is accused of changing the address numbers with the house next door.

Scientists have discovered that living near trees is good for your health Related: Green and blue spaces promoted feelings of renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness

Smile at a party and people are more likely to remember seeing your face there

Secrets of catching attention revealed. 1,072 ‘context words’ disclosed.

Facial Features: What Women Perceive as Attractive and What Men Consider Attractive

Cross-cultural study finds wide gap in what men and women want in a romantic partner

Research has shown that humans consciously use alcohol to encourage sexual activity. […] In the current study, we examined if males exposed without their knowledge to pheromones emitted by fertile females would increase their alcohol consumption, presumably via neurobehavioral information pathways that link alcohol to sex and mating. We found that men who smelled a T-shirt worn by a fertile female drank significantly more (nonalcoholic) beer, and exhibited significantly greater approach behavior toward female cues, than those who smelled a T-shirt worn by a nonfertile female. [Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology]

[B]oth men and women show roughly the same neural activity during orgasm. […] “What we see is an overall activation of the brain; basically it’s like all systems go.” This may explain why orgasms are so all-consuming – if the whole forest is blazing, it’s difficult to discriminate between the different campfires that were there at the start. “At orgasm, if everything gets activated simultaneously, this can obliterate the fine discrimination between activities,” Komisaruk adds. It is maybe why you can’t think about anything else. […] The penis has just one route for carrying sensations to the brain, the female genital tract has three or four. […] After orgasm, however, some important differences do emerge, which might begin to explain why men and women react so differently after climax. Komisaruk, with Kachina Allen, has found preliminary evidence that specific regions of the male brain become unresponsive to further sensory stimulation of the genitals in the immediate aftermath of orgasm, whereas women’s brains continue to be activated: this may be why some women experience multiple orgasms, and men do not. [BBC]

Interacting with women can impair men’s cognitive functioning

43% of married people don’t know how much money their spouse makes

Expert philosophers are just as irrational as the rest of us

Group discussion improves lie detection

Research does show that if you increase people’s time awareness—by placing a big clock in front of them, for example—they do more stuff

When Do People Prefer Carrots to Sticks? A Robust ‘Matching Effect’ in Policy Evaluation

Differences in Breast Shape Preferences between Plastic Surgeons and Patients Seeking Breast Augmentation

Since 2009, progress has been made in devising techniques for determining ideal male nipple positions

Healthy people who were given the serotonin-boosting antidepressant citalopram were willing to pay twice as much to prevent harm to themselves or others, compared to those given a placebo. By contrast, those who were given a dose of the dopamine-enhancing Parkinson’s drug levodopa made more selfish decisions, overcoming an existing tendency to prefer harming themselves over others. [IB Times]

Most humans perceive a given odor similarly. But the genes for the molecular machinery that humans use to detect scents are about 30 percent different in any two people, says neuroscientist Noam Sobel. […] This variation means that nearly every person’s sense of smell is subtly different. [….] Sobel and his colleagues designed a sensitive scent test they call the “olfactory fingerprint.” […] People with similar olfactory fingerprints showed similarity in their genes for immune system proteins linked to body odor and mate choice. […] It has been shown that people can use smell to detect their genetic similarity to others and avoid inbreeding, says neuroscientist Joel Mainland of Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.  [Science News]

Are We Seeing the End of Homeopathy?

Text messaging during surgery provides analgesic-sparing benefits that surpass distraction techniques

The hack is simple: if you are an average adult, a cup of coffee every 48 hours will do the trick.

Coffee neither increases nor decreases the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, new research

The world’s most expensive coffee is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung

Substance abuse reduces brain volume in women but not men

The brain shrinks over the course of the day, ending up smaller in the evening – before returning to its full size the next morning.

Scientists build artificial neurons able to communicate with organic neurons

Brain connections last as long as the memories they store, Stanford neuroscientist finds

Female psychopaths process moral judgements differently than male psychopaths

Stanford neuroscience research identifies more effective way to teach abstract math concepts to children

Links found between blood type and risk of cognitive decline

What It’s Like to Be Profoundly Face-Blind

Dutch people are the tallest on Earth. Their height could be the result of natural selection favoring a towering stature, study suggests.

New method reveals exact time of death after 10 days

Key element of human language discovered in bird babble

Of all the species that occasionally make a break for it, flamingos seem to have the most success. And: The inside of a flamingo’s egg is pink. And so is the milk parents feed their chicks.

Scientists showed domestic dogs avoid people they have seen behave unhelpfully to their owners

Cognitive capacities for cooking in chimpanzees

Horses communicate amongst each other with eye and ear twitches

Swimming under the surface is faster than swimming on the surface. And the fish kick may be the fastest subsurface form yet.

Where does water go when it doesn’t flow?

Why do puddles stop spreading?

Global sea levels have risen six meters in the last three decades

If sea levels rise as feared, some of the world’s island nations may disappear this century. Does that mean they no longer exist as countries?

Is your fear of radiation irrational?

If you want your statues clean, you just need to make them of bronze laced with arsenic

How Do We Remember Colors?

These are the sounds left behind when you compress a song to MP3 + How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?

This Is How Uber Takes Over a City

Taking control remotely of modern cars has become distressingly easy for hackers

Braille tablet using a new liquid-based technology create tactile relief outputting braille, graphics and maps for the blind

How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet

Chinese Zoo Animals Monitored For Earthquake Prediction

New York Wants Google Maps to Discourage Left Turns

Left Turns Cause A Quarter Of All Pedestrian Crashes In U.S.

Soft robot tentacle can lasso an ant without harming it

Algorithm Chooses the Most Creative Paintings in History

Jaw power (new patent)

Do observers like curvature or do they dislike angularity? [PDF]

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Some Aspects of Adaptation to Failure

The authors find no evidence of predictive ability from candlestick patterns alone, or in combination with other common technical indicators, like momentum.

Sharks living in a volcano

How to Sue Richard Prince and Win

Man sues Chinese actress over her intense stare in TV show

Is it possible to gauge how wealthy a New Yorker might be just by the way they pronounce their /r/ s? And: The Social Stratification of (r) in New York City Department Stores [PDF]

More New Yorkers are surviving being run over by 100-ton subway trains, statistics show

Population density in NYC at day and night

The best bonfires are roughly as tall as they are wide

How to steal an election

It is forbidden to die in the Arctic town of Longyearbyen

Donald Trump butt plug

Interactive Mirror Built from 450 Rotating Penguins by Daniel Rozin

Canadian lifted into sky in lawn chair by 100+ balloons, arrested upon landing

For years the sign has caused passengers on planes to freak out about going to the wrong place. [Thanks Tim]

Triple-Decker Weekly, 130


Films with a female presence earn less at the box office

Research shows more sex does not mean more happiness

The relation between sexual orientation and penile dimensions in a large sample of men was studied. […] Penile dimensions were assessed using five measures of penile length and circumference from Kinsey’s original protocol. On all five measures, homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men. Explanations for these differences are discussed, including the possibility that these findings provide additional evidence that variations in prenatal hormonal levels (or other biological mechanisms affecting reproductive structures)affect sexual orientation development. [Archives of Sexual Behavior]

Worker fired for disabling GPS app that tracked her 24 hours a day

New Zealand-based company is building a very, very angry robot to help companies deal with angry customers

Big brands said to want models with at least 10,000 Instagram followers

A statistical analysis of birth month and celebrity finds that individuals born under certain astrological signs are more likely to become famous

Dog poo DNA tests to catch owners who fail to clean up their pet’s mess are to be launched in an east London borough

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the main component of our genetic material. It is formed by combining four parts: A, C, G and T (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine), called bases of DNA combine in thousands of possible sequences to provide the genetic variability that enables the wealth of aspects and functions of living beings. In the early 80s, to these four “classic” bases of DNA was added a fifth: the methyl-cytosine (mC) derived from cytosine. And it was in the late 90’s when mC was recognized as the main cause of epigenetic mechanisms: it is able to switch genes on or off depending on the physiological needs of each tissue. In recent years, interest in this fifth DNA base has increased by showing that alterations in the methyl-cytosine contribute to the development of many human diseases, including cancer. Today, an article published in Cell describes the possible existence of a sixth DNA base, the methyl-adenine (mA), which also help determine the epigenome and would therefore be key in the life of the cells. [ScienceDaily]

3D X-ray technique detects 40% more breast cancers than traditional mammography does

Ageing causes changes to the brain size, vasculature, and cognition. The brain shrinks with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. Protective factors that reduce cardiovascular risk, namely regular exercise, a healthy diet, and low to moderate alcohol intake, seem to aid the ageing brain as does increased cognitive effort in the form of education or occupational attainment. A healthy life both physically and mentally may be the best defence against the changes of an ageing brain. Additional measures to prevent cardiovascular disease may also be important. […] It has been widely found that the volume of the brain and/or its weight declines with age at a rate of around 5% per decade after age 40 with the actual rate of decline possibly increasing with age particularly over age 70. […] The most widely seen cognitive change associated with ageing is that of memory. Memory function can be broadly divided into four sections, episodic memory, semantic memory, procedural memory, and working memory.18 The first two of these are most important with regard to ageing. Episodic memory is defined as “a form of memory in which information is stored with ‘mental tags’, about where, when and how the information was picked up”. An example of an episodic memory would be a memory of your first day at school, the important meeting you attended last week, or the lesson where you learnt that Paris is the capital of France. Episodic memory performance is thought to decline from middle age onwards. This is particularly true for recall in normal ageing and less so for recognition. It is also a characteristic of the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). […] Semantic memory is defined as “memory for meanings”, for example, knowing that Paris is the capital of France, that 10 millimetres make up a centimetre, or that Mozart composed the Magic Flute. Semantic memory increases gradually from middle age to the young elderly but then declines in the very elderly. [Postgraduate Medical Journal | Thanks Tim]

This is what happens after you die

Physical activity has a multitude of health benefits — it reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even cancer — but weight loss is not one of them. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that exercise alone has almost no effect on weight loss, as two sports scientists and I described in a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. For one, researchers who reviewed surveys of millions of American adults found that physical activity increased between 2001 and 2009, particularly in counties in Kentucky, Georgia and Florida. But the rise in exercise was matched by an increase in obesity in almost every county studied. There were even more striking results in a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that people who simply dieted experienced greater weight loss than those who combined diet and exercise. […] It’s calorie intake that is really fueling the obesity epidemic. But it’s not just the number of calories we’re eating as how we’re getting them. The sugar calories are particularly bad. […] The World Health Organization now recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for the average adult. […] The food and beverage industry is most guilty of perpetuating the false belief that the obesity epidemic is simply due to lack of exercise, spending billions to market nutritionally poor products as “sports drinks” while simultaneously promoting the benefits of physical activity. […] None of this means you should turn in your gym membership card. Working out will make you healthier and less susceptible to disease. No matter what your size, even 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity that breaks you into a sweat five times per week will substantially improve your health and well-being. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, cycling, sex or all three. If it’s longevity you’re after, note that elite athletes in high-intensity sports don’t live any longer than top golfers. But if weight loss is your goal, your diet is what really needs to change. An analysis by professor Simon Capewell at the University of Liverpool revealed that poor diet (for example, eating too much junk food without enough nuts, whole grains, fruit and vegetables) now contributes to more disease and death than smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity combined. [Washington Post]

Organic milk ‘is less healthy than regular milk and could harm child IQ,’ say researchers

Meat eaters who justify their eating habits feel less guilty and are more tolerant of social inequality say researchers.

In study, skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain

More than 40 percent of US honeybees died this past year

Traffic noise blocks fish sex

New study suggests that flying may be greener than driving

The future is always stranger than we expect: mobile phones and the Internet, not flying cars. […] “We’re not funding Mother Teresa. We’re funding imperial, will-to-power people who want to crush their competition. Companies can only have a big impact on the world if they get big.” […] The dirty secret of the trade is that the bottom three-quarters of venture firms didn’t beat the Nasdaq for the past five years. […] The truth is that most V.C.s subsist entirely on fees, which they compound by raising a new fund every three years. Returns are kept hidden by nondisclosure agreements, and so V.C.s routinely overstate them, both to encourage investment and to attract entrepreneurs. […] “We live in a financial age, not a technological age.” [New Yorker]

If you sold every share of every company in the U.S. and used the money to buy up all the factories, machines and inventory, you’d have some cash left over. That, in a nutshell, is the math behind a bear case on equities that says prices have outrun reality. The concept is embodied in a measure known as the Q ratio developed by James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale University who died in 2002. According to Tobin’s Q, equities in the U.S. are valued about 10 percent above the cost of replacing their underlying assets — higher than any time other than the Internet bubble and the 1929 peak. [Bloomberg]

Most real decisions, unlike those of economics texts, have a status quo alternative—that is, doing nothing or maintaining one’s current or previous decision. A series of decision-making experiments shows that individuals disproportionately stick with the status quo. [Journal of Risk and Uncertainty | PDF]

Would you Pay for Transparently Useless Advice?

The secret to overturning negative first impressions

Researchers have discovered a virus that infects our brains and “makes us more stupid.”

Frequent earbud headphone use increases your risk for “hidden hearing loss”: study

Pop music shows a pattern from biological evolution known as punctuated equilibrium, in which periods of gradual change are separated by explosions of complexity

The shortest scientific paper ever published

Physics paper with 5,154 authors has broken the record for the largest number of contributors to a single research article.

How to choose a price that will maximize your profit

Why is the number 2,147,483,647 important?Anything larger confuses many computers.

The Predecessors of Bitcoin and Their Implications for the Prospect of Virtual Currencies

Slot machines perfected addictive gaming. Now, tech wants their tricks.

Labyrinths have made their way into prisons, spas, wellness centers, and hospitals in recent years

Before leaving his girlfriend’s apartment in Crown Heights, on the morning of his nineteenth arrest for impersonating and performing the functions of New York City Transit Authority employees, Darius McCollum put on an NYCTA subway conductor’s uniform and reflector vest. […] Six weeks earlier, Darius had been paroled from the Elmira Correctional Facility, near Binghamton, New York, where he had served two years for attempted grand larceny—”attempted” because he had signed out NYCTA vehicles for surface use (extinguishing track fires, supervising maintenance projects) and then signed them back in according to procedure. Darius has never worked for the NYCTA; he has never held a steady job. He is thirty-seven and has spent a third of his adult life in prison for victim-less offenses related to transit systems. […] His obsession with the subway manifested itself as soon as he began riding trains with his mother, at age three. [Harper’s/Long Reads]

Water-skipping stones and spheres

Why Is the Heart Symbol so Anatomically Incorrect?

Japanese hotel launches ‘crying rooms’

Chinese Restaurant Gives Discounts to Customers with Short Skirts

Beard Hair Net Sales Are Booming Thanks to Hipster Chef Bros

Anti-NSA pranksters planted tape recorders across New York and published your conversations