twitter
facebook twitter tumblr newsletter
blog-shines-like-174
Shines Like Gold
By imp kerr
what matter who's speaking?
rss feed

Triple-Decker Weekly, 135

Penny-Slinger-GivingYouLip-1973

The authors identify customers, termed “Harbingers of failure,” who systematically purchase new products that flop. Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail—the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed. Firms can identify these customers through past purchases of either new products that failed or existing products that few other customers purchase. The authors discuss how these insights can be readily incorporated into the new product development process. The findings challenge the conventional wisdom that positive customer feedback is always a signal of future success. [Journal of Marketing Research]

Military importance of diarrhea: lessons from the Middle East

By one estimate, as many as 40 percent of people experience constipation while they’re away from home

Man fails to get penis drawing recognized as his signature

Airbnb removes New York igloo charging $200 a night, but snow house was ‘very well constructed’

Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is based on the theory that some depressions occur seasonally in response to reduced sunlight. SAD has attracted cultural and research attention for more than 30 years and influenced the DSM through inclusion of the seasonal variation modifier for the major depression diagnosis. This study was designed to determine if a seasonally related pattern of occurrence of major depression could be demonstrated in a population-based study. A cross-sectional U.S. survey of adults completed the Patient Health Questionnaire–8 Depression Scale. […] Depression was unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight. Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data. [Clinical Psychological Science]

We find that national percentages of very happy people are consistently and highly correlated with national prevalence of the rs324420 A allele in the FAAH gene

U.K. researcher receives permission to edit genes in human embryos

The present investigation began with the conjecture that people may do better by saying “some other time” instead of “no, not ever” in response to temptations.

Researchers have created a digital audio platform that can modify the emotional tone of people’s voices while they are talking, to make them sound happier, sadder or more fearful. New results show that while listening to their altered voices, participants’ emotional state change in accordance with the new emotion. […] The study found that the participants were unaware that their voices were being manipulated, while their emotional state changed in accordance with the manipulated emotion portrayed. This indicates that people do not always control their own voice to meet a specific goal and that people listen to their own voice to learn how they are feeling. [eurekAlert]

The present research examined whether possessing multiple social identities (i.e., groups relevant to one’s sense of self) is associated with creativity. In Study 1, the more identities individuals reported having, the more names they generated for a new commercial product (i.e., greater idea fluency). […] Results suggest that possessing multiple social identities is associated with enhanced creativity via cognitive flexibility. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin]

The Countries Where People Are the Most Emotionally Complex (Cultures that value interdependence, like Japan, win at being deep)

And so, even as Jared was getting what he purportedly wanted — plenty of sex with plenty of women — he became increasingly bitter and judgmental.

Italian woman turned to firefighters for help after she lost the key to her chastity belt. She explained she wore the belt voluntarily to prevent herself from entering into sexual relationships.

One in 10 Americans would do porn for $1 million — and 6% would murder for $1 billion

This Valentine’s Day you can name a cockroach after you ex

Conventional wisdom and research seem to suggest that partners in dual career-couples have to decide whether they would rather risk their careers or their romantic relationship. There was no negative association between working time and relationship satisfaction.

Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you: Can I trust this person? Can I respect this person?

Data Mining Reveals How Smiling Evolved During a Century of Yearbook Photos

Scholars have assumed that trust is fragile: difficult to build and easily broken. We demonstrate, however, that in some cases trust is surprisingly robust.

Altruism trumps good looks, although the combination of both is the most desirable of all.

Previous studies have found that facial appearance can predict both the selection and performance of leaders. Little is known about the specific facial features responsible for this relationship, however. One possible feature is mouth width, which correlates with the propensity for physical combat in primates and could therefore be linked to one’s perceived dominance and achievement of greater social rank. […] We observed that mouth width correlated with judgments of CEOs’ leadership ability and with a measure of their actual leadership success. Individuals with wider mouths were also more likely to have won U.S. senate, but not gubernatorial, races. Mouth width may therefore be a valid cue to leadership selection and success. [Journal of Experimental Social Psychology]

How do we know when we have seen enough information, and that we should stop any further input in order to avoid some form of information overload? [PDF]

Why does the brain use so much energy?

New research may prove brain prepares multiple actions before acting

When we talk we take turns, where the “right” to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign-language conversations. […] (Overlaps only happened in 17 percent of turns, typically lasted for just 100 milliseconds, and were mostly slight misfires where one speaker unexpectedly drew out their last syllable.) […] This means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn, using everything from grammatical cues to changes in pitch. We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain, while similarly building our hypothetical rejoinder, all using largely overlapping neural circuits. [The Atlantic]

In an unusual new paper, a group of German neuroscientists report that they scanned the brain of a Catholic bishop: Does a bishop pray when he prays? And does his brain distinguish between different religions? […] Silveira et al. had the bishop perform some religious-themed tasks, but the most interesting result was that there was no detectable difference in brain activity when the bishop was praying, compared to when he was told to do nothing in particular. [Neuroskeptic]

Individuals addicted to cocaine may have difficulty in controlling their addiction because of a previously-unknown ‘back door’ into the brain, circumventing their self-control

Blind person to receive “bionic eyes, ” camera mounted on a pair of glasses will feed information directly to the brain.

Researchers have developed a painkiller that is as strong as morphine, has fewer side effects, and isn’t likely to be addictive

Pain produces memory gain

Resting in a quiet room for 10 minutes without stimulation can boost our ability to remember new information

The woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease

Why Are Some People Habitually Late?

Why Are Projects Always Behind Schedule?

Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted. This reasoning sounds counterintuitive, but the legislators of the time had noticed that unanimous agreement often indicates the presence of systemic error in the judicial process, even if the exact nature of the error is yet to be discovered. They intuitively reasoned that when something seems too good to be true, most likely a mistake was made. [A] team of researchers has further investigated this idea, which they call the “paradox of unanimity.” […] The researchers demonstrated the paradox in the case of a modern-day police line-up, in which witnesses try to identify the suspect out of a line-up of several people. The researchers showed that, as the group of unanimously agreeing witnesses increases, the chance of them being correct decreases until it is no better than a random guess. [Phys.org]

Many of our errors, the researchers found, stem from a basic mismatch between how we analyze ourselves and how we analyze others. When it comes to ourselves, we employ a fine-grained, highly contextualized level of detail. When we think about others, however, we operate at a much higher, more generalized and abstract level. For instance, when answering the same question about ourselves or others — how attractive are you? — we use very different cues. For our own appearance, we think about how our hair is looking that morning, whether we got enough sleep, how well that shirt matches our complexion. For that of others, we form a surface judgment based on overall gist. So, there are two mismatches: we aren’t quite sure how others are seeing us, and we are incorrectly judging how they see themselves. If, however, we can adjust our level of analysis, we suddenly appear much more intuitive and accurate. In one study, people became more accurate at discerning how others see them when they thought their photograph was going to be evaluated a few months later, as opposed to the same day, while in another, the same accuracy shift happened if they thought a recording they’d made describing themselves would be heard a few months later. Suddenly, they were using the same abstract lens that others are likely to use naturally. [Maria Konnikova, The Confidence Game]

After 2.5 millennia of philosophical deliberation and psychological experimentation, most scholars have concluded that humor arises from incongruity. We highlight 2 limitations of incongruity theories of humor. First, incongruity is not consistently defined. The literature describes incongruity in at least 4 ways: surprise, juxtaposition, atypicality, and a violation. Second, regardless of definition, incongruity alone does not adequately differentiate humorous from nonhumorous experiences. We suggest revising incongruity theory by proposing that humor arises from a benign violation: something that threatens a person’s well-being, identity, or normative belief structure but that simultaneously seems okay. Six studies, which use entertainment, consumer products, and social interaction as stimuli, reveal that the benign violation hypothesis better differentiates humorous from nonhumorous experiences than common conceptualizations of incongruity. A benign violation conceptualization of humor improves accuracy by reducing the likelihood that joyous, amazing, and tragic situations are inaccurately predicted to be humorous. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]

Lucid dreams are when you know you’re dreaming and you can consciously control events as they unfold: it’s like being the director and star of your own Hollywood movie. It’s estimated that about 20 per cent of people get to enjoy them fairly regularly (at least once a month). For the rest of us, a new study in the journal Dreaming suggests a really simple way to increase your odds of having lucid dreams – just start making more frequent use of the snooze function on your alarm clock. [BPS]

Duration of urination does not change with body size

Researchers found a way to partially un-boil an egg

Mathematicians invent new way to slice pizza into exotic shapes

“Can I ask you why you’re buying fat-free half-and-half?” I said. “Because it’s fat-free?” she responded. “Do you know what they replace the fat with?” I asked. “Hmm,” she said, then lifted the carton and read the second ingredient on the label after skim milk: “Corn syrup.” […] The woman apparently hadn’t even thought to ask herself that question but had instead accepted the common belief that fat, an essential part of our diet, should be avoided whenever possible. Then again, why should she question it, given that we allow food companies, advertisers and food researchers to do our thinking for us? In the 1970s, no one questioned whether eggs really were the heart-attack risk nutritionists warned us about. Now, of course, eggs have become such a cherished food that many people raise their own laying hens. Such examples of food confusion and misinformation abound. […] Our beloved kale salads are not “healthy.” And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. […] If all you ate was kale, you would become sick. [Washington Post]

The Science of Herbs and Spices

Researchers showed the more often people imagined eating a food, the less likely they were to eat it later.

Several studies have confirmed that chicken soup helps to unblock congested noses and throats

Could red wine improve cognitive performance?

We’re the Only Animals With Chins, and No One Knows Why [more]

Why more and more vultures eat their prey butt first

Could Evolution Ever Yield a ‘Perfect’ Organism?

Why There Still Are Monkeys

Everyone on Earth is actually your cousin (the most distant relative would be a 15th cousin)

What does fear do to our vision?

In 2012, a genetic analysis confirmed that Concetta’s enhanced color vision can be explained by a genetic quirk that causes her eyes to produce four types of cone cells, instead of the regular three which underpin colour vision in most humans. Women with four cone types in their retinas are actually more common than we think. Researchers estimate that they represent as much as 12% of the female population. […] A woman has the potential to produce four cone types because she inherits two X-chromosomes. […] The three cone types that most of us have in our retinas allow us to see millions of colours. Each cone’s membrane is packed with molecules, called opsins, which absorb lights of some wavelengths and cause the cone to send electrical signals to the brain. […] Four cones don’t automatically grant you superior color vision. […] Only one of the seven women with four cones behaved as if she actually perceived differences between the colour mixtures that were invisible to everyone apart from her sons. [The Neurosphere]

Halting the explosive spread of Zika means waging war with mosquitoes. There are several ways, old and new, to win that war. And: Zika, a virus unknown to most people until recent days

After medicine in the 20th century focused on healing the sick, now it is more and more focused on upgrading the healthy, which is a completely different project. And it’s a fundamentally different project in social and political terms, because whereas healing the sick is an egalitarian project […] upgrading is by definition an elitist project. […] This opens the possibility of creating huge gaps between the rich and the poor […]Many people say no, it will not happen, because we have the experience of the 20th century, that we had many medical advances, beginning with the rich or with the most advanced countries, and gradually they trickled down to everybody, and now everybody enjoys antibiotics or vaccinations or whatever. […] There were peculiar reasons why medicine in the 20th century was egalitarian, why the discoveries trickled down to everybody. These unique conditions may not repeat themselves in the 21st century. […] When you look at the 20th century, it’s the era of the masses, mass politics, mass economics. Every human being has value, has political, economic, and military value. […] This goes back to the structures of the military and of the economy, where every human being is valuable as a soldier in the trenches and as a worker in the factory. But in the 21st century, there is a good chance that most humans will lose, they are losing, their military and economic value. This is true for the military, it’s done, it’s over. The age of the masses is over. We are no longer in the First World War, where you take millions of soldiers, give each one a rifle and have them run forward. And the same thing perhaps is happening in the economy. Maybe the biggest question of 21st century economics is what will be the need in the economy for most people in the year 2050. And once most people are no longer really necessary, for the military and for the economy, the idea that you will continue to have mass medicine is not so certain. Could be. It’s not a prophecy, but you should take very seriously the option that people will lose their military and economic value, and medicine will follow. [Edge]

Many people are keen on getting a skin tan despite being aware of warnings of health hazards. The present study investigates differences between women regularly using sunbeds and a control group of non-users in the areas of self-concept, narcissistic regulatory modalities, social assertiveness and generalized self-efficacy.
Thirty women users of suntan salons and 34 women who never used one were investigated with standardized psychological questionnaires. In addition, their knowledge about the hazards of using sunbeds and attitudes to tanning were recorded. Statistical evaluation shows that sunbed users demonstrate more object devaluation: that is, other persons are devalued so that they are not even considered worthy of affection. Furthermore, they also display greater anxiety in their feelings and relationships with others. The results of this pilot study support the hypothesis that a tanned skin, by helping sunbed users to achieve their ideal of beauty, enables them to devalue other people and thus possibly to protect themselves from close relationships. [British Journal of Dermatology]

Poor posture can have ill effects that radiate throughout the body, causing back and neck pain, muscle fatigue, breathing limitations, arthritic joints, digestive problems and mood disturbances. It can also create a bad impression when applying for a job, starting a relationship or making new friends. Poor posture can even leave you vulnerable to street crime. Many years ago, researchers showed that women who walked sluggishly with eyes on the ground, as if carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, were much more likely to be mugged than those who walked briskly and purposely with head erect. […] In a study of 110 students at San Francisco State University, half of whom were told to walk in a slumped position and the other half to skip down a hall, the skippers had a lot more energy throughout the day. […] Leaning forward or slouching can also reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches body tissues, including the brain. [NY Times]

…the differences between “U” (Upper-class) and “non-U” (Middle Class) usages […] The genteel offer ale rather than beer; invite one to step (not come) this way; and assist (never help) one another to potatoes. […] When Prince William and Kate Middleton split up in 2007 the press blamed it on Kate’s mother’s linguistic gaffes at Buckingham Palace, where she reputedly responded to the Queen’s How do you do? with the decidedly non-U Pleased to meet you (the correct response being How do you do?), and proceeded to ask to use the toilet (instead of the U lavatory). [The Conversation]

There is one thing the company doesn’t ask for: a résumé.

Is fame fair? Is fame superficial? Can it be a signal of accomplishment?

Robert Spitzer: the most influential psychiatrist of his time

Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?

Why is So Much Reported Science Wrong

Research has found conflicting results regarding the profitability of movies that have big-name stars

25 Examples of Male Privilege from a Trans Guy’s Perspective

Apple is developing wireless charging for mobile devices

Jobs was just getting started with the “i” motif. (For a while he even called himself the company’s iCEO.)

At 83, Donald Rumsfeld Decided to Develop an App

They’re probably the most familiar interfaces on the planet: the numeric keypads on our mobile phones and calculators. Yet very few notice that the keypads’ design has remained unchanged for nearly half a century. […] Most users do not notice that the keypads of the calculator and phone are inversions of each other. [Smash]

Apple faces $5 million lawsuit over allegedly slowing the iPhone 4S with iOS 9

Facebook ‘tests loyalty’ by purposefully crashing app

Woman faces jail for tagging sister-in-law on Facebook

The number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause. [PDF]

An earnest guy in a dress shirt gets up to pitch Halolife, an e-commerce site for burial services. “It’s a $20bn industry,” he says. “Everyone dies.”

The Deep Web and the Darknet: A Look Inside the Internet’s Massive Black Box

The tax sleuth who took down the mastermind behind the online drug bazaar known as Silk Road [NY Times]

You Want To Be A Citadel Trader: Here Are The Requirements

When banks in Greece were closed for three weeks last summer, some commentators pointed to Ireland in 1970 to show that a modern economy can function without banks

In an update on an old story, an investment banker asks the client to pay by placing one penny on the first square of a chessboard, two pennies on the second square, four on the third, doubling the number on each square that follows. If the banker had asked for this on only the white squares, the initial penny would double thirty-one times to $21,474,836 on the last square. Using both the black and the white squares, the sum on the last square is $92,233,720,368,547,758. People are reasonably good at estimating how things add up, but for compounding, which involved repeated multiplication, we fail to appreciate how quickly things grow. As a result, we often lose sight of how important even small changes in the average rate of growth can be. For an investment banker, the choice between a payment that doubles with every square on the chessboard and one that doubles with every other square is more important than any other part of the contract. […] Growth rates for nations drive home the point that modest changes in growth rates are possible and that over time, these have big effects. […] If economic growth could be achieved only by doing more and more of the same kind of cooking, we would eventually run out of raw materials and suffer from unacceptable levels of pollution and nuisance. Human history teaches us, however, that economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking. [Paul Romer]

This study examines differential recognition of top art collectors

Interview with Ellsworth Kelly, October 2013

In 1971 the performance artist Chris Burden stood against the wall of a California art gallery and ordered a friend to shoot him through the arm. That .22 rifle shot was the opening salvo of a movement that came to be called “endurance art”—an unnerving species of performance art in which the performer deliberately subjects himself to pain, deprivation, or extreme tedium. How Art Became Irrelevant

Mike Drake collects his fingernail and toenail clippings and turns them into acrylic paperweights

The North Dakota Crude Oil That’s Worth Less Than Nothing

The Nano Membrane Toilet – a toilet which aims to treat human waste in the home without external energy or water

Conductive concrete that can carry enough electrical current to melt ice during winter storms

How Greene Street went from a red-light district to hosting some of the highest property values in the world

Dole is the world’s largest producer of bananas. It operates the largest refrigerated fleet, or reeferships, in the world.

People forget that Walmart is a $3 billion trucking company; it’s just they only truck for themselves. Amazon China is now registered to deliver its own products to seaports for ocean shipping.

Amazon Reveals Details About Its Crazy Drone Delivery Program

What makes the drone community believe deliveries are a good idea? Assuming the technology works, do the economics make sense?

The largest operational cassette factory in the US reports an impressive increase in demand

Smallest inkjet color picture of the world is as small as the cross-sectional area of a human hair

This project is an attempt to use modern deep learning techniques to automatically colorize black and white photos

This map lists all unclassified Cyber Squirrel Operations that have been released to the public that we have been able to confirm

Redbird Reef is an artificial reef located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Slaughter Beach, Delaware. The reef comprises 714 ‘Redbird’ New York City Subway cars, 86 retired tanks and armored personnel carriers, eight tugboats and barges, and 3,000 tons of ballasted truck tires. [Wikipedia]

City official persuades man to dress as old woman for photo op

Haus in Schwarz (House in Black) by Erik Sturm and Simon Jung

Artist to sit naked on toilet for two days to protest the ‘bullshit’ of the art world

A piece from the early 1960s by Dan Flavin

World Maps Without New Zealand

Washing machine brick bouncing on trampoline

This is rudimentary design at best trying to pass as iconic

Cheesus Christ

Subscribe

Triple-Decker Weekly, 134

tdw134

Court tells millionaire yoga troll Bikram Choudhury that poses can’t be copyrighted

The practice by some Chinese parents of adopting girls and raising them as future wives for their biological sons

A growing body of literature has shown that environmental exposures in the period around conception can affect the sex ratio at birth through selective attrition that favors the survival of female conceptuses. Glucose availability is considered a key indicator of the fetal environment, and its absence as a result of meal skipping may inhibit male survival. We hypothesize that breakfast skipping during pregnancy may lead to a reduction in the fraction of male births. Using time use data from the United States we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 20 percentage points more likely to skip breakfast. Using U.S. census data we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 1.2 percentage points less likely to have a male child under the age of 2. Under some assumptions, this implies that routinely skipping breakfast around the time of conception leads to a 6 percentage point reduction in the probability of a male child. Skipping breakfast during pregnancy may therefore constitute a poor environment for fetal health more generally. [Biodemography and Social Biology]

Determinants of online sperm donor success: How women choose

Living together is basically the same as marriage, study finds

New research hypothesizes that men eat more in front of women to “show off.”

Words can deceive, but tone of voice cannot. Voice tone analyses of therapy sessions accurately predict whether relationships will improve.

Couples who have sex weekly are happiest. More sex may not always make you happier, according to new research [study]

The effect of wearing different types of textiles on sexual activity was studied in 75 rats

Why Is the Human Vagina So Big?

‘Scrotum Squeezing’ Getting Closer Look From Paralympics Officials

Stolen circumcision ambulance found after tip-off

Women can navigate better when given testosterone, study finds

In Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy, Melvin Konner argues that male domination is an anomaly of human history, not a natural state for the human species. Specifically, Konner suggests that male supremacy is largely an effect of an oppressive social arrangement, namely civilization, which began with the invention of agriculture when humans began to form permanent settlements. Permanent settlements enabled men to be able to accumulate resources and allowed population densities to increase mainly through higher birth rates. Higher population densities placed more intense pressure on the land’s resources. Therefore, it became necessary for men to form coalitions with neighbors to defend against intruders. Power became concentrated in the hands of a few men, leading to a stratified society where male supremacy and female subordination reigned and male violence and war intensified. Today, Konner argues that technology limits the need for the muscle and strength of men, and male domination has outlived its purpose and is maladaptive. Therefore, empowering women is the next step in human evolution. Through empowering women, equality between the sexes will be restored and man-made disasters, such as wars, sex scandals, and financial corruption, will significantly decrease or be eliminated since women (who Konner claims are less emotional than men) will be in positions of leadership and power. [Evolutionary Psychology]

There’s no such thing as a male or female brain, study finds. Between 23% and 53% of individuals (depending on the sample) had brains with both “male-end” and “female-end” features. In contrast, the percentage of people with only “female-end” or only “male-end” brain features was small, ranging from zero to 8%.

A new study published in The Lancet, following one million middle-aged women in Britain for 10 years, finds that the widely held view that happiness enhances health and longevity is unfounded. “Happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality,” the researchers concluded. […] Researchers decided to look into the subject because, he said, there is a widespread belief that stress and unhappiness cause disease. […] The new study says earlier research confused cause and effect, suggesting that unhappiness made people ill when it is actually the other way around. [NY Times]

Touch is a powerful tool for communicating positive emotions. However, it has remained unknown to what extent social touch would maintain and establish social bonds. We asked a total of 1,368 people from five countries to reveal, using an Internet-based topographical self-reporting tool, those parts of their body that they would allow relatives, friends, and strangers to touch. These body regions formed relationship-specific maps in which the total area was directly related to the strength of the emotional bond between the participant and the touching person. Cultural influences were minor. […] [T]ouching by strangers was primarily limited to the hands and upper torso. Genitals and buttocks formed clear “taboo zones” that only the emotionally closest individuals were allowed to touch. Frequency of social contact with an individual did not predict the area available for social touch, confirming that the experienced bond between the individuals, rather than mere familiarity, modulates social touching behavior in dyads. […] Skin is the largest organ and the clearest border between individuals and the world. Already 19-wk-old fetuses touch themselves and anticipate self-oriented touches. Skin-to-skin contact is also one of the earliest communication channels promoting attachment between the infant and the caregiver. Recent work has revealed a special class of unmyelinated C-tactile afferents that respond selectively to slow pleasurable stroking. Stimulating these fibers activates insular cortex and possibly provides the sensory pathway for emotional and affiliative touching. Our results imply that this kind of social touch is interpreted in context-dependent fashion depending on the interaction partner. Such social coding of touch seems to occur at early processing stages in the brain, as recent neuroimaging work has established that the human primary somatosensory cortex is involved in discriminating between interpersonal and physical aspects of social touch. [PNAS]

Sleep interruptions worse for mood than overall reduced amount of sleep, study finds

Humans can sleep for days when living alone underground, experiments show

Ignorance may be bliss… but negative mood can make us more realistic

What is stupid? People’s conception of unintelligent behavior

Envy key motivator behind many Facebook posts, contributes to a decrease in mental well-being among users

Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often

Social stress messes up the hippocampus

Research shows that texts that end with a period really do come off as insincere

In 1995, a team of researchers taught pigeons to discriminate between Picasso and Monet paintings. […] After just a few weeks’ training, their pigeons could not only tell a Picasso from a Monet – indicated by pecks on a designated button – but could generalise their learning to discriminate cubist from impressionist works in general. […] For a behaviourist, the moral is that even complex learning is supported by fundamental principles of association, practice and reward. It also shows that you can train a pigeon to tell a Renoir from a Matisse, but that doesn’t mean it knows a lot about art. […] What is now indisputable is that different memories are supported by different anatomical areas of the brain. […] Brain imaging has confirmed the basic division of labour between so-called declarative memory, aka explicit memory (facts and events), and procedural memory, aka implicit memory (habits and skills). The neuroscience allows us to understand the frustrating fact that you have the insight into what you are learning without yet having acquired the skill, or you can have the skill without the insight. In any complex task, you’ll need both. Maybe the next hundred years of the neuroscience of memory will tell us how to coordinate them. […] Chess masters have an amazing memory for patterns on the chess board – able to recall the positions of all the pieces after only a brief glance. Follow-up work showed that they only have this ability if the patterns conform to possible positions in a legal game of chess. When pieces are positioned on the board randomly, however, chess grandmasters have as poor memories as anyone else. [The Guardian]

Why do we forget people’s names when we first meet them?

What Happens When You Can’t Talk to Yourself?

Why do dogs tilt their heads when we talk to them? Biologist here. Head tilting allows an animal to gain information about the vertical placement of the sound (how far up/down it is, relative to the axis of the skull). It is assumed that canids do head-tilting to try to localize a sound better. This is backed up by the fact that canids do a lot of head-tilting when hunting small prey that are hidden behind grass or snow. Generally – as bilaterally symmetrical animals, mammals already get pretty good information on left-right placement of a sound, due to the fact that we have an ear on the left and a different ear on the right – that means we can get left/right info by things like, time of arrival of the sound at each ear, & loudness of the sound in each ear. But up/down information (how high or low the sound source is) for a sound that is coming from directly in front can be difficult to figure out. This is a challenge for a predator that is typically approaching prey that are right in front. The head tilt solves this problem by offsetting the two ears vertically so that sounds from lower down will hit the lower ear first, and will also be ever-so- slightly louder in the lower ear, and vice versa for sounds coming from higher up. […] With domestic dogs looking at a human, typically they already know the sound is coming from the human; they seem to just instinctively add the head tilt when hearing a puzzling sound, even if they’re pretty sure where it’s coming from. [99trumpets/reddit]

A normal adult will die after eating 480 bananas. How Much [X] Could You Eat Before It Would Kill You?

People who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee

What would happen if scientists could trick the brain into thinking broccoli tastes like chocolate? How our brains perceive the flavor of food

Is human placenta a wonder drug, or is it just another Japanese health fad? [Thanks Tim]

Scientists have figured out how to shock the salt out of seawater

52 things I learned in 2015

Wearing a magnetic wrist strap or a copper bracelet did not appear to have any meaningful therapeutic effect, beyond that of a placebo

There’s one really big problem with the case for Craig S. Wright as Satoshi and What Satoshi Did

That mysterious, anonymous novel satirizing tech culture is now available from a major publishing house

Search Engine Censys Knows the Internet’s Dirty Little Security Secrets

Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks

How the DC Metro Got So Bad

Here’s what it would take for self-driving cars to catch on

Scientists have figured out how to store electricity in ‘paper’

Chinese researchers unveil brain powered car

Intelligent anti-explosion, anti-fire and anti-odour WiFi-enabled rubbish bins appear in China

Who’s investigating fake Chinese goods? Fake investigators

A Chinese artist vacuumed up Beijing’s smog and made a brick from what he collected

By the end of this century, Africa will be home to 39% of the world’s population, almost as much as Asia, and four times the share of North America and Europe put together.

Since the end of the Second World War, the number of independent states has nearly tripled.

A 200-year history of interest rates shows that the real aberration looks like the 7.3 percent average experienced in the United States from 1970 to 2007. [NY Times]

Even the CEO’s Job Is Susceptible To Automation, McKinsey Report Says

Are Successful CEOs Just Lucky?

Game company made $71,145 on Black Friday by selling nothing for $5 a pop

If a forecaster is only 50% certain that precipitation will happen over 80 percent of the area, PoP (chance of rain) is 40% (i.e., .5 x .8).

Although your client may think he is above the law and be accustomed to using lawsuits to bail out his failed business deals, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC’s Regulations nonetheless apply to him and his campaign. Perhaps the attached complaint, filed today, will serve as a reminder of your client’s legal obligations under federal election laws. Just as your client is attempting to quickly learn the basics of foreign policy, we wish you personally the best in your attempts to learn election law. [Charles Spies to Trump Attorney/Washington Post]

They’re like, “The internet is public.” A lot of things are public, but it doesn’t mean they’re for you. For instance, you can walk down the street and you can look into all of your neighbors’ windows should they have chanced not to draw the curtains. If you really lean in, you can listen to all kinds of conversations that are too quiet for you to just overhear. You can do all kinds of things in public that you should not do. Are you walking down the street, interrupting random twosomes or threesomes of people to add your two fucking sentences? You’re not, so why are you on my Twitter? Why are you talking to me? [Sarah Nicole Prickett / Mask]

What else is possible if space and time can change?

Penrose and many others argue from practical considerations, Godel’s theorem, and on philosophical grounds, that consciousness or awareness is non-algorithmic and so cannot be generated by a system that can be described by classical physics, such as a conventional computer, but could perhaps be generated by a system requiring a quantum (Hilbert space) description. Penrose suspects that aspects of quantum physics not yet understood might be needed to explain consciousness. In this paper we shall see that only known quantum physics is needed to explain perception. [James A. Donald]

In this study, we investigate cross-linguistic patterns in the alternation between UM, a hesitation marker consisting of a neutral vowel followed by a final labial nasal, and UH, a hesitation marker consisting of a neutral vowel in an open syllable.

…a general expletive (oh fuck!), a personal insult (you fuck!), a cursing expletive (fuck you!), an emphatic intensifier (fucking marvellous!), in pronominal form (like fuck), as an idiomatic set phrase (fuck all), and for a destinational usage (fuck off!). Being fluent at swearing is a sign of healthy verbal ability

Deaths by this and that in Shakespeare’s plays

Color preference in the insane

Concert etiquette demands that audiences of classical concerts avoid inept noises such as coughs. and yet, coughing in concerts occurs more frequently than elsewhere, implying a widespread and intentional breach of concert etiquette.

British pop singer Morrissey’s debut novel, “List of the Lost”, won the award for the worst sex scene of the year

Picasso’s muse Sylvette David, 1954 More: She has since changed her name to Lydia

Tobias Frere-Jones is back in business

The Real Face of Jesus

Controllable 3D model of a person made from photos

A 30,000+ word blog post about how to write about information and make it spread

Why Can’t We Build a Splash-Proof Toilet?

Liquid ASS [More: (used by US military to harden medics]

Our Roomba Vacuumed The House With Dog Shit

Subscribe

Triple-Decker Weekly, 133

4

Baby Born Pregnant with Her Own Twins

Disabling parts of the brain with magnets can weaken faith in God and change attitudes to immigrants, study finds

Can people differentiate what they know from what they do not? Several lines of research suggest that people are not always accurate judges of their knowledge and often overestimate how much they know. Research on overconfidence finds that people commonly judge the accuracy of their judgments too favorably and typically overestimate how well they perform everyday tasks relative to other people. Work on the illusion of explanatory depth demonstrates that participants tend to think they have a better understanding of how objects work (e.g., a ballpoint pen) than they can demonstrate when that understanding is put to the test. At times, people even claim knowledge they cannot possibly have, because the object of their knowledge does not exist, a phenomenon known as overclaiming. For example, in the late 1970s, nearly a third of American respondents expressed an opinion about the “1975 Public Affairs Act” when asked about it directly, even though the act was a complete fiction. Approximately a fifth of consumers report having used products that are actually nonexistent. More recent research has asked participants to rate their familiarity with a mix of real and nonexistent concepts, names, and events in domains such as philosophy, life sciences, physical sciences, and literature. Participants reported being familiar with the real items but also, to a lesser degree, with the nonexistent ones. […] What underlies assertions of such impossible knowledge? We found that people overclaim to the extent that they perceive their personal expertise favorably. […] A sizable body of work on how people evaluate their own knowledge suggests that they rely not only on a direct examination of their mental contents but also on a feeling of knowing. Notably, a feeling of knowing is often only weakly predictive of actual knowledge and appears to be informed, at least in part, by top-down inferences about what should be or probably is known. We theorized that such inferences are drawn from people’s preconceived notions about their expertise, inducing a feeling of knowing that then prompts overclaiming. [Psychological Science | PDF]

Decades of research have shown that humans are so-called cognitive misers. When we approach a problem, our natural default is to tap the least tiring cognitive process. Typically this is what psychologists call type 1 thinking, famously described by Nobel Prize–winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman as automatic, intuitive processes that are not very strenuous. This is in contrast to type 2 thinking, which is slower and involves processing more cues in the environment. Defaulting to type 1 makes evolutionary sense: if we can solve a problem more simply, we can bank extra mental capacity for completing other tasks. A problem arises, however, when the simple cues available are either insufficient or vastly inferior to the more complex cues at hand. Exactly this kind of conflict can occur when someone chooses to believe a personal opinion over scientific evidence or statistics. [Scientific American]

What happens to us as we accrue knowledge and experience, as we become experts in a field? Competence follows. Effortlessness follows. But certain downsides can follow too. We reported recently on how experts are vulnerable to an overclaiming error – falsely feeling familiar with things that seem true of a domain but aren’t. Now a new paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology explores how feelings of expertise can lead us to be more dogmatic towards new ideas. [BPS]

Here we show that searching the Internet for explanatory knowledge creates an illusion whereby people mistake access to information for their own personal understanding of the information.

Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare

Past research showed that people accumulate more knowledge about other people and objects they like compared to those they dislike. More knowledge is commonly assumed to lead to more differentiated mental representations; therefore, people should perceive others they like as less similar to one another than others they dislike. We predict the opposite outcome based on the density hypothesis; accordingly, positive impressions are less diverse than negative impressions as there are only a few ways to be liked but many ways to be disliked. Therefore, people should perceive liked others as more similar to one another than disliked others even though they have more knowledge about liked others. Seven experiments confirm this counterintuitive prediction and show a strong association between liking and perceived similarity in person perception. [Journal of Experimental Social Psychology]

Faces with a happy expression were rated to be more attractive than faces with the other emotions, but they were rated as attractive as neutral ones.

Transferring the expressions of one person’s face to the other in realtime

Expressing anger might lead men to gain influence, but women to lose influence over others (even when making identical arguments)

Testosterone levels affect how much makeup women use, study finds

Statisticians love to develop multiple ways of testing the same thing. If I want to decide whether two groups of people have significantly different IQs, I can run a t-test or a rank sum test or a bootstrap or a regression. You can argue about which of these is most appropriate, but I basically think that if the effect is really statistically significant and large enough to matter, it should emerge regardless of which test you use, as long as the test is reasonable and your sample isn’t tiny. An effect that appears when you use a parametric test but not a nonparametric test is probably not worth writing home about. A similar lesson applies, I think, to first dates. When you’re attracted to someone, you overanalyze everything you say, spend extra time trying to look attractive, etc. But if your mutual attraction is really statistically significant and large enough to matter, it should emerge regardless of the exact circumstances of a single evening. If the shirt you wear can fundamentally alter whether someone is attracted to you, you probably shouldn’t be life partners. […] In statistical terms, a glance at across a bar doesn’t give you a lot of data and increases the probability you’ll make an incorrect decision. As a statistician, I prefer not to work with small datasets, and similarly, I’ve never liked romantic environments that give me very little data about a person. (Don’t get me started on Tinder. The only thing I can think when I see some stranger staring at me out of a phone is, “My errorbars are huge!” which makes it very hard to assess attraction.) […] I think there’s even an argument for being deliberately unattractive to your date, on the grounds that if they still like you, they must really like you. [Obsession with Regression]

The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men’s mate preferences. Because a woman’s WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men’s preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. […] We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century. The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men’s preferences. [PLOS]

This research examines the role of alcohol consumption on self-perceived attractiveness. Study 1, carried out in a barroom (N= 19), showed that the more alcoholic drinks customers consumed, the more attractive they thought they were. In Study 2, 94 non-student participants in a bogus taste-test study were given either an alcoholic beverage (target BAL [blood alcohol level]= 0.10 g/100 ml) or a non-alcoholic beverage, with half of each group believing they had consumed alcohol and half believing they had not (balanced placebo design). After consuming beverages, they delivered a speech and rated how attractive, bright, original, and funny they thought they were. The speeches were videotaped and rated by 22 independent judges. Results showed that participants who thought they had consumed alcohol gave themselves more positive self-evaluations. However, ratings from independent judges showed that this boost in self-evaluation was unrelated to actual performance. [British Journal of Psychology | PDF]

Evidence of the cheerleader effect—people seem more attractive in a group than in isolation

Estimating Body Shape Under Clothing

What if the gamblers are researchers betting on how each other’s experiments will turn out, and the results are used to improve science itself?

Can scientists agree on a definition of curiosity?

How jurors can be misled by emotional testimony and gruesome photos

Not even astrology researchers believe in astrology

Astrobiologists Revise the Chances of Finding Advanced ET Civilizations

Martian Life Could Be a Biotech Bonanza

Last year, Kennedy, a 67-year-old neurologist and inventor, did something unprecedented in the annals of self-experimentation. He paid a surgeon in Central America $25,000 to implant electrodes into his brain in order to establish a connection between his motor cortex and a computer.

Neurotechnologies are “dual-use” tools, which means that in addition to being employed in medical problem-solving, they could also be applied (or misapplied) for military purposes. The same brain-scanning machines meant to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or autism could potentially read someone’s private thoughts. Computer systems attached to brain tissue that allow paralyzed patients to control robotic appendages with thought alone could also be used by a state to direct bionic soldiers or pilot aircraft. And devices designed to aid a deteriorating mind could alternatively be used to implant new memories, or to extinguish existing ones, in allies and enemies alike. […] “The potential to do something like mind reading is going to be available sooner rather than later.” More to the point, “It’s going to be possible within our lifetimes.” [Foreign Policy]

Paralyzed man uses own brainwaves to walk again – no exoskeleton required

Scientists have discovered more than 200 genes linked to ageing and have found switching them off could boost lifespan by 60 per cent, say scientists

People with a certain type of gene are more deeply affected by their life experiences, a new study has revealed. The findings challenge traditional thinking about depression, showing what might be considered a risk gene for depression in one context, may actually be beneficial in another. [EurekAlert]

In 1996, drugs relieved pain 27% more than a placebo. But in 2013 that gap had fallen to only 9%.

Four Reasons Drugs Are Expensive, of Which Two Are False

Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption

By licking a wound it heals faster — this is not simply popular belief, but scientifically proven. Our saliva consists of water and mucus, among other things, and the mucus plays an important role. It stimulates white blood cells to build a good defense against invaders. [Lunatic Laboratories]

Blood is a bodily fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. […] In vertebrates, it is composed of blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Plasma, which constitutes 55% of blood fluid, is mostly water (92% by volume), and contains dissipated proteins, glucose, mineral ions, hormones, carbon dioxide (plasma being the main medium for excretory product transportation), and blood cells themselves. Albumin is the main protein in plasma, and it functions to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of blood. The blood cells are mainly red blood cells, white blood cells (also called leukocytes) and platelets. The most abundant cells in vertebrate blood are red blood cells. [Wikipedia]

A completely new view of how human blood is made has been discovered by scientists, upending conventional dogma from the 1960s.

3D-printed teeth can kill 99% of bacteria

People talk about an individual’s genome as if it was a single consistent entity—but it isn’t. Every one of us actually contains a cosmopolitan melting pot of different genomes.

The moles on your right arm may predict your risk of skin cancer. New research suggests that it’s specifically those with 11 moles or more on their right arms who need to care the most

Sleep interruptions worse for mood than reduced overall amount of sleep and Black Americans aren’t sleeping as well as whites.

The Air-Conditioning Capacity of the Human Nose

Smell expert Sissel Tolaas is on a mission to capture and replicate the “smellscapes” of cities around the world [Thanks Tim]

Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells?

Human language may be shaped by climate and terrain

Meet The Man Who Invents Languages For A Living

What will the English language be like in 100 years?

Why The Machines That Dig Tunnels Are Always Named After Women

Life is different for people who think in metaphors

English Names for fungi 2014

Does the smell of a rare mushroom found in Hawaii really cause woman to have spontaneous orgasms?

$635 pills of fecal matter cure deadly gastrointestinal infection

Intestinal worms can actually be good for you

The best way for swarming insects to get the protein and salt they need is to eat each other.

Wasps Have Injected New Genes Into Butterflies

Indonesia considers crocodiles for prison guards

Crocodiles, like some birds and aquatic mammals, may well sleep with half of their brain at a time. The researchers found that crocodiles were more inclined to sleep with one eye open when humans were present, and that the open eye was always directed towards the human.

Mozambique is landmine-free thanks to rats

Coffee hydrates as well as water, study says. The belief that caffeinated drinks such as coffee could cause dehydration is based on a 1928 study that demonstrated caffeine’s diuretic effect.

Chinese ice cream is different, and those differences reflect a different economic and technological context. American ice cream is mainly sold by grocery stores in large containers to be eaten at home. So the basic assumption is that people have freezers at home in which to store the ice cream. Even when ice cream is sold on-the-go, it is sold out as scoops out of those big containers. But historically in China most people did not have freezers at home, though many more of them do now. Ice cream in China is therefore usually sold by convenience stores or roadside stalls, in small packages to be eaten immediately. So rather than big vats of ice cream, it is mostly individual bars. These constraints have pushed innovation in Chinese ice cream in different directions. You can get all kinds of amazing wacky ice cream flavors in the US, but they are all delivered in mostly the same form: a tub of ice cream eaten with a spoon. Chinese ice cream innovates on form and texture more than with ingredients, with many bars featuring not just crunchy outer layers of chocolate but interior elements made of various yummy substances. The structural complexity of some ice-cream bars is so great that it’s common for the package to have a 3-D cutaway diagram to illustrate all the goodies on the inside. [Andrew Batson]

It costs as much as $4 million to open a new diner these days, compared with $500,000 to $1 million for a higher-end restaurant, because diners require so much storage space for the inventory that their large menus require.

Diners at his restaurant are presented with an iPod loaded with a recording of crashing waves and screeching gulls to listen to while enjoying an artfully presented plate of seafood

First ‘KFC’ to open in Iran shut down after just 24 hours

This article examines associations between the Great Recession and 4 aspects of 9-year olds’ behavior – aggression (externalizing), anxiety/depression (internalizing), alcohol and drug use, and vandalism – using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort drawn from 20 U.S. cities (21%, White, 50% Black, 26% Hispanic, and 3% other race/ethnicity). The study was in the field for the 9-year follow-up right before and during the Great Recession (2007-2010; N = 3,311). Interview dates (month) were linked to the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), calculated from a national probability sample drawn monthly to assess consumer confidence and uncertainty about the economy, as well as to data on local unemployment rates. We find that greater uncertainty as measured by the CSI was associated with higher rates of all 4 behavior problems for boys (in both maternal and child reports). Such associations were not found for girls. [Developmental Psychology]

Adolescents with a bedroom television reported more television viewing time, less physical activity, poorer dietary habits, fewer family meals, and poorer school performance

Kids can remember tomorrow what they forgot today

The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically. We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony. Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes. [PDF | via Improbable]

Employment rates of women in Japan and US

Study by the US Federal Reserve Board finds that the higher your credit score, the higher your chances of a lasting relationship.

Women initiate most divorces in the US. […] The data examine the gender of breakup for both marital and nonmarital relationships for the first time. The results show that women’s initiation of breakup is specific to heterosexual marriage. Men and women in nonmarital heterosexual relationships in the US are equally likely to initiate breakup. The results are consistent with a feminist critique of heterosexual marriage as an institution that benefits men more than women. [The Gender of Breakup in Heterosexual Couples | Abstract + Charts]

23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot and saves 90% of his income

Robert Samuel, founder of Same Ole Line Dudes, makes up to $1,000 a week to stand in line

How a Fracking Company Borrowed $5 Billion from Itself and Stuck Its Landowners with the Bill

The price of electricity in Texas fell toward zero, hit zero, and then went negative for several hours

Most people own things that they don’t really need. It is worth thinking about why. […] A policy aimed at curbing luxury shopping might involve higher marginal tax rates or, as a more targeted intervention, a consumption tax. As it becomes harder to afford a Rolex, people will devote more money to pleasures that really matter. Less waste, more happiness. [Boston Review]

The mansion is what real estate experts call a “stigmatized property” — jargon for a listing with a grisly back story

The Catholic church is estimated to own twenty percent of all real estate in Italy, and a quarter of all real estate in Rome.

Boring cityscapes increase sadness, addiction and disease-related stress. Is urban design a matter of public health?

Stuffy offices can halve cognitive scores. The bad air quality found in many office buildings may also affect performance, health.

Does the presence of a mannequin head change shopping behavior?

Business Insiders is expecting to make 65 million dollars next year. […] It employs 325 people, meaning it currently brings in roughly $132,300 in revenue per employee.BuzzFeed … $208,333 per employee […] Gawker … $211,538 per employee […] Vice … $457,500 per employee […] The New York Times Company … between $440,000 and $450,000 per employee [The Awl]

With the advent of the Internet, many U.S. metropolitan areas have seen newspaper closures due to declining revenues. This provides the researcher with an opportunity to analyze the microeconomic sources of media bias.

This article uses a large panel dataset of newspaper archives for 99 newspapers over 240 months (1990–2009).

The author found that, after controlling for the unemployment rate, the change in unemployment rate, and the political preferences of surrounding metropolitan area, conservative newspapers report 17.4% more unemployment news when the President is a Democrat rather than a Republican, before the closure of a rival newspaper in the same media market. This effect is 12.8% for liberal newspapers. After the closure, these numbers are 3.5% and 1.1%, respectively. [Journal of Media Economics]

This article examines the extent to which advertising outside of an explicit campaign environment has the potential to benefit the electoral fortunes of incumbent politicians. We make use of a novel case of non-campaign advertising, that of North Carolina Secretary of Labor Cherie Berry (R-NC), who has initiated the practice of having her picture and name displayed prominently on official inspection placards inside all North Carolina elevators. We […] find that Berry outperformed other statewide Republican candidates in the 2012 North Carolina elections. Our findings suggest that candidates can use this form of advertising to indirectly improve their electoral fortunes. [American Politics Research]

Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests. The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (telenovelas) which have a viewership of around 1.2 million people per week. Telenovelas are a genre similar to English-language soap operas except shorter, most lasting about a year. Into these shows, eight messages were added, ranging from health and safety (benefits of low cholesterol, dangers of drink driving) to community building (register to vote, scholarships for Hispanic students.) […] So did it work? Not really. […] There was no evidence that messages about voter registration led to increases in the number of Hispanics actually registering. Nor did Google searches for terms related to the messages increase following each broadcast. [Neuroskeptic]

How Auction Houses Orchestrate Sales for Maximum Drama [NY Times]

Experts say fakes have become one of the most vexing problems in the art market. […] Two years ago, the center, known for its work in bioengineering, encryption and nanotechnology, set about developing a way to infuse paintings, sculptures and other artworks with complex molecules of DNA created in the lab. […] The new approach, in its formative stage, would implant synthetic DNA, not the personal DNA of the artists, because of privacy issues and because a person’s DNA could conceivably be stolen and embedded, thus undermining the authority of such a marking protocol. The developers said the bioengineered DNA would be unique to each item and provide an encrypted link between the art and a database that would hold the consensus of authoritative information about the work. The DNA details could be read by a scanner available to anyone in the art industry wanting to verify an object. [NY Times]

We estimate a real financial return to wine investment (net of storage costs) of 4.1%, which exceeds bonds, art, and stamps

Switzerland begins postal delivery by drone

Self-driving delivery robots to hit streets of London in 2016

Driverless Taxi Experiment to Start in Japan

Self-driving cars could reduce accidents by 90 percent, become greatest health achievement of the century

Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill

The inequality of who dies in car crashes

Experts have no confidence that we can protect next-gen streets and cars from hackers

How does a container port work? And why aren’t America’s shipping ports automated?

Liverpool Just Opened Fast-Walking Pedestrian Lanes

Adobe’s new algorithm can erase tourists from your photos in real time

Every person emits a unique blend of microbes into the air, and this “microbial cloud” is personalized enough that it could be used to identify people

What’s worse than a password? A fingerprint. + How to mimic a fingerprint

The mystery of the woman who reviewed 30,000 books on Amazon and The Most Prolific Editor on Wikipedia

Meet the Library of Babel: Every Possible Combination of Letters That has Been (or could be) Written

French city launches literary vending machines

Tokyo Bookstore Only Stocks One Title at a Time

What is becoming of Deleuze?

Shady dealings of William Shakespeare’s father helped to fund son’s plays

The earliest example of a decapitation, dating from approximately 9,100-9,400 years ago

Explore Manhattan When It Was Just Forests and Creeks With the 1609 Welikia Map

Huge crosses, formed by lighted windows above NYC skyline, Financial Dist., Easter display, 1956

There are approximately 900 actively working mail chutes in New York. As letters grew in size, clogging of the mail chutes became an increasing problem.

Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible? The science of and psychology behind bouncing breasts

We report here that the amount of heat gained by a Bedouin exposed to the hot desert is the same whether he wears a black or a white robe.

Imagine that you are imprisoned in a tunnel that opens out onto a precipice two paces to your left, and a pit of vipers two paces to your right. To torment you, your evil captor forces you to take a series of steps to the left and right. You need to devise a series that will allow you to avoid the hazards — if you take a step to the right, for example, you’ll want your second step to be to the left, to avoid falling off the cliff. You might try alternating right and left steps, but here’s the catch: You have to list your planned steps ahead of time, and your captor might have you take every second step on your list (starting at the second step), or every third step (starting at the third), or some other skip-counting sequence. Is there a list of steps that will keep you alive, no matter what sequence your captor chooses? In this brainteaser, devised by the mathematics popularizer James Grime, you can plan a list of 11 steps that protects you from death. But if you try to add a 12th step, you are doomed: Your captor will inevitably be able to find some skip-counting sequence that will plunge you over the cliff or into the viper pit. Around 1932, Erdős asked, in essence, what if the precipice and pit of vipers are three paces away instead of two? What if they are N paces away? Can you escape death for an infinite number of steps? The answer, Erdős conjectured, was no — no matter how far away the precipice and viper pit are, you can’t elude them forever. But for more than 80 years, mathematicians made no progress on proving Erdős’ discrepancy conjecture (so named because the distance from the center of the tunnel is known as the discrepancy). [Quanta]

Streaming music is officially a bigger business than physical music sales in the U.S. for the first time. If current trends continue, streaming will surpass digital download sales as the biggest single source of revenue for the music industry by next year.

China VCs Are Going Crazy for Girl Groups

Brian Eno’s Music For Airports played at San Diego International Airport, Terminal 2

The Popularity of Music Genres, 2005-present

Casualty-free casual fighting for free

Subscribe