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Triple-Decker Weekly, 128


US researchers are investigating ways to extract the gold and precious metals from human faeces.

It’s hard to read the old-fashioned way, slowly and deliberately. Few of us have the patience, the concentration, or the time. When we do read, we skim, trying to get a quick “take” on the topics of the day, often conveniently served up as prepackaged excerpts by our modern media machine. We flit from one thing to the next, never pausing to think about what we’ve just read, because in our media-saturated, technology-obsessed age we just don’t have time. Worse, our bad reading habits are symptomatic of a deeper malaise. Real learning, real knowledge, and real culture have been supplanted by the shallow, utilitarian instrumentalism of modern life. The evidence is mounting. Humanities departments are losing students to the sciences and other more useful majors, where they are stuffed with facts and outfitted with skills, better to serve the state as productive citizens; our cultural models are the average heroes of a popular culture. Our culture is in decline. And we read only the headlines. That may sound like the latest jeremiad in The New Criterion or The New Republic, but it’s actually a paraphrase of Friedrich Nietzsche’s preface to a series of lectures he delivered in the winter of 1872. […] Nietzsche saw this image of modern print culture embodied in modern journalism’s endless pursuit of the news. In the face of the modern media machine, he longed for timelessness, but one not simply stripped of its time and place. Instead, it was an ethos of active resistance to the “idolatrous” need for the new, the latest headline, the latest commentary, the latest feuilleton. It was intended to enlist those few who were not, as he put it in the Basel lectures, “caught up in the dizzying haste of our hurtling era” and dependent on its short-lived pleasures. It was a call for calm readers. [The Hedgehog Review]

Previously: DNA-based prediction of Nietzsche’s voice

People prescribe optimism when they believe it has the opportunity to improve the chance of success—unfortunately, people may be overly optimistic about just how much optimism can do. [APA/PsycNET]

The effects of being in a “new relationship” on levels of testosterone in men [PDF]

Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. [PNAS]

Even Women Who Should Know Better Are Attracted to Narcissists

If a woman overestimates her romantic partner’s commitment, the cost to her fitness—reproduction without an investing partner—can be considerable. Error Management Theory predicts that women have an evolved bias to be skeptical of men’s commitment in a relationship, which reduces the likelihood of making a costly false positive error. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]

The sexual selection concept arises from the observation that many animals had evolved features whose function is not to help individuals survive, but help them to maximize their reproductive success. This can be realized in two different ways: by making themselves attractive to the opposite sex (intersexual selection, between the sexes); or by intimidating, deterring or defeating same-sex rivals (intrasexual selection, within a given sex). Thus, sexual selection takes two major forms: intersexual selection (also known as ‘mate choice’ or ‘female choice’) in which males compete with each other to be chosen by females; and intrasexual selection (also known as ‘male–male competition’) in which members of the less limited sex (typically males) compete aggressively among themselves for access to the limiting sex. The limiting sex is the sex which has the higher parental investment, which therefore faces the most pressure to make a good mate decision. For intersexual selection to work, one sex must evolve a feature alluring to the opposite sex, sometimes resulting in a “fashion fad” of intense selection in an arbitrary direction. Or, in the second case, while natural selection can help animals develop ways of killing or escaping from other species, intrasexual selection drives the selection of attributes that allow alpha males to dominate their own breeding partners and rivals. [Wikipedia]

Canine teeth, horns, claws, and the sheer size and strength of certain male animals provide strong examples of physical weapons, and aggression is a behavioral weapon among humans and other animals. A peacock’s tail, which is useless and costly to sustain, is the most famous example of an ornament. Showing off and creativity may be the human equivalents of this ornamentation. Certain polygynous species, such as the elephant seal, become weapon specialists, relying primarily on intrasexual combat to achieve reproductive success. Other species, such as the peacock and numerous birds of paradise, specialize in intersexual selection to produce extravagant male ornaments. Humans are versatile animals who rely on a large brain to facilitate amassing and facultatively employing a large repertoire of survival and reproductive strategies, including weapons and ornaments. Even though ancestral men may have used intrasexual combat more than intersexual ornaments in acquiring mates and much human female choice may also have derived from male contests, modern men use both intrasexual and intersexual mating strategies as evidenced by much research showing a clear association between mating motivation and various behaviors that constitute weapons and ornaments in men. Specific weapon-like behaviors under mating investigation include physical or direct aggression in response to provocation, social dominance and status, endorsing warring attitudes, and producing a low voice pitch. The studied ornament-like behaviors include conspicuous material consumption, risk taking, humor, being unique and non-conforming, becoming loss averse, making generous financial donations, and exhibiting heroic altruism, all of which are preferred by women. These studies suggest that, similar to other male animals, men can exhibit weapon-like and ornament-like behaviors, but, unlike many male animals that specialize in either weapons or ornaments nearly to the exclusion of the other, men seem to have developed the versatility to acquire and apply both strategies to facultatively respond to intrasexual and intersexual competition. Men may use weapons and ornaments facultatively as situational responses to intersexual and intrasexual conditions and, over time, may also develop behavioral tendencies in using one strategy more frequently over the other, adding to the vast individual differences along a weapon-ornament dimension. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]

8,000 Years Ago, 17 Women Reproduced for Every One Man

Fear of spiders became part of our DNA during evolution, say scientists

One thousand genes you could live without

Cigarette Smoke Makes Superbugs More Aggressive

Can We Interpret Smoking Habits in Historic Skeletal Remains?

Chimps and Humans are Less Similar than We Thought

Psychopathic tendencies in chimpanzees

DNA can’t explain all inherited biological traits, research shows

A group of leading biologists called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited. The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, [which holds the power to repair or enhance any human gene, and] could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. [NY Times]

Genome-editing technologies may offer a powerful approach to treat many human diseases, including HIV/AIDS, haemophilia, sickle-cell anaemia and several forms of cancer. All techniques currently in various stages of clinical development focus on modifying the genetic material of somatic cells, such as T cells (a type of white blood cell). These are not designed to affect sperm or eggs. […] The newest addition to the genome-editing arsenal is CRISPR/Cas9, a bacteria-derived system that uses RNA molecules that recognize specific human DNA sequences. The RNAs act as guides, matching the nuclease to corresponding locations in the human genome. [Nature]

New Discovery Moves Gene Editing Closer to Use in Humans

Genetic Origins of Economic Development

A power nap of under an hour can improve memory performance by five times, a new study finds.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

Recalling one memory actually leads to the forgetting of other competing memories, a new study confirms. It is one of the single most surprising facts about memory, now isolated by neuroscience research. Although many scientists believed the brain must work this way, this is the first time it has been demonstrated. [PsyBlog | Nature]

When attention is a deficit

15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” wrote Mike Mauk in 2000. Since then, a lot of things have been discovered that make this stimulus-response concept untenable and potentially based largely on laboratory artifacts. For instance, it was discovered that the likely ancestral state of behavioral organization is one of probing the environment with ongoing, variable actions first and evaluating sensory feedback later (i.e., the inverse of stimulus response). […] In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies over the last decade and a half revealed that the human brain is far from passively waiting for stimuli, but rather constantly produces ongoing, variable activity, and just shifts this activity over to other networks when we move from rest to task or switch between tasks. [Björn Brembs]

People in the study were more likely to disclose something personal about themselves after laughing together, although they didn’t realize it.

The ability to express empathy — the capacity to share and feel another’s emotions — is limited by the stress of being around strangers, according to a new study.

Why do so many people so often say “so”?

Excess Time Indoors May Explain Rising Myopia Rates

Too Many Scientific Studies, Study Finds

Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition

Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum

Can Space Expand Faster Than the Speed of Light?

Observations by two powerful space telescopes have revealed that dark matter is weirder than previously thought. It is invisible, even to itself.

How solar eclipses cause problems for countries that rely on solar power

Glowing Tampons Help Detect Sewage Leaks

Radioactive sanitary pads from China seized by authorities in Lebanon [Thanks Tim]

Using a Foreskin to Repair Eyelids

Can you really catch a disease from bad bathroom smells?

Biohackers develop eyedrops that provide night vision

A pair of engineering students created a fire extinguisher that operates using sound waves.

Governor Jerry Brown: Californians to be heavily fined for long showers [Thanks GG]

New adhesive could work underwater, in wet conditions for medicine and industry

Plastics designed to degrade don’t break down any faster than their conventional counterparts, according to research

Build a Phased-Array Radar in Your Garage that Sees Through Walls

A robo-car just drove across the country

There are only four people/organizations in the world who know my location at all times: my wife (because I tell her), Apple (because Siri), the NSA (because NSA), and now Uber.

Hertz puts cameras in its rental cars, says it has no plans to use them

Here I indulge in wide-ranging speculations on the shape of physics, and technology closely related to physics, over the next one hundred years [PDF]

Japan’s House Foods Group Inc. said it has developed onions that release extremely low amount of tear-inducing compounds. [...] [T]he resulting onions have the added benefit of not leaving a strong smell on the cook’s hands or the breath of those who eat them. [WSJ]

This cure known as “Bald’s eye salve,” a mixture of onion, garlic, leek, wine, cow’s bile and cow’s stomach, actually works for wiping out methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA. MSRA is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, and can cause anything from skin infections to widespread infection and pneumonia. […] Because cow stomach was part of the MRSA remedy, there have been questions about whether corpse medicine may have actually had some effect on health and whether it actually cured anything. Corpse medicine, or medical cannibalism, is the act of using parts of deceased humans for medicinal reasons. This persists today in such acts as organ transplant and blood transfusions. However, in the past, corpses were used for a wide variety of medical purposes and were thought to be able to cure anything from bleeding to aging to epilepsy.  [Bones Don’t Lie]

Things Bodies Can Do After Death [Thanks Nathan]

Anthropodermic bibliopegy is the practice of binding books in human skin. Though extremely uncommon in modern times, the technique dates back to at least the 17th century. The practice is inextricably connected with the practice of tanning human skin, often done in certain circumstances after a corpse has been dissected. Surviving historical examples of this technique include anatomy texts bound with the skin of dissected cadavers, volumes created as a bequest and bound with the skin of the testator, and copies of judicial proceedings bound in the skin of the murderer convicted in those proceedings, such as in the case of John Horwood in 1821 and the Red Barn Murder in 1828. [Wikipedia]

Anthropologists have shown that the practice of cannibalism is very often linked to magic, as the provider of the most potent ingredients to make ‘medicine’ to make a person bullet-proof, able to fly, all-powerful, and many more wondrous things.

Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that reduces its calories by as much as 50 percent

A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression

A few people become inebriated simply by eating carbohydrates

On further questioning, the patient admitted to drinking sixteen 8-oz glasses of iced tea daily

Buying human breast milk online poses serious health risk, say experts

Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Furans enter our food chain through canned, bottled and jarred processed foods, but 85% of furan exposure in adults is from coffee consumption. All these products undergo ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment and furans are one of the carcinogenic compounds produced. The canned, bottled and jarred foods are sterilized this way to eradicate disease-causing micro-organisms and to increase their shelf-life. Coffee beans are heated to even higher temperatures during roasting. Furans are volatile and not very water-soluble so how you like your coffee, roasted, ground, stored and brewed, will determine how much furan is left in your cup of Joe. […] Arisseto and colleagues (2011) […] found that furan content was higher in Robusta samples. […] Altaki and colleagues (2011) found regular decaffeinated or caffeinated brews made with an espresso machine had higher furan content than a drip coffee maker, and instant coffee brews had relatively low levels whilst coffee capsules contained the most. […] Leaving your cup of coffee to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before drinking will reduce furan amounts by 25% according to Guenther and colleagues (2010). [United Academics]

Denis Vrain-Lucas was trained as a law clerk, but by 1854 he had begun to forge historical documents, especially letters. Lucas began by using writing material and self-made inks from the appropriate period and forged mainly documents from French authors. He collected historical details from the Imperial library. As his forgeries were more readily accepted, he began to produce letters from historical figures. Over 16 years Vrain-Lucas forged total of 27,000 autographs, letters, and other documents from such luminaries as Mary Magdalene, Cleopatra, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Joan of Arc, Cicero and Dante Alighieri – written in contemporary French and on watermarked paper. The most prominent French collectors bought them, helping Lucas accumulate a significant wealth of hundreds of thousands of francs. In 1861 Vrain-Lucas approached French mathematician and collector Michel Chasles and sold him forged letters for Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal. In one of them Pascal supposedly claimed that he had discovered the laws of gravity before Newton. Since this would have meant that a Frenchman would have discovered gravity before an Englishman, Chasles accepted the letter and asked for more. Lucas proceeded to sell him hundreds of letters from historical and biblical figures. In 1867 Chasles approached the French Academy of Science, claiming to have proof that Pascal had discovered gravity before Newton. When he showed them the letters, scholars of the Academy noticed that the handwriting was very different compared to letters that were definitely by Pascal. Chasles defended the letters’ authenticity but was eventually forced to reveal that Vrain-Lucas had sold them to him. […] In February 1870, the Correctional Tribunal of Paris sentenced Vrain-Lucas to two years in prison for forgery. He also had pay a fine for 500 francs and all legal costs. Chasles received no restitution for all the money he had wasted on the Vrain-Lucas forgeries. [Wikipedia]

Algorithm Clones Facial Expressions… And Pastes Them Onto Other Faces

Tinder hack made hundreds of bros unwittingly flirt with each other

Bestselling books, 1900-1999

Sneeze catcher (new patent)

Oculus Rex

An object of infinite length but finite volume

We vandalize things that aren’t ours

Cheeseburger Ball Gag [thanks GG]

Triple-Decker Weekly, 127


“I’ve actually never met Chris in person but I am definitely in love with him,” Sarah said. “He’s just spectacular. Chris and I have discussed getting married – I believe Chris does consider me his wife.” Chris claimed he was originally from Milan and moved to the US 18 years ago, saying he was on a business trip to South Africa when they met and is now stuck in Benin because of “trouble” with the government. Sarah has sent him money for stolen cards, phone charges, hotel bills, lawyers, a nanny, an expired visa and when Chris claimed the money she posted had been stolen. […] “He assured me that when he gets home he’s going to pay me back – every dime,” Sarah told Dr Phil. “He’s made five or six attempts to come back to the US to meet me. Every time they arrest him and put him in jail and then they want more money.” […] The pair talk for up to four hours on the phone a day […] “He sounded Italian, now his accent’s kind of changed I don’t know if he’s adapted to where he’s at… in Benin,” she added. [Independent]

The ‘sex selfie stick’ lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina. The device offers the unprecedented opportunity to be on the phone with someone’s genitals. [Independent]

Imagine a virus wipes out everyone on the planet except [a man]. […] He finds the last woman on Earth. […] Can they repopulate the Earth? To do so, their children would have to mate with one another, or mom and dad, in order to rebuild the human race. All the incestuous taboos aside, is this even genetically possible? […] The net result of inbreeding is that the resulting population loses a diverse genetic portfolio, which means they are less resistant to rare diseases and deformities. The smaller the gene pool, the faster it gets dirty. Such individuals would also have less diverse immune systems, making it much easier for a single germ to wipe them all out. […] In addition to the genetic landmines, the family would likely have a very difficult time overcoming the innate resistance most species have against inbreeding. Evolution knows that inbreeding is not good for the species, so it engineered a built-in “incest taboo” that creates a strong aversion to such behavior. [The Scope]

Men now outnumber women on the planet by 60 million, the highest ever recorded

Most people who describe themselves as demisexual say they only rarely feel desire, and only in the context of a close relationship. Gray-­asexuals (or gray-aces) roam the gray area between absolute asexuality and a more typical level of interest. […] “Every single asexual I’ve met embraces fluidity—I might be gray or asexual or demisexual,” says Claudia, a 24-year-old student from Las Vegas. “Us aces are like: whatevs.” [Wired]

In a rare legal move, prosecutors brought a deceased woman’s vagina into a murder trial Friday for jurors to view during testimony.

People who are trying to impress a date with their good looks might want to limit themselves to one drink

Darwin made a famous distinction between men’s and women’s mating strategies, between choosy, coy females and ardent, promiscuous males. […] Yet, as also anticipated by both Darwin and Trivers, empirical studies of both non-humans and humans reveal extraordinary flexibility in mating and investment behavior, both within and between the sexes. Reproductive strategies are clearly not an invariant, species-specific characteristic, but rather facultative responses to individual- and population-level social and ecological circumstances, rendering conditional mating strategies optimal. […] For example, across the ethnographic record, human societies can range from polyandrous to polygynous mating patterns, same-sex marriage can be institutionalized as with woman-to-woman unions in East Africa and men can spend considerable amounts of time and effort in beautifying themselves as in West Africa. […] Until recently, the study of sex-differentiated reproductive behaviour has relied on the long-standing model of sexual selection developed by Trivers. This model links sex roles directly to the differential investment in young by males and females. In its simplest form, this model posits that because males invest less initially (in sperm), they have a higher potential reproductive rate (PRR) and benefit more from mating multiply than do females. As a consequence, selection typically would favour mate-seeking and competitive behaviour in males, and heavy investment in parental care in females. […] Using data from eight Makushi communities of southern Guyana, characterized by varying adult sex ratios contingent on migration, we show that even within a single ethnic group, male mating effort varies in predictable ways with the ASR. At male-biased sex ratios, men’s and women’s investment in mating effort are indistinguishable; only when men are in the minority are they more inclined towards short-term, low investment relationships than women. [Royal Society Open Science]

Using new data from the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, we find that […] marriage may help ease the causes of the mid-life dip in life satisfaction and that the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived. We explore friendship as a mechanism which could help explain a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction, and find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend. [National Bureau of Economic Research]

Scientists discover part of brain that calculates the intentions of others

On the origins of dishonesty: From parents to children

Our results cannot confirm beneficial effects of breastfeeding on child intelligence.

Model who is almost 9 months pregnant is so fit she has abs

How easy would it be to edit a human embryo using CRISPR? Very easy, experts say.

Recent studies have shown that women are more sensitive than men to subtle cuteness differences in infant faces. It has been suggested that raised levels in estradiol and progesterone may be responsible for this advantage. […] Thirty-six women were tested once during ovulation and once during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. In a two alternative forced-choice experiment, participants chose the baby which they thought was cuter (Task 1), younger (Task 2), or the baby that they would prefer to babysit (Task 3). […] During ovulation, women were more likely to choose the cuter baby than during the luteal phase, in all three tasks. These results suggest that cuteness discrimination may be driven by cyclic hormonal shifts. [Hormones and Behavior]

After handshakes, we sniff people’s scent on our hand

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

The risk of a heart attack increases by at least 8.5 times in the two hours after the intense emotions of anger and anxiety, a new study finds.

Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade, study

There’s too much poo on Mount Everest, says mountaineering boss

We’ve killed off half the world’s animals since 1970

Why Killer Whales Go Through Menopause But Elephants Don’t

Why Can’t Rodents Vomit?

Why can’t horses vomit?

Many people spontaneously use the word (or sound) “Um” in conversation, a phenomenon which has prompted a considerable volume of academic attention. A question arises though, can someone be induced to say “Um” by chemical means – say with the use of a powerful anaesthetic? Like, for example Ketamine? […] [V]olunteers who were given “low doses” and “high doses” of Ketamine tended to use the words “um” and “uh” significantly more than those who received a placebo only. [Improbable]

US physicists have studied the fluid dynamics of urine “splashback” – and found tips to help men and women with their accuracy and hygiene.

Why a coffee is more likely to spill than a latte

New study suggests yet another potential health benefit of coffee consumption: it could reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis.

Thinking about money makes you feel physically colder

Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk

The discovery that the human brain continues to produce new neurons in adulthood challenged a major dogma in the field of neuroscience

Is Neuroscience Based On Biology?

Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind. The gut-brain axis seems to be bidirectional—the brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain. […] Microbes may have their own evolutionary reasons for communicating with the brain. They need us to be social, says John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, so that they can spread through the human population. Cryan’s research shows that when bred in sterile conditions, germ-free mice lacking in intestinal microbes also lack an ability to recognize other mice with whom they interact. In other studies, disruptions of the microbiome induced mice behavior that mimics human anxiety, depression and even autism. In some cases, scientists restored more normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria. Nearly all the data so far are limited to mice, but Cryan believes the findings provide fertile ground for developing analogous compounds, which he calls psychobiotics, for humans. “That dietary treatments could be used as either adjunct or sole therapy for mood disorders is not beyond the realm of possibility,” he says. [Scientific American]

Scientists Insert a Synthetic Memory Into the Brain of a Sleeping Mouse

Startups in the U.S. are working on 3D printing nipples and bits of liver tissue, while a Russian provocateur claims to have on-demand thyroids.

New DNA technique can predict a person’s physical appearance with 80 percent confidence. [more ]

Over the past twenty years, DNA analysis has revolutionized forensic science, and has become a dominant tool in law enforcement. Today, DNA evidence is key to the conviction or exoneration of suspects of various types of crime. […] However, the disturbing possibility that DNA evidence can be faked has been overlooked. It turns out that standard molecular biology techniques such as PCR, molecular cloning, and recently developed whole genome amplification (WGA), enable anyone with basic equipment and know-how to produce practically unlimited amounts of in vitro synthesized (artificial) DNA with any desired genetic profile. This artificial DNA can then be applied to surfaces of objects or incorporated into genuine human tissues and planted in crime scenes. […] Here we show that the current forensic procedure fails to distinguish between such samples of blood, saliva, and touched surfaces with artificial DNA, and corresponding samples with in vivo generated (natural) DNA. Furthermore, genotyping of both artificial and natural samples with Profiler Plus1 yielded full profiles with no anomalies. [Forensic Science International: Genetics | PDF (2009)]

[O]ne in six serial killers are female. Their crimes tend to go undetected for longer than their male counterparts, likely in part because “our culture is in denial of women’s proclivity for aggression.” Harrison and her team have profiled 64 US female serial killers active between the years 1821 to 2008. […] The female serial killers had murdered between them at least 331 victims (making an average of 6 victims each). Their victims are of both sexes, but disproportionately male. The women had an average of age of 32 at the time of their first killing, and poisoning was the most common method. […] “the women in our study poisoned, smothered, burned, choked, shot, bludgeoned, and shot newborns, children, elderly, and ill people as well as healthy adults; most often those who knew and likely trusted them.” Many of the homicidal women had stereotypically female professions, including being nurses and baby-sitters. They tended to be above average in physical attractiveness, which may have helped to engender trust in their victims. As to motives, the most common was “hedonistic”, a category in forensic psychology that refers to killing for financial gain, lust or thrill, with nearly half the sample fitting this category. The next most common motive was “power-seeking”, which includes killing people in one’s care. […] A striking contrast with male serial killers is the relative absence of sexual violence and deviance. Two exceptions were a female serial killer who was a rapist, and another who reportedly barked like a dog during sex. But overall, the researchers highlighted how the women in their study primarily killed for resources, while their male counterparts kill for sex. This follows evolutionary theory, Harrison and her co-authors explained, in the sense that men are said to be motivated more by seeking multiple sexual opportunities, while women are motivated to find a committed partner with sufficient resources. […] The new analysis points to a worrying trend: a 150 per cent increase in the number of reported cases of female serial killers since 1975. [BPS]

A Decentralized Lie Detector

The facial pose of a person can be a good indicator of their importance, because important people often tend to be looking directly at the camera. The importance of specific individuals in photos of multiple people [PDF]

A start-up offers suspected shoplifters the chance to pay $320 to stop the police being called

Google started testing their cars on public roads back in 2009, long before any regulations were even dreamed of. An examination of the California Vehicle Code indicated there was nothing in there prohibiting testing. For testing purposes, Google has a trained safety driver sitting behind the wheel, ready to take it at any moment. Any attempt to take the wheel or use the pedals disables the automatic systems and the safety driver is in control. The safety drivers took special driving safety courses and were instructed to take control if they have any doubt about safe operation. For example, if a vehicle is not braking as expected when approaching a cross walk, take the controls immediately, do not wait to see if it will detect the pedestrians and stop. The safety drivers are accompanied by a second person in the passenger seat. Known as the software operator, this person monitors diagnostic screens showing what the system is perceiving and planning, and tells the safety driver if something appeared to be going wrong. The software operator is also an extra set of eyes on the road from time to time. […] This style of testing makes sense if you consider how we train teen-agers to drive. [Brad Templeton]

Will You Need a New License to Operate a Self-Driving Car?

The Price of Oil Is About to Blow a Hole in Corporate Accounting.

US May Run Out Of Oil Storage Space As Soon As June

Wall Street Has Its Eyes on Millennials’ $30 Trillion Inheritance

How a group of robbers staged one of history’s biggest bank heists – without setting foot in a bank

A simple brute force DDoS attack against one or two key points in the Internet would be enough to make the rest unusable. Personally I would probably go after MAE-West in San Jose, partly because almost all the traffic to and from Silicon Valley goes through there.

What one man learned by crashing elite colleges for 4 years

People are hopeless at drawing the Apple logo, and that tells us something about human memory

I remember how artists in the ’80s made the emphatic point that under no circumstances would they be represented in art fairs. (Laughter around the table) They thought that it was in poor taste. That is how it was in the beginning. And has been quite astonishing to see how things have turned around—in 30 years. [Stefan Stux/Artnet]

Police arrest conmen who sold a fake Goya, and were paid with fake cash

What would happen if an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan?

website that deletes itself once indexed by Google [Thanks Darren!]

Adam Savage’s Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel Maze Model [video]

We have a hallway in our apartment we would like to convert into the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding 1994 museum.

Falconry accessories

Triple-Decker Weekly, 126


We study the influence of reason and intuition on decision-making over time. […] We find that intuition will outperform reason in the long run if individuals are sufficiently ambitious. Moreover, intuitive decisions are prevalent in the early and late stages of a learning process, whereas reason governs decisions in intermediate stages. [Managerial and Decision Economics]

The majority of music people listen to in their daily lives includes lyrics. This research documents how more repetitive songs lyrically are processed more fluently and thus adopted more broadly and quickly in the marketplace. [Journal of Consumer Psychology]

Baby girl born ‘pregnant’ with twins undergoes operation to remove foetuses

How to Make Breakfast With Your Vagina

For many years, scientists believed that female development was the default programme, and that male development was actively switched on by the presence of a particular gene on the Y chromosome. In 1990, researchers made headlines when they uncovered the identity of this gene, which they called SRY. Just by itself, this gene can switch the gonad from ovarian to testicular development. For example, XX individuals who carry a fragment of the Y chromosome that contains SRY develop as males. [Nature]

Although much attention concerning the potential impact of sexualized media has focused on girls and women, less is known about how this content effects boys’ perceptions of women and courtship. Accordingly, the current three-wave panel study investigated whether exposure to sexualizing magazines predicts adolescent boys’ (N = 592) sexually objectifying notions of women and their beliefs about feminine courtship strategies. The results indicated that when boys consumed sexualizing magazines more often, they expressed more gender-stereotypical beliefs about feminine courtship strategies over time. This association was mediated by boys’ objectification of women. [Journal of Adolescence]

[V]iewing sexual music videos by male artists increased the acceptance of female token resistance (i.e., the notion that women say “no” to sex when they actually mean “yes”) among adolescent girls, but not adolescent boys. [Communication Research]

The team’s model predicts that the most attractive penis would measure 12.8–14.2 centimetres in its flaccid state

Women tend to prefer men who make them laugh and men tend to prefer women who laugh at their jokes. However, it is unclear how robust this pattern is. Here we report a replication of one of the first studies (Bressler, Martin, and Balshine, 2006) to examine the sex differences in preferences for humor receptivity versus humor production. […] We found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]

Most respondents reported their BDSM interests starting before age 15, sometimes creating a phase of anxiety and shame in the absence of reassuring information.

A device to aid women in giving birth — the woman is strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at high speed [Google Patents | via Improbable]

The scientific study of heartbreak is extremely new, with nearly all articles on the matter appearing in the last 10-15 years. In fact, the notion that strong emotional stress can impact health was not widely accepted in academia until recently. In the 1990’s, Japan started accruing cases of a disease called “takotsubo cardiomyopathy,” where patients’ hearts would actually become damaged and their ventricles would be misshapen (into that of a “takotsubo,” or octopus-catching pot – a very bad shape for a heart chamber). Curiously, these cases were not heart attacks, but instead were a form of heart failure brought on by a rush of stress hormones. After 15 years, the syndrome was finally mentioned in a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine article, where it was renamed “Broken Heart Syndrome.” Among the causes of Broken Heart Syndrome are romantic rejection, divorce, or the death of a loved one, and the outcome can be as serious as death. [NeuWrite]

Individuals who report experiencing communication with deceased persons are traditionally called mediums. During a typical mediumship reading, a medium conveys messages from deceased persons to the living (i.e., sitters). There are two types of mediumship: mental and physical. In mental mediumship, communication with deceased persons is experienced “through interior vision or hearing, or through the spirits taking over and controlling their bodies or parts thereof, especially … the parts required for speech and writing.” During physical mediumship, the experienced communication “proceeds through paranormal physical events in the medium’s vicinity,” which have included reports of independent voices, rapping sounds on walls or tables, and movement of objects. […] Recent research has also confirmed previous findings that mediumship is not associated with conventional dissociative experiences, pathology, dysfunction, psychosis, or over-active imaginations. Indeed, a large percentage of mediums have been found to be high functioning, socially accepted individuals within their communities. […] Psychometric and brain electrophysiology data were collected from six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions. […] These differences suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination. [Frontiers in Psychology | PDF]

“The goal of memory isn’t to keep the details. It’s to be able to generalize from what you know so that you are more confident in acting on it,” Davachi says. You run away from the dog that looks like the one that bit you, rather than standing around questioning how accurate your recall is. [The New Yorker]

Memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s reversed for first time

Few studies have investigated the role of sleep deprivation in the formation of false memories, despite overwhelming evidence that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive function. We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and false memories and the effect of 24 hr of total sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories. We found that under certain conditions, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing false memories. [Neuroethics & Law ]

Sleep is undoubtedly important not only for how well we think, feel and behave in our daily lives but also for longer-term health. In childhood, the quantity and quality of night-time and 24 hour sleep have consistently been identified as predictor of health. For example, night sleep predicts weight status. These findings have led to the hypothesis that increasing quantity of sleep through promoting daytime sleep would benefit child health. We sought to look for evidence on the independent effects of daytime sleep on child health, learning and behavior to assess whether this hypothesis was supported. […] The evidence suggests that beyond the age of 2 years when cessation of napping becomes more common, daytime sleep is associated with shorter and more disrupted night sleep. Those studies examining direction of effect all report that daytime sleep is not a response to poor night sleep but rather precedes poor night sleep. Evidence relating to cognitive functioning, accidents, weight status and behavior were less conclusive. [Medical Research]

We found we can change an animal’s sleep/wake rhythms by artificially stimulating the neurons in the master biological clock

In the early 1900s, the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip conveyed how the spicy cheese dish Welsh rarebit leads to bizarre and disturbing dreams. Today, the perception that foods disturb dreaming persists. But apart from case studies, some exploratory surveys, and a few lab studies on how hunger affects dreaming, there is little empirical evidence addressing this topic. The present study examines three aspects of the food/dreaming relationship. […] Reports of vivid dreams were associated with measures indicative of wellness: better sleep, a healthier diet, and longer times between meals (fasting). [Frontiers]

An ingredient in olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy ones

Regular coffee consumption contributes to DNA integrity

Light jogging may be most optimal for longevity

Napping reverses health effects of poor sleep

Woman becomes obese after fecal transplant from overweight donor

Four drug deaths last month in Britain have been blamed on so-called “Superman” pills being sold as Ecstasy, but actually containing PMMA, a synthetic stimulant drug with some MDMA-like effects that has been implicated in a number of deaths and hospitalizations in Europe and the U.S. The “fake Ecstasy” was also under suspicion in the September deaths of six people in Florida and another three in Chicago. An additional six deaths in Ireland have also been linked to the drug. PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine, causes dangerous increases in body temperature and blood pressure, is toxic at lower doses than Ecstasy, and requires up to two hours in order to take effect. […] The Spice products—synthetic cannabinoids—are still the most common of the novel synthetic drugs. Hundreds of variants are now on the market. Science magazine recently reported on a UK study in which researchers discovered more than a dozen previously unknown psychoactive substances by conducting urine samples on portable toilets in Greater London. [Addiction Inbox]

Animals getting high, drunk and tripping

Colorado May Pay Residents Over Excess Marijuana Revenue

Drawing on county-level data from Kansas for the period 1977-2011, we examine whether plausibly exogenous increases in the number of establishments licensed to sell alcohol by the drink are related to violent crime. During this period, 86 out of 105 counties in Kansas voted to legalize the sale of alcohol to the general public for on-premises consumption. We provide evidence that these counties experienced substantial increases in the total number of establishments with on-premises liquor licenses (e.g., bars and restaurants). Using legalization as an instrument, we show that a 10 percent increase in drinking establishments is associated with a 4 percent increase in violent crime. Reduced-form estimates suggest that legalizing the sale of alcohol to the general public for on-premises consumption is associated with an 11 percent increase in violent crime. [SSRN]

Older scientists are often seen as less open to new ideas than younger scientists. We put this assertion to an empirical test. Our results buttress the importance of funding scientific work by young researchers. [PDF]

Serendipity, the notion that research in one area often leads to advances in another, has been a central idea in the economics of innovation and science and technology policy. Claims about serendipity, and the futility of planning research, were central to the argument in Vannevar Bush’s Science–The Endless Frontier often considered the blueprint of post-World War II U.S. science policy. […] The idea of serendipity has been influential not only in practice, but also in theory. Much of the economic work on the governance of research starts from the notion that basic research has economically valuable but unanticipated outcomes. Economic historians, most notably Nathan Rosenberg, have emphasized the uncertain nature of new innovations, and that many technologies (for example, the laser) have had important, but unanticipated, uses and markets. Like Vannevar Bush, prominent economists studying science policy have argued that research cannot and should not be targeted at specific goals but instead guided by the best scientific opportunities, as have influential philosophers of science. […] [T]here is surprisingly little large-sample evidence on the magnitude of serendipity. This has contributed to perennial debate about the benefits of untargeted or fundamental research, relative to those from basic (or applied) research targeted at specific goals. […] [C]laims about serendipity have been important for diffusing calls (from Congress and taxpayers) to shift funding from fundamental research to that targeted at specific outcomes. […] I provide evidence on the serendipity hypothesis as it has typically been articulated in the context of NIH research: that progress against specific diseases often results from unplanned research, or unexpectedly from research oriented towards different diseases. […] If the magnitudes of serendipity reported here are real, this would pose real challenges for medical research funding. If disease is not the right organizing category for NIH research, then what might be? Is it possible to mobilize taxpayer and interest group support for science that cuts across dis- eases, or is the attachment of disease categories, however fictitious, required? Even more fundamentally, serendipity makes it hard to fine tune policy to stimulate research areas that taxpayers care about (or even limit the growth of areas where there is too much innovation), and assess whether a funding agency is allocating its funds reasonably given what its patrons desire. [Bhaven N. Sampat/SSRN]

While studying bone cells in a rabbit femur using a titanium chamber, Brånemark was unable to remove it from bone. His realization that bone would adhere to titanium led to the concept of osseointegration and the development of modern dental implants. [Wikipedia]

The asteroid landed in the ocean and would have caused megatsunamis, for which evidence has been found in several locations in the Caribbean and eastern United States—marine sand in locations that were then inland, and vegetation debris and terrestrial rocks in marine sediments dated to the time of the impact. […] The asteroid landed in a bed of gypsum (calcium sulfate), which would have produced a vast sulfur dioxide aerosol. This would have further reduced the sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface and then precipitated as acid rain, killing vegetation, plankton, and organisms that build shells from calcium carbonate (coccolithophores and molluscs). […] The impact may also have produced acid rain, depending on what type of rock the asteroid struck. However, recent research suggests this effect was relatively minor, lasting for approximately 12 years. […] Such an impact would have inhibited photosynthesis by creating a dust cloud that blocked sunlight for up to a year, and by injecting sulfuric acid aerosols into the stratosphere, which might have reduced sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface by 10–20%. It has been argued that it would take at least ten years for such aerosols to dissipate, which would account for the extinction of plants and phytoplankton, and of organisms dependent on them (including predatory animals as well as herbivores). […] The event appears to have hit all continents at the same time. […] The event eliminated a vast number of species. Based on marine fossils, it is estimated that 75% or more of all species were wiped out by the K–Pg extinction. In terrestrial ecosystems all animals weighing more than a kilo disappeared. The most well-known victims are the non-avian dinosaurs. […] The fact that the extinctions occur at the same time as the Chicxulub asteroid impact strongly supports the impact hypothesis of extinction. […] The Chicxulub crater is more than 180 kilometres (110 mi) in diameter and 20 km (12 mi) in depth, making the feature one of the largest confirmed impact structures on Earth; the impacting bolide that formed the crater was at least 10 km (6 mi) in diameter. […] Researchers dated rock and ash samples from the impact to roughly 66 million years ago. […] Some scientists maintain the extinction was caused or exacerbated by other factors, such as volcanic eruptions, climate change, or sea level change, separately or together. [The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event | Chicxulub crater]

Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals

Rising Sea Levels Are Already Making Miami’s Floods Worse

US airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000: More than 95 percent of airplane occupants survived. [PDF | Thanks Nathan]

12 ways researchers think human civilisation is most likely to end

No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning

Hilbert managed to build a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, all of which are occupied. Suppose a new guest arrives and wishes to be accommodated in the hotel. Because the hotel has an infinite number of, we can move any guest occupying any room n to room n+1 (the occupant of room 1 moves to room 2, room 2 to room 3, and so on), then fit the newcomer into room 1. Now suppose an infinite number of new guests arrives: just move any occupant of room n to room 2n (room 1 to room 2, room 2 to room 4, room 3 to room 6, and so on), and all the odd-numbered rooms (which are countably infinite) will be free for the new guests. [Wikipedia]

Psychological Language on Twitter Predicts County-Level Heart Disease Mortality

New mathematical theory may explain patterns in fingerprints, raisins, and microlenses

Scientists create contact lens that magnifies at blink of an eye

Researchers have found a way to store information in the form of DNA, presumably preserving it for nearly an eternity.

Japan Has More Car Chargers Than Gas Stations

We explore how product images and color in business plans influence venture investment screening decisions. Because images are accessible, memorable, and influential, we argue that product images in a business plan will increase the likelihood of favorable judgments during screening decisions. Moreover, because red and blue automatically affect an individual’s cognition in different manners such that red elicits negative associations and blue elicits positive ones from the evaluators, we predict that the use of red in a business plan will decrease the favorability of judgments during screening decisions, while the use of blue will increase their favorability. [Journal of Business Venturing]

Why Do Inventors Sell to Patent Trolls?

The Business of Fake Diplomas

‘Haunted’ laptop exposed to graveyard overnight gets eBay bids of over $3000. Texas seller claims his MacBook levitates and uses pen and paper to write notes after it was left at a graveyard next to an abandoned mental hospital all night.

You can now bet on shark racing in Florida

Greek Judges Judge Judges’ Pensions Cuts Unconstitutional

The four male crew members (models provided to Abercrombie) had to wear jeans, boxers, polo shirts, and flip-flops. The manual specified the seating arrangements for Jeffries’s three dogs, the length of the spoon Smith required for his tea, and the proper way to respond to requests (“No problem”). Behind the decline of Abercrombie & Fitch and the fall of its mastermind, Michael Jeffries

Would you like to understand how the “new” Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” came to be billed as a long-lost, blockbuster sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” — one of the definitive books of the American 20th century — when, by all the known facts, it’s an uneven first draft of the famous novel that was never considered for publication?

Bloomberg News headlines, as we’ve observed in the past, often sound like they’ve been written by someone with a bizarre journalistic strain of aphasia.

Colombian teacher who likes to wear Nazi-themed bondage outfits changes her name to Abcdefg Hijklmn Opqrst Uvwxyz


Dude Builds Tinder Bot to Automate Swipes Based on Facial Recognition [Thanks Tim]

timder brooklyn [Thanks Tim]

Triple-Decker Weekly, 125


Chemists find a way to unboil eggs

Spicer and Alvesson found that the organizations that acted the most stupidly were investment banks, public relations agencies, and consultancies.

Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. And for women, using certain digital tools decreases stress. [NY Times]

Memory has to be ‘turned on’ in order to remember even the simplest details, a new study finds. When not expecting to be tested, people can forget information just one second after paying attention to it. But, when they expect to be tested, people’s recall is doubled or even tripled. [PsyBlog]

The idea that unconscious thought is sometimes more powerful than conscious thought is attractive, and echoes ideas popularized by books such as writer Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling Blink. But within the scientific community, ‘unconscious-thought advantage’ (UTA) has been controversial. Now Dutch psychologists have carried out the most rigorous study yet of UTA—and find no evidence for it. […] The report adds to broader concerns about the quality of psychology studies and to an ongoing controversy about the extent to which unconscious thought in general can influence behaviour. [Scientific American]

The variety of things we use time for means the brain keeps track of lengths from milliseconds to decades. These different estimations occur in different brain circuits that span the brain.

Sex in reptiles and fish is determined after conception, during embryogenesis, according to ambient environmental temperature. In contrast, in mammals and birds, sex is determined at conception. In mammals, male births invariably occur slightly in excess […] with approximately 3% more males born than females. The reason for this discrepancy is uncertain as testicles produce equal numbers of X-bearing and Y-bearing spermatozoa. […] We have shown that M/F varies in geographical space, exhibiting a latitude gradient, and that this gradient is different in Europe and North America, with more males born towards the south of Europe, compared with the North American continent where more males are born towards the north of the continent. Other studies have also shown that M/F may vary with time. Several authors have shown that M/F has declined over the second half of the 20th century in various industrialised countries. These include Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the United States of America, and Finland. In contrast, M/F has been noted to have risen in Ireland over the same period. A non-significant rise in M/F has also been noted in Australia and Japan. [J Epidemiol Community Health]

A wide variety of factors have been shown to influence the male to female ratio at birth, which invariably displays a male excess. […] It will be shown that stress, including stress related to political events, influences this ratio. [Early Human Development]

Study: ”Woman on top” is the most dangerous sex position, responsible for half of all penile fractures

In an earlier experimental study by Zillman and Bryant (1988) male and female students were exposed to pornography once a week for six weeks. Those who viewed pornography reported being less satisfied with their partner’s appearance and sexual behavior. They also found that men who consumed pornography were more dominating and less attentive toward their partners. Hence, there is some reason to anticipate that pornography consumption impairs relationship commitment.
Other research suggests that pornography may be beneficial to relationships in some ways, especially in sexual relations. Some evidence suggests that consuming pornography influences individuals’ positive attitude toward sexuality and serves as a safe platform through which to en- gage in sexual exploration. […] Using a variety of methods, we demonstrated that pornography consumption is associated with weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner. […] in Study 5 we examined a more extreme implication of the weakened commitment—infidelity. We found that pornography consumption corresponded to decreased commitment, which, in turn related to higher levels of infidelity. [Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology | PDF]

Women and men misunderstand each other’s signals of friendliness and sexual interest. But these misinterpretations are no surprise to evolutionary psychologists.

Why do some women prefer submissive men?

Finally. A boyfriend your friends can believe in. + Invisible girlfriend [Thanks GG]

The woman who can’t feel fear

The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team has analysed the influence of humidity on the evolution of languages.
Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone. The tone pitch is a key element of communication in all languages, but more so in some than others. German or English, for example, still remain comprehensible even if all words are intonated evenly by a robot. In Mandarin Chinese, however, the pitch tone can completely change the meaning of a word. [EurekAlert]

A glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym, says new study

Hygiene—keeping both home and body clean—is one of the best ways to curb the spread of bacterial infections, but lately consumers are getting the message that washing with regular soap is insufficient. Antibacterial products have never been so popular. Body soaps, household cleaners, sponges, even mattresses and lip glosses are now packing bacteria-killing ingredients, and scientists question what place, if any, these chemicals have in the daily routines of healthy people. […] Good, long-term hygiene means using regular soaps rather than new, antibacterial ones, experts say. “The main way to keep from getting sick,” Gustafson says, “is to wash your hands three times a day and don’t touch mucous membranes.” [Scientific American]

Doctors die, too. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared with most Americans, but how little. Why Doctors Die Differently

Every person grows older with time, but some people may have the wish to grow old faster. So, this article is for those people. On the contrary, if you want to feel young and good, do the opposite as mentioned in this article. [ Say People]

Hitler suffered from uncontrollable flatulence. His health issues only got worse after meeting Dr. Theodor Morell.

The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted the article to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.”

The philosopher Socrates remains, as he was in his lifetime (469–399 B.C.E.), an enigma, an inscrutable individual who, despite having written nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. […] The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass. Socrates let his hair grow long, Spartan-style (even while Athens and Sparta were at war), and went about barefoot and unwashed, carrying a stick and looking arrogant. […] Something was peculiar about his gait as well, sometimes described as a swagger so intimidating that enemy soldiers kept their distance. He was impervious to the effects of alcohol and cold, but this made him an object of suspicion to his fellow soldiers on campaign. […] What seemed strange about Socrates is that he neither labored to earn a living, nor participated voluntarily in affairs of state. Rather, he embraced poverty and, although youths of the city kept company with him and imitated him, Socrates adamantly insisted he was not a teacher and refused all his life to take money for what he did. […] Because Socrates was no transmitter of information that others were passively to receive, he resists the comparison to teachers. Rather, he helped others recognize on their own what is real, true, and good—a new, and thus suspect, approach to education. He was known for confusing, stinging and stunning his conversation partners into the unpleasant experience of realizing their own ignorance, a state sometimes superseded by genuine intellectual curiosity. […] Socrates was usually to be found in the marketplace and other public areas, conversing with a variety of different people—young and old, male and female, slave and free, rich and poor—that is, with virtually anyone he could persuade to join with him in his question-and-answer mode of probing serious matters. […] It did not help matters that Socrates seemed to have a higher opinion of women than most of his companions had, speaking of “men and women,” “priests and priestesses,” and naming foreign women as his teachers: Socrates claimed to have learned rhetoric from Aspasia of Miletus, the lover of Pericles; and to have learned erotics from the priestess Diotima of Mantinea. […] Athenian citizen males of the upper social classes did not marry until they were at least thirty, and Athenian females were poorly educated and kept sequestered until puberty, when they were given in marriage by their fathers. Thus the socialization and education of males often involved a relationship for which the English word ‘pederasty’ (though often used) is misleading, in which a youth approaching manhood, fifteen to seventeen, became the beloved of a male lover a few years older, under whose tutelage and through whose influence and gifts, the younger man would be guided and improved. It was assumed among Athenians that mature men would find youths sexually attractive, and such relationships were conventionally viewed as beneficial to both parties by family and friends alike. A degree of hypocrisy (or denial), however, was implied by the arrangement: “officially” it did not involve sexual relations between the lovers and, if it did, then the beloved was not supposed to derive pleasure from the act—but ancient evidence (comedies, vase paintings, et al.) shows that both restrictions were often violated. What was odd about Socrates is that, although he was no exception to the rule of finding youths attractive, he refused the physical advances of even his favorite. [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde Sparks Facebook Legal Battle

Creator or buyer: Who really owns the art?

The App Economy Is Now ‘Bigger Than Hollywood’

Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue

The Mysteries Of White Mist On The Surface of Black Coffee

The flat white coffee drink was $4. A suggested tip was $3. The cashier at Café Grumpy, a New York City coffeehouse, swiped the credit card, then whirled the screen of her iPad sales device around to face the customer. “Add a tip,” the screen commanded, listing three options: $1, $2 or $3. In other words: 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of the bill. […] New York City taxi riders paying with plastic are confronted with buttons for 20 percent, 25 percent or 30 percent tips. Anything less has to be manually entered (and calculated by the passenger). […] In December, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, Alimento, took a different approach. It added a second gratuity line to diners’ checks — “tip” (for the server) and “kitchen” (for the traditionally untipped workers in the back). […] In March, a Silicon Valley company opened ChangeTip, a platform that allows people to send small Bitcoin payments through social media, email, Skype or text to show their appreciation for content creators (or anyone) on the Internet. The service has been growing about 30 percent a month and now has about 60,000 users who have collectively tipped over $250,000, said Nick Sullivan, founder and chief executive. The average payment, he said, was a little over $1. [NY Times]

The FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator Teaches You How To Lower Your Bills

New police radars can ‘see’ inside homes

The gang had been targeting ATMs with a technique never before used in the U.K.

If the decision-making algorithm were to always choose the option in which the fewest people die, the car might avoid another car carrying two passengers by running off the road and risking killing just one passenger: its own. Or it might choose to hit a Volvo instead of a Mini Cooper because its occupants are more likely to survive a crash, which means choosing the vehicle that is more dangerous for its owner to plow into. [NY Times]

Sand can be anything from shrimp excrement to skeletons of tiny organisms

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction in South Dakota.

Celebrities that Look Like Mattresses [Thanks Tim]

When did people start smiling in photographs?

Triple-Decker Weekly, 124


Conman sold urine as whiskey

Unhealthy people more likely to vote for attractive candidates

We’ve all had that experience of going purposefully from one room to another, only to get there and forget why we made the journey. Four years ago, researcher Gabriel Radvansky and his colleagues stripped this effect down, showing that the simple act of passing through a doorway induces forgetting. Now psychologists at Knox College, USA, have taken things further, demonstrating that merely imagining walking through a doorway is enough to trigger increased forgetfulness. [BPS]

In an experiment researchers showed that the human brain uses memories to make predictions about what it expects to find in familiar contexts. When those subconscious predictions are shown to be wrong, the related memories are weakened and are more likely to be forgotten. And the greater the error, the more likely you are to forget the memory. [Lunatic Laboratories]

Closing your eyes boosts memory recall

People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened

Some people will tell you that they have a clear sense of who they are, and that their sense of self is stable over time. Psychologists refer to this as having high “self-concept clarity.” In a new study, Jean Guerrettaz and Robert Arkin shine a spotlight on these self-proclaimed self-knowers. The researchers find that their confidence is often fragile, and that somewhat paradoxically, it is people confident in their sense of self whose self-esteem is most undermined by challenging questions about who they are. [BPS]

Neuroscience research fails to support claims that excessive pornography consumption causes brain damage

Amongst heterosexuals, men are almost twice as likely to be upset by sexual infidelity as women, a new study finds. Heterosexual women, meanwhile, are much more likely to be upset by emotional infidelity.

During sexual stimulation, some women report the discharge of a noticeable amount of fluid from the urethra, a phenomenon also called “squirting.” To date, both the nature and the origin of squirting remain controversial. In this investigation, we not only analyzed the biochemical nature of the emitted fluid, but also explored the presence of any pelvic liquid collection that could result from sexual arousal and explain a massive fluid emission. […] The present data based on ultrasonographic bladder monitoring and biochemical analyses indicate that squirting is essentially the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity, although a marginal contribution of prostatic secretions to the emitted fluid often exists. [The Journal of Sexual Medicine]

New research suggests that reflecting on a breakup may help heal the heart

Diane. Wife’s kid sister. Well, half sister. Dad was the sperm donor. Who knows who the fuck she is. Collects ribbon. [Richard Prince]

“Withdrawal is the most problematic for relationships,” Sanford said. “It’s a defensive tactic that people use when they feel they are being attacked, and there’s a direct association between withdrawal and lower satisfaction overall with the relationship.” Meanwhile, “passive immobility” — expecting your partner to be a mind-reader — is a tactic people use when they feel anxious in a relationship, and it makes it especially difficult for couples to make progress toward resolving conflicts. But it may not be as harmful down the line as withdrawal, he said. [EurekAlert]

Machiavellianism is a personality trait characterized by a manipulative interpersonal style, emotional detachment and suspicion of others. Individuals with high levels of Machiavellianism navigate through their social relationships with  protective self-monitoring, external orientated thinking and confidence in their ability to deceive which facilitates their willingness to exploit others for their own self-serving goal. Not surprisingly, research has found that Machiavellianism relates to lower quality friendships in adulthood, including relational aggression in online relationships. […] Previous research has established the importance of parental bonding (i.e.,  parental care and overprotection) for the development of personality traits and adult relationships. The current study investigated the influence of recalled parenting on the development of Machiavellianism and adult friendship quality. […] Path modeling suggests that decreased maternal care and increased paternal overprotection relate to Machiavellianism which is associated with lower adult friendship quality. [Individual Differences Research]

Solar activity affects fertility across generations in historical Norway. More sun means fewer children and grandchildren

UK couple stranded in New York after baby arrived 11 weeks early face potential £130,000 medical bill

Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here by 2017

Scientists ‘edit’ DNA to correct adult genes and cure diseases

Monozygotic twins are considered being genetically identical, therefore they cannot be differentiated using standard forensic DNA testing. Here we describe how identification of extremely rare mutations by ultra-deep next generation sequencing can solve such cases. We sequenced DNA from sperm samples of two twins and from a blood sample of the child of one twin. Bioinformatics analysis revealed five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the twin father and the child, but not in the twin uncle. Our results give experimental evidence for the hypothesis that rare mutations will occur early after the human blastocyst has split into two, the origin of twins, and that such mutations will be carried on into somatic tissue and the germline. The method provides a solution to solve paternity and forensic cases involving monozygotic twins as alleged fathers or originators of DNA traces. [FSI Genetics]

Environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system

DNA is generally regarded as the basic building block of life itself. In the most fundamental sense, DNA is nothing more than a chemical compound, albeit a very complex and peculiar one. DNA is an information-carrying molecule. The specific sequence of base pairs contained in a DNA molecule carries with it genetic information, and encodes for the creation of particular proteins. When taken as a whole, the DNA contained in a single human cell is a complete blueprint and instruction manual for the creation of that human being. In this article we discuss myriad current and developing ways in which people are utilizing DNA to store or convey information of all kinds. For example, researchers have encoded the contents of a whole book in DNA, demonstrating the potential of DNA as a way of storing and transmitting information. In a different vein, some artists have begun to create living organisms with altered DNA as works of art. Hence, DNA is a medium for the communication of ideas. Because of the ability of DNA to store and convey information, its regulation must necessarily raise concerns associated with the First Amendment’s prohibition against the abridgment of freedom of speech. New and developing technologies, and the contemporary and future social practices they will engender, necessitate the renewal of an approach towards First Amendment coverage that takes into account the purposes and values incarnated in the Free Speech Clause of the Constitution. [Charleston School of Law]

Antibiotics: US discovery labelled ‘game-changer’ for medicine

New study examines possible evidence for the use of the trepanation technique applied to lower leg bones.

Does sleeping naked prevent diabetes?

Science Word of the Day: Kleptothermy

They discreetly asked me if I would mind waiting a few minutes because Yoko Ono (!!!) was just finishing a treatment. Cryotherapy is a process in which you subject the body to extreme cold for a short period of time in order to reduce inflammation.

[T]he Inuit, the Masai, and the Samburu people of Uganda all originally ate diets that were 60-80% fat and yet were not obese and did not have hypertension or heart disease. The hypothesis that saturated fat is the main dietary cause of cardiovascular disease is strongly associated with one man, Ancel Benjamin Keys, a biologist at the University of Minnesota. […] Keys launched his “diet-heart hypothesis” at a meeting in New York in 1952, when the United States was at the peak of its epidemic of heart disease, with his study showing a close correlation between deaths from heart disease and proportion of fat in the diet in men in six countries (Japan, Italy, England and Wales, Australia, Canada, and the United States). Keys studied few men and did not have a reliable way of measuring diets, and in the case of the Japanese and Italians he studied them soon after the second world war, when there were food shortages. Keys could have gathered data from many more countries and people (women as well as men) and used more careful methods, but, suggests Teicholz, he found what he wanted to find. […] At a World Health Organization meeting in 1955 Keys’s hypothesis was met with great criticism, but in response he designed the highly influential Seven Countries Study, which was published in 1970 and showed a strong correlation between saturated fat (Keys had moved on from fat to saturated fat) and deaths from heart disease. Keys did not select countries (such as France, Germany, or Switzerland) where the correlation did not seem so neat, and in Crete and Corfu he studied only nine men. […] [T]he fat hypothesis led to a massive change in the US and subsequently international diet. One congressional staffer, Nick Mottern, wrote a report recommending that fat be reduced from 40% to 30% of energy intake, saturated fat capped at 10%, and carbohydrate increased to 55-60%. These recommendations went through to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were published for the first time in 1980. (Interestingly, a recommendation from Mottern that sugar be reduced disappeared along the way.) It might be expected that the powerful US meat and dairy lobbies would oppose these guidelines, and they did, but they couldn’t counter the big food manufacturers such as General Foods, Quaker Oats, Heinz, the National Biscuit Company, and the Corn Products Refining Corporation, which were both more powerful and more subtle. In 1941 they set up the Nutrition Foundation, which formed links with scientists and funded conferences and research before there was public funding for nutrition research. [...] Saturated fats such as lard, butter, and suet, which are solid at room temperature, had for centuries been used for making biscuits, pastries, and much else, but when saturated fat became unacceptable a substitute had to be found. The substitute was trans fats, and since the 1980s these fats, which are not found naturally except in some ruminants, have been widely used and are now found throughout our bodies. There were doubts about trans fats from the very beginning, but Teicholz shows how the food companies were highly effective in countering any research that raised the risks of trans fats. [...] Another consequence of the fat hypothesis is that around the world diets have come to include much more carbohydrate, including sugar and high fructose corn syrup, which is cheap, extremely sweet, and “a calorie source but not a nutrient.”2 5 25 More and more scientists believe that it is the surfeit of refined carbohydrates that is driving the global pandemic of obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable diseases. [The BMJ]

The compound behind all those stories about red wine being good for you

Experiments to explore how we might artificially cool the Earth—commonly called geoengineering.

Cleaning waste water with algae

Certain wavelengths of visible light are nearly 100% lethal to insects. Blue LEDs could be a new form of pest control.

The Satellite Search for Genghis Khan’s Tomb

The Phantom Cannibal, Part One, Part Two

The scam has been dubbed virtual kidnapping

In the past few years, street gangs have been retreating from public view all over Southern California.

This report describes the details and type of operations carried out by an organized criminal group that focuses on financial industry, such as banks and payment providers, retail industry and news, media and PR companies. […] The organized criminal group backbone are citizens of both Russian and Ukrainian origin. […] The average sum of theft in the Russian territory and in the post-Soviet space is $2 million per incident. […] To date the total amount of theft is over 1 billion rubles (about 25 million dollars), most of it has been stolen in the second half of 2014. […] The key is that fraud occurs within the corporate network using internal payment gateways and internal banking systems. Thus money is stolen from the banks and payment systems, and not from their customers. While this is their main and most lucrative activity, the gang has also ventured into other areas including the compromise of media groups and other organizations for industrial espionage and likely a trading advantage on the stock market. […] The average time from the moment of penetration into the financial institutions internal network till successful theft is 42 days. As a result of access to internal bank networks the attackers also managed to gain access to ATM management infrastructure and infect those systems with their own malicious software that further allows theft from the banks ATM systems on the attackers command. [Group-IB and Fox-IT | PDF]

Nicknamed “stingrays,” the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.

Hundreds of Portuguese Buses and Taxis Are Also Wi-Fi Routers (and collect data for city planners)

A.I. still can’t recognize these simple pictures.

Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. And for women, using certain digital tools decreases stress. [NY Times]

Google sees biggest search traffic drop since 2009 as Yahoo gains ground. The increase comes after Firefox switched its default search from Google to Yahoo.

Radio, not YouTube, was still the top method of music discovery in the US last year

What is it like to be a blind film critic?

Why do People Behave Immorally When Drunk?

How to spot a liar [TED talk]

The First Quantum Art Exhibition in Space

Art critic Julian Spalding banned from Damien Hirst’s Tate exhibition after calling him a talentless conman

How the “Paul McCartney is Dead” Hoax Started at an American College Newspaper and Went Viral (1969)

How NASA and other space agencies colorize space photos

CIA takes blame for more than half of UFO sightings in late 1950s and 60s

JFK and 9/11 in Back to the Future – Hidden Messages In Plain Sight

U.S. ambassador to Finland