A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy problem. Trouble is, we have no idea what it’s talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia’s pages combined, is far too voluminous for us puny humans to confirm. A few years ago, the mathematician Steven Strogatz predicted that it wouldn’t be too much longer before computer-assisted solutions to math problems will be beyond human comprehension. [io9]
When you really focus your attention on something, you’re said to be “in the present moment.” But a new piece of research suggests that the “present moment” is actually […] a sort of composite—a product mostly of what we’re seeing now, but also influenced by what we’ve been seeing for the previous 15 seconds or so. They call this ephemeral boundary the “continuity field.” [Quartz]
Young, sexually mature humans Homo sapiens sapiens of both sexes commonly congregate into particular but arbitrary physical locations and dance. These may be areas of traditional use, such as nightclubs, discotheques or dance-halls or areas that are temporarily commissioned for the same purpose such as at house parties or rock festivals etc. This type of behaviour is seen in a variety of animals although there are no apparent attempts to monopolize particular areas within these locations as is often seen in species that lek. The present studies were conducted in order to investigate this phenomenon in a commercial nightclub environment. Data revealed that more than 80% of people entering the nightclub did so without a partner and so were potentially sexually available. There was also an approx. 50% increase in the number of couples leaving the nightclub as compared to those entering it seen on each occasion this was measured, indicating that these congregations are for sexual purposes. Within the nightclub itself more than 80% of bouts of mixed sex dancing were initiated by a male approaching a female, demonstrating that males are stimulated to approach females rather than vice versa. In consequence, females are placed in competition with each other to attract these approaches. Various female display tactics were measured and these showed that whilst only 20% of females wore tight fitting clothing that revealed more than 40% of their flesh/50% of their breast area and danced in a sexually suggestive manner, these attracted close to half (49%) of all male approaches seen. These data reveal the effectiveness of clothing and dance displays in attracting male attention and strongly indicate that nightclubs are human display grounds, organised around females competing for the attention of males. Females with the most successful displays gain the advantage of being able to choose from amongst a range of males showing interest in them. [Institute of Psychological Sciences | PDF]
A 2008 study found that women showed signs of arousal watching pretty much anything: masturbation, straight sex, girl-on-girl, guy-on-guy, bonobo chimps, everything—except pictures of naked men.
Partnerships are situations in which two or more persons join to pursue a common project. Being together increases the chances of success of the project, whether the project aims at raising children, establishing a business or writing a scientific article. Much has been written about the issue of free riding in such situations: one of the partners may rely on the others to do most of the work while keeping on enjoying its benefits. This issue can lead to inefficient situations where both partners contribute very little. A comparatively small part of the academic literature deals with the dissolution of partnerships and why partners decide to stop working together. Both low contribution levels and dissolution indicate failure in a partnership, but the distinction between those two types of failures is important; it is akin to the distinction between a dysfunctional marriage that keeps on going, and a marriage that ends in a divorce. This paper deals with the inner dynamics of partnerships, in particular with how success and failure determine the probability a common project will break down. […] Subjects underestimated the pay-off from staying, in large part because they had an exaggerated fear of being left alone in the collaborative project. This led to lower overall welfare when exit was easy. [SSRN]
New research reveals that lifespan could be affected by how people deal with stress. People who forgive themselves for mistakes are physically healthier than those who obsess over them.
If you’re like most people, you spend a great deal of your time remembering past events and planning or imagining events that may happen in the future. While these activities have their uses, they also make it terribly hard to keep track of what you have and haven’t actually seen, heard, or done. Distinguishing between memories of real experiences and memories of imagined or dreamt experiences is called reality monitoring and it’s something we do (or struggle to do) all of the time. […] Perhaps you’ve left the house and headed to work, only to wonder en route if you’d locked the door. Even if you thought you did, it can be hard to tell whether you remember actually doing it or just thinking about doing it. […] The study’s authors also found greater activation in the anterior medial prefrontal cortex when they compared reality monitoring for actions participants performed with those they only imagined performing. [Garden of the Mind]
Regenerative medicine: For the first time, a mammalian organ has been persuaded to renew itself
Damien Hirst’s ghostwritten biography promises to reveal criminal past and to expose the “filthy money business” of the art world. Plus: Florida Pastor on Trial for Selling Fake Damien Hirst Paintings