Liking a painting increased the ability to recall on which wall the painting was hung. Since recalling the wall requires recalling heading direction, this finding suggests positive aesthetic experience enhances first-person spatial representations.
Rocking together: Dynamics of intentional and unintentional interpersonal coordination [PDF]
Signs of dishonesty decreased trust but only in those who had not previously built a good reputation as honest partners. On the contrary, those who could establish a good reputation were trusted even when they were no longer trustworthy, suggesting that participants could not successfully track changes in trustworthiness of those with an established good reputation. [Journal of Experimental Psychology]
Self-promotion is common in everyday life. Yet, across 8 studies (N = 1,687) examining a broad range of personal and professional successes, we find that individuals often hide their successes from others and that such hiding has relational costs. [...] Whereas previous research highlights the negative consequences of sharing one’s accomplishments with others, we find that sharing is superior to hiding for maintaining one’s relationships. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]
Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus. The report is of concern because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months. The 33-year-old man had only mild symptoms the first time, and no symptoms this time around. The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain, the researchers said, and the virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August. “Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding,” said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong. Doctors have reported several cases of presumed reinfection in the United States and elsewhere, but none of those cases have been confirmed with rigorous testing. Recovered people are known to shed viral fragments for weeks, which can cause tests to show a positive result in the absence of live virus. But the Hong Kong researchers sequenced the virus from both rounds of infection and found significant differences in the two sets of virus, suggesting that the patient was infected a second time. [NY Times]
Some people can get the pandemic virus twice, a study suggests. That is no reason to panic. [...] Even if the finding settles the question of whether people can be reinfected with the pandemic virus, it raises many additional questions: How often does this happen? Do people have milder infections, or no symptoms at all, the second time around? Can they still infect others? If natural infection does not always confer solid protection, will that be true for vaccines as well? [Nature]
The underlying purpose of this essay is less about the coronavirus per se and more about how having a small—but functionally complete— piece of viral RNA to analyze gives me a unique opportunity to try to understand a complete self-replicating machine from scratch
A coronavirus mutation is tied to less severe illness None of the 29 people whose viruses had the mutation needed supplemental oxygen, but 26 of the 92 people whose viruses lacked the mutation did. More: The ∆382 variant of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be associated with a milder infection
Getting an antibody test to see if you had Covid-19 months ago is pointless, according to guidelines issued this week by a major medical society. Many tests are inaccurate, some look for the wrong antibodies and even the right antibodies fade away, said experts at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which issued the new guidelines. Because current tests cannot determine if someone is immune, the society said, they “cannot inform decisions to discontinue physical distancing or lessen the use of personal protective equipment.” [...] Despite the flaws of antibody tests, recent studies of patients who definitely were infected suggest that they have long-lasting immunity and that it is very unlikely they will get reinfected. That may be because white blood cells known as B and T cells, which are “primed” to recognize and attack the coronavirus, remain in circulation long after antibodies have faded away. But B and T cells are not analyzed by common antibody tests. [NY Times]
Some luxury brands have started adding surveillance to their arsenal, turning to blockchains to undermine the emergence of secondary markets in a way that pays lip service to sustainability and labor ethics concerns. LVMH launched Aura in 2019, a blockchain-enabled platform for authenticating products from the Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Fenty brands, among others. Meanwhile, fashion label Stella McCartney began a transparency and data-monitoring partnership with Google for tracking garment provenance, discouraging fakes and promising to ensure the ethical integrity of supply chains. Elsewhere, a host of fashion blockchain startups, including Loomia, Vechain, and Faizod, have emerged, offering tracking technologies to assuage customer concerns over poor labor conditions and manufacturing-related pollution by providing transparency on precisely where products are made and by which subcontractors. [...] Companies such as Arianee, Dentsu and Evrythng also aim to track clothes on consumers’ bodies and in their closets. At the forefront of this trend is Eon, which with backing from Microsoft and buy-in from mainstream fashion brands such as H&M and Target, has begun rolling out the embedding of small, unobtrusive RFID tags — currently used for everything from tracking inventory to runners on a marathon course — in garments designed to transmit data without human intervention. [...] According to the future depicted by Eon and its partners, garments would become datafied brand assets administering access to surveillance-enabled services, benefits, and experiences. The people who put on these clothes would become “users” rather than wearers. In some respects, this would simply extend some of the functionality of niche wearables to garments in general. Think: swimsuits able to detect UV light and prevent overexposure to the sun, yoga pants that prompt the wearer to hold the right pose, socks that monitor for disease risks, and fitness trackers embedded into sports shirts. [...] According to one potential scenario outlined by Eon partners, a running shoe could send a stream of usage data to the manufacturer so that it could notify the consumer when the shoe “nears the end of its life.” In another, sensors would determine when a garment needs repairing and trigger an online auction among competing menders. Finally, according to another, sensors syncing with smart mirrors would offer style advice and personalized advertising. [Real Life ]
Blockchain technology is going to change everything: the shipping industry, the financial system, government … in fact, what won’t it change? But enthusiasm for it mainly stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. The blockchain is a solution in search of a problem. [...] Once something is in the blockchain, it cannot be removed. For instance, hundreds of links to child pornography and revenge porn were placed in the bitcoin blockchain by malicious users. It’s impossible to remove those. Also, in a blockchain you aren’t anonymous, but “pseudonymous”: your identity is linked to a number, and if someone can link your name to that number, you’re screwed. Everything you got up to on that blockchain is visible to everyone. The presumed hackers of Hillary Clinton’s email were caught, for instance, because their identity could be linked to bitcoin transactions. A number of researchers from Qatar University were able to ascertain the identities of tens of thousands of bitcoin users fairly easily through social networking sites. Other researchers showed how you can de-anonymise many more people through trackers on shopping websites. The fact that no one is in charge and nothing can be modified also means that mistakes cannot be corrected. A bank can reverse a payment request. This is impossible for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So anything that has been stolen will stay stolen. There is a continuous stream of hackers targeting bitcoin exchanges and users, and fraudsters launching investment vehicles that are in fact pyramid schemes. According to estimates, nearly 15% of all bitcoin has been stolen at some point. And it isn’t even 10 years old yet. And then there’s the environmental problem. The environmental problem? Aren’t we talking about digital coins? Yes, which makes it even stranger. Solving all those complex puzzles requires a huge amount of energy. So much energy that the two biggest blockchains in the world – bitcoin and Ethereum – are now using up the same amount of electricity as the whole of Austria. Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months. [The Correspondent]
Currently, we produce ∼1021 digital bits of information annually on Earth. Assuming a 20% annual growth rate, we estimate that after ∼350 years from now, the number of bits produced will exceed the number of all atoms on Earth, ∼1050. After ∼300 years, the power required to sustain this digital production will exceed 18.5 × 1015 W, i.e., the total planetary power consumption today, and after ∼500 years from now, the digital content will account for more than half Earth’s mass, according to the mass-energy–information equivalence principle. Besides the existing global challenges such as climate, environment, population, food, health, energy, and security, our estimates point to another singular event for our planet, called information catastrophe. [AIP Advances]
It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. […] The amount of new information is doubling every two years. By 2010, it’s predicted to double every 72 hours. [...] The lunatic named Bobby Fisher “despised the media”: “They’re destroying reality, turning everything into media.” “News exceed reality” writes Thomas Bernhard somewhere. The saturation and repetitions in Basquiat’s paintings. The high-frequency trading. “an immense accumulation of nothing“ (Imp Kerr, 2009). An immense accumulation of ignorance. [...] From what precedes it necessarily follows that the inescapable future of knowledge is banality, falsehood, and overabundance, which sum is a form of ignorance. [The New Inquiry]
Researchers have demonstrated that they can make a working 3D-printed copy of a key just by listening to how the key sounds when inserted into a lock. And you don’t need a fancy mic — a smartphone or smart doorbell will do nicely if you can get it close enough to the lock.
According to its own IPO filings, Uber can only be profitable if it invents fully autonomous vehicles and replaces every public transit ride in the world with them. Elon Musk - a man whose "green electric car company" is only profitable thanks to the carbon credits it sells to manufacturers of the dirtiest SUVs in America, without which those planet-killing SUVs would not exist - makes the same mistake. Musk wants to abolish public transit and replace it with EVs. Now, both Uber and Musk are both wrong as a matter of simple geometry. Multiply the space occupied by all those AVs by the journeys people in cities need to make by the additional distances of those journeys if we need road for all those cars, and you run out of space. [Cory Doctorow]
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. ran into a lot of trouble (nobody renting cars during a pandemic, used-car values declining and triggering margin calls on its used-car securitization, etc.) and filed for bankruptcy. Instead of trading down to zero, as you might expect (bankruptcy tends to zero stocks), the stock traded up, on heavy volume, due to retail day-trader enthusiasm and the general mystery of financial markets in 2020. Hertz was like, okay, well, if people really want to buy Hertz stock, we have Hertz stock, we should sell them some. Hertz went to the bankruptcy judge and said that. “There are forces at work that us non-financial people, that we can only observe,” they told her. She had no objections. On the morning of Monday, June 15, Hertz filed a prospectus announcing that it would sell up to $500 million of stock in an “at the market” (“ATM”) offering, meaning that Hertz’s bank (Jefferies) would just sell the shares on the stock exchange from time to time; if you bought stock, you’d have no way of knowing if you were buying it from Hertz or from one of the many other people who were selling Hertz stock. Of course the stock was probably worthless, as Hertz said in the prospectus. [...] Hertz Global Holdings Inc. raised $29 million selling its likely worthless stock before regulators dissuaded the bankrupt rental-car company from selling more.
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