Many sewage epidemiology studies to date have focused on measuring the drugs carried in urine, dissolved in water. However, now it seems that analysing faecal matter could be more accurate, since some drugs tend to stick more readily to solids.
Scientists at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance. New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells. The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all. [Phys.org]
Few human possessions are so universally owned as mobile phones. There are almost as many mobile phones as there are humans on the planet. More people worldwide own mobile phones than have access to working toilets. These devices not only help individuals share information with each other, they are increasingly being used to help individuals gather information about themselves. Smartphones — mobile phones with built in applications and internet access — have rapidly become one of the world’s most sophisticated self-tracking tools. Self-trackers and those engaged in the “quantified self” movement are using smartphones to collect large volumes of data about their health, their environment, and the interaction between the two. Continuous tracking is now obtainable for personal health indicators including physical activity, brain activity, mood dynamics, numerous physiologic metrics and demographic data. Similarly, smartphones are empowering individuals to measure and map, at a relatively low cost, environmental data on air quality, water quality, temperature, humidity, noise levels, and more. Mobile phones can provide another source of information to their owners: sample data on their personal microbiome. The personal microbiome, here defined as the collection of microbes associated with an individual’s personal effects (i.e., possessions regularly worn or carried on one’s person), likely varies uniquely from person to person. Research has shown there can be significant interpersonal variation in human microbiota, including for those microbes found on the skin. We hypothesize that this variation can be detected not just in the human microbiome, but also on the phone microbiome. [Meadow/Altrichter/Green]
An extensive literature addresses citizen ignorance, but very little research focuses on misperceptions. Can these false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected? […] Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a ‘‘backfire effect’’ in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question. [Springer Science+Business Media | PDF]
Recent experimental studies show that emotions can have a significant effect on the way we think, decide, and solve problems. [Frontiers]
It’s called “contextual jitter” — in the time it takes to silence your cell phone, you’ve already lost track of what you were doing. […] When their attention was shifted from the task at hand for a mere 2.8 seconds, they became twice as likely to mess up the sequence. The error rate tripled when the interruptions averaged 4.4 seconds. [The Atlantic]
In the U.S., couples with daughters are somewhat more likely to divorce than couples with sons. Many scholars have read those numbers as evidence that daughters cause divorce. […] Previous studies have argued that fathers prefer boys and are more likely to stay in marriages that produce sons. Conversely, the argument runs, men are more likely to leave a marriage that produces daughters. That scholarly claim has been around for decades, and has gained a following in popular culture. […] A new research from Duke University suggests something quite different may be at play. […] Throughout the life course, girls and women are generally hardier than boys and men. At every age from birth to age 100, boys and men die in greater proportions than girls and women. Epidemiological evidence also suggests that the female survival advantage actually begins in utero. These more robust female embryos may be better able to withstand stresses to pregnancy, the new paper argues, including stresses caused by relationship conflict. Based on an analysis of longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents from 1979 to 2010, Hamoudi and Nobles say a couple’s level of relationship conflict predicts their likelihood of subsequent divorce. Strikingly, the authors also found that a couple’s level of relationship conflict at a given time also predicted the sex of children born to that couple at later points in time. Women who reported higher levels of marital conflict were more likely in subsequent years to give birth to girls, rather than boys. [EurekAlert]
What does it take to look attractive for members of the opposite sex? […] Researchers investigated whether a sex-biased population (that is, more men or women than a 50/50 division) affected attractiveness. […] If you want to command the attention of potential mates: hang out with girls if you’re a guy and hang out with guys if you’re a girl. [United Academics]
Anyone we could marry would, of course, be a little wrong for us. It is wise to be appropriately pessimistic here. Perfection is not on the cards. Unhappiness is a constant. Nevertheless, one encounters some couples of such primal, grinding mismatch, such deep-seated incompatibility, that one has to conclude that something else is at play beyond the normal disappointments and tensions of every long-term relationship: some people simply shouldn’t be together. […] Given that marrying the wrong person is about the single easiest and also costliest mistake any of us can make, it is extraordinary, and almost criminal, that the issue of marrying intelligently is not more systematically addressed at a national and personal level, as road safety or smoking are. [Philosophers’ Mail]
When humans fight hand-to-hand the face is usually the primary target and the bones that suffer the highest rates of fracture are the parts of the skull that exhibit the greatest increase in robusticity during the evolution of basal hominins. These bones are also the most sexually dimorphic parts of the skull in both australopiths and humans. In this review, we suggest that many of the facial features that characterize early hominins evolved to protect the face from injury during fighting with fists. Specifically, the trend towards a more orthognathic face; the bunodont form and expansion of the postcanine teeth; the increased robusticity of the orbit; the increased robusticity of the masticatory system, including the mandibular corpus and condyle, zygoma, and anterior pillars of the maxilla; and the enlarged jaw adductor musculature are traits that may represent protective buttressing of the face. If the protective buttressing hypothesis is correct, the primary differences in the face of robust versus gracile australopiths may be more a function of differences in mating system than differences in diet as is generally assumed. […] The protective buttressing hypothesis provides a functional explanation for the puzzling observation that although humans do not fight by biting our species exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism in the strength and power of the jaw and neck musculature. The protective buttressing hypothesis is also consistent with observations that modern humans can accurately assess a male’s strength and fighting ability from facial shape and voice quality. [Biological Reviews]
Trivers introduced his theory of self-deception over three decades ago. According to his theory, individuals deceive themselves to better deceive others by placing truthful information in the unconscious while consciously presenting false information to others as well as the self without leaving cues to be detected of deception. […] According to Trivers, a blatant deceiver keeps both true and false information in the conscious mind but presents only falsehoods to others. In doing so, the deceiver may leave clues about the truth due to its conscious access. A self-deceiver keeps only false information in consciousness. Lying to others and to the self at the same time, the self-deceiver thus leaves no clues about the truth retained in the unconscious mind. […] Memory and its distortion may be temporarily employed first to keep truthful information away from both self and others and later to retrieve accurate information to benefit the self. Using a dual-retrieval paradigm, we tested the hypothesis that people are likely to deceive themselves to better deceive high- rather than equal-status others. [Evolution Psychology | PDF]
In general, we can detect a lie only about 54% of the time. […] We may not be very good detectors of lies, but as a species we are incredibly good at lying. […] The more intelligent an animal is, the more likely it is to lie, which puts us humans right at the top of the ladder. Research has also shown that the best liars are also the best at detecting lies. […] Given our increasing intelligence and the fairly basic methods used in lie detection, it seems unlikely that we’ll produce lie detectors that can pass muster in the near future. We have yet to fully understand the underlying psychological processes of lying so asking a machine to code it is ambitious, to say the least. [ The Conversation]
Drawing on theorizing and research suggesting that people are motivated to view their world as an orderly and predictable place in which people get what they deserve, the authors proposed that (a) random and uncontrollable bad outcomes will lower self-esteem and (b) this, in turn, will lead to the adoption of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. Four experiments demonstrated that participants who experienced or recalled bad (vs. good) breaks devalued their self-esteem (Studies 1a and 1b), and that decrements in self-esteem (whether arrived at through misfortune or failure experience) increase beliefs about deserving bad outcomes (Studies 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b). Five studies (Studies 3–7) extended these findings by showing that this, in turn, can engender a wide array of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors, including claimed self-handicapping ahead of an ability test (Study 3), the preference for others to view the self less favorably (Studies 4–5), chronic self-handicapping and thoughts of physical self-harm (Study 6), and choosing to receive negative feedback during an ability test (Study 7). The current findings highlight the important role that concerns about deservingness play in the link between lower self-esteem and patterns of self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | PDF]
I no longer look at somebody’s CV to determine if we will interview them or not,” declares Teri Morse, who oversees the recruitment of 30,000 people each year at Xerox Services. Instead, her team analyses personal data to determine the fate of job candidates. She is not alone. “Big data” and complex algorithms are increasingly taking decisions out of the hands of individual interviewers – a trend that has far-reaching consequences for job seekers and recruiters alike. […] Employees who are members of one or two social networks were found to stay in their job for longer than those who belonged to four or more social networks (Xerox recruitment drives at gaming conventions were subsequently cancelled). Some findings, however, were much more fundamental: prior work experience in a similar role was not found to be a predictor of success. “It actually opens up doors for people who would never have gotten to interview based on their CV,” says Ms Morse. [FT]
Haberman wanted grocery stores to embrace the 12-digit Universal Product Code—better known as the barcode—to create a standardized system for tracking inventory and speeding checkout. He took his fellow execs to a nice dinner. Then, as was the fashion at the time, they went to see Deep Throat. […] Without the barcode, FedEx couldn’t guarantee overnight delivery. […] Nearly all babies born today in U.S. hospitals get barcode bracelets as soon as they’re swaddled. [Wired]
A busy NYC restaurant kept getting bad reviews for slow service, so they hired a firm to investigate. When they compared footage from 2004 to footage from 2014, they made some pretty startling discoveries.
Phantom pain, experienced in missing limbs, tortures amputees and puzzles scientists. Srinath Perur cycles round Cambodia with a man who treats it with mirrors.
Clothing increases the risk of indirect ballistic fractures (If you’re going to be shot, it’s safer to be naked)