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