Over the past half-century, pop hits have become longer, slower and sadder, and they increasingly convey “mixed emotional cues,” according to a study just published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. […] Analyzing Top 40 hits from the mid-1960s through the first decade of the 2000s, they find an increasing percentage of pop songs are written using minor modes, which most listeners—including children—associate with gloom and despair. [Pacific Standard]
The phenomenon is called “priming”: We aren’t aware that we have perceived a certain stimulus, but it can be proved that we still respond to it. […] Psychologists distinguish between a "System 1" and a "System 2," which control our actions. System 1 represents what we may call intuition. It tirelessly provides us with quick impressions, intentions and feelings. System 2, on the other hand, represents reason, self-control and intelligence. System 2 is the one who believes that it's making the decisions. But in reality, most of the time, System 1 is acting on its own, without your being aware of it. It's System 1 that decides whether you like a person, which thoughts or associations come to mind, and what you feel about something. All of this happens automatically. You can't help it, and yet you often base your decisions on it. [Interview with Kahneman/Der Spiegel]
What’s, in a way, missing in today’s world is more biology of the Internet. More people like Nils Barricelli to go out and look at what’s going on, not from a business or what’s legal point of view, but just to observe what’s going on. […] What happens if you subscribe to a service and then as part of that service, unbeknownst to you, a piece of self-replicating code inhabits your machine, and it goes out and does something else? […] The best example of this is what we call the flash crash of May 6th, two years ago, when suddenly, the whole system started behaving unpredictably. Large amounts of money were lost in milliseconds, and then the money came back, and we quietly (although the SEC held an investigation) swept it under the rug and just said, “well, it recovered. Things are okay.” But nobody knows what happened, or most of us don’t know. […] What’s the driver today? You want one word? It’s advertising. And, you may think advertising is very trivial, and of no real importance, but I think it’s the driver. If you look at what most of these codes are doing, they’re trying to get the audience, trying to deliver the audience. The money is flowing as advertising. [George Dyson/Edge]
Worst Companies At Protecting User Privacy: Skype, Verizon, Yahoo!, At&T, Apple, Microsoft. [Main Device]
In general, humans don’t like to have their behavior controlled by others, and the result is that we have an aversion to being persuaded. Is there a point at which your efforts become counter-productive? According to a new study, the answer is yes. [peer reviewed by my neurons]
One of the most mysterious problems in neuroscience is the link between brain chemistry and consciousness. How do changes in our neurochemistry influence our perception of the real world? […] Coyle and co confine their investigations to ten drugs ranging from 3,4?methylenedioxymethamphetamine, better known as ecstacy, and lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, to less well known drugs such as N,N?dipropyltryptamine, sometimes called The Light, and 2,5?dimethoxy?4?ethylphenethylamine which has the street name Europa. [The Physics arXiv Blog]
How might one prove the existence of other universes given that we can experience only this one? […] What is the world made of? One might answer in terms of the electrons, protons, and neutrons that make up atoms. But what are electrons, protons and neutrons? Quantum physics shows how they are observed to behave like waves as they move about. But on reaching their destination and giving up their energy and momentum they behave like tiny particles. But how can something be both a spread out wave with humps and troughs, and at the same time be a tiny localized particle? This is the famous wave/particle paradox. It afflicts everything, including light. [Russell Stannard]
Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 18 scientists, including one from Simon Fraser University, predict we’re on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought. […] Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climates’ increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems’ growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point. Once that happens, which the authors predict could be reached this century, the planet’s ecosystems, as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye. [EurekAlert]
Scientists have now accurately predicted almost the whole genome of an unborn child by sequencing DNA from the mother's blood and DNA from the father's saliva. [Science]
Free services in exchange for personal information. That's the "privacy bargain" we all strike on the Web. It could be the worst deal ever. […] Human beings are awful at pricing out the net present value of a decision whose consequences are far in the future. […] The risks increase as we disclose more, something that the design of our social media conditions us to do. [Technology Review]
The research is described as the first systematic, quantitative examination of what characteristics recur in popular understandings of the cool personality. […] Research has found the characteristics associated with coolness today are markedly different than those that generated the concept of cool. […] Participants in the study still appreciated the traditional elements of cool, such as rebelliousness and detachment, but not as strongly as friendliness and warmth. [University of Rochester]
Warhol, eager to make the difficult leap from commercial artist to “serious” painter, decades later recalled his crushing disappointment when Castelli coolly told him, “Well, it’s unfortunate, the timing, because I just took on Roy Lichtenstein, and the two of you in the same gallery would collide.” […] In fact, what Lichtenstein and his five-years-younger contemporary Warhol had most in common was being the foremost exemplars of Cool among their generation of American visual artists. The first half of the 1960s was the apogee of what might be termed the Age of Cool—as defined by that quality of being simultaneously with-it and disengaged, in control but nonchalant, knowing but ironically self-aware, and above all inscrutably undemonstrative. [NY Review of Books]
Moebius syndrome is a rare condition that affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, resulting in paralysis of the muscles that control face and eye movements. This means that those affected by Moebius syndrome are unable to move their face and eyes, and thus to form any facial expressions. This one-in-a-million neurological disorder is present from birth, but its rarity often leads to late diagnosis. Besides a “mask-like” lack of expression, the Moebius syndrome is characterized by the inability to suck, problems with swallowing, and hearing and speech impairment. [United Academics]
Mr D. was working on a reality television show when he was hospitalised after causing a public disturbance. While working on the production of the show, he came to believe that he was the one who was actually being broadcast: ‘‘I thought I was a secret contestant on a reality show. I thought I was being filmed. I was convinced I was a contestant and later the TV show would reveal me.’’ [Mind Hacks]
Magician Arrested in Series of Brooklyn Bank Robberies. The police say that a self-described escapist who once set a speed record for eating a household light bulb was charged with robbing six banks. [NY Times]
Flame authors order infected computers to remove all traces of the malware. Self-desctruct module overwrites file data to prevent forensic analysis.
“Doug said he hated sleeping with John because his body was very hairy, and he didn’t like the way John smelled,” Britz said. Travolta had 6-year fling with pilot, ex-secretary claims.
You can't resist the pull of another person's gaze. More surprising, perhaps, is their finding that the directing effect of arrows is also impossible to resist.
The benefits of breast milk are well known, but why breastfeeding protects against various forms of cancer remains a mystery. The cancer fighting properties of breast milk.
Kane propped himself up with pillows in order to get a good view of his abdomen. He injected cocaine and adrenalin into his abdominal wall, and then he swiftly cut through the superficial tissue, found the swollen appendix, and excised it. The Top Ten Strangest Self-Experiments Ever.
Researchers in Hong Kong have analyzed the incidence of maritime piracy during the last decade and have developed a way to predict whether or not a particular vessel, with a specific cargo, shipping in a given patch of water is likely to be a target for piracy and what degree of violence might be involved.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. [Colin Nissan]