“They wanted to know if I had something in my pockets.” US man with huge penis stopped at airport.
One definition is that a Type III error occurs when you get the right answer to the wrong question. [Graph Pad]
Most people think that even though it is possible that they are dreaming right now, the probability of this is very small, perhaps as small as winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. In fact the probability is quite high. Let’s do the maths. [OUP]
At some point in evolution, our ancestors switched from walking on all four limbs to just two, and this transition to bipedalism led to what is referred to as the obstetric dilemma. The switch involved a major reconfiguration of the birth canal, which became significantly narrower because of a change in the structure of the pelvis. At around the same time, however, the brain had begun to expand. One adaptation that evolved to work around the problem was the emergence of openings in the skull called fontanelles. The anterior fontanelle enables the two frontal bones of the skull to slide past each other, much like the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust. This compresses the head during birth, facilitating its passage through the birth canal. In humans, the anterior fontanelle remains open for the first few years of life, allowing for the massive increase in brain size, which occurs largely during early life. The opening gets gradually smaller as new bone is laid down, and is completely closed by about two years of age, at which time the frontal bones have fused to form a structure called the metopic suture. In chimpanzees and bononbos, by contrast, brain growth occurs mostly in the womb, and the anterior fontanelle is closed at around the time of birth. [Neurophilosophy/Guardian]
Hayworth has spent much of the past few years in a windowless room carving brains into very thin slices. He is by all accounts a curious man, known for casually saying things like, “The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body.” He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes. Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever. […] By 2110, Hayworth predicts, mind uploading—the transfer of a biological brain to a silicon-based operating system—will be as common as laser eye surgery is today. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
Whenever a pharmaceutical company tests a new migraine prevention drug, nearly 1 in 20 subjects will drop out because they can’t stand the drug’s side effects. They’d rather deal with the headaches than keep receiving treatment. But those suffering patients might be surprised to learn that the drug they’ve quit is only a sugar pill: the 5 percent dropout rate is from the placebo side. Lurking in the shadows around any discussion of the placebo effect is its nefarious and lesser-known twin, the nocebo effect. Placebo is Latin for “I will please”; nocebo means “I will do harm.” [Inkfish]
Humans increase their body weight by a factor of 30 or so as they grow from babies to adults. For elephants the factor is closer to 100. But this raises a problem for biologists. They know that internal organs all grow at almost exactly the same rate, a phenomenon known as proportionate growth. But how does the body organize this? [The Physics arXiv Blog]
The human genome is estimated to contain about 23 000 genes. Where do these genes come from? Well, from your parents. And their parents. And so on. But, surely, if we go back far enough, there haven’t been 23 000 genes all along? However life originated, the first DNA carrying organisms probably had significantly fewer genes. So, where did all these new genes come from? How are genes born? Well, there are two main ways. [The Beast, the Bard and the Bot]
My theory, when it comes to buying lottery tickets, is that if you have disposable income to spare, then often the dreams and fantasies that accompany your lottery ticket purchase are in and of themselves worth $1. This is true not because dreams and fantasies are wonderful amazing and valuable things, although they can be; it’s more true because $1 is a very small amount of money. All too many people spend a significant percentage of their disposable income on lottery tickets, and that is a tragedy. Now Ian Bogost has come along with a similar theory, relating to Kickstarter. Funding projects on Kickstarter is in itself “another form of entertainment.” [Felix Salmon/Reuters | Thanks Rob]
A well-known series of experiments has shown that presenting participants with misleading information after they have experienced an event can change their memory of the event. […] A team of British researchers recently conducted the first scientific study of “nonbelieved memories”: memories which people cease to believe after coming to realise that they are false. [Independent]
Advertisers bombard us relentlessly. Fortunately, our brains have an inbuilt BS-detector that shields us from the onslaught – a mental phenomenon that psychologists call simply “resistance.” Ads from dodgy companies, our own pre-existing preferences, and a forewarning of a marketing attack can all marshal greater psychological resistance within us. However, a new study suggests that funny adverts lower our guard, leaving us vulnerable to aggressive marketing. [BPS]
The researchers found that the effects that awe has on decision-making and well-being can be explained by awe’s ability to actually change our subjective experience of time by slowing it down. Experiences of awe help to brings us into the present moment which, in turn, adjusts our perception of time, influences our decisions, and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise. [EurekArlert]
How to walk on water. Physicists use X-rays to probe how a fluid can support a person’s weight.
Guys, I know it sounds crazy, but just hear me out. Here’s the plan: From here on out, we’re going to run our banks and brokerages completely by the book and within the bounds of the law. We’re going to play it straight and keep it low-key. In short, we’re going to stop looking for ways to fuck the customers. (indignant shouts and table slaps) Sit down and let me finish. Gentlemen sit down! I haven’t even gotten to the diabolical part yet. Now I know I’m asking you to stretch quite a bit here, and yes, I understand that something like this hasn’t been attempted in our industry in decades. But just imagine the possibilities! We show up for work, we do what we say we’re going to do, we hire people who are every bit as motivated to do a good job for the customers as they are to be successful for themselves. We only offer products and services that we would offer to our grandmothers and children. We make the fine print into bold lettering. We eliminate hidden fees or at least disclose them where necessary. We treat people’s money like it’s our own. We stop intentionally blowing massive asset bubbles to profit on both their inflation and eventual bursting. [Joshua Brown]
Many CEOs, including Dow Chemicals’ Andrew Liveris, have declared their intentions to bring manufacturing back to the United States. What is going to accelerate the trend isn’t, as people believe, the rising cost of Chinese labor or a rising yuan. The real threat to China comes from technology. […] Several technologies advancing and converging will cause this. First, robotics. […] Then there is artificial intelligence. […] Other advances in the next decade will likely affect manufacturing, particularly advances in nanotechnology. [Foreign Policy]
The Internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing. They’re not synonyms. They don’t even serve the same function. The Web was born at CERN in 1990, as a specific, visual protocol on the Internet, the global network of computers that began two decades earlier.
Mummies found off the coast of Scotland are Frankenstein-like composites of several corpses, researchers say. […] Carbon dating these remains and their surroundings revealed these bodies were buried up to 600 years after death — to keep bodies from rotting to pieces after such a long time, they must have been intentionally preserved, unlike the bodies of animals also buried at the site, which had been left to decay. […] The first composite was apparently assembled between 1260 B.C. and 1440 B.C., while the second composite was assembled between 1130 B.C. and 1310 B.C. “There is overlap, but the statistical probability is that they were assembled at different times,” Parker-Pearson said. [Discovery | ScienceDirect]
“Rocket Queen” is the closing song of American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses’ debut studio album Appetite for Destruction. […] Axl wanted some pornographic sounds on Rocket Queen, so he brought a girl in and they had sex in the studio. We wound up recording about 30 minutes of sex noises. If you listen to the break on Rocket Queen it’s in there. [Wikipedia]
The New Yorker acquires The Borowitz Report. “David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, has assured me that I can write whatever I want as long as I don’t make fun of Malcolm Gladwell.”