Triple-Decker Weekly, 58

Man with Tourette Syndrome not allowed to board plane after saying ‘bomb.’

The guy on the roof… why is he hiding behind such heavy pixelation?

Researchers placed an atomic clock on the ground, and another one in a high speed aircraft. The scientists found that less time passed on the clock in the plane. The faster we move, the slower time passes; and if we travel fast enough, theoretically we could go backwards. [IEET]

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep. […] In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. […] A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”. Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. [BBC]

In 1884, Scientific American asked and answered the famous question, “if a tree were to fall on an uninhabited island, would there be any sound?” […] “If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.” […] Dolphins, for instance, hear 150–150,000 Hz oscillations, whereas humans hear in the range of 20–20,000 Hz. We perceive only as much of reality as our mechanisms of transduction, our sensory organs, afford us. The remainder, the un-transduced portion, is lost to oblivion (or to instrumentation). Transduction induces both veridical representation and editorializing on the biological value of events and objects, such as fright at the apprehension of threat. Morality, perhaps counterintuitively, begins with editorialized sensation. […] Churchland describes her project as examining the platform upon which morality is constructed. Her thesis is that the platform is maternal attachment to young. The largest single factor in human brain evolution is our exaggerated juvenile phase, during much of which we are helpless. This surely exerted strong selective pressure for parental behavior, care for kin. Churchland argues this is the forerunner of care for kith and strangers. Haidt, drawing from cross-cultural psychology, argues that the normative bedrock is not monolithic. He proposes six innate dimensions about which we are predisposed toward moralizing: harm-care, fairness-cheating, liberty-oppression, loyalty-betrayal, authority-subversion and sanctity-degradation. [The American Interest]

Despite an understanding of the perception and consequences of apologies for their recipients, little is known about the consequences of interpersonal apologies, or their denial, for the offending actor. In two empirical studies, we examined the unexplored psychological consequences that follow from a harm-doer’s explicit refusal to apologize. Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. [European Journal of Social Psychology/Wiley]

Proponents of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) claim that certain eye-movements are reliable indicators of lying. According to this notion, a person looking up to their right suggests a lie whereas looking up to their left is indicative of truth telling. Despite widespread belief in this claim, no previous research has examined its validity. […] Three studies provided no evidence to support the notion that the patterns of eye-movements promoted by many NLP practitioners aid lie detection. This is in line with findings from a considerable amount of previous work showing that facial clues (including eye movements) are poor indicators of deception. [PLoS]

Face recognition is supposed to be fast. However, the actual speed at which faces can be recognized remains unknown. To address this issue, we report two experiments run with speed constraints. […] Results indicate that the fastest speed at which a face can be recognized is around 360–390 ms. Such latencies are about 100 ms longer than the latencies recorded in similar tasks in which subjects have to detect faces among other stimuli. [Frontiers]

When we recognize someone, we integrate information from across their face into a perceptual whole, and do so using a specialized brain region. Recognizing other kinds of objects does not engage such specific brain areas, and is achieved in a much more parts-based way. […] The composite effect refers to the fact that people find it difficult to recognize the top half of a face if it is shown lined up with the bottom half of a different face, because we can’t help integrating the two halves into a new whole. People have trouble recognizing other primate faces when they are upside down, but only show the composite effect for human faces. [University of Newcastle]

Plastic Surgery Blamed for Making All Miss Korea Contestants Look Alike. Update: The assumption is now that the contestants wore their make-up in a similar style and, more likely, that the same person Photoshopped them.

Their research provides the first evidence that people’s visual biases change when surrounded by members of their own group. “Having one’s group or posse around actually changes the perceived seriousness of the threat,” said Joseph Cesario, lead author on the study and assistant professor of psychology.

Can the friend of my friend be my enemy? Structural balance theory considers the positive or negative ties between three individuals, or triads, and suggests that “the friend of my enemy is my enemy” triangle is more stable and should be more common than “the friend of my friend is my enemy” triangle. Another configuration, “the friend of my friend is my friend,” is considered to also be a stable configuration in the social network. The last possible triangle, “the enemy of my enemy is my enemy,” presages an unstable state, according to the theory. The potential power of structural balance theory is its ability to predict patterns in the structure of the whole social network and also predict changes that occur over time, as unstable triads are expected to change to stable ones. [NIMBioS]

The problem with human-resource managers is that they are human. They have biases; they make mistakes. But with better tools, they can make better hiring decisions, say advocates of “big data”. Software that crunches piles of information can spot things that may not be apparent to the naked eye. […] Some insights are counter-intuitive. […] For customer-support calls, people with a criminal background actually perform a bit better. [Economist]

There were approximately 32 million users of psychedelic drugs in the United States in 2010.

2,000 to 4,000 businesses now producing marijuana for legal purposes. Total sales: $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion last year.

1 million hours of psychiatrist time wasted yearly on phone approval for hospitalization.

Research suggests that mental illnesses lie along a spectrum — but the field’s latest diagnostic manual still splits them apart.

Those scientists had stumbled into a parallel world of pseudo-academia, complete with prestigiously titled conferences and journals that sponsor them. Many of the journals and meetings have names that are nearly identical to those of established, well-known publications and events. [NY Times]

U.S. government to spend $890K on nothing.

There Were Penguins on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Cocaine Caused Financial Crisis, Ex-UK Drug Czar Says

450,000 people had robot-assisted surgery last year, making Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci machine, one of the hottest stocks around. Hospitals across the country embrace the cutting-edge surgical device but criticism is mounting. CNBC’s Herb Greenberg investigates allegations of problems in the operating room in his latest documentary, “The da Vinci Debate.”

The world of underground surgery for healthy people who feel that their limb is not part of their body and needs to be removed.

The kings of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty (1516–1700) frequently married close relatives in such a way that uncle-niece, first cousins and other consanguineous unions were prevalent in that dynasty. In the historical literature, it has been suggested that inbreeding was a major cause responsible for the extinction of the dynasty when the king Charles II, physically and mentally disabled, died in 1700 and no children were born from his two marriages, but this hypothesis has not been examined from a genetic perspective. In this article, this hypothesis is checked by computing the inbreeding coefficient of the Spanish Habsburg kings from an extended pedigree up to 16 generations in depth and involving more than 3,000 individuals. […] It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders […] could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty. [PLoS | Nature]

Scientists Unsure Why Female Flies Expel Sperm and Eat It.

Woman arrested for trying to sell her kids on Facebook.

Humans feel empathy for robots.

Machines with the ability to attack targets without any human intervention must be banned before they are developed for use on the battlefield, campaigners against “killer robots” urged on Tuesday.

You probably haven’t heard of HD Moore, but up to a few weeks ago every Internet device in the world, perhaps including some in your own home, was contacted roughly three times a day by a stack of computers that sit overheating his spare room. “I have a lot of cooling equipment to make sure my house doesn’t catch on fire,” says Moore, who leads research at computer security company Rapid7. […] Many of the two terabytes (2,000 gigabytes) worth of replies Moore received from 310 million IPs indicated that they came from devices vulnerable to well-known flaws, or configured in a way that could to let anyone take control of them. [Technology Review]

I’d get online and look up and 40 minutes would have gone by, and my reading time for the night would have been pissed away, and all I would have learned was that, you know, a certain celebrity had lived in her car awhile, or that a cat had dialled 911. […] It’s interesting because (1) this tendency does seem to alter brain function and (2) through some demonic cause-and-effect, our technology is exactly situated to exploit the crappier angles of our nature: gossip, self-promotion, snarky curiosity. It’s almost as if totalitarianism thought better of the jackboots and decided to go another way: smoother, more flattering – and impossible to resist. [George Saunders/Guardian]

One way to undermine social media monopolies is to refuse to contribute to the communicational economy they are based upon: don’t generate exploitable signals, stay quiet — and ask how this might be developed as a common response. Given the naturalized assumption that ‘more communication’ will automatically produce ‘more freedom’, suggestions, like this one, that are based on doing less of it might provoke hostility. However, in the case of the social media industries, communication is cultivated not in the interests of freedom, but in the interests of growth; social media wants to capture more of you through your transactions. Moreover, through this process communications are not made ‘more free’ but tend rather to become less open — certainly in the sense that they are commoditized. [First Monday]

Boards of Canada code found hidden in messageboard banner; might include title of new record.

As most of us over at io9 have come to understand, Kinja sucks tremendous balls, but not just any balls; the balls Kinja sucks are actually singularities, over the event horizon of which it has passed, so that it may achieve infinite sucking. [reluctant.meatbag/gawker]

This paper proposes that networks can act as covers which allow actors to participate in markets while maintaining a plausible excuse that they are not. [PDF]

Sites listing an individual’s real name have become common. This shift towards real names is not merely a technical convenience, but a specific political turn. As pseudonyms are often associated with Internet trolling and cyberbullying, it is useful to track the use of pseudonyms in history and to consider many of their positive functions.

Eye Tracker Finds Which Ads Actually Stick, Pushes ‘Cost-Per-Visual’ As New Madison Avenue Currency. [Thanks Tim]

An “electronic tattoo” containing flexible electronic circuits can now record some complex brain activity as accurately as an EEG.

In one study, phantom phone vibrations were experienced by 68% of the people surveyed, with 87% of those feeling them weekly, and 13% daily. [Thanks Tim]

Turning a standard LCD monitor into touchscreen with a $5 wall-mounted sensor.

We’re basically asking the 70 year-old fuselage of a DC-9 to go supersonic. […] Same with the ad industry model. The system is set up to reward layers, reward churn (hours-based work) and reward quick, incremental successes Vs. real ‘innovation’ or cutting edge and efficient ideas that could transform business. Whether that’s evidenced by brand managers who simply need to move the needle in order to get promoted or ad execs who need to get an award to jump up in a position, it’s apparent everybody’s pushing for short term gains, small passes that move the needle just a few points and add enough time and layers to bill. This is what clients are paying for, encouraging and perpetuating. […] One example is media. Often, agencies are presented with a media schedule before there’s even a concept. […] It’s kind of like handing us an expensive megaphone and only then being told to try to soothe a baby to sleep. […] (there are plenty of those ‘innovative’ ideas sitting around anyway, but most don’t get made in a system that rewards overspending Vs. outthinking). [Tim Geoghegan]

New research shows how Shakespeare’s grammatical trickery excites the “language network.”

Vladimir Nabokov, 1969 BBC Interview.

Last Two Speakers of Dying Language Refuse to Talk to Each Other.

Slash (/): Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore.

Adobe: We’re working on a Photoshop feature that will help you reduce blur in your photos.

MoMA’s Jackson Pollock Conservation Project.

Kenneth Appel, famous for being part of the team that created the first great computer-aided proof of the “four-color” theorem which says that any map can be colored with four colors without bumping colors against each other, has died.

Decoding The City: The Road Graffiti Placed by Utility Workers.

This month marks 20 years since work started to wipe away one of the most striking features of the Hong Kong landscape for good. A 2.7-hectare enclave of opium parlours, whorehouses and gambling dens run by triads.

Does riding a motorcycle reduce your sperm count?

Why White People are Called Caucasian? [via Sunday Reading]

The Eat-This-Then-Your-Sweat-Will-Smell-Like-Rose-Water Experiment.

Dubai police add Ferrari to fleet of patrol cars weeks after unveiling Lamborghini.

Welcome to, where you get paid to drive to work! Earn up to $100 a month the easy way- by driving as you normally do in a day.  

Crashing Through Manhattan In The Fake Google Driverless Car.

3 September 1967, the day Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right.

Cell towers disguised (poorly) as trees.


Videos: Feeling and Retouch.