Triple-Decker Weekly, 63

Venezuela’s grand plan to fix its toilet-paper shortage: $79 million and a warning to stop eating so much.

Patient 1 was first evaluated at age 66, having been diagnosed with PD [Parkinson’s Disease] at age 58… She complained of daytime and night-time visual hallucinations for the past one year. Most of the time she did not have insight about them. She described seeing three children playing in her neighbor’s yard and a brunette woman sleeping under the covers in one of the beds in her house. She also saw images of different people sitting quietly in her living room. […] In one instance, she saw a man covered in blood, holding a child and called 911. Her husband, in an attempt to prove to her that these were hallucinations, took pictures of the neighbor’s yard and the bed in their house. Surprisingly, when shown these photos, the patient continued to identify the same children playing in the yard and the same brunette woman sleeping under the covers. This perception was present every time the patient looked at these photos. [via Mind Hacks]

Each month many women experience an ovulatory cycle that regulates fertility. Whereas research finds that this cycle influences women’s mating preferences, we propose that it might also change women’s political and religious views. Building on theory suggesting that political and religious orientation are linked to reproductive goals, we tested how fertility influenced women’s politics, religiosity, and voting in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In two studies with large and diverse samples, ovulation had drastically different effects on single versus married women. Ovulation led single women to become more liberal, less religious, and more likely to vote for Barack Obama. In contrast, ovulation led married women to become more conservative, more religious, and more likely to vote for Mitt Romney. In addition, ovulatory- induced changes in political orientation mediated women’s voting behavior. Overall, the ovulatory cycle not only influences women’s politics, but appears to do so differently for single versus married women. [Psychological Science | PDF]

We usually show different sides of ourselves on the workfloor than we do when we’re with family. In a group of friends we play yet another role, and so we do in a sport’s club. This switching between such social settings makes life stressful, a study suggests. That seems to be the case at least for the women in the study. […] Cornwell looked at how many social roles respondents played and how many settings they visited on a given day. It turned out that individuals who switched more frequently between these roles and settings reported higher levels of stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean role-switching is causing stress. It’s also very likely for instance that counting the settings people visit is a good measure of how busy their lives are. Men, anyhow, don’t seem to have any problems with social switching. [United Academics | SAGE]

Why do we have greater insight into others than ourselves?

Imagine we rewound the tape of your life. Your diplomas are pulled off of walls, unframed, and returned. Your children grow smaller, and then vanish. Soon, you too become smaller. Your adult teeth retract, your baby teeth return, and your traits and foibles start to slip away. Once language goes, you are not so much you as potential you. We keep rewinding still, until we’re halving and halving a colony of cells, finally arriving at that amazing singularity: the cell that will become you. The question, of course, is what happens when we press “play” again. Are your talents, traits, and insecurities so deeply embedded in your genes that they’re basically inevitable? [Scientific American]

People will lie about their sexual behavior to match cultural expectations about how men or women should act – even though they wouldn’t distort other gender-related behaviors, new research suggests. […] men wanted to be seen as “real men:” the kind who had many partners and a lot of sexual experience. Women, on the other hand, wanted to be seen as having less sexual experience than they actually had, to match what is expected of women. [The Ohio State University]

Expert in 10,000 Hours? Maybe Not.

New research shows that asking for a precise number during negotiations can give you the upper hand.

With aging, our cognition inevitably declines – some faster than others. One brake that slows this process is the ability to fluently speak two or more languages.

Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead. He was in the grip of Cotard’s syndrome. People with this rare condition believe that they, or parts of their body, no longer exist. Interview.

Couple Plans To Deliver Baby In Dolphin-Assisted Birth.

Ex-Microsoft manager plans to create first U.S. marijuana brand.

Soda and illegal drugs cause similar damage to teeth.

Ketamine Cousin Rapidly Lifts Depression Without Side Effects.

Australian researchers have isolated an immune system cell in salamanders which helps it regenerate missing limbs and damaged organs — and they suspect the same thing could work in humans, too.

The Latest Artificial Heart: Part Cow, Part Machine.

American households have rebuilt less than half of the wealth lost during the recession, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve, hampering the country’s economic recovery. […] Most of the improvement was due to gains in the stock market, according to the report, primarily benefiting wealthy families. […] The Fed is spending $85 billion a month to lower long-term interest rates and stimulate the economy. It has also kept short-term interest rates to near zero. That has helped push stock markets to record highs, while home prices have jumped by the most in seven years. Consumer confidence is at its highest point since February 2008. Officials hope those factors will eventually result in more consumer spending power. [Washington Post]

Uncertainty exists about how markets will reestablish normal valuations when the Fed withdraws from the market. It will likely be difficult to unwind policy accommodation, and the end of monetary easing may be painful for consumers and businesses. Given the Fed’s balance sheet increase of approximately $2.5 trillion since 2008, the Fed may now be perceived as integral to the housing finance system. [via Zero Hedge]

Coffee is at its cheapest in three years (but your latte isn’t).

Processed-food companies increasingly turn to their legions of scientists to produce foods that we can’t resist. These food geeks tweak their products by varying the levels of the three so-called pillar ingredients—salt, sugar, and fat. […][The] optimum amount of salt, sugar, or fat is called the bliss point. Scientists also adjust these ingredients as well as factors such as crunchiness to produce a mouthfeel—that is, the way the food feels inside a person’s mouth—that causes consumers to crave more. Technologists can also induce a flavor burst by altering the size and shape of the salt crystals themselves so that they basically assault the taste buds into submission. The holy grail of junk-food science is vanishing caloric density, where the food melts in your mouth so quickly that the brain is fooled into thinking it’s hardly consuming any calories at all, so it just keeps snacking. [IEEE]

By early 2030s, experts predict nanorobots will be developed to improve the human digestive system, and by 2040, as radical as this sounds, we could eliminate our need for food and eating. This is the vision of futurist Ray Kurzweil and nutritionist Terry Grossman, M.D. […] By mid-2030s, nutritional needs tailored solely to meet each person’s requirements will be more clearly understood. The required nutrients could then be provided inexpensively by a nano-replicator and delivered directly to each cell by nanorobots; thus eliminating the need to eat food. [IEET]

NASA funds project to make space meals with 3-D printer.

Formlabs is bringing down the costs of a better 3-D printing technique, but it must survive a patent lawsuit.

Big news from the annals of science last week. A British newspaper reports that the mysteries of the universe may have been solved by a hedge-fund economist who left academia 20 years ago. Eric Weinstein’s theory – he calls it geometric unity – posits a 14-dimensional “observerse”, which contains our work-a-day, four-dimensional, space-time universe. [The National | More: Guardian]

In 2008, the 311 complaint hot line introduced a program that allows people to submit photos, audio and video with their grievances. 8,000 were submitted in the last 15 months. One tipster submitted three photos of a suited man at Florio’s Ristorante in Little Italy on Feb. 12, alleging he sold cigars to minors. Disgruntled neighbors photographed at least 19 “illegal animals,” including one ferret and at least five roosters.

Anatomy of a hack: How crackers ransack passwords like “qeadzcwrsfxv1331.”

Less than 7 percent of Greece has been properly mapped, officials say. [NY Times]

Even farm animal diversity is declining as accelerating species loss threatens humanity.

New research from the Netherlands finds that the psychological profile of people who enjoy bondage and sadomasochism is surprisingly positive.

How many people get hit each year by contract killers?

A man pretending to be ‘Gangnam Style’ singer psy has crashed the Cannes Film Festival, working his way into a number of VIP parties. […] He was spotted at the Carlton Hotel VIP Room and Martinez Beach, and attended the “secret party” of “millionaire oil magnate and fashion designer” Goga Ashkenazi at Le Baron. He was also seen teaching fellow party goers how to do the dance for ‘Gangnam Style’. [NME | Fake Psy Interview]

Brain surgery patient plays guitar during procedure.

The road traveled and where it leads.