The sense of smell is one of our most powerful connections to the physical world. Our noses contain hundreds of different scent receptors that allow us to distinguish between odours. When you smell a rose or a pot of beef stew, the brain is responding to scent molecules that have wafted into your nose and locked on to these receptors. Only certain molecules fit specific receptors, and when they slot together, like a key in a lock, this triggers changes in cells. In the case of scent receptors, specialised neurons send messages to the brain so we know what we have sniffed. […] In the last ten years, however, reports have trickled in from bemused biologists that these receptors, as well as similar ones usually found on taste buds, crop up all over our bodies. [BBC]
In Japan, where palm reading remains one of the most popular means of fortune-telling, some people have figured out a way to change their fate. It’s a simple idea: change your palm, change the reading, and change your future. All you need is a competent plastic surgeon with an electric scalpel who has a basic knowledge of palmistry. […] From January 2011 to May 2013, 37 palm plastic surgeries have been performed at the Shonan Beauty Clinic alone. Several other clinics in Japan offer the surgery, but almost none of them advertise it.
I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” [John Searle/Open Culture]
International journals, they’re giving them to everybody these days. The International Journal of…Zizek Studies! Baudrillard Studies! And now, Badiou Studies! Unfortunately, there is currently no International Journal of Deleuze or Ranciere Studies, because there is no justice in this world. Also: Schizorevolutions vs. Microfascisms: A Deleuzo-Nietzschean Perspective on State, Security, and Active/Reactive Networks. [both via Bookforum]
Every action and drama seems to violate Alfred Hitchcock’s rule of matching the length of a film to the endurance of the human bladder. Why Are Hollywood Movies So Long?
Darius McCollum has been arrested 29 times over the past 30 years for a series of transit-related crimes ranging from impersonating subway workers to stealing buses. […] He first drew notice in 1981, when as a 15-year-old he operated an E train six stops from 34th Street to the World Trade Center without the conductor or passengers reporting anything amiss. [WSJ]
If you’re a corporate executive, this may be one of the last sentences you want to hear: “Erich Spangenberg is on the line.” Invariably, Mr. Spangenberg, the 53-year-old owner of IPNav, is calling to discuss a patent held by one of his clients, which he says your company is infringing — and what are you going to do about it? Mr. Spangenberg is likely to open the conversation on a diplomatic note, but if you put up enough resistance, or try to shrug him off, he can also, as he put it, “go thug.” […] “Once you go thug, though, you can’t unthug,” he explained, returning to his warm and normal tone. “Actually, you can unthug, but if you do that, you can’t rethug. Then you just seem crazy.” Mr. Spangenberg’s company, based in Dallas, helps “turn idle patents into cash cows,” as it says on its Web site. [NY Times]
Sound waves with frequencies just above human hearing can levitate tiny particles and liquid droplets and even move them around, a team of engineers has demonstrated. […] In the new research, the team […] uses the setup to lift and spin a toothpick. Previously, no one had been able to control objects larger than a few millimeters in diameter. [Science]
If the planet warms by 4 °C, which is within the IPCC range of estimates, they will eventually rise by 9 meters, on average, and up to 12 meters in some parts of the world. The point, aside from the fact that 12 meters is a lot of water, is that generations of humans will have to deal with sea levels that keep going up.
Bush, Global Warming, Circumcision… The 10 Most Controversial Topics on Wikipedia.
Outsmarting bugs with a fan may be a poorly known strategy. But the method, it turns out, is endorsed by the American Mosquito Control Association. [NY Times]
Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal forces, 1965.— the woman is strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at high speed.