After exclusion of days when Bond was unable to drink, his weekly alcohol consumption was 92 units a week, over four times the recommended amount. Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor?
Girls’ brains can begin maturing from the age of 10 while some men have to wait until 20 before the same organisational structures take place, Newcastle University scientists have found. [Telegraph]
Men who have daughters also grow less attached to traditional gender roles: they become less likely to agree with the statement that “a woman’s place is in the home,” for instance, and more likely to agree that men should wash dishes and do other chores. Having a sister, however, has the opposite effect, making men more supportive of traditional gender roles, more conservative politically, and less likely to perform housework. [The Atlantic]
Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning “condemnation of memory” in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. […] The intent was to erase someone from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was much sparser. […] Any truly effective damnatio memoriae would not be noticeable to later historians, since, by definition, it would entail the complete and total erasure of the individual in question from the historical record. [Wikipedia]
The good and bad things about stories is they’re a kind of filter. They take a lot of information, and they leave some of it out, and they keep some of it in. But the thing about this filter, it always leaves the same things in. You’re always left with the same few stories. There’s the old saying, just about every story can be summed up as, “A stranger came to town.” There’s a book by Christopher Booker, he claims there are really just seven types of stories. There’s monster, rags to riches, quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy, rebirth. You don’t have to agree with that list exactly, but the point is this: if you think in terms of stories, you’re telling yourself the same things over and over again. […] So what are the problems of relying too heavily on stories? You view your life like “this” instead of the mess that it is or it ought to be. [Tyler Cowen/LessWrong]
Most vitamins such as antioxidants don’t help to prevent cancer, heart disease and dementia, and some supplements could be harmful, say doctors who advise people to stop wasting their money on the pills.
In previous research, acoustic characteristics of the male voice have been shown to signal various aspects of mate quality and threat potential. But the human voice is also a medium of linguistic communication. The present study explores whether physical and vocal indicators of male mate quality and threat potential are linked to effective communicative behaviors such as vowel differentiation and use of more salient phonetic variants of consonants. […] [T]aller, more masculine men display less clarity in their speech and prefer phonetic variants that may be associated with masculine attributes such as toughness. [Human Nature/Springer]
This research project focused on the potential spread of bacteria when blowing out candles on a birthday cake. […] We tested whether salivating before blowing out the candles over icing would affect the outcome. To simulate a realistic party atmosphere, this procedure included consuming a slice of fresh pizza prior to blowing on the candles. We determined that a higher level of bacteria was transferred with this procedure than the previous testing. These results led us to conclude that bacteria expelled from the mouth can, in fact, contaminate birthday cakes and other potential food samples.” [via Improbable]
The goal is to identify how much time can pass before a food no longer tastes good, which in turn dictates the sell-by date. Generally, foods are still safe to eat after that point, but they won’t taste as they were intended. Taste-testers are an elite bunch. In its last recruitment period three years ago, 150 people applied. The NFL accepted 15.
“The aging process we discovered is like a married couple—when they are young, they communicate well, but over time, living in close quarters for many years, communication breaks down,” said Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Sinclair, senior author on the study. “And just like with a couple, restoring communication solved the problem.” [EurekAlert | BBC]
We evaluated the impact of different presentation methods for evaluating how funny jokes are. We found that the same joke was perceived as significantly funnier when told by a robot than when presented only using text. [Dr. Hato | PDF] Ongoing projects: Adding farting to the joking robots. [Dr. Hato]
The faces on LEGO Minifigures are becoming increasingly angry and less happy. The influence of LEGO is immense. The researchers state that on average each person on earth owns approximately 75 bricks.
Neuman’s idea is that the ability to detect fallacious arguments is related to skill in drawing inferences from text. In order to test his idea, Neuman measured student’s performance on detection of argument fallacies, deductive logic, and the inference process in reading comprehension. He found that comprehension was significantly related to spotting fallacies. Performance on the pure deductive logic task was not. [Global Cognition | Continue reading ]
The average computer user makes more than 1000 mouse clicks per day. Scientists would love to know if that practice affects other aspects of your brain’s control of your body. The problem is finding people with no computer experience.
Specifically, they reported that men’s brains had more connectivity within each brain hemisphere, whereas women’s brains had more connectivity across the two hemispheres. Moreover, they stated or implied, in their paper and in statements to the press, that these findings help explain behavioral differences between the sexes, such as that women are intuitive thinkers and good at multi-tasking whereas men are good at sports and map-reading. […] So, the wiring differences between the sexes aren’t that large. And we don’t really know their functional significance, if any. […] [L]et’s set this new brain wiring study in the context of previous research. Verma and her team admit that a previous paper looking at the brain wiring of 439 participants failed to find significant differences between the sexes. What about studies on the corpus callosum – the thick bundle of fibres that connects the two brain hemispheres? If women really have more cross-talk across the brain, this is one place where you’d definitely expect them to have more connectivity. And yet a 2012 diffusion tensor paper found “a stronger inter-hemispheric connectivity between the frontal lobes in males than females”. Hmm. Another paper from 2006 found little difference in thickness of the callosum according to sex. Finally a meta-analysis from 2009: “The alleged sex-related corpus callosum size difference is a myth,” it says. [Wired] A small sample of the more credulous media uptake: “Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal”, The Guardian 12/2/2013; “Striking differences in brain wiring between men and women”, EarthSky 12/3/2013; “Brains of women, men are actually wired differently”, New Scientist 12/12/2013 [Language Log]
The New York Times has an important article on how Attention Deficit Disorder, often known as ADHD, has been ‘marketed’ alongside sales of stimulant medication to the point where leading ADHD researchers are becoming alarmed at the scale of diagnosis and drug treatment. It’s worth noting that although article focuses on ADHD, it is really a case study in how psychiatric drug marketing often works. This is the typical pattern: a disorder is defined and a reliable diagnosis is created. A medication is tested and found to be effective – although studies which show negative effects might never be published. It is worth noting that the ‘gold standard’ diagnosis usually describes a set of symptoms that are genuinely linked to significant distress or disability. Then, marketing money aims to ‘raise awareness’ of the condition to both doctors and the public. This may be through explicit drug company adverts, by sponsoring medical training that promotes a particular drug, or by heavily funding select patient advocacy groups that campaign for wider diagnosis and drug treatment. This implicitly encourages diagnosis to be made away from the ‘gold standard’ assessment – which often involves an expensive and time-consuming structured assessment by specialists. [Mind Hacks]
Tracking the secret lives of great white sharks. “There’s no frickin’ pattern at all.”
This article examines the reasons for the Chihuahua breed’s popularity in contemporary western society by looking at two sets of data: Chihuahua handbooks and The Simple Life show, starring Paris Hilton and her Chihuahua Tinkerbell. The article argues that the Chihuahua is a holy anomaly. […] The Chihuahua – or the bonsai wolf – transcends two binary oppositions fundamental to contemporary westerners: subject/object and nature/culture. [SAGE ]
U.S. Copyright Office recommends that artists be paid a royalty when their work is resold at a profit.[NY Times]
A high-ranking FBI agent filed a sensitive internal manual detailing the bureau’s secret interrogation procedures with the Library of Congress, where anyone with a library card can read it. […] “A document that has not been released does not even need a copyright,” says Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “Who is going to plagiarize from it? Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t violate the copyright because you don’t have the document. It isn’t available.” [Mother Jones]
Many people think that tweens and teens make up much of the music buying population. But older people actually buy the most music. So, why do record labels market most music to the demographic that buys the least music?
Although there has been some empirical research on earworms, songs that become caught and replayed in one’s memory over and over again, there has been surprisingly little empirical research on the more general concept of the musical hook, the most salient moment in a piece of music, or the even more general concept of what may make music ‘catchy’. […] Every piece of music will have a hook – the catchiest part of the piece, whatever that may be – but some pieces of music clearly have much catchier hooks than others. […] One study has shown that after only 400 ms, listeners can identify familiar music with a significantly greater frequency than one would expect from chance. […] We have designed an experiment that we believe will help to quantify the effect of catchiness on musical memory. […] Hooked, as we have named the game, comprises three essential tasks: a recognition task, a verification task, and a prediction task. Each of them responds to a scientific need in what we felt was the most entertaining fashion possible. In this way, we hope to be able recruit the largest number of subjects possible without sacrificing scientific quality. [Music Cognition Group | PDF | Download the Game]
Bitcoin Alternative Dogecoin Soars 900% As Other Crypto-Currencies Suffer. Almost all of the 53 crypto-currencies tracked by CoinMarketCap are seeing growth.
While some analysts initially suggested that Google’s goal was to more thoroughly automate factories, it’s now clear that the company’s team of engineers and scientists has a vision of truly dexterous, autonomous robots that can walk on sidewalks, carry packages, and push strollers.
The auto-playing ads will appear on both the desktop version of Facebook and the mobile app for Android and iOS phones. But the ads won’t gobble up a bunch of costly data while playing. Facebook said the videos will download ahead of time while the user is within range of Wi-Fi, not while using cellular data like 4G. The app has to be open for the ad to download. The video ad is stored on the phone – how much storage it takes up is an open question — and then played at the appropriate scroll point. [WSJ]
Republique is set in a dystopic police state where everything is under surveillance. More: “There were lots of publishers who said you’re not making a mobile game here, you’re making a console game that nobody would want to play on mobile.”
Following yesterday’s post about a SantaCon Santa who was allegedly caught by a filmmaker having his North Pole publicly waxed by a naughty little elf, Gawker received an “urgent” email from a man claiming to be Santa’s lawyer.