Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because a line of attack didn’t work at first that it isn’t effective. Repetition is key.

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Have you heard the one about the biologist, the physicist, and the mathematician? They’re all sitting in a cafe watching people come and go from a house across the street. Two people enter, and then some time later, three emerge. The physicist says, “The measurement wasn’t accurate.” The biologist says, “They have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “If now exactly one person enters the house then it will be empty again.”

{ Nautilus | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

4.jpg‘Incompetent’ Robot Waiters Force Restaurants In China To Shut Down

Due to an unusual illness, Matthew creates false memories that seem as vivid as the real thing. He’s had to learn to live with a past that is as uncertain as the future.

We’re convinced that free will exists, but new research suggests it might be nothing more than a trick the brain plays on itself

The author draws a parallel between an analyst listening to a patient and a member of an audience watching a play. In both situations, it is important to be able to adopt a dual identity in order to participate in the action through identification and then to withdraw from the identification to adopt the position of an observer.

Researchers have located the genes that could explain the differences in how humans experience happiness.

Your Brain Limits You to Just Five BFFs

According to a recent study, just seven procedures make up 80% of these emergency procedures. These seven procedures also accounted for 79% of all complications, 80% of all inpatient costs from emergency general surgery—and 80% of deaths.

What Caused the Great Crime Decline in the U.S.?

What happened to Google Maps? While the number of cities shown on the maps has decreased, the number of roads shown has actually increased.

Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record. If it’s shorter than yours, it’s likely because you have better memory.

Be different

‘War is like love, it always finds a way.’ –Bertolt Brecht

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On 26 September 1983, the nuclear early warning system of the Soviet Union twice reported the launch of American Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from bases in the United States.

These missile attack warnings were correctly identified as a false alarm by Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, an officer of the Soviet Air Defence Forces. This decision is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous data on the United States and its NATO allies, which would have likely resulted in nuclear war and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

Investigation of the satellite warning system later confirmed that the system had malfunctioned.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

related { Human Extinction Isn’t That Unlikely and Scientists discover potentially habitable planets }

‘Everybody is raving about the Trump Home Mattress.’ —@realDonaldTrump

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Excitement is in the air at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the powerful accelerator at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics) near Geneva. Last year, researchers there recorded faint but extremely promising signs of what could be a new particle that does not fit within the current theoretical model. The LHC is now about to resume operation after being shut down since December for annual maintenance. If its next run confirms the existence of the new particle, that could open the long-sought passage to ‘the new physics’ – and, hopefully, answer some big, longstanding questions.

Experimental physicists and theorists have always worked together trying to understand nature’s underlying laws. Out of this collaboration emerged the ‘Standard Model’, which describes the fundamental particles and the ways that they interact to form all matter we see around us. At some times, experimental discoveries prompted fresh insights or confirmed what theorists already suspected. At others, theoretical predictions sent the experimentalists on a specific search. This was the case back in 1964 when physicists Robert Brout, François Englert and Peter Higgs predicted the existence of the Higgs boson, the particle that was discovered in 2012.

The Higgs boson filled in the last missing piece of the Standard Model, but this model is itself clearly incomplete. None of its particles has the properties of dark matter, a mysterious entity that is five times as prevalent as all the ordinary matter (everything made of atoms, which in turn are built from quarks and electrons) visible in the stars and galaxies. The Standard Model also does not explain the wide range of masses of the fundamental particles, nor why antimatter seems to have nearly completely disappeared, leaving the Universe filled almost exclusively with matter.

That is why, after spending nearly 60 years building the Standard Model, particle physicists are now terribly excited at the prospect of finally breaking it. The flaws of the model were well known, but no one knows what the right model might be. Theorists have been stuck for decades, exploring a vast array of ideas but lacking the data to tell them if they were on the right path. Only an experimental breakthrough can help them move forward, and the LHC might have already made it.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

Cause we’re the party people night and day

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The Devil looks you in the eyes and offers you a bet. Pick a number and if you successfully guess the total he’ll roll on two dice you get to keep your soul. If any other number comes up, you go to burn in eternal hellfire.

You call “7” and the Devil rolls the dice.

A two and a four, so the total is 6 — that’s bad news.

But let’s not dwell on the incandescent pain of your infinite and inescapable future, let’s think about your choice immediately before the dice were rolled.

Did you make a mistake? Was choosing “7” an error?

In one sense, obviously yes. You should have chosen 6.

But in another important sense you made the right choice. There are more combinations of dice outcomes that add to 7 than to any other number. The chances of winning if you bet 7 are higher than for any other single number.

The distinction is between a particular choice which happens to be wrong, and a choice strategy which is actually as good as you can do in the circumstances. If we replace the Devil’s Wager with the situations the world presents you, and your choice of number with your actions in response, then we have a handle on what psychologists mean when they talk about “cognitive error” or “bias”.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

221.jpg12-year-old girl runs NY half-marathon by mistake

Scientists discover fourth state for water molecules

This paper explores the psychoanalyst’s dilemmas in treating a man who came for analysis as a self-identified compulsive liar.

Although most people agree that there is such a phenomenon as intuition, involving emotionally charged, rapid, unconscious processes, little compelling evidence supports this notion. Findings support the notion that nonconscious emotions can bias concurrent nonemotional behavior — a process of intuition

Language and thought are not the same thing

The big man has a big mouth: Mouth width correlates with perceived leadership ability and actual leadership performance

Can’t sleep in an unfamiliar bed? Half your brain is still awake watching for threats

Researchers analysed 124 published trials of mindfulness as a mental-health treatment, and found that scientists reported positive findings 60% more often than is statistically likely.

One in 25 papers contains inappropriately duplicated images, screen finds

Predicting Stock Market Reactions to FOMC Meetings via Twitter Feeds [PDF]

Computer generates all possible ideas to beat patent trolls [Thanks Tim]

The QWERTY effect postulates that the keyboard layout influences word meanings by linking positivity to the use of the right hand and negativity to the use of the left hand [PDF]

A complete guide to the new ‘Crypto Wars’

Venture capitalists are sitting atop “amazing paper-based gains”

Bad drivers are a good indicator of a corrupt government

How these island rats survived 75 metric tons of poison [study]

Random couscous snaps into beautiful patterns

German artist Maria Eichhorn has closed a London gallery and sent all its staff home

Sticks and stones may break my bones

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Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, it has become clear that radioactivity might be less harmful than originally thought. Some researchers even believe it may be beneficial in small doses. […]

After Chernobyl, horrific victim projections made the rounds. A very small risk, multiplied by 600 million Europeans, resulted in hundreds of thousands additional cancer cases — a completely fictitious number. It could be that there wasn’t even a single case. We simply do not know. […]

The catastrophe began with the explosion of Unit 4 on April 26, 1986. Firefighters tried to extinguish the flames and to cover the open reactor core. Many of the helpers were exposed to extremely high doses of radiation and, by 1998, 39 of them had died as a result.

Whether there was an increase in cancer cases in the area after the accident is an open question, however. The statistics have not proven such a thing: Higher cancer rates in the population have thus far not been determined. […] There is however one exception: Over 6,000 children contracted thyroid cancer after the accident and 15 of them died. A large number of the cases can be tied to the radioactive iodine that the wind carried into the region in the first days. This tumor is, if identified early enough, easily treated.

An increase in thyroid cancer has also been observed in the area surrounding Fukushima’s destroyed nuclear reactor. Last year around 300,000 people who were 18 or younger at the time of the disaster were examined. Researchers found 137 cases. […]

Those who travel to Chernobyl today will feel like they are entering a nature paradise. In the area surrounding the reactor that was the epicenter of the disaster, there are once again wolves and Przewalski horses — and even European bison and lynx have now infiltrated the uninhabited forests. There are probably more animals living in the area than before the disaster. The still-elevated radiation seems to be less damaging to nature than humans are.

{ Der Spiegel | Continue reading }

ink on paper { Keith Haring, Untitled, 1983 }

See the sun turn green

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Sally Ride’s tampons might be the most-discussed tampons in the world. Before Ride became the first American woman in space, scientists pondered her tampons, weighed them, and NASA’s professional sniffer smelled them—better to take deodorized or non-deodorized?—to make sure they wouldn’t smell too strongly in a confined space capsule. Engineers considered exactly how many she might need for a week in space. (Is 100 the right number?, they famously asked her. No, Ride said. That is not the right number.)

The engineers were trying to be thoughtful, though; reportedly they packed the tampons with their strings connected so that they wouldn’t float away. […]

Before women went into space, there were not only the sadly typical concerns that women would become weepy or unable to function during their periods, but also that the menstrual cycle might somehow break in space. Would the blood come out without gravity to pull it from the womb? Maybe it would all pool up in there, or even flow backward through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen—a frightening condition called retrograde menstruation.

In the end, someone just had to try it and see what happened. And what happened was … nothing much. The uterus is pretty good at expelling its lining sans gravity, it turns out.

{ Phenomena | Continue reading | More: The Conversation }

related { Early Menarche is Associated With Preference for Masculine Male Faces and Younger Preferred Age to Have a First Child }

photo { Eri Morita }

You’re stuck in the middle, and the pain is thunder

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The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions — mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. […]

Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know. And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be.

{ Quanta | Continue reading }

Lift your head up high, and scream out to the world, I know I am someone

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The tendency of people to forge friendships with people of a similar appearance has been noted since the time of Plato. But now there is research suggesting that, to a striking degree, we tend to pick friends who are genetically similar to us in ways that go beyond superficial features.

For example, you and your friends are likely to share certain genes associated with the sense of smell.

Our friends are as similar to us genetically as you’d expect fourth cousins to be, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This means that the number of genetic markers shared by two friends is akin to what would be expected if they had the same great-great-great-grandparents. […]

The resemblance is slight, just about 1 percent of the genetic markers, but that has huge implications for evolutionary theory.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

polyvinyl chloride, colored with oil, mixed technique and accessories { Duane Hanson, Children Playing Game, 1979 }

Turn all the lights up 2 10

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{ Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo, designed by Asao Tokolo — he will be awarded ¥1 million ($8,250) and a free ticket to the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. }

‘And may I thank the Prime Minister for the advance sight of his statement, it is absolutely a masterclass in the art of distraction.’ —Jeremy Corbyn

Almost Nothing About the ‘Apple Harvests Gold From iPhones’ Story Is True