science

I’ve already gone through like 3 bottles of Skin Aqua this season lol

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{ sunglasses-like VR hardware }

Blood is a juice with curious properties

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…a girl with different-colored eyes and ambiguous genitals who appeared at a Seattle genetics clinic. Her ovaries proved to have only XX chromosomes—typical female—but her other tissues were mixtures of XX and XY. Further analysis showed that she had started out as opposite-sex twins. But early in development, the two embryos had fused, becoming a single, highly unusual child. Like a verse from the old Ray Stevens novelty song “I’m My Own Grandpa,” this girl was her own twin brother.

In pregnant women, fetal stem cells can cross the placenta to enter the mother’s bloodstream, where they may persist for years. If Mom gets pregnant again, the stem cells of her firstborn, still circulating in her blood, can cross the placenta in the other direction, commingling with those of the younger sibling. Heredity can thus flow “upstream,” from child to parent—and then over and down to future siblings.

Forget the notion that your genome is just the DNA in your chromosomes. We have another genome, small but vital, in our cells’ mitochondria—the tiny powerhouses that supply energy to the cell. Though the mitochondrial genes are few, damage to them can lead to disorders of the brain, muscles, internal organs, sensory systems, and more. At fertilization, an embryo receives both chromosomes and mitochondria from the egg, and only chromosomes from the sperm. Mitochondrial heredity thus flows strictly through the maternal line; every boy is an evolutionary dead end, as far as mitochondria are concerned.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

How P.E. and Guerilla Funk is keepin it movin

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For the second time ever, astronomers have detected a pattern in a mysterious fast radio burst coming from space. […] earlier this year when astronomers found that FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a pattern in bursts occurring every 16.35 days. Over the course of four days, the signal would release a burst or two each hour. Then, it would go silent for another 12 days.

Now, they have detected a pattern in a second repeating fast radio burst, known as FRB 121102. During this cyclical pattern, radio bursts are emitted during a 90-day window, followed by a silent period of 67 days. This pattern repeats every 157 days.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

‘Anything can happen, but it usually doesn’t.’ —Robert Benchley

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The Navy records, known as “hazard reports,” describe both visual and radar sightings, including close calls with the aerial vehicles, or “unmanned aircraft systems.”

One incident, on March 26, 2014, over the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach, involved a silver object “approximately the size of a suitcase” that was tracked on radar passing within 1,000 feet of one of the jets, according to the report. […]

Defense Department officials do not describe the objects as extraterrestrial, and experts emphasize that earthly explanations can generally be found for such incidents. Even lacking a plausible terrestrial explanation does not make an extraterrestrial one likely, astrophysicists say.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

I contacted Alexander Wendt, a professor of international relations at Ohio State University. Wendt is a giant in his field of IR theory, but in the past 15 years or so, he’s become an amateur ufologist. […] “It’s possible they’ve been here all along. And that’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately, which is a bit unsettling. Because it means it’s their planet and not ours. They could just be intergalactic tourists. Maybe they’re looking for certain minerals. It could just be scientific curiosity. It could be that they’re extracting our DNA. I mean, who knows? I have no idea. All I know is that if they are here, they seem to be peaceful. […] I think if they are here, they’ve probably been here a very long time — that’s my guess. ”

{ Vox | Continue reading }

Regarding UFOs, I see three key explanation categories:

Measurement Error – What look like artificial objects with crazy extreme abilities are actually natural stuff looked at wrong. This is widely and probably correctly judged to be the most likely scenario. Nevertheless, we can’t be very confident of that without considering its alternatives in more detail.

Secret Societies – There really are artificial objects with amazing abilities, though abilities may be somewhat overestimated via partially misleading observations. These are created and managed by hidden groups in our world, substantially tied to us. Secret local military research groups, distant secret militaries, non-state Bond-villain-like groups, time-travelers from our near future, dinosaur civilizations hidden deep in the Earth’s crust, etc.

Aliens – Again these objects really do have amazing abilities, and are created by hidden groups. But in this case the relevant groups are much less integrated with and correlated with our societies and history. Little green men, their super-robot descendants, simulation admins, gods, etc. If these groups had a common origin with, competed with, or were much influenced by the groups that we know of, those things mostly happened long ago, and probably far away.

{ Overcoming Bias | Continue reading }

photo {Ansel Adams, The Golden Gate, San Francisco, c. 1950 }

The moratorium on la bise, as it’s known in France, brings sorrow, but also relief

parasitic agents (meaning infectious bacteria, fungi, parasitic invertebrates, and viruses) only exist if they’ve managed to avoid their host’s immune system, at least long enough to replicate and send their next generation on to a new host. No infectious agent is descended from an ancestor that was killed before it could replicate. In fact some parasitic agents can have geologically long relationships with their host species such that the two are really coevolved. Despite the evolution of a multifaceted immune system, parasitism is a fundamental principle of life. […]

Plants and the vast majority of animals on earth have no acquired immune system; rather, they have a multiplicity of mechanisms to prevent infection that we collectively term innate immunity. I wish to emphasize that the most effective innate mechanism is the denial of access. […]

Why is innate immunity sufficient for the most abundant species on earth, but not for vertebrates? […]

The proposal here is that contrary to widely held views of practicing immunologists, the immune system is not evolutionarily selected to prevent infection in an absolute sense. Rather, it is selected to make one individual slightly more resistant or at least different than others of the same or related species. The adversary of any individual is not really the world of parasites, they are truly undefeatable, it is his or her neighbor. A zebra doesn’t have to outrun the lion, just the slowest member of the herd.

{ Immunity | Continue reading }

‘darling, the crocodile species has existed for over 300 million years, and you became extinct last night.’ –Charles Bukowski

A number of studies – including our own – find a mid-life dip in well-being. […] The effects of the mid-life dip are comparable to major life events like losing a spouse, losing a job or getting cancer. They are clearly not inconsequential.

{ National Bureau of Economic Research | Continue reading }

My wife and I were happy for twenty five years, then we met

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Emerging findings suggest that decision-making competence may tap not only into fluid intelligence but also into motivation, emotion regulation, and experience (or crystallized intelligence). Although fluid intelligence tends to decline with age, older adults may be able to maintain decision-making competence by leveraging age-related improvements in these other skills.

{ SAGE | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore. Image from “Transparencies, Small Camera Works 1971-1979 }

Stink gripped his trembling breath: pungent meatjuice, slush of greens. See the animals feed. Men, men, men.

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All primates, including humans, engage in self-face-touching at very high frequency. The functional purpose or antecedents of this behaviour remain unclear. In this hybrid review we put forth the hypothesis that self-face-touching subserves self-smelling. […] Although we speculate that self-smelling through self-face-touching is largely an unconscious act, we note that in addition, humans also consciously smell themselves at high frequency.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

photo { Olivia Locher }

‘“I am a Microsoft Word man.” Says the human dressed like Microsoft Word.’ –David A Banks

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David Silver [the creator of AlphaZero] hasn’t answered my question about whether machines can set up their own goals. He talks about subgoals, but that’s not the same. That’s a certain gap in his definition of intelligence. We set up goals and look for ways to achieve them. A machine can only do the second part.

So far, we see very little evidence that machines can actually operate outside of these terms, which is clearly a sign of human intelligence. Let’s say you accumulated knowledge in one game. Can it transfer this knowledge to another game, which might be similar but not the same? Humans can. With computers, in most cases you have to start from scratch.

{ Gary Kasparov/Wired | Continue reading }

photo { Kelsey Bennett }

Stephanie says that she wants to know why she’s given half her life, to people she hates now

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Curiosity - the drive for information - is often perceived as a dangerous trait. This is exacerbated by the perception that when something is forbidden, curiosity towards it increases. […]

This research demonstrated the so-called “forbidden fruit effect”, in which unavailable options elicit curiosity – the desire to know more – even when people were completely aware that the forbidden option did not differ from other options in terms of expected outcome, uncertainty (hidden values), and visual salience.

{ OSF | Continue reading }

don’t look back, you’re not going that way


No One Can Explain Why Planes Stay In The Air

On a strictly mathematical level, engineers know how to design planes that will stay aloft. But equations don’t explain why aerodynamic lift occurs.

There are two competing theories that illuminate the forces and factors of lift. Both are incomplete explanations.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

Just bees and things and flowers

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{ Khi Solar One, the first solar thermal tower power plant on the African continent }