science

You’re up, you’ll get down. You’re never running from this town.

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We analyzed over one million posts from over 4,000 individuals on several social media platforms, using computational models based on reward reinforcement learning theory. Our results consistently show that human behavior on social media qualitatively and quantitatively conforms to the principles of reward learning.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

image { Dissecting Reinforcement Learning }

OMG SHUT UP AND TAKE OUR MONEY

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{ Horns are growing on young people’s skulls, caused by the forward tilt of the head. Phone use is to blame, research suggests. | Washington Post | No, Teenagers Are Not Growing ‘Skull Horns’ Because of Smartphones | Time }

‘Nothing brings you peace but the triumph of principles.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Suppose you live in a deeply divided society: 60% of people strongly identify with Group A, and the other 40% strongly identify with Group B. While you plainly belong to Group A, you’re convinced this division is bad: It would be much better if everyone felt like they belonged to Group AB. You seek a cohesive society, where everyone feels like they’re on the same team.

What’s the best way to bring this cohesion about? Your all-too-human impulse is to loudly preach the value of cohesion. But on reflection, this is probably counter-productive. When members of Group B hear you, they’re going to take “cohesion” as a euphemism for “abandon your identity, and submit to the dominance of Group A. ”None too enticing. And when members of Group A notice Group B’s recalcitrance, they’re probably going to think, “We offer Group B the olive branch of cohesion, and they spit in our faces. Typical.” Instead of forging As and Bs into one people, preaching cohesion tears them further apart.

What’s the alternative? Simple. Instead of preaching cohesion, reach out to Group B. Unilaterally show them respect.Unilaterally show them friendliness. They’ll be distrustful at first, but cohesion can’t be built in a day. 

{ The Library of Economics and Liberty | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Queens, New York, April 1972 }

Our shades of minglings mengle them and help help horizons

Grow Your Own Cloud is a new service that helps you store your data nature’s way — in the DNA of plants.

We are at the forefront of the development of a new type of cloud, one that is organic, rather than silicon, and which emits oxygen rather than CO2.

{ GrowYourOwn.Cloud | Continue reading | Thanks Tim}

That the mind is united to the body we have shown from the fact, that the body is the object of the mind

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The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the “hard problem” of consciousness […] Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a “resonance theory of consciousness” that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally. […]

Stephen Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate what he calls “sync” (synchrony) […] Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches. […] The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face. […]

The panpsychist argues that consciousness (subjectivity) did not emerge; rather, it’s always associated with matter, and vice versa (they are two sides of the same coin), but mind as associated with most of the matter in our universe is generally very simple. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoy just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter “complexifies,” so mind complexifies, and vice versa.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

‘Le seul bien qui me reste au monde est d’avoir quelquefois pleuré.’ –Alfred de Musset

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Despite variation in lifestyle and environment, first signs of human facial aging show between the ages of 20–30 years. It is a cumulative process of changes in the skin, soft tissue, and skeleton of the face. As quantifications of facial aging in living humans are still scarce, we set out to study age-related changes in three- dimensional facial shape using geometric morphometrics.


We collected surface scans of 88 human faces (aged 26–90 years) from the coastal town Split (Croatia) and neighboring islands. Based on a geometric morphometric analysis of 585 measurement points (landmarks and semi- landmarks), we modeled sex-specific trajectories of average facial aging.


Age-related facial shape change was similar in both sexes until around age 50, at which time the female aging trajectory turned sharply. The overall magnitude of facial shape change (aging rate) was higher in women than men, especially in early postmenopause. Aging was generally associated with a flatter face, sagged soft tissue (“broken” jawline), deeper nasolabial folds, smaller visible areas of the eyes, thinner lips, and longer nose and ears. In postmenopausal women, facial aging was best predicted by the years since last menstruation and mainly attributable to bone resorption in the mandible.


{ Physical Anthropology | Continue reading }

You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.

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During my clinical internship over 20 years ago, my boss, a psychiatrist, asked me to research how PMS prevents women from thinking clearly. I told him he was a relic of the Stone Age. Women were as consistently clearheaded as men, if not more so.

But recently, a researcher in my lab, Joe Andreano, an expert on female hormones, showed me some surprising data. As a woman’s levels of progesterone and estrogen vary, so does the connectivity between two brain networks: the default mode network and the salience network. These networks play key roles in creating your emotional life.

If I hadn’t seen the data with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.

When scientists say that brain networks are “strongly connected” or have “increased connectivity,” it means that the neurons have an easier time passing information back and forth. In the case of the default mode and salience networks, increased connectivity means (among other things) that you may experience more powerful negative emotions. In earlier research, for example, my colleagues and I found that people reported more intense sadness when watching the sentimental movie “Stepmom” and more intense fear when watching the horror movie “The Ring Two” in the moments when these brain networks were more connected.

There has also been a flurry of recent studies indicating that certain cocktails of ovarian hormones can make women feel lousy, particularly a week or so before menstruation. Female test subjects who receive ovarian hormones designed to mimic the menstrual cycle, for example, report an increase in negative mood. They also remember negative material better, and they show enhanced stress responses. […]

 I’m not saying that women turn into helpless snowflakes for a few days each month. I’m just saying that the biology is real: Some women may have a short window before their period when, if something bad happens, they will feel more negative or stressed and will remember that unpleasant event more easily.

A few bad feelings or memories aren’t inherently harmful, of course. But this window of vulnerability, combined with other risk factors, could increase the odds of developing mood disorders like depression.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

enamel on linen { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1998 }

‘Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.’ — Confucius

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The mainstream sciences are experiencing a revolution of methodology. This revolution was inspired, in part, by the realization that a surprising number of findings in the bioscientific literature could not be replicated or reproduced by independent laboratories and were likely false discoveries.

In response – as reflected in a 2018 report of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – scientific norms and practices are rapidly moving towards openness. These reforms promise many enhancements to the scientific process, notably improved efficiency and reliability of findings.

Changes are also underway in the forensic sciences (although they have recently hit substantial political roadblocks). After years of legal-scientific criticism and several reports from peak scientific bodies, efforts are underway to establish the validity of several forensic practices and ensure forensic scientists perform and present their work in a scientifically valid way.

In this article, the authors suggest that open science reforms are distinctively suited to addressing the problems faced by forensic science. Openness comports with legal and criminal justice values, helping ensure expert forensic evidence is more reliable and susceptible to rational evaluation by the trier of fact.

{ LawArXiv | Continue reading }

transparency in lightbox { Jeff Wall, A Sunflower, 1995 }

Why do men tell women to smile?

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If you wear designer glasses, there’s a very good chance you’re wearing Luxottica frames.

The company’s owned and licensed brands include Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace.

Along with LensCrafters, Luxottica also runs Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical, as well as the insurer EyeMed Vision Care.

And Italy’s Luxottica now casts an even longer shadow over the eyewear industry after merging last fall with France’s Essilor, the world’s leading maker of prescription eyeglass lenses and contact lenses. The combined entity is called EssilorLuxottica. […]

“You can get amazingly good frames, with a Warby Parker level of quality, for $4 to $8,” Butler said. “For $15, you can get designer-quality frames, like what you’d get from Prada.”

And lenses? “You can buy absolutely first-quality lenses for $1.25 apiece,” Butler said.

Yet those same frames and lenses might sell in the United States for $800.

{ Los Angeles Times | Continue reading }

photo { Jeff Wall, Parent child, 2018 }

though Eavens ears ow many fines he faces

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It seems that as we get older our ears get bigger (on average by 0.22 mm a year).

{ BMJ | Continue reading | PDF }

photo { Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Catherine, 1981 }

‘We are all deep in a hell each moment of which is a miracle.’ –Cioran

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Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. […]

We tested the fracture properties of beer bottles in a drop-tower. Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. […]

The phenomenon of empty beer bottles breaking at higher energies than full ones is explainable by two factors. Firstly, beer is an almost incompressible fluid. Even a slight deformation of the bottle due to the impact of the steel ball leads to an increase of the pressure within the bottle and its destruction. Another possibly major additional factor may be that beer is carbonated.

{ Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Miami, Oklahoma, July 1972 }

and then at once focuss his whole unbalanced attention upon the next octagonist who managed to catch a listener’s

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The scrotum in humans is asymmetric, the right testicle being visibly higher than the left in most men. Paradoxically, it is also the case that the right testicle is somewhat larger, rather than smaller, as might be expected. […]

The cause of this asymmetry is not clear. We may however reject a simple mechanical explanation which would say that the heavier of the two organs is pulled to the lower position by the action of gravity, for in both adults and foetuses it is clear that the right testicle is both the heavier and also the greater in volume; that is the larger and heavier is also the higher. Such a relationship is counter-intuitive, and we may expect that it would present difficulties to artists, and to sculptors in particular. […]

Greek classical and pre-classical art, which took great care in its attention to anatomical detail, correctly portrayed the right testicle as the higher, but then incorrectly portrayed the left testicle as visibly larger.

{ Laterality | Continue reading | previously }