science

Why is it hard to talk and make eye contact at the same time?

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{ Prosopometamorphopsia is an extremely rare disorder of visual perception characterised by facial distortions }

Natura naturans

for every generation until now, climate change has always been “the next generation’s problem.”

{ Real Life | Continue reading }

‘I don’t want to be 20 cent’ –50 cent

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Between the 1970s and the early aughts, the incidence of myopia in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent. Myopia’s rise has been the starkest in Asia; one survey in Korea found a rate as high as 96 percent among teenagers.

Clearly, something is going on. But scientists can’t agree on exactly what. Being constantly tethered to devices and books indoors might be part of it: Based on a handful of large epidemiological studies on myopia, spending time outdoors—especially in early childhood—reduces the onset of myopia. […]

Neuroscientists discovered the classic animal model for myopia by accident in the 1970s, when they were sewing one eye shut in newborn monkeys to study the development of the brain’s visual system. […] Around the same time as the eye-sewing experiments, neuroscientists figured out they could do the same in chickens and tree shrews—much easier to keep in the lab than monkeys. And instead of sewing the eyelid shut, they could just put what looks like half a ping pong ball over the eye. This “form deprivation” model of myopia has inspired some fascinating science. In 2010, for example, Morgan’s collaborators found that exposure to bright light could reverse this type of induced myopia in chickens. Further experiments pinned down the mechanism, too: Light activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which prevents the eyes from growing longer.

{ Wired | Continue reading }

So, how idlers’ wind turning pages on pages, as innocens with anaclete play popeye antipop, the leaves of the living in the boke of the deeds

NYC man sells fart for $85, cashing in on NFT craze […] Ramírez-Mallis and his fellow farters compiled the recordings into a 52-minute “Master Collection” audio file. Now, the top bid for the file is currently $183. Individual fart recordings are also available for 0.05 Ethereum, or about $85 a pop.

{ NY Post | Continue reading }

unrelated { Illegal Content and the Blockchain }

Where there’s a microscope, there’s always a slide

Back in the 1980s, when DNA forensic analysis was still in its infancy, crime labs needed a speck of bodily fluid—usually blood, semen, or spit—to generate a genetic profile.

That changed in 1997, when Australian forensic scientist Roland van Oorschot stunned the criminal justice world with a nine-paragraph paper titled “DNA Fingerprints from Fingerprints.” It revealed that DNA could be detected not just from bodily fluids but from traces left by a touch. Investigators across the globe began scouring crime scenes for anything—a doorknob, a countertop, a knife handle—that a perpetrator may have tainted with incriminating “touch” DNA.

But van Oorschot’s paper also contained a vital observation: Some people’s DNA appeared on things that they had never touched. […]

In one of his lab’s experiments, for instance, volunteers sat at a table and shared a jug of juice. After 20 minutes of chatting and sipping, swabs were deployed on their hands, the chairs, the table, the jug, and the juice glasses, then tested for genetic material. Although the volunteers never touched each other, 50 percent wound up with another’s DNA on their hand. A third of the glasses bore the DNA of volunteers who did not touch or drink from them.

Then there was the foreign DNA—profiles that didn’t match any of the juice drinkers. It turned up on about half of the chairs and glasses, and all over the participants’ hands and the table. The only explanation: The participants unwittingly brought with them alien genes, perhaps from the lover they kissed that morning, the stranger with whom they had shared a bus grip, or the barista who handed them an afternoon latte.

{ Wired | Continue reading }

related { The Hunt for the Golden State Killer and A New Way to Solve Murders }

We made it so far together but then I lost you in the trees

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Romantic love is a basic brain system, like fear and anger or disgust. We humans have evolved three distinct brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment. People make the mistake of thinking that these are phases. They’re not phases, they’re brain systems, and they can operate in any combination and order. […]

I estimate the people I studied, on average, thought about their beloved about 85 percent of the time. […]

I looked at the demographics from the United Nations from 1947–2011 and across 80 cultures. People tend to divorce around the fourth year of marriage. […]

{ Helen Fisher / Sapiens | Continue reading }

still { Catherine Deneuve in Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, 1963 }

‘An artist cannot endure reality.’ –Nietzsche

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When he was two years old, Ben stopped seeing out of his left eye. His mother took him to the doctor and soon discovered he had retinal cancer in both eyes. After chemotherapy and radiation failed, surgeons removed both his eyes. For Ben, vision was gone forever.

But by the time he was seven years old, he had devised a technique for decoding the world around him: he clicked with his mouth and listened for the returning echoes. This method enabled Ben to determine the locations of open doorways, people, parked cars, garbage cans, and so on. He was echolocating: bouncing his sound waves off objects in the environment and catching the reflections to build a mental model of his surroundings.

Echolocation may sound like an improbable feat for a human, but thousands of blind people have perfected this skill, just like Ben did. The phenomenon has been written about since at least the 1940s, when the word “echolocation” was first coined in a Science article titled “Echolocation by Blind Men, Bats, and Radar.” […]

Neuroscience used to think that different parts of the brain were predetermined to perform specific functions. But more recent discoveries have upended the old paradigm. One part of the brain may initially be assigned a specific task; for instance, the back of our brain is called the “visual cortex” because it usually handles sight. But that territory can be reassigned to a different task. There is nothing special about neurons in the visual cortex: they are simply neurons that happen to be involved in processing shapes or colors in people who have functioning eyes. But in the sightless, these same neurons can rewire themselves to process other types of information. […]

we refer to the brain’s plasticity as “livewiring” to spotlight how this vast system of 86 billion neurons and 0.2 quadrillion connections rewires itself every moment of your life. […]

In Ben’s case, his brain’s flexible wiring repurposed his visual cortex for processing sound. As a result, Ben had more neurons available to deal with auditory information, and this increased processing power allowed Ben to interpret soundwaves in shocking detail. Ben’s super-hearing demonstrates a more general rule: the more brain territory a particular sense has, the better it performs. […]

Recent decades have yielded several revelations about livewiring, but perhaps the biggest surprise is its rapidity. Brain circuits reorganize not only in the newly blind, but also in the sighted who have temporary blindness. In one study, sighted participants intensively learned how to read Braille. Half the participants were blindfolded throughout the experience. At the end of the five days, the participants who wore blindfolds could distinguish subtle differences between Braille characters much better than the participants who didn’t wear blindfolds. Even more remarkably, the blindfolded participants showed activation in visual brain regions in response to touch and sound. When activity in the visual cortex was temporarily disrupted, the Braille-reading advantage of the blindfolded participants went away. In other words, the blindfolded participants performed better on the touch- related task because their visual cortex had been recruited to help. After the blindfold was removed, the visual cortex returned to normal within a day, no longer responding to touch and sound.

But such changes don’t have to take five days; that just happened to be when the measurement took place. When blindfolded participants are continuously measured, touch-related activity shows up in the visual cortex in about an hour. […]

In the ceaseless competition for brain territory, the visual system has a unique problem: due to the planet’s rotation, all animals are cast into darkness for an average of 12 out of every 24 hours. (Of course, this refers to the vast majority of evolutionary time, not to our present electrified world.) Our ancestors effectively were unwitting participants in the blindfold experiment, every night of their entire lives.

So how did the visual cortex of our ancestors’ brains defend its territory, in the absence of input from the eyes?

We suggest that the brain preserves the territory of the visual cortex by keeping it active at night. In our “defensive activation theory,” dream sleep exists to keep neurons in the visual cortex active, thereby combating a takeover by the neighboring senses. […]

In humans, sleep is punctuated by rapid eye movement (REM) sleep every 90 minutes. This is when most dreaming occurs. (Although some forms of dreaming can occur during non-REM sleep, such dreams are abstract and lack the visual vividness of REM dreams.)

REM sleep is triggered by a specialized set of neurons that pump activity straight into the brain’s visual cortex, causing us to experience vision even though our eyes are closed.

{ Time | Continue reading }

image { Michael Mann, Manhunter, 1986 }

quote { Does the popular quote, “No artist tolerates reality,” belong to Nietzsche? }

Too far did I fly into the future

Previous studies on aesthetic chills (i.e., psychogenic shivers) demonstrate their positive effects on stress, pleasure, and social cognition. We tested whether we could artificially enhance this emotion and its downstream effects by intervening on its somatic markers using wearable technology.

{ Scientific Reports | Continue reading }

Run don’t walk

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{ as coastal homeowners face rising sea levels brought on by climate change, the state is increasingly approving sandbags and other structures that are speeding the loss of its beaches | ProPublica | full story }

‘Nothing is more rare in any man, than an act of his own.’ –R. W. Emerson

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Female 29 years of age, university student, from dysfunctional family. She began her suffering 11 years ago with personality dissociation, characterized by aversion to sacred objects and images, and psychomotor agitation with transient states of loss of consciousness with manifestations of spiritual possession that required psychiatric, and psychological treatment, and 5 exorcisms without improvement over a period of ten years. […]

With informed consent, a fMRI was accomplished before and in the beginning of a possession induced by exorcism performed by a Catholic priest. […] due to the involuntary motor activity and the patient’s loss of consciousness, it is not possible to perform the analysis completely in this case.

{ Trends in Medicine | Continue reading }

There were 16 people in total that participated in the project “Resting Stated-Tractography-fMRI in initial phase of spiritual possession.” 13 of them are health professionals: a surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, neurophysiologist, family medicine physician, neurosurgeon, 2 radiology technicians, a gynecologist, medical doctor, diagnostic radiology physician, exorcist and patient (Ex former medical student). The priest, mother and an aunt of the patient were not included. […]

8 out of 13 participants (61.53%) had accidents and sudden events that put their lives in danger […]

Eight days before the exorcism, the psychiatrist experienced malfunctioning of his computer […]

Seven days after the exorcism, the surgeon had a head trauma, chest trauma and multiple bruises in a forest accident with fall from a height of one meter; he also had a MVA (motor vehicle accident) 15 minutes before receiving the images of the patient’s tractografies […]

22 days after the exorcism the medical doctor presented sudden breakup of a ten years relationship with her boyfriend.

Eight days before and during the exorcism, the father of the patient (a family medicine physician) presented chest and back pain with a normal electrocardiogram; 37 days after the exorcism he is admitted to the Critical Care Unit “CCU” for massive acute myocardial infarction, with loss of myocardial function of 90%.

41 days after the exorcism, the gynecologist is involved in an offense she did not commit.

[…]

On the survey carried out, the 12 participants are much more afraid of organized crime in Mexico than of the devil.

{ Trends in Medicine | PDF }

That’s a world of ways away. Till track laws time. No silver ash.

Given that everything in the universe reduces to particles, a question presents itself: What are particles?

The easy answer quickly shows itself to be unsatisfying. Namely, electrons, photons, quarks and other “fundamental” particles supposedly lack substructure or physical extent. “We basically think of a particle as a pointlike object,” said Mary Gaillard, a particle theorist at the University of California, Berkeley who predicted the masses of two types of quarks in the 1970s. And yet particles have distinct traits, such as charge and mass. How can a dimensionless point bear weight? […]

Quantum mechanics revealed to its discoverers in the 1920s that photons and other quantum objects are best described not as particles or waves but by abstract “wave functions” — evolving mathematical functions that indicate a particle’s probability of having various properties. The wave function representing an electron, say, is spatially spread out, so that the electron has possible locations rather than a definite one. But somehow, strangely, when you stick a detector in the scene and measure the electron’s location, its wave function suddenly “collapses” to a point, and the particle clicks at that position in the detector.

A particle is thus a collapsed wave function. But what in the world does that mean? Why does observation cause a distended mathematical function to collapse and a concrete particle to appear? And what decides the measurement’s outcome? Nearly a century later, physicists have no idea.

{ Quanta | Continue reading }

related { For the first time, a quantum computer made from photons—particles of light—has outperformed even the fastest classical supercomputers }

the very water was eviparated and all the guenneses had met their exodus

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Restaurant A was located on the first floor of a six-story building totaling 96.6 square meters in size (9.2 × 10.5 m) without windows or a ventilation system. […] The index case was infected at a 6.5 m away from the infector and 5 minutes exposure without any direct or indirect contact.

{ Journal of Korean Medical Science | Continue reading }

related { New Orleans swingers’ convention led to 41 Covid-19 infections, event organizer says }

Un cocktail, des Cocteau

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Deep Frozen Arctic Microbes Are Waking Up

In the last 10 years, warming in the Arctic has outpaced projections so rapidly that scientists are now suggesting that the poles are warming four times faster than the rest of the globe. This has led to glacier melt and permafrost thaw levels that weren’t forecast to happen until 2050 or later. In Siberia and northern Canada, this abrupt thaw has created sunken landforms, known as thermokarst, where the oldest and deepest permafrost is exposed to the warm air for the first time in hundreds or even thousands of years. […]

Permafrost covers 24 percent of the Earth’s land surface. […]

The layers may still contain ancient frozen microbes, Pleistocene megafauna and even buried smallpox victims. […] Other permafrost microbes (methanotrophs) consume methane. The balance between these microbes plays a critical role in determining future climate warming. […] Others are known but have unpredictable behavior after release. […]

Permafrost thaw in Siberia led to a 2018 anthrax outbreak and the death of 200,000 reindeer and a child.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

inkjet print and silkscreen ink on canvas { Richard Prince, Untitled (Cartoon), 2015 }

There’s not enough popcorn in the world

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An astrophysicist of the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon of the University of Verona compared the network of neuronal cells in the human brain with the cosmic network of galaxies, and surprising similarities emerged. […]

The human brain functions thanks to its wide neuronal network that is deemed to contain approximately 69 billion neurons. On the other hand, the observable universe can count upon a cosmic web of at least 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, only 30% of their masses are composed of galaxies and neurons. Within both systems, galaxies and neurons arrange themselves in long filaments or nodes between the filaments. Finally, within both system, 70% of the distribution of mass or energy is composed of components playing an apparently passive role: water in the brain and dark energy in the observable Universe. […]

Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons”

{ Università di Bologna | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Karel Appel, Portrait, 1966 }

Depuis le moment où je suis entré dans cette maison je n’ai entendu que des mensonges

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Evaluating other people’s sincerity is a ubiquitous and important part of social interactions.

Fourteen experiments show that response speed is an important cue on which people base their sincerity inferences. Specifically, people systematically judged slower responses as less sincere […].

the present study highlights the potential effects that may be observed in judicial settings, since the response speed of innocent suspects may mislead people to judge them as insincere and hence guilty.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

painted glass, in 26 parts { Xia Xiaowan, Lao P, 2005 }

the number, another summer (get down), sound of the funky drummer

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The possibility of points-of-no-return in the climate system has been discussed for two decades. A point-of-no-return can be seen as a threshold which, once surpassed, fundamentally changes the dynamics of the climate system. For example, by triggering irreversible processes like melting of the permafrost, drying of the rainforests, or acidification of surface waters. Recently, Lenton et al. summarized the global situation and warned that thresholds may be closer in time than commonly believed.

The purpose of this article is to report that we have identified a point-of-no-return in our climate model—and that it is already behind us. ESCIMO is a climate model which we run from 1850 to 2500. In ESCIMO the global temperature keeps rising to 2500 and beyond, irrespective of how fast humanity cuts the emissions of man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. […]

To stop the self-sustained warming in ESCIMO, enormous amounts of CO2 have to be extracted from the atmosphere.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { John William Waterhouse, Pandora, 1898 }

‘Get ready, little lady. Hell is coming to breakfast.’ –The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

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Two studies done at the University of Minnesota Medical School and published in the early 1980’s measured the intensity, frequency, and durations of pelvic muscle contractions (measured with a pressure sensitive anal probe) of males and females during masturbation. There was basically no difference in the pattern of these contractions between males and females. […] A study done at Stanford University in 1994 found no significant gender differences in observed increases in heart rate, blood pressure, oxytocin, and anal contractions during orgasm.

{ Psychology Today | Continue reading }

The refractory period is the recovery phase after orgasm during which it is physiologically impossible for a man to have additional orgasms. This phase begins immediately after ejaculation. […] Although it is generally reported that women do not experience a refractory period and can thus experience an additional orgasm (or multiple orgasms) soon after the first one, some sources state that […] women may also experience a moment after orgasm in which further sexual stimulation does not produce excitement. […] clitoral hypersensitivity after orgasm can effectively create a refractory period. these women may be capable of further orgasms, but the pain involved in getting there makes the prospect undesirable. […]

the refractory period varies widely among individuals, ranging from minutes to days […] According to some studies, 18-year-old males have a refractory period of about 15 minutes, while those in their 70s take about 20 hours, with the average for all men being about half an hour. Although rarer, some males exhibit no refractory period or a refractory period lasting less than 10 seconds. […]

An increased infusion of the hormone oxytocin during ejaculation is believed to be chiefly responsible for the male refractory period, and the amount by which oxytocin is increased may affect the length of each refractory period. Another chemical which is considered to be responsible for the male refractory period is prolactin, which is repressed by dopamine, and is responsible for sexual arousal. […]

One alternative theory explains the male refractory period in terms of a peripheral autonomic feedback mechanism, rather than through central chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin. Autonomic feedback is already known to regulate other physiologic systems, such as breathing, blood pressure, and gut motility. This theory suggests that after male ejaculation, decreased wall tension in structures such as the seminal vesicles leads to a change in the fine autonomic signals sent from these organs, effectively creating a negative feedback loop. Such a mechanism is similar to decreased gastric and bowel motility once gastric contents have passed through. Once the feedback loop has been created, the refractory period remains until the loop is broken through restoration of the wall tension in the seminal vesicles. As men age, the time to restore tension in the seminal vesicles increases.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct…

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On planet K2-141b, hundreds of light-years away, oceans are made of molten lava, winds reach supersonic speeds and rain is made of rocks. Scientists have referred to the bizarre, hellish exoplanet as one of the most “extreme” ever discovered. 

Scientists have uncovered details of one of the newest “lava planets” — a world that so closely orbits its host star that much of it is composed of flowing lava oceans. […]

The Earth-sized exoplanet appears to have a surface, ocean and atmosphere all made of the same ingredients: rocks. […]

While analyzing the planet’s illumination pattern, scientists found that about two-thirds of the planet experiences perpetual daylight. K2-141b’s close proximity to its star gravitationally locks it in place — meaning the same side always faces the star.

This scorching hot part of the planet reaches temperatures of over 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hot enough to not only melt rocks, but also vaporize them, creating a thin, inhospitable atmosphere.

The rest of the planet is cloaked in never-ending darkness, reaching frigid temperatures of negative 328 degrees Fahrenheit.

In Earth’s water cycle, water evaporates, rises up into the atmosphere, condenses, and returns to the surface as rain. Now imagine that process, but instead of water, K2-141b only has rocks to work with.

{ CBS | Continue reading }

screenprint { Bridget Riley, Composition with Circles 2 (Schubert 46), 2001 }

previously { Is Heaven hotter than Hell? }

‘Can we survive technology?’ –John von Neumann

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John von Neumann (1903 – 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time. He integrated pure and applied sciences.

Von Neumann made major contributions to many fields, including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and quantum statistical mechanics), economics (game theory), computing (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics. […]

He first proposed a quantum logic in 1932 […] He founded the field of game theory as a mathematical discipline. […] His analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA. […] He made fundamental contributions to mathematical statistics and in the field of fluid dynamics. […] He was a founding figure in computing. […] Beginning in 1949, von Neumann’s design for a self-reproducing computer program is considered the world’s first computer virus, and he is considered to be the theoretical father of computer virology. […] Von Neumann and his appointed assistant on this project, Jule Gregory Charney, wrote the world’s first climate modelling software, and used it to perform the world’s first numerical weather forecasts. […] The first use of the concept of a singularity in the technological context is attributed to von Neumann. […]

Beginning in the late 1930s, von Neumann developed an expertise in explosions—phenomena that are difficult to model mathematically. During this period, von Neumann was the leading authority of the mathematics of shaped charges. This led to his involvement in the Manhattan Project. […] He made his principal contribution to the atomic bomb in the concept and design of the explosive lenses that were needed to compress the plutonium core of the Fat Man weapon that was later dropped on Nagasaki. […] As a Hungarian émigré, concerned that the Soviets would achieve nuclear superiority, he designed and promoted the policy of mutually assured destruction to limit the arms race. […]

Von Neumann was a child prodigy. When he was six years old, he could divide two eight-digit numbers in his head and could converse in Ancient Greek. When the six-year-old von Neumann caught his mother staring aimlessly, he asked her, “What are you calculating?” […]

Nobel Laureate Hans Bethe said “I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann’s does not indicate a species superior to that of man”, and later Bethe wrote that “[von Neumann’s] brain indicated a new species, an evolution beyond man”. [… Israel Halperin said: “Keeping up with him was … impossible. The feeling was you were on a tricycle chasing a racing car.” […]

Von Neumann was also noted for his eidetic memory (sometimes called photographic memory). […] “He was able on once reading a book or article to quote it back verbatim; moreover, he could do it years later without hesitation. He could also translate it at no diminution in speed from its original language into English.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Gustave Caillebotte, Un balcon, boulevard Haussmann, 1888 }

‘Science does not think.’ —Heidegger

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Can lab-grown brains become conscious?

These tiny structures, known as brain organoids, are grown from human stem cells and have become a familiar fixture in many labs that study the properties of the brain. Muotri, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), has found some unusual ways to deploy his. He has connected organoids to walking robots, modified their genomes with Neanderthal genes, launched them into orbit aboard the International Space Station, and used them as models to develop more human-like artificial-intelligence systems. Like many scientists, Muotri has temporarily pivoted to studying COVID-19, using brain organoids to test how drugs perform against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

But one experiment has drawn more scrutiny than the others. In August 2019, Muotri’s group published a paper in Cell Stem Cell reporting the creation of human brain organoids that produced coordinated waves of activity, resembling those seen in premature babies1. The waves continued for months before the team shut the experiment down. […]

The concerns over lab-grown brains have also highlighted a blind spot: neuroscientists have no agreed way to define and measure consciousness. Without a working definition, ethicists worry that it will be impossible to stop an experiment before it crosses a line.

{ Nature | Continue reading }