Archive | December 2, 2013

Electrode-Wearing Writer May Reveal Neurological Roots of Creativity

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is participating in a neuroscience experiment that will shed some light on how art is created and experienced:

New York Times:

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Grunberg has spent several hours a day writing his novella, while a battery of sensors and cameras tracked his brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response (an electrical measure of emotional arousal) and facial expressions. Next fall, when the book is published, some 50 ordinary people in the Netherlands will read it under similarly controlled circumstances, sensors and all.

Researchers will then crunch the data in the hope of finding patterns that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.

“Will readers of Arnon’s text feel they understand or embody the same emotions he had while he was writing it, or is reading a completely different process?” said Ysbrand van der Werf, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, who designed the experiment with Jan van Erp of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research.

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‘Pedo Baiting’ On Love + Radio


Disinfo readers may be interested in this episode of WBEZ Chicago’s Love + Radio podcast. Profiled is “Ellen” (not her real name), a woman who makes her living baiting and trapping pedophiles by posing as a young boy or girl online. Once Ellen gets her target in a compromising position she threatens to expose him unless he buys her an Amazon gift card, which she uses to purchase items she can sell online.

It’s an interesting story because of all of the questions it invites: Does doing something horrible to a horrible person mean that you’re a horrible person, too, or is Ellen a hero for effecting a kind of vigilante justice on one of the most loathed segments of society? If it is the latter, does her personal gain make his punishment an afterthought? Does not turning pedophiles over to the local police make her a party to their crimes?… Read the rest

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Animal Study Suggests That Ancestral Fears Cause Brain Changes

Skibbereen_by_James_Mahony,_1847Is it possible that you fear something for no other reason beyond that your grandfather feared it as well?

Via BBC:

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience has shown that rats taught to fear a certain smell could pass that fear onto their offspring.

Marcus Pembrey, emeritus professor of paediatric genetics, says it has implications for our understanding of the “nature versus nurture” debate.

Prof Pembrey told the Today programme “sperm can carry information about the ancestral environment or experiences, in this case the conditioning shocks of the grandfather.”

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Man ‘Makes It Snow’ At Mall of America By Tossing $1000 From Fourth Floor

make-it-rain-1jk6On Black Friday? Thank Consumer Jesus that there wasn’t a riot.

Via HuffPo:

A 29-year-old Minnesota man who says he was trying to spread holiday cheer by tossing 1,000 dollar bills over an upper floor railing at the Mall of America has been cited for disorderly conduct.

Serge Vorobyov, of Apple Valley, admitted throwing his “last $1,000″ from the fourth floor on Friday as a choir performed “Let it Snow.” Vorobyov said he also kept tossing cash as he continued down the escalator.

Vorobyov said he’s going through a divorce, lost his car hauling business and hoped the positivity of throwing the money would come back to him.

“I wanted to do some sort of pay it forward kind of thing,” Vorobyov said Sunday.

He invited his estranged wife to try to win her back but she didn’t show up, he said.

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German Police Officer Accused Of Cannibalism-Driven Murder

meat

An officer whose goal is to serve you. ABC News reports:

A German police officer may have seduced and murdered a man he met on a cannibalism fetish website. The suspect has been arrested.

Police on Wednesday found body parts on a property in the Ore Mountains that, according to German tabloid Bild, came from a murder carried out as part of a cannibal fetish act. The body parts are believed to belong to a 59-year-old man from Hanover, while the main suspect, who owns the property on which the remains were found, is a 55-year-old police officer.

The suspect allegedly invited the man to his property in Reichenau, a small town in the mountains. The victim had been cut into many small pieces some time in early November and many parts of the victim have yet to be found, leading to suspicions part of his body may have been eaten.

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Crocodiles And Alligators Use Tools

Dinets-et-al-2013-stick-displaying-in-Mugger-crocodile-600-px-tiny-Nov-2013-Darren-Naish-Tetrapod-ZoologyToday it’s sticks. Tomorrow? Well… let’s just say I’d throw away any alligator belts or boots you may have in your closet.

Via Scientific American:

As described by Dinets et al. (2013), Mugger crocodiles Crocodylus palustris in India and American alligators Alligator mississippiensis in the USA have both been observed to lie, partially submerged, beneath egret and heron colonies with sticks balanced across their snouts. Birds approach to collect the sticks for use in nest building and… well, let’s just say that it doesn’t end well for the birds. If the crocodylians really are using the sticks as bait to attract their bird prey, this is tool use, since the sticks are objects that are being employed for a specific function.

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Golden Ratio On Film: The Math In There Will Be Blood’s Cinematography

Via i09 Ali Shirazi explores the geometry of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, finding the golden spirals, examples of the Rule of Thirds, and tracking shot mathematics describing the film’s cinematography.

This is the first in what will be a series of films exploring Anderson’s directing style. It’s a fascinating watch, and it would be interesting to see Shirazi apply similar studies to other directors, examining the math that can be found in the art of filmmaking. Edit: And to see whether his analysis differs with different directors, or if this is just, as many commenters have suggested, an example of golden ratio pareidolia.

Read more at io9.com

There Will Be Blood / Through Numbers from Ali Shirazi on Vimeo.

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Amazon’ Drone Delivery Service Triggers Twitter Freakout

amazon droneIs it April Fool's Day? Apparently not, although the Amazon Prime Air drone delivery test has the twitterverse in uproar. Story from MarketWatch:
If we let Jeff Bezos proceed unfettered with his latest plans for disruption, we will soon be faced with Skynet-type helicopters of terror blowing up airplanes, abducting our children, and destroying everything our society holds dear. That’s the extreme reaction to what Amazon says it’s cooking up these days. There are more rational fears, as well. Either way, the overwhelming public response to the concept of drones buzzing through the air and dropping off packages to customers within a 30-minute time-frame seems to be that, at best, it’s a half-baked longshot...
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Florida Firm Planning $10 Billion Floating City For The Rich

Because freedom means not having to care about anyone but yourself, the New York Daily News reports that a project called Freedom Ship helmed by Florida businessman Roger Gooch aims to enable the wealthy to offshore their lives:
An incredible $10 billion floating city, built to house 50,000 people, is edging closer to reality. A mile long and 25 stories high, the Freedom Ship would also have room for another 30,000 daily visitors, 20,000 crew and 10,000 overnight guests. With casinos, an airport and shopping centers, this city of the sea could be a permanent home to thousands.The benefits of ocean occupation would involve brand new schools, hospitals, businesses, parks, promenades, landscaping, public art and saltwater aquariums. Florida-based company Freedom Ship International have designed the vessel which sails constantly, circling the globe. It says it is hopeful it can raise the $1 billion needed to begin construction.
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