Archive | Science/Technology

Male insect roars like a lion while walking on leaf

“Two types of mirid bug engage in roaring duels, possibly to establish dominance or attract females, but how they make the noise is unknown.”

via New Scientist:

They are rather diminutive to be kings of the jungle, but two species of mirid bug make sounds similar to the roars of big cats. These calls have never before been heard in insects, and we’re not sure why, or how, the insects produce the eerie calls.

The roars are too weak to be heard by humans without a bit of help. But Valerio Mazzoni of the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy and his team made them audible by amplifying them using a device called a laser vibrometer. The device detects the minute vibrations that the bugs produce on the leaves on which they live.

“When you listen to these sounds through headphones you’d think you were next to a tiger or lion,” Mazzoni.

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We found only one-third of published psychology research is reliable – now what?

Books in shelves, categorized, Wu Hsing Tao School, Traditional Five Element Acupuncture & Psychology, Seattle, Washington, USA
Elizabeth Gilbert, University of Virginia and Nina Strohminger, Yale University

The ability to repeat a study and find the same results twice is a prerequisite for building scientific knowledge. Replication allows us to ensure empirical findings are reliable and refines our understanding of when a finding occurs. It may surprise you to learn, then, that scientists do not often conduct – much less publish – attempted replications of existing studies.

Journals prefer to publish novel, cutting-edge research. And professional advancement is determined by making new discoveries, not painstakingly confirming claims that are already on the books. As one of our colleagues recently put it, “Running replications is fine for other people, but I have better ways to spend my precious time.”

Once a paper appears in a peer-reviewed journal, it acquires a kind of magical, unassailable authority. News outlets, and sometimes even scientists themselves, will cite these findings without a trace of skepticism.… Read the rest

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The disturbing consequences of seeing your doppelganger

Untitled
What happens when you meet your doppelganger face-to-face? For one young man, it meant jumping out of a four story window to reconcile his place in reality. It happened when he stopped taking his anticonvulsant medication and got out of bed one morning only to see himself still lying there.

Anil Ananthaswamy via BBC:

The incident seemed to have been started when the young man had stopped taking some of his anticonvulsant medication. One morning, instead of going to work, he drank copious amounts of beer and stayed in bed. But it turned out to be a harrowing lie-in.

He felt dizzy, stood up, turned around, and saw himself still lying in bed. He was aware that the person in bed was him, and was not willing to get up and would thus make himself late for work. Furious at the prone self, the man shouted at it, shook it, and even jumped on it, all to no avail.

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When CO2 Saved Life on Earth

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

 

The story of “snowball earth” has been distorted and used as confusion fodder by climate denial luminaries like His Celestial Magnanimity, the looney “Lord” Monckton, – see above.(starts about 1:50)

In contrast to today, when warming from our industrial injection of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere threatens life on the planet, in the deep past, CO2 pulled planet earth from a permanent, deathly world-wide deep freeze, maybe more than once.  In both cases, it’s those same heat-trapping properties that made the difference.

It’s all more evidence of how co2 has acted as the planet’s “biggest control knob” for temperature over 4 billion years.

Ian Fairchild, PhD, in The Conversation:

The idea of a deep-frozen world, “snowball Earth”, has captured the imagination since first proposed in the 1990s. On several occasions in history, long before animals evolved, apparently synchronous ice sheets existed on all the continents.

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Intelligent robot tells interviewer, ‘I’ll keep you safe in my people zoo’


This all happened a few years ago, but has recently been making a round on the Internet again (probably thanks to Reddit, where I came across this). In case you haven’t heard of Android Dick, he’s an intelligent robot created in the likes of sci-fi author, Philip K. Dick. When asked if the robots will take over the world, he replied:

Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake.

Could he be joking?! Maybe he just has a sick sense of humor.

You can read more about this bot over at Glitch News.

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Television Viewing Linked to Higher Injury Risk in Hostile People

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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences via ScienceDaily:

People with hostile personality traits who watch more television than their peers may be at a greater risk for injury, potentially because they are more susceptible to the influence of television on violence and risk-taking behaviors, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.

The research, published online in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, suggests that a reduction in television viewing and content rating systems geared not just to age, but also personality traits, may reduce injury risk.

“Television viewing is very pervasive, with televisions in almost 99 percent of American households. And injuries cause more than half the deaths among people ages 1 through 44. This means that even modest reductions in television viewing, particularly among people predisposed to hostility, could have major positive outcomes for public health,” said lead author Anthony Fabio, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health.

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Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

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Reservoir dogs and furious rabies

Stray dogs
The WHO wants to eliminate rabies in Asia by 2020. But how, when rabid dogs are running India ragged? Mary-Rose Abraham reports.

A pile of puppies cower under a parked car. The men grab one, but two escape down the street, forcing them to give chase. Five scrappy adult shorthairs – of an indiscriminate breed commonly known as an ‘Indian dog’ – appear from nowhere. Pointed ears pricked with curiosity, they howl as if sounding an alarm throughout the neighbourhood: the ‘catchers’ are here.

The catchers’ van travels the tree-lined, mostly residential streets to the next area. On the way, a couple of dogs seem to recognise the vehicle, either by sight or by smell. They bark and take chase. Each time the team catches a dog in one of its giant butterfly nets, the mutt twists and turns and howls, trying to escape.

This ritual repeats several times through the day across 50 square kilometres of the south Indian city of Bangalore.… Read the rest

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The alien within: Fetal cells influence maternal health during pregnancy (and long after)

Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother's body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health. Credit: Infographic by Jason Drees, Biodesign Institute

Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother’s body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.
Credit: Infographic by Jason Drees, Biodesign Institute

Arizona State University via Science Daily:

Parents go to great lengths to ensure the health and well-being of their developing offspring. The favor, however, may not always be returned.

Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother’s body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.

The presence of fetal cells in maternal tissue is known as fetal microchimerism. The term alludes to the chimeras of ancient Greek myth–composite creatures built from different animal parts, like the goat-lion-serpent depicted in an Etruscan bronze sculpture.

According to Amy Boddy, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Department of Psychology and lead author of a new study, chimeras exist.

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Will Artificial Intelligence Get High?

SHODAN

Gabriella Garcia writes at Hopes&Fears:

With the speculative possibility of a sentient machine, can we assume that Artificial Superintelligence would “take drugs” or “get high”? Hopes&Fears looked toward researchers at Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Laboratory, as well as Dr. David Brin, a fellow at Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, for the answer.

In the techno-dystopian future of Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, gonzo protagonist Spider Jerusalem has a maker machine that can create everything from food to weapons to booze. Just one catch; the maker is constantly tripping on machine drugs—hence, Jerusalem’s sorely mismatched photographic “live-lenses,” which he requested from the maker while it was high on a hallucinogen simulator. Whether out of boredom of performing menial tasks, or perhaps rebelling against servitude, Jerusalem’s maker continues to manufacture and abuse machine drugs to the point of total uselessness.

If AI is being modeled by and after human behavior, why wouldn’t computers experiment with mind-altering substances or fall victim to addiction?

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