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Daddy @ 89

from The Daily Mail

‘When it comes to having kids, I don’t see any difference between being 89 and 29’: Bernie Ecclestone tells of delight at being a father again with wife Fabiana Flosi, 44, just three months short of his 90th birthday

By KATIE WESTON & JAMES FIELDING

Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed his delight at becoming a father for the fourth time at the age of 89, with his 44-year-old wife Fabiana Flosi (couple pictured together)

The pair, who tied the knot in 2012, are at their farm in Brazil, where Flosi is from.

Ecclestone said: ‘We’re fine… We’re in Brazil at the moment so we have to wait a little while and see whether this little one is going to happen in Brazil or in England.’

The billionaire has three grown-up daughters, Deborah, Tamara, and Petra, as well as grandchildren, from two previous marriages.

‘Everybody is very pleased. They’re all happy,’ he said of the family’s response.

Asked what kind of father he was going to be, he said: ‘We don’t know, probably better than before, probably a bit more relaxed!’

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Mail ]

Posted on April 3, 2020 by Editor

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Marriage Going Away

from AEON

Is marriage over?

Marriage is practised in every society yet is in steep decline globally. Is this it for longterm intimate relationships?

Edited by Sam Dresser

At 17, John Humphrey Noyes thought a lot about women. An awkward teenager with a gangly neck and slouching shoulders, he fretted over how good looks were the key to success, especially when pursuing women. And he was shy. ‘So unreasonable and excessive is my bashfulness,’ he wrote in his journal, ‘that I fully believe that I could face a battery of cannon with less trepidation than I could a room full of ladies with whom I was unacquainted.’ Little did he know that he would go on to have sex with dozens of women, fathering children with at least nine in a ten-year period.

Noyes was born in 1811. His father was a Congressman for Vermont. His mother worked to instil in her son a religious reverence, hoping that he would become a ‘minister of the Everlasting Gospel’. In 1831, her wish seemed likely to come true. Noyes, then 20, announced that he would devote himself to the service of God’s truth, and entered a seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. Rather than accepting his teachers’ doctrine, however, he became consumed with the revivalist furore sweeping the northeast like a prairie fire. He left Andover for Yale University and started an uproar when he began preaching Perfectionism, the heretical notion that a religious life must be free of sin. Argumentative and charismatic, Noyes became a local celebrity and attracted small crowds of supporters, opponents and gawkers.

It was around this time that Noyes met Abigail Merwin. He was 22; she was 30. It’s hard to find details about Merwin, other than that she was smart, beautiful and modest, and had dark-grey eyes. Many of Noyes’s descriptions of her are saturated with ecstatic religious imagery. During a period when he stopped eating and sleeping and instead wandered manic through the streets of lower Manhattan, he envisioned her ‘standing, as it were, on the pinnacle of the universe, in the glory of an angel’ (although, in his mania, he wondered whether she was actually the devil incarnate).

Merwin was Noyes’s first follower, and he loved her. In his Confessions of Religious Experience (1849), he admitted that ‘she was undoubtedly the person to whom I was attached more than any other person on earth’. He was drawn to her beauty, modesty and boldness but, just as importantly, he drew inspiration from her company. ‘Abigail Merwin was my first companion in the faith of holiness,’ he wrote. ‘It was natural that I should regard her with peculiar interest and confidence.’

[ click to continue reading at AEON ]

Posted on March 30, 2020 by Editor

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COVID Makes The Earth Move

from Nature

Coronavirus lockdowns have changed the way Earth moves

A reduction in seismic noise because of changes in human activity is a boon for geoscientists.

by Elizabeth Gibney

The coronavirus pandemic has brought chaos to lives and economies around the world. But efforts to curb the spread of the virus might mean that the planet itself is moving a little less. Researchers who study Earth’s movement are reporting a drop in seismic noise — the hum of vibrations in the planet’s crust — that could be the result of transport networks and other human activities being shut down. They say this could allow detectors to spot smaller earthquakes and boost efforts to monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events.

A noise reduction of this magnitude is usually only experienced briefly around Christmas, says Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, where the drop has been observed.

Just as natural events such as earthquakes cause Earth’s crust to move, so do vibrations caused by moving vehicles and industrial machinery. And although the effects from individual sources might be small, together they produce background noise, which reduces seismologists’ ability to detect other signals occurring at the same frequency.

[ click to continue reading at Nature ]

Posted on March 29, 2020 by Editor

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Ghost Town

Posted on March 23, 2020 by Editor

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COVID Kills Quinoa and Kale

from Bloomberg via Yahoo! News

Americans Drop Kale and Quinoa to Lock Down With Chips and Oreos

by Jen Skerritt, Lydia Mulvany and Isis Almeida

Out with the Tuscan kale and acai berries, in with the Spam and popcorn.

In a stark reversal, American shoppers who were taking up healthier eating are gravitating back to old ways as they hunker down to weather the coronavirus pandemic. They are loading up on shelf-stable items from canned meat and soup to pretzels and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese as they comply with orders to stay home.

The shift back from healthier fare toward traditional staples may boost the fortunes of packaged food companies, which have been struggling with lagging sales as consumers opted for fresher alternatives.

General Mills Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Kraft Heinz Co. saw sales gains between 10% and 20% in the rolling four weeks that ended March 8 for items such as soup and breakfast food, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Diana Rosero-Pena said in a Thursday report, citing IRI data. Hormel Food Corp.’s sales of Spam increased as much as 37% and Oreo-maker Mondelez International Inc. saw growth in the sales of cookies and crackers.

Americans aren’t holding back on treating themselves, either. Popcorn sales rose nearly 48% in the week ended March 14, compared with a year earlier, while pretzel sales were up 47% and potato chip sales surged 30%, according to Nielsen data.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Posted on March 21, 2020 by Editor

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COVID and Corrupted Blood

from WIRED

Real-World Lessons From a World of Warcraft Virtual Outbreak

Nearly 15 years ago, player responses to the “Corrupted Blood incident” helped researchers better account for unpredictable human behavior.

WHEN IT COMES to a global pandemic, human beings are the ultimate wild card. That makes it challenging to build accurate mathematical models to predict how the progress of the disease will play out. We’ve certainly seen plenty of all-too-human responses to coronavirus over the last two weeks, with some people panicking and  hoarding food, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Others cling to denial, and still others are defying calls for “social distancing” by continuing to go to restaurants, bars, concerts, and so forth. Our epidemiological models are a bit better able to account for that unpredictability thanks in part to a virtual outbreak in World of Warcraftnearly fifteen years ago, known as the “Corrupted Blood incident.

The Corrupted Blood outbreak was not intentional. In 2005, Blizzard Entertainment added a new dungeon called Zul’Burub into World of Warcraft for highly advanced players, controlled by an “end boss” named Hakkar. Hakkar was a blood god known as the Soulflayer, who had, among his arsenal of weapons, a “debuff” spell called “Corrupted Blood.” Infected players would suffer damage at regular repeating intervals, draining away their “hit points” until their avatars exploded in a cloud of blood. The only cure was to kill Hakkar.

Blizzard thought this would ensure the infection wouldn’t spread beyond that space. They were wrong. Rather than standing their ground, many infected players panicked, teleporting out of the dungeon before dying or killing Hakkar, and taking the disease with them. And lower ranking players, with fewer hit points, would “die” very quickly upon exposure.

The biggest factor in the rapid spread of the disease was a glitch in the programming, such that non-playable animal companions also became infected. They didn’t show symptoms, but they were carriers and ended up spreading the disease even faster. As Corrupted Blood infections spread uncontrollably, game spaces became littered with virtual “corpses,” and players began to panic. Efforts at quarantine proved unsuccessful in stopping the outbreak. In the end, at least three servers were affected, and Blizzard had to reboot the entire game to correct the problem.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on March 19, 2020 by Editor

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The Big Goldstein

from The Hollywood Reporter

The Peculiar Life of the Man in the ‘Big Lebowski’ House: An NBA Superfan’s Wild L.A. Mansion

by Gary Baum

Copyright 2004 NBAE/Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Says Goldstein, pictured here with Snoop Dogg, “People come up to me from different worlds — basketball, architecture, fashion — that don’t know I’m part of the other two.”

James Goldstein, the city’s most unapologetic 80-year-old bon  vivant (and Lakers fixture), throws parties with models and Leonardo DiCaprio as he rushes to finish his architectural legacy: “The villains always live in the modern houses.”

A thousand people raged until 4 a.m. at 80-year-old James Goldstein’s Halloween party last year. Two days later, the singular host — who straddles the spheres of entertainment, style, sports, art and architecture like no one else in Los Angeles — bumped into Leonardo DiCaprio at LACMA’s Art + Film Gala. 

“I said, ‘I wanted to invite you, but I didn’t have your number,’ ” Goldstein recalls. “He says, ‘I was there, wearing a mask.’ It turns out Jamie Foxx was there too, in some unrecognizable costume.” Conspicuously not in attendance was Goldstein’s Beverly Crest neighbor Sandra Bullock, whom he had invited. Based on the history of their relationship, Goldstein theorizes she may have been responsible for calling the cops with a noise complaint, though, “I can’t say with any proof.”

Frizzy-haired and springy-stepped, in head-to-toe designer leather — or, when at home, brightly contrasting tennis gear — Goldstein is the poster octogenarian of a certain kind of man, one whom some find admirable and others repellent. A real-estate investor, he puts his net worth “in the ballpark” of $100 million. More consequential is what that fortune allows: the freedom to cultivate what once would’ve been referred to as insouciance, and is now, among the young and fashionable crowd he surrounds himself with, an IDGAF philosophy. Case in point, he spends most nights courtside at the Staples Center in his trademark peacocking attire, often with a date young enough to be his granddaughter.

It’s a weekday and, as he has since the ’70s in what may just be the city’s longest-running act of property-tinkering, he tends to his world-famous dwelling, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence, designed by heralded midcentury architect John Lautner and considered a modernist masterpiece (though most famous for its appearance in 1998’s The Big Lebowski). There are, as ever, contractors to hound and blueprints to review, especially as he seeks to finally complete an adjacent Lautner-esque entertaining complex he began about 15 years ago. To do so, Goldstein knocked down an actual Lautner that stood on the lot. Preservationists blanched. Goldstein says the architect, who died in 1994, gave him his blessing.

[ click to continue reading at THR ]

Posted on March 12, 2020 by Editor

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Not Really Even Funny

from KYMA

Strange pink unicorn lurking near middle school

By Aziza Shuler

Man in pink unicorn suit spotted near Woodard Jr. High School 

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA) In a nation where violence in schools has become a more regular occurrence than ever before, some of the students, parents, and staff of Woodard Junior High School say they’re not overreacting by being fearful of a pink unicorn.

Woodard Junior High School’s resource officer confirmed a man wearing this pink unicorn costume is often seen oddly lurking near the school.

[ click to continue reading at KYMA ]

Posted on March 2, 2020 by Editor

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What Do You Say To A Naked Lady

from Inside Hook

Revisiting the X-Rated ’70s Prank Film That Scandalized America

“What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” was more “Punk’d” than porn, but it still got people talking

BY CHARLES BRAMESCO

The bulk of Allen Funt’s career revolved around his curiosity for reaction. He had a lifelong fixation on creating scenarios and documenting how his subjects responded to their unusual circumstances, but approached what would otherwise be clinical work with a mischievous zeal. He was no methodical researcher and came upon his insights casually, if at all. His earliest gigs, as the mind behind the wackiest stunts on NBC Radio’s Truth or Consequences and a punch-up man for Eleanor Roosevelt on her radio commentaries, hinged on his ability to play the public like a piano. He’d cut out the middleman with his own show in 1947, The Candid Microphone, in which a young Funt pulled a fast one on unsuspecting dupes and a 27-pound mic unit hidden in a park or office captured their flummoxing. 

Funt believed he had happened upon a schematic with tremendous potential, and shopped a televised equivalent to ABC in 1948 with the title’s The dropped, Facebook-style. One year later, he crossed town to NBC and tweaked it once more to Candid Camera, which stuck for the next six decades of broadcasts. The show let the tactfully concealed cameras roll as oblivious marks landed in assorted put-ons, from desk drawers mechanically popping open to more elaborate tomfoolery involving Funt’s squadron of actor plants. (Millennial and Gen Z readers: this was the Punk’d of its time, and the one where they pranked then-former President Harry Truman was that era’s Justin Timberlake crying episode.)

As creator and host, Funt masterminded hundreds and hundreds of ruses, leaning on his yen for amateur psychology and sociology more and more as the years went by. Some segments dispensed with the wool-pulling entirely and chronicled revealing interviews between Funt and ordinary folks. He found the peculiarities of homo sapiens endlessly fascinating. 

The other thing to know about Allen Funt is that, like many red-blooded Americans, he enjoyed looking at people with their clothes off. It was the marriage of these two great passions — quirks of pathology and full-frontal nudity — that yielded the illuminating historical footnote What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? 50 years ago this month.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on February 26, 2020 by Editor

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Ryan Newman Crash Yikes!

Posted on February 20, 2020 by Editor

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Wicca Rising

from The Atlantic

Why Witchcraft Is on the Rise

Americans’ interest in spell-casting tends to wax as instability rises and trust in establishment ideas plummets.

by BIANCA BOSKER

Juliet diaz said she was having trouble not listening to my thoughts. “Sorry, I kind of read into your head a little bit,” she told me when, for the third time that August afternoon, she answered one of my (admittedly not unpredictable) questions about her witchcraft seconds before I’d had a chance to ask it. She was drinking a homemade “grounding” tea in her apartment in a converted Victorian home in Jersey City, New Jersey, under a dream catcher and within sight of what appeared to be a human skull. We were surrounded by nearly 400 houseplants, the earthy smell of incense, and, according to Diaz, several of my ancestral spirit guides, who had followed me in. “You actually have a nun,” Diaz informed me. “I don’t know where she comes from, and I’m not going to ask her.”

Diaz describes herself as a seer capable of reading auras and connecting with “the other side”; a plant whisperer who can communicate with her succulents; and one in a long line of healers in her family, which traces its roots to Cuba and the indigenous Taíno people, who settled in parts of the Caribbean. She is also a professional witch: Diaz sells anointing oils and “intention infused” body products in her online store, instructs more than 8,900 witches enrolled in her online school, and leads witchy workshops that promise to leave attendees “feeling magical af!” In 2018, Diaz, the author of the best-selling book Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within, earned more than half a million dollars from her magic work and was named Best Witch—yes, there are rankings—by Spirit Guides Magazine.

Now 38 years old, Diaz remembers that when she was growing up, her family’s spellwork felt taboo. But over the past few years, witchcraft, long viewed with suspicion and even hostility, has transmuted into a mainstream phenomenon. The coven is the new squad: There are sea witches, city witches, cottage witches, kitchen witches, and influencer witches, who share recipes for moon water or dreamy photos of altars bathed in candlelight. There are witches living in Winnipeg and Indiana, San Francisco and Dubai; hosting moon rituals in Manhattan’s public parks and selling $11.99 hangover cures that “adjust the vibration of alcohol so that it doesn’t add extra density and energetic ‘weight’ to your aura.” A 2014 Pew Research Center report suggested that the United States’ adult population of pagans and Wiccans was about 730,000—on par with the number of Unitarians. But Wicca represents just one among many approaches to witchery, and not all witches consider themselves pagan or Wiccan. These days, Diaz told me, “everyone calls themselves witches.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Editor

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Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles

from WIRED

The Secret to Blowing Massive Soap Bubbles

This physicist-approved recipe uses a dash of polymers to create world-record-scale bubbles.

by JENNIFER OUELLETTE, ARS TECHNICA

massive bubbles
PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES

EVERYBODY LOVES BUBBLES, regardless of age—the bigger the better. But to blow really big, world-record-scale bubbles requires a very precise bubble mixture. Physicists have determined that a key ingredient is mixing in polymers of varying strand lengths, according to  a new paper in Physical Review Fluids. That produces a soap film able to stretch sufficiently thin to make a giant bubble without breaking.

Bubbles may seem frivolous, but there is some complex underlying physics, and hence their study has long been serious science. In the 1800s, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau outlined four basic laws of surface tension that determine the structure of soapy films. Surface tension is why bubbles are round; that shape has the least surface area for a given volume, so it requires the least energy to maintain. Over time, that shape will start to look more like a soccer ball than a perfect sphere, as gravity pulls the liquid downward (called “coarsening”).

Bubbles and foams remain an active area of research. For instance, in 2016, French physicists worked out a theoretical model for the exact mechanism for how soap bubbles form when jets of air hit a soapy film. They found that bubbles formed only above a certain speed of air, which in turn depends on the width of the jet of air. If the jet is wide, there will be a lower threshold for forming bubbles, and those bubbles will be larger than ones produced by narrower jets, which have higher speed thresholds. That’s what’s happening, physics-wise, when we blow bubbles through a ring at then end of a little plastic wand: the jet forms at our lips and is wider than the soapy film suspended within the ring.

In 2018, we reported on how mathematicians at New York University’s Applied Math Lab had fine-tuned the method for blowing the perfect bubble even further based on similar experiments with soapy, thin films. They concluded that it’s best to use a circular wand with a 1.5-inch perimeter and to gently blow at a consistent 6.9 cm/s. Blow at higher speeds and the bubble will burst. Use a smaller or larger wand, and the same thing will happen.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on February 9, 2020 by Editor

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Contract Tracing Coming

from Real Clear Science

Could “Quantum Cognition” Predict Human Behavior?

By Nicoletta Lanese

Could "Quantum Cognition" Predict Human Behavior?
U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Christopher R. Morales

The same fundamental platform that allows Schrödinger’s cat to be both alive and dead, and also means two particles can “speak to each other” even across a galaxy’s distance, could help to explain perhaps the most mysterious phenomena: human behavior.  

Quantum physics and human psychology may seem completely unrelated, but some scientists think the two fields overlap in interesting ways. Both disciplines attempt to predict how unruly systems might behave in the future. The difference is that one field aims to understand the fundamental nature of physical particles, while the other attempts to explain human nature — along with its inherent fallacies. 

“Cognitive scientists found that there are many ‘irrational’ human behaviors,” Xiaochu Zhang, a biophysicist and neuroscientist at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, told Live Science in an email. Classical theories of decision-making attempt to predict what choice a person will make given certain parameters, but fallible humans don’t always behave as expected. Recent research suggests that these lapses in logic “can be well explained by quantum probability theory,” Zhang said.

[ click to continue reading at RCS ]

Posted on January 29, 2020 by Editor

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Ski-Doo!

Posted on January 25, 2020 by Editor

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“The most 80s thing that ever happened…”

from Yahoo!

Blinded by science: Remembering the surreal ‘Synthesizer Showdown’ of the 1985 Grammys

by Lyndsey Parker

Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby, Stevie Wonder, and Howard Jones perform at the 1985 Grammy Awards. (Photo: YouTube)
Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby, Stevie Wonder, and Howard Jones perform at the 1985 Grammy Awards. (Photo: YouTube)

Thirty-five years ago, something totally awesome went down at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards that changed television — at least in the science-blinded eyes of members of the original MTV generation.

That fateful evening, onstage at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium, elder-statesmen keyboard icons Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock joined new-school new-wavers Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones (the former in a powdered Beethoven wig, the latter resplendent in billowing primary-yellow satin while brandishing a keytar). Together, they delivered a futureshocking performance that has come to be known as the Great Synthesizer Showdown of ‘85. 

It was probably the most ’80s thing that ever happened. Ever. And yet, the grainy Betamax footage of that night still seems cooler than anything that has taken place at the Grammys in the three and a half decades that have followed.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on January 24, 2020 by Editor

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Demento On Letterman

Posted on January 15, 2020 by Editor

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Bad Teens!

from Detroit Free Press

Teens accused of putting porn on I-75 billboard have been charged

by Meredith Spelbring

A 17-second video shows two suspects breaking into the shed under a billboard on I-75 on Saturday night to put a pornographic video on the billboard.
A 17-second video shows two suspects breaking into the shed under a billboard on I-75 on Saturday night to put a pornographic video on the billboard. (Photo: PDTF)

Two teens have been charged in connection with a pornographic billboard display along I-75 in October. 

The 16-year-old, who was responsible for going into the shed and posting the X-rated video display, this week was placed in a juvenile diversion program. If he complies with the program, he will not face formal charges, Gagnon said.  

The 18-year-old was charged with trespassing in November, Gagnon said. 

Gagnon said the department was able to identify the two teenagers through anonymous tips. 

The teens entered the building where the billboard controls were located about 10:49 p.m. Sept. 28 and were in the space for about 15 minutes, according to police. 

[ click to continue reading at Detroit Free Press ]

Posted on January 14, 2020 by Editor

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Mining Marianas

from The Atlantic

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin

It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable.

by  Wil S. Hylton

A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench
A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Most of what we know about its topography has been gathered by sonar. Only three crewed expeditions have reached the bottom. (Data Design Co)

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on January 12, 2020 by Editor

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Medication Nation

from BBC

The medications that change who we are

By Zaria Gorvett

They’ve been linked to road rage, pathological gambling, and complicated acts of fraud. Some make us less neurotic, and others may even shape our social relationships. It turns out many ordinary medications don’t just affect our bodies – they affect our brains. Why? And should there be warnings on packets?

“Patient Five” was in his late 50s when a trip to the doctors changed his life.

He had diabetes, and he had signed up for a study to see if taking a “statin” – a kind of cholesterol-lowering drug – might help. So far, so normal.

But soon after he began the treatment, his wife began to notice a sinister transformation. A previously reasonable man, he became explosively angry and – out of nowhere – developed a tendency for road rage. During one memorable episode, he warned his family to keep away, lest he put them in hospital. 

Out of fear of what might happen, Patient Five stopped driving. Even as a passenger, his outbursts often forced his wife to abandon their journeys and turn back. Afterwards, she’d leave him alone to watch TV and calm down. She became increasingly fearful for her own safety.

Then one day, Patient Five had an epiphany. “He was like, ‘Wow, it really seems that these problems started when I enrolled in this study’,” says Beatrice Golomb, who leads a research group at the University of California, San Diego.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on January 10, 2020 by Editor

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The Fog

Posted on December 30, 2019 by Editor

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Periodic History

from The New Yorker

The Histories Hidden in the Periodic Table

From poisoned monks and nuclear bombs to the “transfermium wars,” mapping the atomic world hasn’t been easy.

By Neima Jahromi

As element hunters have become element makers, the periodic table’s meaning has changed. It now describes what is possible, in addition to what merely exists. Illustration by Ilya Milstein

The story of the fifteenth element began in Hamburg, in 1669. The unsuccessful glassblower and alchemist Hennig Brandt was trying to find the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance that could turn base metals into gold. Instead, he distilled something new. It was foamy and, depending on the preparation, yellow or black. He called it “cold fire,” because it glowed in the dark. Interested parties took a look; some felt that they were in the presence of a miracle. “If anyone had rubbed himself all over with it,” one observer noted, “his whole figure would have shone, as once did that of Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai.” Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry, put some on his hand and noted how “mild and innocent” it seemed. Another scientist saw particles in it twinkling “like little stars.”

At first, no one could figure out what the Prometheus of Hamburg had stolen. After one of Brandt’s confidants provided a hint—the main ingredient was “somewhat that belong’d to the Body of Man”—Boyle deduced that he and his peers had been smearing themselves with processed urine. As the Cambridge chemist Peter Wothers explains in his new history of the elements, “Antimony, Gold, and Jupiter’s Wolf” (Oxford), Brandt’s recipe called for a ton of urine. It was left out in buckets long enough to attract maggots, then distilled in hot furnaces, creating a hundred and twenty grams of “cold fire.” Brandt believed that, if he could collect enough of this substance, he might be able to create the philosopher’s stone. In 1678, the Duke of Saxony asked him to collect a hundred tons of urine from a garrison of soldiers and render it into what Boyle and others soon started to call phosphorus—Latin for “light-bearer.”

The soapy phosphorus that Brandt cooked up was a curiosity. But, in England, Boyle began producing it in a purer, more solid form, which turned out to be highly flammable. Another scientist toying with Boyle’s phosphorus found that, “if the Privy Parts be therewith rubb’d, they will be inflamed and burning for a good while after.” Boyle, for his part, wondered whether it could be harnessed as a starter for gunpowder. (His assistant, the apothecary Ambrose Godfrey, set his head on fire and burned “two or three great holes in his breeches” while investigating the substance.) The phosphorus industry grew throughout the eighteenth century, in part because physicians wrongly believed that it had medicinal value. In the eighteen-hundreds, match producers found that wood splints tipped with phosphorus were less dangerous than their sulfur-coated predecessors; not long afterward, the discovery that electric furnaces could extract phosphorus from ore at a large scale led to the development of explosives. In the Second World War, in what Wothers calls “a tragic twist of fate,” Hamburg, Brandt’s home town, was destroyed by Allied bombers dropping phosphorus munitions.

[ click to continue reading at TNY ]

Posted on December 28, 2019 by Editor

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Quantum Bullshit Detector

from WIRED

Revolt! Scientists Say They’re Sick of Quantum Computing’s Hype

A Twitter account called Quantum Bullshit Detector reflects some researchers’ angst about overhyped claims and other troubling trends.

by SOPHIA CHEN

einstein in lawn chair
PHOTOGRAPH: GETTY IMAGES

This spring, a mysterious figure by the name of Quantum Bullshit Detector strolled onto the Twitter scene. Posting anonymously, they began to comment on purported breakthroughs in quantum computing—claims that the technology will speed up artificial intelligence algorithms, manage financial risk at banks, and break all encryption. The account preferred to express its opinions with a single word: “Bullshit.”

The provocations perplexed experts in the field. Because of the detector’s familiarity with jargon and the accounts it chose to follow, the person or persons behind the account seemed be part of the quantum community. Researchers were unaccustomed to such brazen trolling from someone in their own ranks. “So far it looks pretty well-calibrated, but […] vigilante justice is a high-risk affair,” physicist Scott Aaronson wrote on his blog a month after the detector’s debut. People discussed online whether to take the account’s opinions seriously.

“There is some confusion. Quantum Bullshit Detector cannot debate you. It can only detect quantum bullshit. This is why we are Quantum Bullshit Detector!” the account tweeted in response.

In the subsequent months, the account has called bullshit on statements in academic journals such as Nature and journalism publications such as Scientific AmericanQuanta, and yes, an article written by me in WIRED. Google’s so-called quantum supremacy demonstration? Bullshit. Andrew Yang’s tweet about Google’s quantum supremacy demonstration? Bullshit. Quantum computing pioneer Seth Lloyd accepting money from Jeffrey Epstein? Bullshit.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on December 14, 2019 by Editor

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Infinite Us

from The Next Web

Meet the scientist who thinks we all exist in multiple universes

by CARA CURTIS

Meet the scientist who thinks we all exist in multiple universes

Have you ever laid wide-awake in the late hours of the night wondering what your life would look like if you took that other job, moved countries, or ended up with someone else? While there’s no definite answer — and probably never will be — the idea that there’s multiple versions of you, living in various universes, isn’t as make-believe as you might think. 

According to Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, the theory of Many Worlds Interpretation suggests every important event has multiple possible outcomes and splits the world into alternate realities. 

This mind-bending idea originally came from Hugh Everett, a graduate student who wrote just one paper in the 1950s. Everett’s theory describes the universe as a changing set of numbers, known as the wave function. According to Many Worlds, the universe continually splits into new branches, to produce multiple versions of ourselves. Carroll argues that, so far, this interpretation is the simplest possible explanation of quantum mechanics. 

[ click to continue reading at TNW ]

Posted on November 9, 2019 by Editor

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It’s Not What It Was Meant To Be, But Then Again Yes It Is

from Greenwich Time

How the Internet lost its soul

by Janet Abbate, The Washington Post

This week, we celebrate what many consider the 50th birthday of the Internet. The underpinnings of the World Wide Web originated in an American communications network built for national defense and the pursuit of knowledge: ARPANET. Funded by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, the network was designed so that scientists could share computer hardware, software and data.

It worked. In the ensuing decades, the ARPANET, and after the 1980s, the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), did indeed allow scientists to collaboratively build knowledge around networked tools and information. But expanding access to the Internet, combined with looser government regulations, ultimately produced a situation no one foresaw or intended. On today’s Internet, conspiracy theories run rampant, identities can be faked and our real-life elections are vulnerable to manipulation. A network designed for spreading truth became a profit-driven industry, a public sphere that threatens to undermine the public good.

[ click to continue reading at Greenwich Time ]

Posted on November 1, 2019 by Editor

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Dark Side IRL

from AFP via Yahoo! News

50 years after internet conception, dark side stirs fear

by Glenn CHAPMAN

The internet has grown to connect billions of users around the world, as seen in this Facebook map from 2010, but has also allowed malicious actors to operate on a wide scale (AFP Photo/HO)
The internet has grown to connect billions of users around the world, as seen in this Facebook map from 2010, but has also allowed malicious actors to operate on a wide scale (AFP Photo/HO)

San Francisco (AFP) – On October 29, 1969, professor Leonard Kleinrock and a team at the University of California at Los Angeles got a computer to “talk” to a machine in what is now known as Silicon Valley.

The event gave birth to a network that later became known as the internet — hailed at first as a boon to equality and enlightenment, but with a dark side that has emerged as well.

As UCLA marks the anniversary, Kleinrock is opening a new lab devoted to all things related to the internet — particularly mitigating some of its unintended consequences on the internet which is now used by some four billion people worldwide.

“To some point it democratizes everyone,” Kleinrock told AFP.

“But it is also a perfect formula for the dark side, as we have learned.”

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Posted on October 29, 2019 by Editor

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Here Comes The Hive

from The Guardian

What happens if your mind lives for ever on the internet?

by Michael Graziano

Scene from The Lawnmower Man
FacebookTwitterPinterest The Lawnmower Man (1992) stars Pierce Brosnan as an unethical scientist who traps the consciousness of his gardener (Jeff Fahey) inside a computer. Photograph: Allstar/New Lin/Sportsphoto Ltd

Imagine that a person’s brain could be scanned in great detail and recreated in a computer simulation. The person’s mind and memories, emotions and personality would be duplicated. In effect, a new and equally valid version of that person would now exist, in a potentially immortal, digital form. This futuristic possibility is called mind uploading. The science of the brain and of consciousness increasingly suggests that mind uploading is possible – there are no laws of physics to prevent it. The technology is likely to be far in our future; it may be centuries before the details are fully worked out – and yet given how much interest and effort is already directed towards that goal, mind uploading seems inevitable. Of course we can’t be certain how it might affect our culture but as the technology of simulation and artificial neural networks shapes up, we can guess what that mind uploading future might be like.

Suppose one day you go into an uploading clinic to have your brain scanned. Let’s be generous and pretend the technology works perfectly. It’s been tested and debugged. It captures all your synapses in sufficient detail to recreate your unique mind. It gives that mind a standard-issue, virtual body that’s reasonably comfortable, with your face and voice attached, in a virtual environment like a high-quality video game. Let’s pretend all of this has come true.

Who is that second you?

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on October 20, 2019 by Editor

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Naked Dreaming

from Nautilus

Why You Keep Dreaming About Being Naked

Are the common elements in our dreams the result of basic biology, or something deeper?

BY ELIZABETH SVOBODA

Svaboda_BOOK
JUNG’S PHANTASMS: On page 125 of his Red Book, Jung depicts a golden mandala above a landscape depicted in folk art style. Between them is a levitating yogi. Jung believed that all humans and animals share a collective unconscious, from which we draw much of the imagery that appears in dreams across cultures. Reprinted from The Red Book by C. G. Jung. Copyright © 2009 by the Foundation of the Works of C. G. Jung. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

I was naked. So was Laura,” begins one dream of the more than 20,000 collected in G. William Domhoff’s DreamBank. “I was re-stringing an unvarnished electric bass, so I guess it was naked, too. At one point I put a screw in to secure a string, but then realized I wasn’t holding the bass but Laura…” The dream is one of many “naked” entries in the database, and Domhoff says dreams about being naked or exposed in public in ways that betray a fear of embarrassment are widely reported. But why?

Domhoff, a distinguished professor emeritus specializing in psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has spent years collecting self-reported dreams in journals and laboratory settings, meticulously tagging and cataloguing each one. An outdoor setting, for example, is marked with an OU, a familiar character with a K, and physical activity with a P. Individual dreams can then be described with their own idiosyncratic combination of labeled elements. Domhoff calls this coding system “quantitative content analysis.” He’s concluded that at least some dreams have universal elements related to common human preoccupations and concerns.

The psychoanalysts have a vested interest in destroying my argument.

Some “typical” dreams long studied for their figurative meaning—such as dreams where you fly under your own power, or where your teeth fall out—don’t occur nearly as often as people think (flying dreams, for example, make up only about one-half of 1 percent of all dreams). But many people dream about being naked, or about physical journeys that might stand in for fraught everyday dilemmas, such as being thwarted in a quest for success. “We are walking down hall after hall,” one of the dreams in Domhoff’s database reads. “We are looking for a restaurant. We climb laboriously up ladders and get to a top floor to find out the restaurant is closed. I am upset and afraid of going back down.”

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on October 17, 2019 by Editor

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Duh.

from CNN

Former NASA scientist says they found life on Mars in the 1970s

By Jessie Yeung

We may have already discovered the essence of life on Mars 40 years ago, according to a former NASA scientist.

Gilbert V. Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment’s positive results were proof of life on the red planet.

The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. “It seemed we had answered that ultimate question,” Levin wrote in the article.

In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars soil samples — if life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Editor

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Dr. Psycho

from The Daily Star

Psychopaths make the best doctors because they can switch off emotionally

Psychopaths’ ruthless nature and emotional detachment are perfect attributes for medicine

By Alex Brown

Experts have revealed their ruthless nature and emotional detachment are the perfect attributes for medicine. 

Leading cardiac surgeon professor Stephen Westaby claimed he developed his own appetite for risk after fracturing his skull playing rugby.

“I changed and I enjoyed the change.

“I could cope with anything in terms of the misery you face when you first start in heart surgery.

“When I first went to the Royal Brompton [in London] in 1974 operating on the children, one in four died.

“I think we are talking about selected tendencies that represent psychopathy.”

[ click to read full article at The Daily Star ]

Posted on October 12, 2019 by Editor

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Wrinkles The Clown

from The Daily Beast

by Nick Schager

s your child misbehaving? Well, if you’re a demented mother and father interested in traumatizing your little one for years to come, you can follow in the footsteps of a shocking number of other American parents and dial 407-734-0254—the phone number for Wrinkles the Clown, a Naples, Florida, creep who, for a small cash fee, will lurk around your kid until they get the message and straighten themselves out.

This is both not a joke and a hilarious gag, as detailed by Wrinkles the Clown (in theaters Oct. 4). Michael Beach Nichols’ simultaneously spooky and amusing documentary concerns the notorious circus weirdo, who became an internet sensation in 2015—and inspired a rash of nationwide copycat dangerous-clown sightings in 2016—thanks to a series of online videos (beginning with this one) and stickers featuring his name, face and phone number that he posted around his hometown. In an age of viral horror fads (Slenderman, Momo, etc.), Wrinkles, bolstered by local news coverage and, then, a 2015 story in The Washington Post, was a standout star, not least because you could actually call him and either leave a voicemail or, if you were lucky, chat with the gruff, curt clown himself.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on October 7, 2019 by Editor

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No. Yes. Maybe. Dead or Alive, regardless.

from NBC

We may be closing in on the discovery of alien life. Are we prepared?

New robotic craft bound for Mars should give us our best shot at finding life on the Red Planet.

Image: The Mars Helicopter
The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. NASA

By Seth Shostak

In the next decade or so, it’s entirely possible that you’ll see a headline announcing that NASA has found evidence of life in space.

Would that news cause you to run screaming into the street? An article that appeared recently in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph hints that Jim Green, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, thinks the public might be discombobulated by the discovery of biology beyond the bounds of our own planet. But that’s not really what Green believes. He’s concerned that we haven’t thought much about the next steps by scientists, should we suddenly confront the reality of Martian life.

Here’s the backstory: In 2020, Mars and Earth will once again be relatively close to each other in their adjacent orbits around the sun. To take advantage of this fortuitous orbital circumstance, space agencies will be lobbing a small brigade of spacecraft toward the Red Planet. Unlike the robotic explorers now prowling Mars’ dusty landscapes, these new craft — launched by both NASA and a European-Russian collaboration — will be engaged in a type of reconnaissance that hasn’t been tried since NASA’s Viking landers set down there in the mid-1970s. The new craft will go beyond merely scouting for locations that were once suitable for life. They’ll be on the hunt for life itself. Dead or alive.

[ click to continue reading at NBC ]

Posted on October 5, 2019 by Editor

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Getting closer…

from The Sun

Mystery object approaching us from interstellar space could be ALIEN spacecraft, top scientist admits

by Harry Pettit

That’s the shock claim made by one space scientist, who has exclusively revealed to The Sun that our incoming visitor could be piloted by hyper-intelligent beings.

Last week, scientists in Germany announced they were tracking a distant object heading in our direction.

Dubbed “C/2019 Q4”, the high-speed body appears to be on a path originating from another star system that will see it fire past Mars in October.

Despite numerous attempts to study C/2019, scientists remain clueless as to what it is. Many speculate the distant mass is a comet.

According to prominent astronomer Dr Seth Shostak, while this is the interstellar traveller’s most likely identity, we can’t say for sure it’s not a flying saucer.

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Posted on September 19, 2019 by Editor

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Water, water, everywhere.

from NBC News

Strange alien world found to have water vapor and possibly rain clouds

Exoplanet K2-18 b lies in the habitable zone of its host star some 110 light-years from Earth.

By Chelsea Gohd, Space.com

This artist's impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system.
This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. M. Kornmesser / ESA/Hubble

In a major first, scientists have detected water vapor and possibly even liquid water clouds that rain in the atmosphere of a strange exoplanet that lies in the habitable zone of its host star about 110 light-years from Earth.

A new study focuses on K2-18 b, an exoplanet discovered in 2015, orbits a red dwarf star close enough to receive about the same amount of radiation from its star as Earth does from our sun.

Previously, scientists have discovered gas giants that have water vapor in their atmospheres, but this is the least massive planet ever to have water vapor detected in its atmosphere. This new paper even goes so far as to suggest that the planet hosts clouds that rain liquid water.

“The water vapor detection was quite clear to us relatively early on,” lead author Björn Benneke, a professor at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, told Space.com in an interview. So he and his colleagues developed new analysis techniques to provide evidence that clouds made up of liquid water droplets likely exist on K2-18 b. “That’s in some ways the ‘holy grail’ of studying extrasolar planets … evidence of liquid water,” he said.

[ click to continue reading at NBC News ]

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Editor

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