Singing can help people to bond

Phys.org: “The difference between the singers and the non-singers appeared right at the start of the study. In the first month, people in the singing classes became much closer to each other over the course of a single class than those in the other classes did. Singing broke the ice better than the other activities,…

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Researchers find memories stored in individual neurons

Sebastian Anthony, for ExtremeTech: We know that a cluster of neurons firing can trigger the memory of your first kiss — but why? How can 100 (or 100,000) neurons, firing in a specific order, conjure up a beautifully detailed image of an elephant? We’ve already worked out how images are encoded by the optic nerve, so hopefully MIT…

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Raising families in space

Richard Hollingham, for BBC: The first generation of colonists born in space will have parents with a strong connection to Earth. It is more intriguing to examine how the colonists’ grandchildren and their grandchildrens’ children will adapt to life in the new environment. Space, not Earth, will be their home. The fastest theoretical journey to…

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The Rise of Computer-Aided Explanation

Michael Nielsen, for Quanta Magazine: Using this statistical model, the computer could take a new French sentence — one it had never seen before — and figure out the most likely corresponding English sentence. And that would be the program’s translation. When I first heard about this approach, it sounded ludicrous. This statistical model throws…

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Curbed interviews Syd Mead

Patrick Sisson, for Curbed: What were your influences for Blade Runner? For a city in 2019, which isn’t that far from now, I used the model of Western cities like New York or Chicago that were laid out after the invention of mass transit and automobiles, with grids and linear transport. I thought, we’re at 2,500…

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Digital forensics can identify you by the way you type

Dan Goodin, for Ars Technica: The profiling works by measuring the minute differences in the way each person presses keys on computer keyboards. Since the pauses between keystrokes and the precise length of time each key is pressed are unique for each person, the profiles act as a sort of digital fingerprint that can betray…

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How the easy editing of DNA changes the world

Amy Maxmen, for Wired: Crispr goes well beyond anything the Asilomar conference discussed. It could at last allow genetics researchers to conjure everything anyone has ever worried they would—designer babies, invasive mutants, species-specific bioweapons, and a dozen other apocalyptic sci-fi tropes. It brings with it all-new rules for the practice of research in the life…

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Rust: we’ll give you your race and sex, just like life

Christian Nutt, for Gamasutra: The catch? Gender will be randomly assigned, which mirrors Facepunch’s policy on race. If gender functions the same as race in Rust, it will also be tied to the player’s SteamID and unchangeable. “I would love nothing more than if playing a black guy in a game made a white guy…

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Living with mirror-touch synesthesia

Erika Hayasaki, for Pacific Standard: Salinas is peculiarly attuned to the sensations of others. If he sees someone slapped across the cheek, Salinas feels a hint of the slap against his own cheek. A pinch on a stranger’s right arm might become a tickle on his own. “If a person is touched, I feel it,…

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Living with face blindness

Alexa Tsoulis-Reay, from Science of Us, talks with someone with profound Prosopagnosia: Say I showed you a bowl of fruit for 20 seconds. You would remember it as a bowl of fruit. If I let some time pass and asked you to tell me where the apple, pears, and bananas were positioned, you probably wouldn’t…

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Ear bud tech promises tuning the sounds of the world around you

Nathan McAlone, for Business Insider Australia: Doppler Labs isn’t interested in blocking out all natural noise and pumping pre-recorded sound into your ears. The team wants to change the sounds that are coming in. They want you to customise your sonic world in exactly the way you want. Imagine being able to turn up the bass at…

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The people who need very little sleep

Helen Thomson, for BBC: What would you do if you had 60 days of extra free time a year? Ask Abby Ross, a retired psychologist from Miami, Florida, a “short-sleeper”. She needs only four hours sleep a night, so has a lot of spare time to fill while the rest of the world is in…

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Who was M.C. Escher?

Alastair Sooke, for BBC: Yet, if we’re honest, how much do most of us really know about its creator, the Dutch printmaker MC Escher (1898-1972)? The truth is that outside his homeland Escher remains something of an enigma. Moreover, despite the popularity of his fastidious optical illusions, Escher continues to suffer from snobbery within the…

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The role of texting (and talking) in the future of UI

Kyle Vanhemert, for Wired: Last December, in a blog post on Chinese app trends, designer and engineer Dan Grover announced the emergence of “chat as a universal UI.” Grover had moved from San Francisco to Guangzhou to work as a product manager for popular messaging app WeChat and noted the advent of “official accounts” for brands…

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We don’t look the way we think we look

Medical Xpress, from the British Journal of Psychology: Results of the study show that the unfamiliar participants chose a different set of ‘good likeness’ images compared to those that people had selected of themselves. Surprisingly, the images selected by strangers also led to better performance on the online face matching test. The size of the advantage…

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“Passive frame theory” paints consciousness as reflexive interpreter

San Francisco State University: Because the human mind experiences its own consciousness as sifting through urges, thoughts, feelings and physical actions, people understand their consciousness to be in control of these myriad impulses. But in reality, Morsella argues, consciousness does the same simple task over and over, giving the impression that it is doing more…

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Experiment confirms future measurement at quantum level affects the past

Australian National University: Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler’s experiment then asks – at which point does the object decide? Common sense says the object is either wave-like…

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LEGO Kit Instructions vs. Creativity

Garth Sundem, for GeekDad: Basically, is the shift toward kit- rather than free-building creating a generation of sheep-brained automatons, suited only to Laverne-and-Shirley-like assembly line work rather than to the creation of new and novel ideas? (Not to be, you know, alarmist or anything…) This was the question Page Moreau of the Wisconsin School of Business and Marit Gundersen Engeset of…

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Voices in our heads shaped by our culture

Clifton B. Parker, for Stanford Report: The striking difference was that while many of the African and Indian subjects registered predominantly positive experiences with their voices, not one American did. Rather, the U.S. subjects were more likely to report experiences as violent and hateful – and evidence of a sick condition. The Americans experienced voices as…

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Elon Musk’s satellite swarm to provide global internet service?

Cecilia Kang and Christian Davenport, for The Washington post: Elon Musk’s space company has asked the federal government for permission to begin testing on an ambitious project to beam Internet service from space, a significant step forward for an initiative that could create another major competitor to Comcast, AT&T and other telecom companies. The plan…

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Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing

Robert J. Zatorre and Valorie N. Salimpoor, for the New York Times: More than a decade ago, our research team used brain imaging to show that music that people described as highly emotional engaged the reward system deep in their brains — activating subcortical nuclei known to be important in reward, motivation and emotion. Subsequently we found that listening…

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Selective amnesia: routinely forgetting familiar things

Alison Beard interviews UCLA professor Alan Castel for Harvard business Review: It would be overwhelming and maladaptive to mentally record everything we see. So subconsciously we let some things fall away. The most famous experiment on this topic showed that few people can correctly recall the placement of the features on a penny—which way Lincoln is…

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Our personalities determine how easy it is to hold eye contact

Suomen Akatemia, at the Academy of Finland: Previous research has suggested that eye contact triggers patterns of brain activity associated with approach motivation, whereas seeing another person with his or her gaze averted triggers brain activity associated with avoidance motivation. This indicates that another person’s attention is something important and desirable. However, many people find…

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