27 September 2013

Mapping The US By Porn Search Terms

Click image to enlarge
We like to believe in the United States of America that regionality and socioeconomics don’t separate us, that the American experience is the human experience. The only real difference between us may be an accent here or there and maybe a predilection for regional cuisines. Well, apparently tastes in pornography are just as much a regional dish as kringles, poi, and Cincinnati chili. Pornhub recently published a rundown of the three most popular (erotic) search terms per state, and FlowingData’s Nathan Yau converted them into a series of stark maps.
More at FastCoDesign

25 September 2013

Stephen Hawking's Big Ideas Made Simple

Free Will

Click image to enlarge | Source: 23ae

Stress Can Rewire Your Brain And Not In A Good Way

... researchers using powerful new brain imaging technologies are ... revealing how anxiety or stress can rewire the brain, linking centers of emotion and olfactory processing, to make typically benign smells malodorous.

Writing today (Sept. 24, 2013) in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team led by Wen Li, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center, reports that the brains of human subjects experience anxiety induced by disturbing pictures and text of things like car crashes and war transform neutral odors to distasteful ones, fueling a feedback loop that could heighten distress and lead to clinical issues like anxiety and depression. The finding is important because it may help scientists understand the dynamic nature of smell perception and the biology of anxiety as the brain rewires itself under stressful circumstances and reinforces negative sensations and feelings. 

Read more here.

Science Daily

19 September 2013

The Farting Song


Classical pianist and composer Peng-Peng Gong deliberately tries to make the worst piece of music possible.

For tomB

16 September 2013

Chipotle | The Scarecrow

Chipotle has released 'The Scarecrow', a short film that points to problems in the factory farming industry and offers an alternative. The three-minute film features a haunting rendition of “Pure Imagination” — from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory — performed by Fiona Apple.
Via Laughing Squid

15 September 2013

Coffee Consumption May Reduce Suicide Risk

Dr. Michel Lucas and colleagues leveraged three large studies of US men and women—the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1988–2008; n=43,599 men), the Nurses’ Health Study (1992–2008; n=73,820 women), and the NHS II (1993–2007; n=91,005 women) in which consumption of caffeine, coffee, and decaffeinated coffee was assessed every 4 years by validated food-frequency questionnaires. (Although the researchers looked at caffeine consumption from other sources such as tea, soft drinks, and chocolate, they found the major caffeine source was coffee.) In total, there were 277 deaths as a result of suicide. 

In examining the pooled multivariate relative risk, Lucas et al. found that drinking caffeinated coffee actually decreased the risk of suicide. Specifically, drinking at least two to three cups (8 oz) of caffeinated coffee per day seemed to reduce the risk of suicide by about 50% as compared to those participants who consumed 1 or less cup of coffee per day. Lucas and colleagues found only small increases in benefits for drinking more than 3 cups of caffeinated coffee per day. “Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,” Lucas said in a press statement.

Previous research has suggested that caffeine boosts such neurotransmitters as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline in the brain, which have mild antidepressant effects. This may be the reason behind the apparent reduced suicide risk. Nonetheless, there are negative effects associated with caffeine, so the researchers cautioned patients and clinicians about large amounts of caffeine intake.
Psychiatric Times | Read more here.

12 September 2013

The Creepiest Place On Earth | Escape From Tomorrow Trailer

From Wikipedia:
The film became one of the most talked-about films at Sundance, and then received some attention in the national media, because [Randy] Moore had made most of it on location at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland without permission from The Walt Disney Company, which owns and operates both parks. Since Disney has a reputation for being fiercely protective of its intellectual property, the cast and crew used guerrilla filmmaking techniques to avoid attracting attention, such as keeping their scripts on their iPhones and shooting on handheld video cameras similar to those used by park visitors. After principal photography was complete, Moore was so determined to keep the project a secret from Disney that he edited it in South Korea. Sundance similarly declined to discuss the film in detail before it was shown. It was called "the ultimate guerrilla film".
Via Neatorama

Microcosmos | 'Beauty Too Small To See With The Naked Eye'

Taken by over 30 'microscopists' using a variety of powerful microscopes, Microcosmos [by Brandon Broll] charters a voyage through a miniature world showing the unlikeliest parts of our lives in minuscule detail ... 

The spectacular visuals were captured using a variety of traditional light-based microscopes, powerful scanning electron microscopes which bombard the subject with electrons and build the image using a computer and transmission electron microscopes.
Chloroplasts in plant cells

Household dust

Butterfly eggs on a raspberry plant

Needle and thread


Wood ant holding a microchip


Beard hair cut with a razor (left) and with an electric shaver (right)

Click images to enlarge | DSLR Imagery via i09

11 September 2013

Last Word | Treat Your Children Well

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick, born January 4, 1935, died last month, to the relief and comfort of the children whom she spent a lifetime (in their words) "torturing in every way possible." 

Those children, now grown, marked her passing by submitting the most chilling obituary you will ever read to her local newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal:
"Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit. On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure. Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgivable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a "humane society". Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America."
Via Gawker

06 September 2013

Test Your News IQ

Test your knowledge of prominent people and major events in the news, by taking our short 13-question quiz. Then see how you did in comparison with 1,052 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a national survey conducted online August 7-14 by the Pew Research Center. 

The new survey includes a mixture of multiple-choice questions using photographs, maps, charts, and text. When you finish, you will be able to compare your News IQ with the average American, as well as with the scores of college graduates and those who didn’t attend college; with men and women; and with people your age as well as other ages.

Click here to take the quiz.

Pew Research Center

05 September 2013

Would You Perchance Be Wearing Action Pants?

WTF is a "Snack Sack"?

Everlasting Blort and Fun With Advertising

How To Prevent Rape

  1. If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
  2. If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
  3. If a women is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
  4. If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her. If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
  5. If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
  6. If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
  7. If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
  8. If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her. If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
  9. If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
  10. If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
  11. If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
  12. If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
  13. If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
  14. If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
  15. If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
  16. If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
  17. If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
  18. Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
  19. Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
  20. Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done X.
  21. Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
  22. Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl. 
SlutWalk Phoenix/Tempe 2012

Training Old Brains To Be More Like Young Brains

Joaquin Anguera, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, filmed a demonstration of the NeuroRacer video game. | YouTube
Brain scientists have discovered that swerving around cars while simultaneously picking out road signs in a video game can improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults. Some people as old as 80, the researchers say, begin to show neurological patterns of people in their 20s.
Cognitive scientists say the findings, to be published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature, are a significant development in understanding how to strengthen older brains. That is because the improvements in brain performance did not come just within the game but were shown outside the game in other cognitive tasks.
Further supporting the findings, the researchers were able to measure and show changes in brain wave activity, suggesting that this research could help understand what neurological mechanisms should and could be tinkered with to improve memory and attention. The research “shows you can take older people who aren’t functioning well and make them cognitively younger through this training,” said Earl K. Miller, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not affiliated with the research. “It’s a very big deal.”
The study highlights an emerging field in which researchers are trying to better define and even expand the limits of attention, which is seen as crucial to performance, memory and intelligence. Previous studies, done at the University of Rochester and focused more on young people, show that heavy use of certain off-the-shelf, intense shooting games can lead to improvements in a user’s ability to ignore distractions, and even learn. Daphne Bavelier, who led that research, cautioned that the field was young, and that brain training could have side effects, like changing how the brain functions for the worse. “We know we can rewire the brain, but the challenge is how to do it properly,” she said. “We’re in the primitive age of brain training.”
Read more at NYT

Thanks, Steve

04 September 2013

Researchers Grow Mini-Brain 'Cerebral Organoids'

A cross-section of an entire organoid showing development of different brain regions is seen is this
photo provided by the Institute for Molecular Biology on August 29, 2013.
 Credit: Reuters/Madeline Lancaster
Scientists have grown the first mini human brains in a laboratory and say their success could lead to new levels of understanding about the way brains develop and what goes wrong in disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
Researchers based in Austria started with human stem cells and created a culture in the lab that allowed them to grow into so-called "cerebral organoids" - or mini brains - that consisted of several distinct brain regions. It is the first time that scientists have managed to replicate the development of brain tissue in three dimensions.
Using the organoids, the scientists were then able to produce a biological model of how a rare brain condition called microcephaly develops - suggesting the same technique could in future be used to model disorders like autism or schizophrenia that affect millions of people around the world. "This study offers the promise of a major new tool for understanding the causes of major developmental disorders of the brain ... as well as testing possible treatments," said Paul Matthews, a professor of clinical neuroscience at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the research but was impressed with its results. Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at Britain's John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, described the work as "fascinating and exciting". He said it extended the possibility of stem cell technologies for understanding brain development and disease mechanisms - and for discovering new drugs.
Although it starts as relatively simple tissue, the human brain swiftly develops into the most complex known natural structure, and scientists are largely in the dark about how that happens. This makes it extremely difficult for researchers to gain an understanding of what might be going wrong in - and therefore how to treat - many common disorders of the brain such as depression, schizophrenia and autism.
To create their brain tissue, Juergen Knoblich and Madeline Lancaster at Austria's Institute of Molecular Biotechnology and fellow researchers at Britain's Edinburgh University Human Genetics Unit began with human stem cells and grew them with a special combination of nutrients designed to capitalize on the cells' innate ability to organize into complex organ structures. They grew tissue called neuroectoderm - the layer of cells in the embryo from which all components of the brain and nervous system develop. Fragments of this tissue were then embedded in a scaffold and put into a spinning bioreactor - a system that circulates oxygen and nutrients to allow them to grow into cerebral organoids. After a month, the fragments had organized themselves into primitive structures that could be recognized as developing brain regions such as retina, choroid plexus and cerebral cortex, the researchers explained in a telephone briefing. At two months, the organoids reached a maximum size of around 4 millimeters (0.16 inches), they said in a report of their study published in the journal Nature.
Although they were very small and still a long way from resembling anything like the detailed structure of a fully developed human brain, they did contain firing neurons and distinct types of neural tissue. "This is one of the cases where size doesn't really matter," Knoblich told reporters. "Our system is not optimized for generation of an entire brain and that was not at all our goal. Our major goal was to analyze the development of human brain (tissue) and generate a model system we can use to transfer knowledge from animal models to a human setting."
In an early sign of how such mini brains may be useful for studying disease in the future, Knoblich's team were able to use their organoids to model the development of microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which patients develop an abnormally small head, and identify what causes it.
Both the research team and other experts acknowledged, however, that the work was a very long way from growing a fully-functioning human brain in a laboratory. "The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe and has a frighteningly elaborate number of connections and interactions, both between its numerous subdivisions and the body in general," said Dean Burnett, lecturer in psychiatry at Cardiff University. "Saying you can replicate the workings of the brain with some tissue in a dish in the lab is like inventing the first abacus and saying you can use it to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows - there is a connection there, but we're a long way from that sort of application yet."

02 September 2013

Artist Collaborates With Her 4-Year-Old Daughter

Mica Angela Hendricks is an illustrator and mother. While she was initially reluctant to share her new sketchbook with her daughter, the 4-year-old won her by using her own ‘mommy words’ against her: “If you can’t share, we might have to take it away if you can’t share.” Fortunately, Mica loved the results…
Busy Mockingbird via Pleated Jeans

01 September 2013

'If It Fits, I Sits' Supercut


This behavior must have something to do with Temple Grandin's theories concerning "squeeziness."