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Selfishness Makes the Brain Lazy; Egoists Don't Think About The Future

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So many characters in fiction are egotistical, self-centered and annoying.  An egoist makes a great character to play with, to throw into conflict with others, and to use to drive story. 

This little bit of science shows that egoists have a "lazy brain", that they simply can't think about long term consequences.  Not exactly news, but now it's confirmed by scans.

Here's the story.
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No future for egoists -- that's what their brain says!
Self-centred individuals do not worry about consequences,  believing that these potential disasters are too far off.
With the help of neuro-imaging, researchers at the University of Geneva found that people deemed "egotistical" do not use the area of the brain that enables us to look into and imagine the distant future. In "altruistic" individuals, on the other hand, the same area is alive with activity. 
The research results, published in the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioural Neuroscie…

Many Hurricane Harvey Deaths in Houston Occurred Outside a Flood Zone

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The big lesson from Hurricane Harvey is that more flood-caused deaths happened outside of recognized 100-year flood plains.

The upshot is if you live in an area susceptible to flooding, do not depend on government issued flood plain maps to evaluate your safety.  It's not that anyone has done anything wrong in estimating flood plains, it's that new data shows we don't fully understand how floods happen.

As one of the researchers said, "It was surprising to me that so many fatalities occurred outside the flood zones."

i.e., there is more research needed to understand these events.
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Hurricane Harvey: Most fatalities occurred  outside flood zones, Dutch-Texan research shows
A Dutch-Texan team found that most Houston-area drowning deaths from Hurricane Harvey occurred outside the zones designated by government as being at higher risk of flooding: the 100- and 500-year floodplains. Harvey, one of the costliest storms in US history, hit southeast Texas on 2…

CRIME: Can Handwriting Experts be Trusted?

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Okay, crime writers, here's the latest group of experts whose expertise you can question.  Eye witness testimony is flawed, DNA evidence can and has led to false convictions, and forensic body identification is not as accurate as some would lead you to believe.  Add to this that true crime TV is creating a better educated criminal, and people, especially teenagers can be convinced they committed a crime that never occurred. 

Sounds like we're dealing with humans here, doesn't it.

Here's this latest bit of uncertainty:
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Can estimates from forensic handwriting experts be trusted in court?
"The overall error rate even for experts is large enough as to raise questions about whether their estimates can be sufficiently trustworthy for presentation in courts,"

New study indicates that experts are not 100 per cent adept at assessing how often specific handwriting features occur in the general population.  Forensic handwriting specialists are often called on…

Did the Dinosaurs Create an Industrial Civilization? How Would We Know?

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I've wondered what would happen in the world of science if someone found a fossilized jaw from 65+ million year old dinosaur that included a carefully repaired tooth, root canal, cap and all.  Our knowledge of antiquity says that can't be.  But are we sure?

How do we know that ours is the first and only advanced civilization on the planet? 

If you watch shows on archeology such as Time Team (full series on YouTube), you know that manufactured items in steel, iron, bronze and pottery are eroded and rotted away to next to nothing in a few thousand years.

What would be left after a million years?  Or sixty-five plus million years?

And what will be left of our culture in few thousand years?  Supposing we don't survive this next millennium as a species.   There is no guarantee that we will.

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We think we're the first advanced earthlings -- but how do we really know?
Imagine if, many millions of years ago, dinosaurs drove cars through cities of mile-high buildings. …

Why The Bubbles in a Glass of Guinness Sink: The Math of the Perfect Pint.

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This is my kind of science.  As a bona fide stool holder with a personalized stein (Jacomus de'Paganus Fatuus) at a popular German tav, I know a good pint when I see one. 

But the question is:  why do the bubbles in a freshly pulled pint of Guinness sink?  No, it's not an optical illusion, and no, you've not imbibed too much when you notice it.

The bubbles do sink.  And it has to do with. . . oops, getting ahead of myself.

Here's the story, which also details how to brew the perfect cup of joe. 

And it's all in the numbers.
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The secret behind a choice cuppa or a perfect pint -- a mathematician
Professor shows how the science of maths can aid the profits of industry
IF you want to know how to pour the perfect pint or create the ultimate cup of coffee, then you really need a mathematician.  That might not be the most obvious choice, but major companies are increasingly aware that they can solve conundrums and improve their products by calling on specialists …

The Science of Being 'Cool'

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The secret to being cool: Try smiling
For many people, one of the unspoken rules for being cool is maintaining an emotionally inexpressive attitude. This message is reinforced through advertisements where fashion models rarely smile and by quotes from celebrities. In an article in the Huffington Post, Kanye West said he doesn't smile in photographs because "it just wouldn't look as cool."
Researchers at the University of Arizona recently questioned whether this connection between concealing emotions and coolness was in fact true. In a series of experiments, the investigators showed participants photographs of celebrities and non-celebrities who were smiling or inexpressive, and their results call into question common assumptions about what makes someone cool. The study is available online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

"We found over and over again that people are perceived to be cooler when they smile compared to when they are inexpressive in print adver…

Is Being Human Preventing Us From Finding E.T? Probably.

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One of my favorite quotes is by J.B.S. Haldane, the evolutionary biologist and mathematician of the first half of the 20th centuries.  He said,

"Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only  queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."
.Take for example the number of dimensions in which we live.  Physicists will tell you eleven even though our senses only comprehend four.  Does that mean we are incapable of sensing the other seven?  Or comprehending them?  Probably, yes it does.

Or, some physicists assert there are an infinite number of universes.  Fun stuff for writers of SciFi, but is it reality?  I can vaguely imagine a circumstance of one  or two universes, but comprehend an infinite number spontaneously emerging each time one of us makes a decision?  Not even.

Finally, some physicists hypothesize that our reality is a two dimensional projection that appears four dimensional but isn't.  Don't even get into that eleven dimension idea.  A few…