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Showing posts from October, 2014

Liberal or conservative? Your reaction to one disgusting image accurately predicts your politics.

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It appears that someone could argue that political orientation is genetically controlled in much the same way as sexual orientation is.  While this research implies that political orientation is genetically specified, research released earlier this year (see below) shows basic structural differences of the brains of conservatives and liberals.

According to this and other research, nurture appears to play a role, but it seems that nature is the controlling factor.  To paraphrase Lady Gaga, "we're born this way."  As to why some people are born liberal or conservative, there is research to do.  Does being conservative or liberal convey an adaptive evolutionary advantage for the individual?  If that were the case, I assume we'd all be one or the other.

Is a society with a mix of conservative or liberal orientations convey an evolutionary advantage?  From my untutored point of view, I would say, definitely, yes.  Having members of a group such as a tribe that see and advoc…

How would you describe the face of Lauren Bacall?

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If you're over 60, drink up: Alcohol associated with better memory

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To quote Lewis Carroll, "damn, that's good news." Actually, I think he said something like, "Frabjous day, etc., etc," but I think it what I wrote is closer to the point.
This means the older author can continue to follow Ernest Hemingway's advise, "Write drunk, edit sober."  Well, no, not a good idea.  I mean editing sober is always a good idea, but writing drunk?  Not so much. But a glass of wine or a highball before?  Perhaps.

Here's the story:

For people 60 and older who do not have dementia, light alcohol consumption during late life is associated with higher episodic memory -- the ability to recall memories of events.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland found that for people 60 and older who do not have dementia, light alcohol consumption during late life is associated with higher episodic memory -- the ability to recall memories of events.

Moderate alcohol…

Roman Gladiators were vegetarians? Yes, and they drank ash tonics as well.

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Roman Gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank a tonic of ashes after training?  That goes against every image I've ever held dear. When you picture a gladiator eating, don't you picture him with a goblet of mead in one hand and a joint of meat in the other, tearing off big chunks of meat like a carnivore on the Serengeti?  I do.

The conclusions of this research destroys this view. The thought of big, hulking brutes nibbling from a pile of asparagus and cauliflower is dissonant in the extreme, especially veggies without ranch dressing. Where's the blood and grease dripping off their chins?  Where's the gnawed bone thrown into the corners for slaves or starving lions to finish off?  Next, they'll tell me gladiators didn't feast with one arm wrapped around a buxom serving wench in a revealing toga. I'm sorry, but this does not compute.

Ah, but it's science, and the basic rule of science is that whether you like a result or not, it's true.  Sigh…

What a real Star Wars laser "bullet" looks like

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Humorist S. J. Perelman once wrote, "there's little like a detailed report filled with decimal points and guarded generalizations to put a glaze on your eye like a Sung Vase."

Mr. Perelman never met the Terrawatt, an arcane measurement of size, time or something else, either incomprehensively small or unimaginably big, I don't remember which because my brain collapsed reading the definition, that a relatively normal person's brain tends to collapse trying to comprehend the definition.  (I remember when an IT guy used the word terraflop in mixed company.  I sobbed hysterically for nearly an hour.)

But trust me, the terrawatt, femtosecond and such tomfoolery are allegedly comprehensible to physicists and mathematicians and other people with too much time on their hands.

And then there are the Trekkies, who are going to be so thrilled by this bit of amazing photography that their drool will short out their iPads, rendering them helpless aboard public transportation res…

Physicists build reversible laser tractor beam

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Star Trek and Star Wars technology is getting closer.  

Okay, so this tractor beam moves particles, but, one of these days it will be powerful enough to pull a shrimp off the barby from the kitchen or a cold Foster  Ale from the fridge to my chair while I'm happily watching The Simpsons.  And just how cool is that?  After that, who knows.  Maybe it will repel bill collectors and pull in. . . well, it's dream.

In reality, this may seem trivial, but the ability to attract or repel at this level is a first step to achieving something amazing.  Kudos to the researchers who achieved this.

Here's the story:

Laser physicists have built a tractor beam that can repel and attract objects, using a hollow laser beam that is bright around the edges and dark in its center.

It is the first long-distance optical tractor beam and moved particles one fifth of a millimeter in diameter a distance of up to 20 centimeters, around 100 times further than previous experiments.
"Demonstration of a…

How drugs are named can cause more problems than they solve

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Several of the most popular posts on SNfW over the past weeks are about how humans perceive the world around them.  For a writer, this is an ongoing issue.  As we all know, one reader will finish a book and tell you that it's about one thing, the next reader will come away with a different conclusion.

Investigators know when they interview witnesses to an event, they will hear different versions of that event even though the witnesses were standing next to each other when the event occurred.  

Apply this to the medicines most of us take, and research shows another phenomena of perception: the name the drug is given effects the way the drug acts on us.  And different people have different reactions based on perception.  The example given in the research is a patient suffering the symptoms of anxiety becoming more anxious because the drug they are given to treat their symptoms is labeled an "antipsychotic."

Then there is the placebo effect researchers see when conducting doub…

Seven commonly held myths about your brain

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While this research was directed at teachers, it effects everyone, because they taught us.  So it's a short leap to the conclusion that we were taught and hold these attitudes as well.  

The one myth that we hear over and over again is that we only use 10% of our brain.  Wrong.  Every lobe and neuron has a function,  We use 100% of our grey  matter any given time, taking care of functions of which we are completely unaware.  We don't have to count cadence for our heart to beat or our lungs to expand and relax.  Our livers process the chemicals in our body, our bone marrow creates new blood cells, our food digests and excretes, our blood pressure goes up and down, light enters our eyes to be processed and interpreted and all the while, random thoughts go wandering through our minds even while we're concentrated on some task.  Our bodily functions just go perking merrily along without a single conscious thought from us.  Our brains are busy, busy using some 40% of our body…

Who is most at risk of sexual assault?

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Unfortunately, domestic violence and sexual assault are part of life in the U.S. and around the world.  This article identifies those people most at risk of sexual assault and suggests some common sense ways a person can avoid situations in which sexual assaults occur.

The typical assault victims are:
Young women, who are Drinking alcohol, and are attacked bySomeone the know, Either a friend, family member or Someone they met within the proceeding 24 hours.A model for the author, screenwriter or parent.

Here's the story:


Risk factors for sexual assault identified,  includes age & alcohol consumption
Risk factors for sexual assault, including young age and alcohol consumption, must be addressed when considering preventative strategies, suggests a new study. Results of this study show that
66% of the women interviewed were aged 15-24 years old and 75% had met the perpetrator before the sexual assault with nearly 50% reporting that the perpetrator was a current or former boyfriend, fami…

Research shows Jazz is good for you. How cool is that?

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Sometimes the results of scientific study are simply too cool to be true.
Take Jazz, the one true American music.  Research announced today at a medical conference concludes that Jazz is healthy and good for you.  As a sign of its healthiness, this research shows that merely listening to it lowers your heart rate, a sign of lowered stress.
Perhaps having a little Jazz on in the background while writing is in order.   Especially if you're on deadline.  Based on recent research, research demonstrates taking a walk gets your creativity juices flowing (see link below), then sit in front of your writing device, whatever you use from pencil to word processor, with a little coffee or tea near at hand, and a little Take Five or In a Quiet Way on in the background.
Now, if you follow this program, bear in mind that Jazz is addictive, an addiction that is so much better for you than many others we might discuss. 
Here's the report. 

Take note: Jazz and silence help reduce  heart rate after su…