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Showing posts from April, 2015

Your Brain Activity Can Predict if You Might Commit a Crime.

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Scientists are making amazing and scary breakthroughs in predicting who may one day commit a criminal act.  In this study, researchers measured the activity in the brains of test subjects when presented with a variety of situations to see if there are measurable activity differences between people who may or may not commit a crime in the future.

Sound like something out of a sci-fi movie?

Stephen Spielberg's 2002 film, Minority Report, is based on the idea of being able to predict crime.  In the movie, based on a short story by  Philip K. Dick and adapted into a screenplay by Scott Frank, crime is predicted through the use of three psychic "pre-cogs" who work in unison in "PreCrime", a specialized police department.

Without getting into the story, this is the idea that researchers at Iowa State University explored, using electroencephalograms rather than psychics.  The result is much the same, though in this study the focus is on trying to identify prospective em…

Was North America First Settled by Stone-age Europeans?

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Map of Bering Sea. The Bering Strait is the  comparatively shallow area between Alaska and Siberia.
One of the more interesting arguments in paleontology is between supporters of the theory that the first inhabitants of North American migrated from Asia across the Bering Sea (the majority view), and a small group of researchers who feel that the very first residents came along the edge of the Atlantic ice sheet from Europe.

The research reported below focuses on one piece of evidence cited by supporters of the European immigrant theory:  an ancient stone blade recovered off the coast of Virginia in the early 1970s by the crew of the trawler Cinmar that establishes a European presence many thousands of years before Columbus, the Vikings, the Knight's Templar, or Frodo and the Elves.

The headline, "Alternate theory of inhabitation of North America disproven,"  appears to me to be an overstatement of the researcher's stated scope of research.

From my reading, the research do…

How to Experience Invisibility

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Probably the most common cliche' writing teachers use is, "write what you know."

Yet some of the greatest fiction ever written for any media is based on invisibility, a phenomena no one has yet to experience, as far as we know.  H.G. Wells Invisible Man and Frodo wearing the great ring in the Trilogy involve someone being invisible and how would someone experience that?  Yet the author's imagination fleshed out the experience based on conjecture in a way that it was believable.

It's especially interesting that this is another case of a science fiction writer predicted future reality. 
In the longer report, the authors note that, "In H.G. Wells’s science fiction novel The Invisible Man (1897), the protagonist invents a method to change a body’s refractory index to that of air, rendering it invisible, and then he successfully carries out the procedure on himself (but he unfortunately fails to reverse it). Intriguingly, advances in materials science have demonstra…

Young Women Objectify Themselves

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A recent post in SNfW received some heated reader criticism for publishing "bad science" with what some felt were conclusions that perpetuated a sexist viewpoint.

Stereotypes, like clichés, are useful in our day to day lives.  We simply do not have the time or mental resources to get to know every person we meet or see and to make value judgments based on that individual's personality. 

In the movies, television or the theater, the writer doesn't have the time to flesh out every character in a story, so we all use stereotypes to help the reader or viewer understand what a character is about and the role they play.

We share stereotypes about good guys, bad guys, gang members, clowns, politicians, welfare recipients, bureaucrats, and on and on.  It helps us organize and understand the world around us.  We see a white hat on the screen, it's a good guy.  We see a black hat, it's a bad guy.

For a writer, stereotypes save a lot of backstory time on minor characters. …

Crowdfunding Your Film: New Research Reveals Low Cost Tips to Increase Donations

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This is a test to see the effect of two different headlines on the same story posted to the Stage32 screenwriting stream.  One, I'd like to see the difference in the number of clicks, and, second, see what comments the posts gets.  The first headline was an information headline; this one plays on people's desire for gain. Before you became outraged about the research supporting a sexist stereotype, I know that.  I didn't do the research or write the report. To me, this report explores how men in particular react to what can be considered a sexist technique.  It points out that for the most part, people are sexist or respond in a sexist manner without being aware of it.  Should you, the writer and producer of a project, use the main technique presented?  You have to make that call yourself.  I don't presume to tell anyone how to behave. Please feel to leave a comment. Here's the report: *  *  *  *  *
Men will donate four times more money to an attractive female fundraiser …

For Men, Online Generosity is a Competition

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A recent SNfW post, Would You Kill Hitler if You Could? Men Say Yes. Women Say No. Why?, has drawn more than a few comments on Stage32, a social network website for people in the film industry.  Here are just a few of the comments:
"Even that title is pigeon-holing people. Some men say Yes, Some women say no... although I read the link and it is wrong on so many levels."  ~ S.B."The gender stereotyping does a disservice to men and women." ~ K.R."This article takes an exaggerated, grandiose, hypothetical situation with layers and layers of complexities, and whittles it all down into a simplistic "yes" or "no" assessment, which seems to further support typical, historical gender biases."  ~ B.F.H.The comment stream on Stage32 was fun to follow, and I learned from it. 

So, let's try a recently published study that pigeonholes men and see how that flies. 

In the study below, men are, well, characterized as being soft touches for a prett…

Friday Factoids: Tampons Glow in the Dark, a Full Moon Causes Stupidity, and I Need a Drink.

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 How to Build a Perfect Human Pyramid, Six Tiers High
This is knowledge that could come in handy at your next family picnic.  Or office party.  Or while cheering for your favorite sports team. You never know, right?  The worst case would be trying to settle a bar bet.  Oy, the humanity. 
 University of Leicester physics students calculated how to build a perfect human pyramid -- and found that the best model is a group of men, women and children with an average weight of 83.6 kg for adult males, 70.2 kg for adult females and 32.2 kg for children.  (Okay.  Multiply kilograms (kg) by 2.2 to get these averages in pounds.  I am so tired of doing your homework for you.)

In a student paper, 'Pyramid of Geezers', presented in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, Hayley Allison, Jordan Penney, Roger Leyser and Giles Lipscombe investigated the science behind the hu…

Neandertal ritual or Neandertal cannibalism?

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As a species, we humans are fascinated with our history and pre-history, especially with our close relatives, the Neandertal, who differ from us genetically by just 0.12% There is research into how they lived.  Research into whether Neandertals had a spoken language, or as novelist Jean Auel described in her Earth's Children series, they communicated with a series of gestures and vocalizations, i.e., grunts and growls. The first remains of Neandertal, later named after the Neander Valley in Germany, were discovered in 1829 in the Engis Caves in today's Belgium.  More remains were found in Forbes' Quarry, Gibraltar, in 1848, both prior to the type specimen discovery in a limestone quarry of the Neander Valley in Erkrath near Düsseldorf in August 1856 It has been established that a percentage of Europeans carry Neandertal genetic materials.  It has been established that modern humans and Neandertals lived in close proximity to one another especially during the last major ice a…

Why some people hear color, taste sounds