March 20, 2019

Science

"As Beresheet nears the moon, where it will spend eternity as a 160 kg tin can, experts warn of a growing pile of man-made debris on the lunar surface and more junk in orbit."

"DNA identification has gone mainstream—from the elite labs of “CSI” to your living room. When it first appeared over 30 years ago, it was an arcane technique. Now it’s woven into the fabric of everyday life..."

"Such devices, like all computers, can be hacked or go awry. What if a person's prosthetic limbs are co-opted and instructed to walk in front of cars, rather than away from them?"

"Human musicality is clearly special. Musicality being a set of natural, spontaneously developing traits based on, or constrained by, our cognitive abilities (attention, memory, expectation) and our biological predisposition."

"Even for archaeologists working at the trowel’s edge of contemporary science, it can be hard to see Neanderthals as anything more than intriguing abstractions, mixed up with the likes of mammoths, woolly rhinos and sabre-toothed cats."

"The study’s conclusions point to something unfortunate for the quiet and reserved among us. People with no personality are those who don’t bombard other people with their preferences and thoughts like little opinion drones."

"Given all these advantages of large body sizes, an obvious question to ask is: why are not all animal species big? One reason is that species of small animals give rise to new species more rapidly."

"People have always known that moving around transforms the way we feel, and increasingly science has been backing this up with data: Exercise can ease depression and anxiety and stimulate creativity..."

"A new study has found that chimps living in areas of high human impact are 88 percent less likely to engage in certain learned behaviors."

"A nasal spray version of the drug ketamine has shown promise as an antidepressant, even if its properties still aren’t well understood."

"Multiverse proponents advocate the idea that there may exist innumerable other universes, some of them with totally different physics and numbers of spatial dimensions; and that you, I and everything else may exist in countless copies."

"AI could affect how we humans interact with one another... Radical innovations have previously transformed the way humans live together, of course."

"A new study suggests that sleeping late on Saturday and Sunday may disrupt metabolic and circadian functions for the chronically sleep deprived."

"Even where there is no gravity, there is still gravity; a residue always remains. Distant planets and stars are not independent of one another after all."

"How can we possibly know so much about the world around us? We learn an enormous amount even when we are small children; four-year-olds already know about plants and animals and machines..."

"The gambler, the quantum physicist and the juror all reason about probabilities: the probability of winning, of a radioactive atom decaying, of a defendant’s guilt. But despite their ubiquity, experts dispute just what probabilities are."

"It is unclear if AI has accomplished anywhere near as much as many have claimed. Indeed, current technology exhibits no convincing demonstration of anything remotely approaching “intelligence.”"

"Building solar, wind, natural gas and water infrastructure all along the U.S.–Mexico border would create economic opportunity rather than antagonism."

"New research suggests both liberals and conservatives are motivated to believe fake news, and dismiss real news that contradicts their ideologies..."

"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "

"The US Food and Drug Administration is officially warning consumers that buying young blood infusions to improve their health is not a good idea. It is, in fact, a very bad idea because there is no clinical evidence that the infusions do anything.."

"The whale’s towering rib cage had become a cathedral for worms, snails, and crabs, which grazed beneath its buttresses. A few hungry hagfish slithered through the skull’s eye sockets."

"Psychedelics have frequently been maligned in both the scientific community and mainstream culture. But new medical research and a more capacious understanding of the drugs have started to shift opinions."

"Opportunity casts a long shadow over all subsequent Mars rovers, setting a gold standard of JPL engineering. Customized versions of its mobility software are used on the rovers Curiosity and upcoming Mars 2020."

"The secret life of the world's most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, has been caught on camera in Africa. Footage gives a rare insight into the behaviour of the giant pangolin, the largest of all the scaly animals."

"There is no “direct experience” prior to judgment, i.e., what I (re)construct (write down) as my experience is already supported by judgmental decisions."

"In his talk, “The Geometry of Thinking,” he suggested that humans are able to do things that today’s powerful computers can’t do, because we, unlike our computers, represent information in geometrical space."

"People with high intelligence tend to adopt a critical attitude towards the world, and avoid relying on positive illusions. While these skills gain you accolades in school, are they really valued in today's world?"

"A merlin falcon hunting its prey, a hummingbird suspended in the air beside a flower, the self-reproduction of a bacterial cell: all are instances of stunning control and precision. How could anything so complex have originated from inert matter?"

"Scientists in Australia have shown that honeybees can add and subtract if trained to do so. It shows animals don’t need a huge brain — or anything even resembling human language — to think in terms of numbers. "

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"We don’t know how many people have died since Cyclone Idai made landfall last Thursday on the coast of Mozambique... The United Nations estimated that more than 2.6 million people are in need of immediate assistance."

"Some of your favorite presidents have tried to pack the Supreme Court. So why does it sound like such an extreme tactic? And how did some of the top Democrats running for president come to embrace it?

"I decided to move from my home in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank for a summer. I wanted to make a film about my experiences as I got to know the settlers I’d formed so many conclusions about."

"20 years ago, if you saw something on TV that offended you and you wanted to let someone know, you would’ve had to get a pen and paper and write, “Dear BBC, I’m bothered.” But you didn’t do it because it was too much trouble."

"America’s now trendy socialists mistake accretion for creation when it comes to wealth. This error of convenience serves as self-justification for the left’s policies, by simply assuming wealth will inevitably result...

"Anxious, I asked the Google gods for advice. I expected I’d find something from a lifestyle blogger, or a life coach, or a Reddit thread — the corners of the web that have always been there for me during pivotal life moments..."

"The air is getting more dangerous to breathe all over the world — and a suite of companies are hoping to capitalize with a new fashion item."

"Was the British Empire boring? As Jeffrey Auerbach notes in his irreverent new book, it’s an unexpected question, largely because imperial culture was so conspicuously saturated with a sense of adventure."

"Let’s face it: Few of us marry and then begin planning for divorce or widowhood. But based on the statistics, that is precisely what we should do. I know this viscerally because I recently lost my husband."

"The foodie—as a word, a concept, a person—began life in the early 1980s. New York writer Gael Greene first used the term in a restaurant review, but it was Ann Barr and Paul Levy of England’s Harper’s and Queen who popularized it."

"As Beresheet nears the moon, where it will spend eternity as a 160 kg tin can, experts warn of a growing pile of man-made debris on the lunar surface and more junk in orbit."

" Ilhan Omar in particular has garnered attention for tweets widely viewed by the Jewish community as trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The result has been the most media coverage of anti-Semitism in a decade..."