June 16, 2019

Science

"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. "

"I am still stunned that there are seemingly average people walking around today with the firm belief that the world is actually flat. The numbers, while still small, are also surprisingly high."

"...the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”"

"...after decades of trying to understand how our minds work, I’ve begun to worry that the divide between religious & scientific communities might not only be stoking needless hostility; it might also be slowing the process of scientific discovery.."

"CRISPR, or CRISPR scientists may be impossible to stop; [but] good argumentation about the nebulous benefits of GMO kids, and common sense on the folly of these hubristic endeavors, is as important an arbitrator as the regulation of laws. "

"A government striving for regional peace, like the one Gantz has pledged to lead, would have to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders, on annexation of the West Bank settlement blocs and on land swaps."

"Meeting a piece of advanced technological equipment developed by an extraterrestrial intelligence might resemble an imaginary encounter of ancient cave people with a modern cell phone."

"Let us start with some genuine philosophical questions about truth in science. Here are three: 1) Does science aim at truth? 2) Does science tell us the truth? 3) Should we expect science to tell us the truth?"

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Call it a victory for Hong Kong’s protesters. But the battle is far from over. Hours after reportedly having met with a senior Chinese official, a stern-faced Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly chief executive, announced that her..."

"Should the U.S. Census Bureau know how many U.S. citizens are living in the country? Most people support the idea that it’s a reasonable question for the government to ask, which is why the census has asked it in one form or another since 1820..."

"The new capital that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi is building near Cairo is already known as the white elephant that devours billions of dollars and doesn’t promise a return. It has received two elaborate housewarming ceremonies..."

"TWENTY YEARS AGO, George Lucas kicked off his reviled Star Wars prequel trilogy with Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Despite grossing over a billion dollars worldwide, the film received tepid reviews and continues to be a sore spot for Star Wars..."

"Whether the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) disproportionately helped the rich may be 2020’s biggest political issue. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claims that it benefited most Americans. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calls it a massive giveaway..."

"There sits Mark Zuckerberg, staring into a camera, proclaiming that the secret to controlling the future is controlling the stolen data of billions. A shocking declaration for the head of one of the world's most important and powerful companies..."

"History, or at least the study of it, is in bad shape these days. Almost everyone agrees that knowing history is important, but in the United States, except at the most elite schools, the study of history is in freefall. Our age seems to share..."

"Summer reading—so much expectation and anxiety and judgment is compressed within those two words! June hardly has a chance to throw on a bikini and step onto the deck before morning shows, magazines, and Web sites descend with their “Beach Reads..."

"In the discourse of the upper-upper, don’t-call-us-rich middle class, an old stereotype of fatherhood — the dim, affable, useless-for-housework Pop — has lately been supplemented by a new one: The credit-hogging, pleased-with-himself Good Dad..."

"IN 1870, advertisements for beef extract began to appear in magazines of the day. Made by Armour & Company, a leading Chicago meatpacking firm, the extract was touted as a “remedy for disease and exhaustion.” In reality a byproduct of canned beef.."

"It all started with a goat. The unfortunate animal was born in the Netherlands in the spring of 1939 – and his prospects did not look good. On the left side of his body, a bare patch of fur marked the spot where his front leg should have been..."

"This past Erev Shavuot, my 18-year old daughter and I were walking together to the Tikkun L’eyl Shavuot at a nearby Modern Orthodox synagogue. For the past five years, my rabbinic colleague at that synagogue has invited me to co-lead a midnight..."