“An induction of disgust can lead to more negative attitudes toward an entire social group: Participants who were exposed to a noxious ambient odor reported less warmth toward gay men. Read More
Last week, the new edition of Concise Oxford English Dictionary—the user-friendly version of the massive, encyclopedic guide to English—debuted with 400 new words, many of them not unknown to those of us here on teh Interwebs. Here’s a selection of the goodies:
cyberbullying: n. the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.
denialist: n. a person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.
domestic goddess: n. informal a woman with exceptional domestic skills, especially cookery.
“To test hypotheses about positive emotion, the authors examined the relationship of positive emotional expression in women’s college pictures to personality, observer ratings, and life outcomes. Read More
“Another genetic condition, extending to 100% of human males, is the congenital lack of a baculum. Whereas most mammals (including common species such as dogs and mice) and most other primates (excepting spider monkeys) have a penile bone, human males lack this bone and must rely on fluid hydraulics to maintain erections. Read More
Modern life is about maximizing information overload. So while you watch your favorite shows on the boob-tube, chances are you’re also surfing the Interwebs, looking for that actor’s screen credits, buying the season on DVD, checking other people’s real-time reactions. Ah, but what if your TV pulled up all that stuff for you, and helpfully displayed it on your computing device of choice, a la Google Ads in your email? Wouldn’t that be…something?
Before the end of the year, just such a TV will be released by a start-up called Flingo—a TV that, should you opt in to the service, will note what you’re watching and customize what your computer shows you. Read More
Is this dog really smiling?
We beam when we’re cheerful, grin sheepishly when we’re guilty, smirk when we’re proud. It all seems so simple and obvious, but what do we really know about smiling?
In a new book called Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex, and Politics, Yale University experimental psychologist Marianne LaFrance investigates the subtleties of smiling, showing how the familiar expression reveals more than we realize. Wired has an amusing Q&A with the doctor herself:
Wired.com: Why can smiles mean such different things in different cultures?
LaFrance: We acquire ways of knowing who is us and who is them. There have been fascinating studies where Australians and Americans were shown a bunch of face shots of other Australians and Americans. Their task was to identify which nationality, Australian or American, the person was. Shown neutral expressions, accuracy was no better than chance. But shown smiles, they were very good at guessing a person’s nationality. Subtle difference in a person’s smile are detectable, even if we can’t describe why.
Now there are also vast cross-cultural differences in the rules for smiling. Who is it OK to smile at, who not? For how long? For example, often when New Englanders go to the South, they wonder why Southerners are smiling all the time. Sometimes they feel everyone is charming. Sometimes the difference is met with dismay.
Rarely do we think, “Isn’t it interesting that another culture has different smiling rules?” We view them as being a different type of person. Now, at home, judgments based on a person’s smiling habits might be warranted. But when you’re talking about cross-cultural boundaries, those judgments can be really off-base.
Read more at Wired.
Image courtesy of Sn. Ho / Flickr
It’s a handbag. It’s a wallet. No, it’s biofuel.
A genuine alligator-leather purse could put you out hundreds of dollars, but alligator fuel may come fairly cheap. Large fuel plants could produce biofuel from alligator fat for as little as $2.40 a gallon, suggests a recent paper published in the journal Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research. Last we checked, the old-fashioned stuff from long-dead critters was retailing for a buck or so more.
“Male sweat smells disgusting to many adults, but it is unclear whether children find it so. In Experiment 1A, children (mean age = 8.7 years) and adolescents (M=16.6 years) smelled male sweat and other odors, rated each for liking, and attempted their identification. Read More
MABEL here is a fast lady. At 6.8 miles per hour, she’s the quickest human-like runner in the robot world. She is also the owner of some of the freakiest knees, right up there with Dr. Seuss’s ominous pale green pants and the spider-like prancings of BigDog, the defense robot you hope you never meet coming through the woods at night.
Running robots could transport baggage and participate in rescue operations where rugged terrain makes wheeled vehicles useless, which is why DARPA funds projects like the quadruped BigDog, which is already fairly well developed and has a top speed of about 5 mph. MABEL is a biped bot, which means she’s probably less stable than a quadruped, but more able to potentially stand in for humans in activities like climbing stairs (and certainly a more useful instance of human biomimicry than some robots we could name). Watching her strut her stuff around a little indoor track in the video above, you’ll notice the springing motion of her legs, which is very similar to a human running–both spend about 40% of their time in the air, according to her builders, a team of roboticists at University of Michigan.
Ooo, ahh, and pity the lab downstairs.
[via Kurzweil AI]