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In the News 01.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 01.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 01.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 01.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Two minds

“To some appreciable degree, these brain differences have to translate to behavioral differences,” says Cahill. Numerous studies show that they do, sometimes with medically meaningful implications.

A 2017 study in JAMA Psychiatry imaged the brains of 98 individuals ages 8 to 22 with autism spectrum disorder and 98 control subjects. Both groups contained roughly equal numbers of male and female subjects. The study confirmed earlier research showing that the pattern of variation in the thickness of the brain’s cortex differed between males and females. But the great majority of female subjects with ASD, the researchers found, had cortical-thickness variation profiles similar to those of typical non-ASD males.

In other words, having a typical male brain structure, whether you’re a boy or a girl, is a substantial risk factor for ASD. By definition, more boys’ than girls’ brains have this profile, possibly helping explain ASD’s four- to fivefold preponderance among boys compared with girls.

Read the rest of this article at: Stanford Medicine

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Roger Ebert’s Zero-Star Movies

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In the summer of 1980, Roger Ebert stepped into Chicago’s now-defunct United Artists Theater for a matinee of a low-budget horror film called I Spit On Your Grave.

Ebert and his colleague Gene Siskel often attended exploitation movies for their PBS show Sneak Previews, where they would review a “Dog of the Week.” If he was looking for a movie that would arouse his ire, he certainly found it.

“A vile bag of garbage named I Spit on Your Grave is playing in Chicago theaters this week,” wrote Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. “It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it’s playing in respectable theaters.”

I Spit On Your Grave is about a womanwho rents a cottage in the country to complete a book, only to be beaten, raped, and left for dead by four hicks. She survives, and spends the last act of the film killing her assailants one by one. “This movie is an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures,” wrote Ebert. “Because it is made artlessly, it flaunts its motives: There is no reason to see this movie except to be entertained by the sight of sadism and suffering.”

Read the rest of this article at: Hazlitt

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What’s the Meaning of Life? Physics.

When you think of physics, what comes to mind? Atomic energy? Gravitational waves? Maybe Newtonian equations?
Adrian Bejan thinks of those things too. But the iconoclastic energy scientist—a mechanical engineering professor at Duke University and one of the world’s foremost experts on thermodynamics—thinks of pretty much everything else as well. The same principles of physics, he argues, can be applied to all things that move, morph, and flow, from sports and technology to air currents and population growth, migratory patterns and social hierarchy.
Bejan isn’t the first person to study behavior as physics, or to use physics to describe wider systems. But his new book, The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything, may be the broadest consideration yet. Harking back to the original definition of the discipline—“knowledge of nature” in Greek—he ultimately concludes that “life and evolution are physics.”
To wrap our heads around this counterintuitive premise, National Geographic recently spoke with Bejan about the physics of life, the universe, and everything.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

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Instagram is Pushing Restaurants to be kitschy, Colorful, and Irresistible to Photographers

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When it came time to design their first restaurant, Media Noche, San Francisco entrepreneurs Madelyn Markoe and Jessie Barker found themselves lacking inspiration. Their designer had asked them for ideas and they felt like “deer in headlights.” Ultimately, Markoe says, they came up with a single instruction: “We wanted to be Instagrammable.”

For years now, Instagram has sat at the center of trends in food and beverages. Rainbow-colored “unicorn foods” are often designed with Instagram in mind, and entrepreneurs responsible for popular treats like the galaxy donut and Sugar Factory milkshake often see lines around the block after images of their products go viral. Firms like Paperwhite Studio specialize in turning restaurants into Instagram bait by designing twee sugar packets, menus, and coasters bearing slogans like “hello, my sweet” and “hug more.”

Now some entrepreneurs are taking the idea a step further, designing their physical spaces in the hopes of inspiring the maximum number of photos. They’re commissioning neon signs bearing modestly sly double entendres, painting elaborate murals of tropical wildlife, and embedding floor tiles with branded greetings — all in the hopes that their guests will post them.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

Where Global Warming Gets Real: Inside Nasa’s Mission to the North Pole

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From the window of a Nasa aircraft flying over the Arctic, looking down on the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, it’s easy to see why it is so hard to describe climate change. The scale of polar ice, so dramatic and so clear from a plane flying at 450 metres (1,500ft) – high enough to appreciate the scope of the ice and low enough to sense its mass – is nearly impossible to fathom when you aren’t sitting at that particular vantage point.

But it’s different when you are there, cruising over the ice for hours, with Nasa’s monitors all over the cabin streaming data output, documenting in real time – dramatising, in a sense – the depth of the ice beneath. You get it, because you can see it all there in front of you, in three dimensions.

Imagine a thousand centuries of heavy snowfall, piled up and compacted into stone-like ice atop the bedrock of Greenland, an Arctic island almost a quarter the size of the US. Imagine all of modern human history, from the Neolithic revolution 12,000 years ago – when humans moved from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and from there, eventually, to urban societies – until today. All of the snow that fell on the Arctic during that entire history is gathered up in just the top layers of the ice sheet.

Imagine the dimensions of that ice: 1.71m sq km (656,000 sq miles), three times the size of Texas. At its belly – from the top layer, yesterday’s snowfall, to the bottom layer, which is made of snow that fell out of the sky 115,000-130,000 years ago – it reaches 3,200 metres (10,500ft) thick, nearly four times taller than the world’s highest skyscraper.

Imagine the weight of this thing: at the centre of Greenland, the ice is so heavy that it warps the land itself, pushing bedrock 359 metres (1,180ft) below sea level. Under its own immense weight, the ice comes alive, folding and rolling in solid streams, in glaciers that slowly push outward. This is a head-spinningly dynamic system that we still don’t fully understand – and that we really ought to learn far more about, and quickly. In theory, if this massive thing were fully drained, and melted into the sea, the water contained in it would make the world’s oceans rise by 7 metres (23ft).

When you fly over entire mountain ranges whose tips barely peek out from under the ice – and these are just the visible ones – it’s possible to imagine what would happen if even a fraction of this quantity of pent-up freshwater were unleashed. You can plainly see how this thing would flood the coasts of the world, from Brooklyn to Bangladesh.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @juliahengel; @meanderingmacaron; @thatsotee