An ant colony has memories that its individual members don’t have - Big Think
A red wood ant colony remembers its trail system leading to the same trees, year after year, although no single ant does. The Finnish myrmecologist Rainer Rosengren showed that when the ants emerge in the spring, an older ant goes out with a young one along the older ant's habitual trail. The older ant dies and the younger ant adopts that trail as its own, thus leading the colony to remember, or reproduce, the previous year's trails.
ant  animalintelligence 
5 weeks ago
I Didn’t See a Thing – One Weird Trick – Medium
a very effective road safety campaign, called Eyes on the Road, that reminded cinema-goers in Hong Kong that a minor distraction can have life-changing consequences. In this campaign, a short film shot from the perspective of a driver is interrupted by simultaneously sending everyone in the cinema a text message. As the audience reach for their phones, the driver in the film crashes into a tree.
7 weeks ago
Why Do Computers Use So Much Energy? - Scientific American Blog Network
this early work was also limited by the fact that it tried to apply equilibrium statistical physics to analyze the thermodynamics of computers. The problem is that, by definition, an equilibrium system is one whose state never changes. So whatever else they are, computers are definitely nonequilibrium systems. In fact, they are often very-far-from-equilibrium systems.

Fortunately, completely independent of this early work, there have been some major breakthroughs in the past few decades in the field of nonequilibrium statistical physics (closely related to a field called “stochastic thermodynamics”). These breakthroughs allow us to analyze all kinds of issues concerning how heat, energy, and information get transformed in nonequilibrium systems.

These analyses have provided some astonishing predictions. For example, we can now calculate the (non-zero) probability that a given nanoscale system will violate the second law, reducing its entropy, in a given time interval. (We now understand that the second law does not say that the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease, only that its expected entropy cannot decrease.)
thermodynamics  computation 
7 weeks ago
The Secret Reason Why Automakers Love Putting Easter Eggs on Their Vehicles
Then he mentioned something else. Those little cartoons, the stylized logos and silhouettes? They're all registered and trademarked. Aftermarket parts suppliers can manufacture replacement parts to OEM spec, but typically they can't slap the car company's logos or graphics on those parts.

So if you're an enthusiast, and you've come to like that Easter egg on the part or piece of glass you broke, you're going to want the replacement to look just like the factory original. And that means buying it from the factory, which is a nice source of profit for OEMs.
intellectualproperty  trademark 
7 weeks ago
Love at second sight: Sequential dependence of facial attractiveness in an on-line dating paradigm | Scientific Reports
we are more likely to rate a face as attractive when the preceding face was attractive than when it was unattractive
face  beauty 
9 weeks ago
BBC - Future - Here’s the truth about the ‘planned obsolescence’ of tech
On a macroeconomic scale, the rapid turnover of goods powers growth and creates reams of jobs – just think of the money people earn by manufacturing and selling, for instance, millions of smartphone cases. Furthermore, the continuous introduction of new widgets to earn (or re-earn) new and old customers’ dough alike will tend to promote innovation and improve the quality of products.
obsolescence  manufacture  product 
10 weeks ago
Maths in a minute: Transcendental numbers (and politics) |
Any number that is not algebraic is called transcendental.pi seemed so unlike other numbers: because we can't write down equations of which they are solutions, transcendental numbers are harder to "get hold of" than algebraic ones. In essence, an equation for a number provides us with a finite process by which we can construct that number; in the case of transcendental numbers, we have no such process.
mathematics  number 
november 2018
BBC - Travel - Japan’s unusual way to view the world
The appreciation of transient beauty is at the heart of some of Japan’s most simple pleasures, such as the annual celebration of cherry blossoms (Credit: Alex Ramsay/Alamy)

The dents and scratches we bear are all reminders of experience, and to erase them would be to ignore the complexities of life. By retaining the imperfect, repairing the broken and learning to find beauty in flaws – rather than in spite of them – Japan’s ability to cope with the natural disasters it so often faces is strengthened.
wabisabi  entropy 
november 2018
Psychologists' face off reveals humans can recognise 5,000 people | Science | The Guardian
Through a series of recall and recognition tests on volunteers, the researchers discovered that the human ability to recognise faces varies enormously. The study found that people know between 1,000 and 10,000 faces of friends, family members, colleagues and celebrities, with most racking up about 5,000.
face  recognition  vision 
october 2018
Here’s the science behind the Brexit vote and Trump’s rise | Michele Gelfand | Opinion | The Guardian
communities that face financial danger – hunger, poverty, bankruptcy – and higher occupational hazards, are substantially tighter. This helps explain why those on low incomes have consistently told us they desire strong rules and leaders. In fact, when we ask respondents to free-associate from the word “rules”, low-income subjects consistently write positive words such as “good”, “safe” and “structure”, while wealthier ones write down words such as “bad”, “frustrating”, and “constricting”. These preferences arise early: in our lab, three-year-olds from low-income families were more visibly upset than peers from wealthier homes when they saw puppets violate clear rules.
rule  society  culture 
september 2018
Scientific publishing is a rip-off. We fund the research – it should be free | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
Last week, a consortium of European funders, including major research agencies in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Italy, published their “Plan S”. It insists that, from 2020, research we have already paid for through our taxes will no longer be locked up. Any researcher receiving money from these funders must publish her or his work only in open-access journals.

The publishers have gone ballistic. Springer Nature argues that this plan “potentially undermines the whole research publishing system”. Yes, that’s the point.
science  publishing 
september 2018
Nick Saban: Do your job and trust the process — Quartz at Work
Goals aren’t conducive for action. You don’t know what you need to do to achieve the goal.

The process gives you a mental checklist of items to tick off. There’s always the next deliverable and something you can do to get better.
process  goal 
july 2018
Specialized's New Super-Fast S-Works Venge Bike - Cool Hunting
"For every shape in the library, it is impossible to make it more aero without also making the shape heavier," says Yu, "We are maxing out what computers are capable of doing right now." Although the shapes were computer-generated, they have an intuitive look and feel. "We can get a shape that looks 90% the same from free-hand drawing it," he says. However, it is that extra 10%—those small tweaks and millimeter adjustments of surface area, like the Venge’s new handlebars which have a unique shape that cuts down on material, weight, and offers more aero—that have truly distinguished the computer’s inputs.
bicycle  aerodynamics 
july 2018
E-waste mining could be big business - and good for the planet. - BBC News
Expenses included the costs of waste collection, labour, energy, material and transportation, as well as capital costs for the recyclers' equipment and buildings.

And when these costs - and the effects of Chinese government subsidies for recycling - were taken into account, the team found that mining from ore was 13 times more expensive than e-waste mining.
july 2018
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