The human mind is a strange and wonderful thing.  Not only can we learn to consciously perform complex tasks, but we can teach ourselves to perform seemingly impossible tasks without ever knowing the steps to do so.  Take the example of chicken sexers, as examined in the September 2011 edition of Discover Magazine: When chicken hatchlings are born, large commercial hatcheries usually set about dividing them into males and females, and the practice of distinguishing gender is known as chick sexing. Sexing is necessary because the two genders receive different feeding programs: one for the females, which will eventually produce [... read the rest ...]

Ever wondered why some people rabidly defend the bands that they love, while attacking products that compete against their favorites?  Ars Technica has an article up that helps explain the phenomenon: You may think you’re defending your favorite platform because it’s just that good. But, according to a recently published study out of the University of Illinois, you may instead be defending yourself because you view criticisms of your favorite brand as a threat to your self image. The study, which will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, examines the strength of consumer-brand relationships, [... read the rest ...]

I’m a terrible snack-o-holic, and some recent research might help to explain why: Scientists are now saying that these sober binges are actually quite similar to pot smokers’ notorious bouts of the munchies: fatty foods cause your body to release marijuana-like chemicals called endocannabinoids, and this likely compels you to continue stuffing your face. [...] The researchers learned that the high-fat drinks sparked the release of endocannabinoids, but the sugar and protein beverages did not. When a rat tasted a fatty drink, signals traveled from the rat’s tongue to its brain. The vagus nerve bundle in the brain then routed [... read the rest ...]

Pro-evolution “neo-Darwinists” are used to attacks from religious groups who claim that natural selection is a load of bunk and intelligent design is the only way to explain the state of life on the planet today.  Adept at defending against the junk science or gospel-based nonsense spouted by creationists, many evolution buffs make a sport of dismantling their opponents and ridiculing their attempts to prop up their beliefs. Unfortunately for neo-Darwinists, there is a new villain on the block, and she comes equipped with a hefty resume to back her up, as well as cold hard science.  The April 2011 [... read the rest ...]

The search for extrasolar planets has been heating up lately, and astronomers have been locating hundreds of new worlds at an amazing rate, including a nearby beauty that may not be that different from Earth (as well as many that are unbelievably different).  Until now all of the planets that we have eyeballed have one thing in common – they orbit a star – however a recent study has found ten roaming giants that do not appear to be gravitationally bound to anything. A new result from astronomers who have spent years peering toward the center of the Milky Way [... read the rest ...]

Work has been a blur lately.  After a year and a half of new product development, quality assurance has been added to the mix and the result has been a deluge of defects that has kept the team busy for the past three weeks.  Technical debt always comes back to bite you in the ass one way or another – you cannot avoid it forever. On the upside, I have links! IP addresses are not people It is a common misconception that an IP address can be directly linked to an individual user or household.  While this is often the [... read the rest ...]

I haven’t done a link dump in a few months, however before I get going I’d like to direct you to the latest episode of the GameBurst podcast, in which I discuss Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic with the crew as a part of their monthly replay segment.  The show is shorter than most podcasts – a brisk 30 minutes – and while recording it felt like time just rocketed by. With that out of the way, here are some tasty morsels to snack on. Reasoning is not for seeking the truth With an election coming up in [... read the rest ...]

I have no preamble today; the links start now! A solution to unwanted gifts? Over at Dubious Quality, Bill Harris has highlighted an absolutely awesome patent: A new patent from Amazon gives potential gift recipients the ability to set gifts from certain people to auto-screen or auto-return. That way, when Grandma sends you the latest sweater — it never ships — saving you and Amazon much grief. Video games are not reality Human stupidity is infinite, but this is still something special: A 23-year-old Clemson, South Carolina man darted into traffic on Highway 123 at approximately 9 p.m. on Monday [... read the rest ...]

Of connectivity, mysteries, and a ruined Christmas

Ah, Christmas Eve…. I can still remember how utterly excited I was as a child, barely able to sleep with the knowledge that Santa’s arrival was imminent.  My parents had to booby trap the family room to try to prevent me and my siblings from getting into our presents early, but we still found a way to bypass the bell bedecked doors in the dead of night and catch a glimpse of the unwrapped goodies that Santa had left us, before scampering back upstairs to tear open our stockings. Speaking of unwrapped goodies, here’s a few links (and a terrible [... read the rest ...]

A couple of days ago I wrote about the exciting announcement out of NASA that scientists had discovered a lifeform that uses a slightly different set of building blocks than traditional critters.  Specifically, the microbes in question are alleged to use arsenic instead of phosphorus as a component when constructing their DNA. Unfortunately, according to Rosie Redfield, a microbiologist out of British Columbia, the science was sloppy and proves nothing.  Writing on her personal blog, Redfield dissected the Science paper, explaining what the authors did and why it was both inconclusive and misleading. Some excerpts: In Fig. 1 (below), the [... read the rest ...]

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