People who caught Covid in first wave get ‘no immune boost’ from Omicron

Science deniers who expect medical research to be as tidy and predictable as a chapter in a middle school textbook sometimes see conspiracy theory when they look at the twists and turns in the scientific community’s response to the COVID-19. The scientists themselves would say they are doing science in real time, adapting to the evidence they find. That’s why the scientists “keep changing their story,” because science is all about changing your understanding of the world by consulting the best possible evidence. As our understanding of a thing develops, new evidence emerges that sometimes confirms, and sometimes challenges our…

Darwin Was Wrong: Your Facial Expressions Do Not Reveal Your Emotions

In real life, people express a given emotion with tremendous variability. In anger, for example, people in urban cultures scowl (or make some of the facial movements for a scowl) only about 35 percent of the time, according to meta-analyses of studies measuring facial movement during emotion. Scowls are also not specific to anger because people scowl for other reasons, such as when they are concentrating or when they have gas. The same tremendous variation occurs for every emotion studied—and for every other measure that purportedly tells us about someone’s emotional state, whether it’s their physiology, voice or brain activity.…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language acquisition begins before birth) “Did I Miss Anything?” (poet’s creative response to a “question frequently asked by students after missing a class”) A Salon article mocking the New York Times…

Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days

He was abandoned by his flock, his nest blown from the mango tree. His eyes were tightly shut and he was shuddering, too young to survive alone. He was the size of my little finger, with feathers the colour of Rich Tea biscuits, inky eyes and a small bill like a pencil lead. I placed him in a cardboard box with tea towels, mimicking a nest, and stayed up all night, researching how to care for him. I spoke to an expert who said it would take 12 weeks to prepare him for the wild. The next day, he woke…

Brain activity of a dying man suggests we do recall memories at death

The 87-year-old man developed epilepsy and was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, before dying of a cardiac arrest. […] “As a neurosurgeon, I deal with loss at times. It is indescribably difficult to deliver the news of death to distraught family members,” [Dr. Amal Zemmar] said. “Something we may learn from this research is: although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to leave us to rest, their brains may be replaying some of the nicest moments they experienced in their lives.” —Daily Mail

Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view from space, but the comment was referring to Shatner’s words. And I have to teach.

Why your brain’s so bad at letting go of negative comments

Negative comments engage avoidance motivation. When you’re motivated to avoid something bad, then an important strategy is to be vigilant for more bad things in the environment to make sure that you’re aware of problems as soon as they happen. This may have been an adaptive strategy when there were people or animals out there trying to hunt you in some evolutionary environment. However, it’s a less effective strategy in today’s world, when the negative thing is not a bear but a nasty tweet. Despite this, your brain reacts in the same way, making you obsess about what some anonymous…

How a Supermoon Helped Free the Giant Container Ship From the Suez Canal

Powerful lead to this well-written news story. (Great use of embedded hyperlinks, too.) To get the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal unstuck, engineers needed the stars to align. Actually, the sun, Earth and moon. After several days trying to dislodge the Ever Given cargo ship, which had veered off course and embedded itself in the side of the canal, the salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full moon, when, beginning Sunday, water levels were set to rise a foot-and-a-half higher than normal high tides. That would make it easier to pull the 1,300-foot vessel out from the…

Part of Wright brothers’ 1st airplane on NASA’s Mars chopper

“Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars!” Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright said in a statement provided by the park. Orville Wright was on board for the world’s first powered, controlled flight on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers took turns, making four flights that day. A fragment of Wright Flyer wood and fabric flew to the moon with Apollo…

Sperm whales in 19th century shared ship attack information

From whaling and sealing stations to missionary bases, western culture was imported to an ocean that had remained largely untouched. As Herman Melville, himself a whaler in the Pacific in 1841, would write in Moby-Dick (1851): “The moot point is, whether Leviathan can long endure so wide a chase, and so remorseless a havoc.” Sperm whales are highly socialised animals, able to communicate over great distances. They associate in clans defined by the dialect pattern of their sonar clicks. Their culture is matrilinear, and information about the new dangers may have been passed on in the same way whale matriarchs share knowledge about…