Twig Pi

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Belief, bias and Bayes

In my last post I dipped my toe into some statistics, to try to explain why the (essentially arbitrary) “five sigma” criterion for a discovery is so widely used in particle physics. As part of the explanation I quoted Louis Lyons saying that the 5 sigma requirement includes a “subconscious Bayes …

What Your Brain Looks Like After A Netflix Binge

You know that sitting for long periods isn't good for your body, but what does sitting in front of the TV do to your head?<p>By Corrie Pikul<p><b>What we're doing:</b> Devouring a month of TV shows in a weekend. A Netflix survey published last December found that 61 percent of about 1,500 online respondents say …

Why animals can’t resist touchscreen technology

Whether it’s apes, bears or penguins, animals can’t enough of touchscreens, says Jason G Goldman, and it’s revealing intriguing things about their behaviour.<p>Esme, Molly, Quinn, and Emily live together in Austria. Their favourite foods are mushrooms, sweetcorn, and strawberries, and their hobbies …

Mental illness and sexual abuse: the shocking link

Some years ago, the Mufti of Australia got into hot water when he likened women who failed to wear the hijab to “uncovered meat”, at risk of being devoured by cats. In other words, if a woman who dressed “immodestly” were to be raped then she should share, if not take all, the blame.<p>Sadly, despite …

Dame Julia Slingo: the woman who reads the skies

At the Met Office in Exeter the clouds are gathering ominously. It's a typical dodgy-looking summer's day and, glancing up, I have no idea whether to reach for the sun cream or dig out my brolly. But while the clouds have me baffled, they are one of Dame Julia Slingo's specialities. In fact they're …

How To Rewire Your Brain For Greater Happiness

The bad news: Our brains are wired to be negative. The good news: You can train your brain to hold on to happiness in 10 seconds.<p>Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could hack into our own brains and rewire them to be happier?<p>Science has shown we actually can thanks to a phenomenon called …

Sleep drunkenness may affect more than 1 in 7 people, study finds

Ever heard of "sleep drunkenness"? If you've ever tried to reach for your phone when your alarm clock rings or been so disoriented when you wake up that you don't know where you are, you may have experienced what's known formally as "confusional arousal."<p>More than 1 in 7 people in the U.S. may …

Monitor glaucoma with an eye implant and a phone - Futurity

Lowering internal eye pressure is currently the only way to treat glaucoma. A tiny eye implant and phone app could help doctors measure eye pressure.

Post-pigeon: 100 years since most common bird's extinction

On 1 September 1914 a pigeon died in Cincinnati zoo, around lunchtime, and with her died her species. The pigeon's name was Martha and her species was the passenger pigeon. Only 50 years before, passenger pigeons flew in flocks of millions across the forests of the eastern US and Canada.<p>They ate …

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips For Living A Kick-Ass Life

You may know Mark Twain for some of his very popular books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He was a writer and …

The States People Want To Get The Hell Out Of [Infographic]

Survey says: people want to leave Illinois.<p>Gallup is out with a new poll and accompanying map measuring responses to this question: "Regardless of whether you <i>will</i> move, if you had the opportunity, would you <i>like</i> to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?"<p>Big insights …

The App I Used to Break Into My Neighbor’s Home

When I broke into my neighbor’s home earlier this week, I didn’t use any cat burglar skills. I don’t know how to pick locks. I’m not even sure how to …

Hollow Earth conspiracy theories: the hole truth

For centuries, Hollow Earth conspiracy theorists have tried to prove that there’s a whole other world beneath our own. But first they need to find the way in...<p><b>Late at night, on October 4 2002, a strange guest appeared</b> on a cult American <b>radio</b> show. Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell had a reputation …

The Fourier transform lets you have your cake and understand it

If there's a mathematical idea that applies itself to almost everything in everyday life but is almost unknown outside the scientific world, the Fourier transform has to be the most unsung contender. It pops up wherever scientists need to study complex things that fluctuate in the real world – …

From dust-free bottles to easy-peeling bananas: your science questions answered

Q Why don't the bottles of detergents and shampoos in my bathroom get dusty, even if I leavethem out? asks mathsdude<p>A This interesting property of plastic bottles is not down to mere chance – the material from which they are made has been carefully tuned to avoid collecting dust. Plastics, being …

Beyond a joke: how to study laughter

Professor Sophie Scott has made it her mission to study laughter. But creating laughter that can be analysed in a scientific setting proves to be alarmingly challenging<p>I am interested in the science of laughter, an interest that grew from my studies of human vocal expressions.<p>It’s fair to say that …

How A Simple New Invention Seals A Gunshot Wound In 15 Seconds

An Oregon startup has developed a pocket-size device that uses tiny sponges to stop bleeding fast.<p>When a soldier is shot on the battlefield, the emergency treatment can seem as brutal as the injury itself. A medic must pack gauze directly into the wound cavity, sometimes as deep as 5 inches into …

The King's College London scientist purge: what message does it send?

We live in an era when scientific solutions will be required to extricate our planet from a host of mounting troubles. From pandemics and superbugs to climate change and dwindling fossil fuels, it's no exaggeration to state that only clever solutions from the world's best and brightest thinkers …

In-flight science: how the world works when you're sitting on a plane

1. The wing myth<p>For many years we taught the wrong explanation for the way wings keep planes in the air. It was thought that the wing shape meant that air has further to travel over the top surface than the bottom, making the air above move faster to keep up, reducing pressure and producing lift. …

Bacon: the Other White Heat

You know bacon is delicious, but did you know it contains enough energy to melt metal?<p>I recently committed myself to the goal, before the weekend was out, of creating a device entirely from bacon and using it to cut a steel pan in half. My initial attempts were failures, but I knew success was …

The scandal of common mental illnesses left untreated

Imagine you are the campaigns manager of a political party. You are aware of a public health crisis that, at any one time, affects a third of the population, reduces life expectancy as drastically as smoking, is more disabling than angina, asthma, or diabetes, and reduces GDP by around 4% each …

How It Works: The Highest-Efficiency Solar Cell

I'm going to soak up the sun.<p>Solar cells typically convert no more than 20 percent of incoming energy into electricity, in part because they capture only certain wavelengths of light. Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems have developed a solar cell that converts …

Can synaesthesia be learnt?

Many people see words as colours, smells or sounds, and they swear it boosts their creativity. So could we all tweak our senses to see the world in this way?<p>Olympia Colizoli doesn’t see the world like you. “To me, all time and numbers are arranged in physical space. Days, weeks, months, years, …

Disciplinary dilemma: working across research silos is harder than it looks

One of the loudest buzzwords in current science politics is interdisciplinarity. Government extols its virtues. Research councils clamour about its value. Academics parade their credentials.<p>The frenetic activity intensifies with the advent of other buzzwords: "global assessments", "ecosystem …

Writing up: the home straight of a PhD

Post-graduate study, a wise person (probably) once said, is a marathon rather than a sprint. If that’s the case, right now Tower Bridge, where the crowds were cheering me on and I had the city at my feet, seems like a distant memory. It feels like I’ve been running along Embankment forever, but the …

Nanotube forests drink water from arid air

(Phys.org) —If you don't want to die of thirst in the desert, be like the beetle. Or have a nanotube cup handy. New research by scientists at Rice …

Bumblebee Rescues Other Bee From Spider's Grasp (VIDEO)

Who knew a bumblebee could be heroic?<p>Now we definitely do. In this video, a bumblebee swoops in to save a fellow bee caught in a spiderweb -- just before the spider moves in on its prey.<p>What's best about this video is the slow-motion recap, in which we see the rescuer actively thwart the spider by …