A few days ago the Red Bull Stratos mission was canceled due to weather conditions. The mission has now launched! Felix Baumgartner is on his way up to the edge of space!
The Red Bull Stratos is a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner will undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet / 36,576 meters and make a record-breaking freefall jump in the attempt to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles / 1,110 kilometers per hour), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.
Live Updates at The Huffington Post.
Ancient Aliens Debunked
Have you ever wondered about whether the “ancient aliens” theory, and the meme-tastic History Channel show of the same name, holds any water?
Spoiler: It doesn’t.
But we don’t like unsupported claims around here. So here’s some support: Chris White, a former believer of the alien theory, put together this hours-long film that investigates and disproves each alien claim one-by-one. Instead, scientific explanations are offered for everything from Puma Punku to Giza.
We do no favor to the advanced cultures of the past by diminishing their accomplishments via the introduction of alien technologies. The human race is an ingenious one, and modern society is not the birthplace of technology. I prefer the view that humans have been making huge scientific gains for millennia, because it enriches our history instead of cheapens it.
Ancient cultures being awesome? Is such a thing even possible? You bet it is.
Our brains love playing tricks on us, and the results can be detrimental. Because of how we remember certain events, even a good experience can be recalled as an awful one because of one little problem. Dr. Peter Noel Murray, writing for Psychology Today, explains:
[A] consumer could have a great experience with a product or service, but only have bad memories when thinking about it later. Here’s how. Let’s say you are on vacation and have dinner at the best restaurant recommended to you. Perfect table. Food is exquisitely prepared. Wonderful wine. The experience is fantastic. However, when clearing the table the waiter spills coffee into your lap. Odds are that the coffee spill will degrade your memory of the food and wine, no matter how exceptional you otherwise would have remembered them. And if the hot coffee burned a leg or damaged an expensive dress or suit, the wonderful dining experience may not be remembered at all.
Link to the original article at Psychology Today
The orbits of the moons and planets form a fractal 4-dimensional helix in spacetime.
From Science Daily:
Ask adults from the industrialized world what number is halfway between 1 and 9, and most will say 5. But pose the same question to small children, or people living in some traditional societies, and they’re likely to answer 3.
Cognitive scientists theorize that that’s because it’s actually more natural for humans to think logarithmically than linearly.
Link to the rest at Science Daily.
1850s poster of the planets
A Pulsing Desert
The Sahara Desert conjures up images of merciless heat and endless sands, scuttling scorpions, deadly vipers, gritty winds, elusive water—but it wasn’t always like that. The Sahara has a long history of changing climate, when the sands give way to water and humans brave the elements and survive. The Fezzan region in southwest Libya is the beating heart of the Sahara. Though this apparent inferno receives less than an inch of rain a year and holds the world heat record, it actually harbours tiny gem-coloured lakes: the dehydrated reminders of a time when groundwater was much closer to the surface. 200,000 years ago, a lake the size of England spread across the sands, and ancient channels testify the existence of rivers, making the land not only tolerable, but farmable—human communities rose and fell with the water like a pulse. The Sahara Desert might have even been one of the paths our ancestors took on their journey out of Africa. To locate and map these ancient waterways, researchers have used radar images to direct ground crews to study the sites, but the images of the Fezzan region above, however, were taken by photographer George Steinmetz using an ultra-light paraglider.
From Scientific American:
A baby born in the U.S. this year is likely to live to blow out 78 birthday candles—a far longer average life span than someone born even in the 1960s. Heart disease is still the biggest killer but it, along with fatal infectious diseases and infant mortality have all fallen to much lower levels in the past half century. Researchers are now hard at work tackling the growing afflictions, such as nervous system diseases and Alzheimer’s, which are far more likely to attack the ever more senescent population.
Check out the Interactive graph at Scientific American
From Scientific American:
We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly. But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.
Przybylski and Weinstein asked pairs of strangers to discuss a moderately intimate topic (an interesting event that had occurred to them within the last month) for 10 minutes. The strangers left their own belongings in a waiting area and proceeded to a private booth. Within the booth, they found two chairs facing each other and, a few feet away, out of their direct line of vision, there was a desk that held a book and one other item. Unbeknownst to the pair, the key difference in their interactions would be the second item on the desk. Some pairs engaged in their discussion with a nondescript cell phone nearby, whereas other pairs conversed while a pocket notebook lay nearby. After they finished the discussion, each of the strangers completed questionnaires about the relationship quality (connectedness) and feelings of closeness they had experienced. The pairs who chatted in the presence of the cell phone reported lower relationship quality and less closeness.
Przybylski and Weinstein followed up with a new experiment to see, in which contexts, the presence of a cell phone matters the most. This time, each pair of strangers was assigned a casual topic (their thoughts and feelings about plastic trees) or a meaningful topic (the most important events of the past year) to discuss — again, either with a cell phone or a notebook nearby. After their 10-minute discussion, the strangers answered questions about relationship quality, their feelings of trust, and the empathy they had felt from their discussion partners.
The presence of the cell phone had no effect on relationship quality, trust, and empathy, but only if the pair discussed the casual topic. In contrast, there were significant differences if the topic was meaningful. The pairs who conversed with a cell phone in the vicinity reported that their relationship quality was worse. The pairs also reported feeling less trust and thought that their partners showed less empathy if there was a cell phone present.
Link to the rest at Scientific American