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# Polymath Online

Learning: Handpicked topics to make you a bit more polymathic. Every day.
 Scooped by Martin Daumiller onto Polymath Online

Earth’s oceans and waterways wouldn’t be the same without the amazing birds that wing so gracefully over water and crashing waves. Pelicans are fascinating creatures. Not only are they gigantic, with wingspans as large as 10 feet, but they can also soar up to heights of 10,000 feet on thermals!

When it eats, the pelican catches prey in its large gular sack, squeezes the water out the side of its bill, moves the food until it is facing head-down in its throat, and swallows.

Pelican bills are actually able to sense creatures underwater, which is handy if the water is murky and the birds can’t see. Most pelicans will fish in groups. They beat the water with their wings to drive fish into the shallows and then scoop them up with their bills. A hook on their upper mandibles helps them grip slippery food – and sometimes even allows them to nab a large fish, toss it into the air, and swallow it in one gulp!

Aside from making the birds lighter and helping them float in water, the air sacs also improve flight aerodynamics by smoothing and stiffening the feathers across the abdomen and helping to cushion the impact when they dive for fish.

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## The Last Days Of The Polymath?

Isaiah Berlin once divided thinkers into two types. Foxes (which know many things) and hedgehogs (which know one big thing). The foxes used to roam free across the hills. Today the hedgehogs rule.

A polymath (from the Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much") is someone whose expertise covers a significant number of different subject areas. By todays sandards, most ancient scientists were polymaths. Today, they appear to be extinct.

But still everyone of us can strive to follow this ideal.

As well as you can  f o l l o w  this topic, simply by clicking on the 'follow' button at the top of the page.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

Life is interesting! There are so many things around us which are absolutely stunning - if we just look at them from the right angle. In this context the world wide web offers a great potential of learning, gaining knowledge and discovering new things. Often however, we are flooded with too much information.

This scoop.it page can help you: With a nice and broad preselection of articles I consider interesting.

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## Jointly They Edit: Examining the Impact of Community Identification on Political Interaction in Wikipedia

Background:

In their 2005 study, Adamic and Glance coined the memorable phrase ‘divided they blog’, referring to a trend of cyberbalkanization in the political blogosphere, with liberal and conservative blogs tending to link to other blogs with a similar political slant, and not to one another. As political discussion and activity increasingly moves online, the power of framing political discourses is shifting from mass media to social media.

Methodology/Principal Findings:

Continued examination of political interactions online is critical, and we extend this line of research by examining the activities of political users within the Wikipedia community. First, we examined how users in Wikipedia choose to display their political affiliation. Next, we analyzed the patterns of cross-party interaction and community participation among those users proclaiming a political affiliation. In contrast to previous analyses of other social media, we did not find strong trends indicating a preference to interact with members of the same political party within the Wikipedia community.

Conclusions/Significance:

Our results indicate that users who proclaim their political affiliation within the community tend to proclaim their identity as a ‘Wikipedian’ even more loudly. It seems that the shared identity of ‘being Wikipedian’ may be strong enough to triumph over other potentially divisive facets of personal identity, such as political affiliation.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

Online media characterises an important source for information, also in the political world. Notable since the 2004 U.S. elections, the medium has been used vastly for that purporse.

Social identity in online communities can be developed by individuals by means of an common identity or common bonds and can be seen by the commitment the member feels toward the online community's purpose.

The results of this study show that highly politically involved users are also very involved in the online community. They have a tendency of editing articals which are about political topics and especially if these articels are related to the ideology of their party. However there does not seem to be a preference for inner-party relationships: Users work together independend from their political views. In more personal spaces, though, intercations with other members of their party are much higher.

"However, we did see evidence for preference to interact with members of the same party in user walls. It is interesting that we observe this tendency in these more personal spaces, but not on article talk pages. It may be that in the course of conducting activities that are central to the Wikipedia community (e.g. editing articles), the identity of being a Wikipedian is activated and, as a result, the political identity is not salient. In the context of interactions on user walls, where personal activities take greater precedence, the importance of political ideology may shine through more strongly."

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## Can computers save health care? IU research shows lower costs, better outcomes

Using an artificial intelligence framework combining Markov Decision Processes and Dynamic Decision Networks, IU School of Informatics and Computing researchers Casey Bennett and Kris Hauser show how simulation modeling that understands and predicts the outcomes of treatment could reduce health care costs by over 50 percent while also improving patient outcomes by nearly 50 percent.

The work by Hauser, an assistant professor of computer science, and Ph.D. student Bennett improves upon their earlier work that showed how machine learning could determine the best treatment at a single point in time for an individual patient.

By using a new framework that employs sequential decision-making, the previous single-decision research can be expanded into models that simulate numerous alternative treatment paths out into the future; maintain beliefs about patient health status over time even when measurements are unavailable or uncertain; and continually plan/re-plan as new information becomes available. In other words, it can "think like a doctor."

Martin Daumiller's insight:

In order to prove their hypothesis they worked with clinical data, demographics, etc of over 6700 patients. Their model using the Markov decision processes and dynamic decision networks considered the specifics of the patient's current state and by determining the probabilities of the possible outcomes, suggested treatment.

Simulating 500 random cases they could show that they model improved patient outcomes by nearly 35 percent. This research goes together with recent developments in the field of data analysis in the health care system, such as IBM adveriting two new commercial versions of its Watson system.

However it is without questions that any computer model should replace physicians' judgment - both entities should rather be working together, in order to maximize the potential of both.

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## Warp Speed: What Hyperspace Would Really Look Like

Passengers on the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise actually wouldn't be able to see stars at all when traveling that fast, found a group of physics Masters students at England's University of Leicester. Rather, a phenomenon called the Doppler Effect, which affects the wavelength of radiation from moving sources, would cause stars' light to shift out of the visible spectrum and into the X-ray range, where human eyes wouldn't be able to see it, the students found.

"The resultant effects we worked out were based on Einstein's theory of Special Relativity, so while we may not be used to them in our daily lives, Han Solo and his crew should certainly understand its implications," Leicester student Joshua Argyle said in a statement.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

Physics students of the University of Leicester argue that space would not appear as shown in many sci-fi movies (long stretched stars) when approaching the speed of light but rather as a centralized bright glow. "If the Millenium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable," said research team member Riley Connors. "On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation." In fact the increased X-ray radiation would result in higher pressure, pushing the ship back and consequently leading to higher requirement of energy than formerly thought.

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## Social Dynamics of Science : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

In the proposed model, which we call SDS (Social Dynamics of Science), we build a social network of collaborations whose nodes represent scholars, linked by coauthored papers as illustrated in Figure a. Each scholar is represented by a list of disciplines indicating the scientific fields they have been working on, and every discipline has a list of papers. Similarly, each link is represented by a list of disciplines with associated papers describing the collaborations between two scholars. The social network starts with one scholar writing one paper in one discipline. The network then evolves as new scholars join, new papers are written, and new disciplines emerge over time.

At every time step, a new paper is added to the network. Its first author is chosen uniformly at random, so that every scholar has the same chance to publish a paper. In modeling the choice of collaborators, we aim to capture a few basic intuitions: (i) scholars who have collaborated before are likely to do so again; (ii) scholars with common collaborators are likely to collaborate with each other; (iii) it is easier to choose collaborators with similar than dissimilar background; and (iv) scholars with many collaborations have higher probability to gain additional ones23, 24. We model these behaviors through a biased random walk25, illustrated in Fig. 2(b). The random walk traverses the collaboration network starting at the node corresponding to the first author. At each step, the walker decides to stop at the current node i with probability pw, or to move to an adjacent node with probability 1 – pw. In the latter case a neighbor j is selected according to the transition probability where wij is the weight of the edge connecting scholars i and j, that is, the number of papers that i and j have coauthored. Each visited node becomes an additional collaborator. Note that the walk may result in a single author.

Each paper is characterized by one main topic and possibly additional, secondary topics. The discipline that is shared by the majority of authors is selected as the main topic of the paper. Each coauthor acquires membership in this main topic, to model exposure of scholars to new disciplines through collaboration. Additionally, a paper with authors from multiple disciplines inherits the union of these disciplines as topics. This choice is motivated by a desire to capture highly multidisciplinary efforts that are likely to lead to the emergence of new fields. This mechanism could be modified to reflect a more conservative notion of discipline by adopting a stricter rule for discipline inheritance.

At every time step, with probability pn, we also add a new scholar to the network. The parameter pn regulates the ratio of papers to scholars. The new scholar is the first author of the paper created at that time step. To generate other collaborators, an existing scholar is first selected uniformly at random as the first coauthor. Then the random walk procedure is followed to pick additional collaborators. The new scholar acquires the main topic of the paper.

We introduce a novel mechanism to model the evolution of disciplines by splitting and merging communities in the social collaboration network. The idea, motivated by the earlier observations from the APS data, is that the birth or decline of a discipline should correspond to an increase in the modularity of the network. Two such events may occur at each time step with probability pd.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

The proposed model manages to describe and evaluate the relationships between scientific disciplines, scholars and publications by focusing on the interatctions between scholars. Comparing the data this model yielded in a computer simulation to realistic historical facts, a high empirical validty could be shown. It thus provides support for the key role of social interactions in the world of science, describing the number of publications and emergence of new disciplines.

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## PLOS Computational Biology: The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe

Lactase persistence (LP) is common among people of European ancestry, but with the exception of some African, Middle Eastern and southern Asian groups, is rare or absent elsewhere in the world. Lactase gene haplotype conservation around a polymorphism strongly associated with LP in Europeans (1−13,910 C/T) indicates that the derived allele is recent in origin and has been subject to strong positive selection. Furthermore, ancient DNA work has shown that the −13,910*T (derived) allele was very rare or absent in early Neolithic central Europeans. It is unlikely that LP would provide a selective advantage without a supply of fresh milk, and this has lead to a gene-culture coevolutionary model where lactase persistence is only favoured in cultures practicing dairying, and dairying is more favoured in lactase persistent populations. We have developed a flexible demic computer simulation model to explore the spread of lactase persistence, dairying, other subsistence practices and unlinked genetic markers in Europe and western Asia's geographic space. Using data on −13,910*T allele frequency and farming arrival dates across Europe, and approximate Bayesian computation to estimate parameters of interest, we infer that the −13,910*T allele first underwent selection among dairying farmers around 7,500 years ago in a region between the central Balkans and central Europe, possibly in association with the dissemination of the Neolithic Linearbandkeramik culture over Central Europe. Furthermore, our results suggest that natural selection favouring a lactase persistence allele was not higher in northern latitudes through an increased requirement for dietary vitamin D. Our results provide a coherent and spatially explicit picture of the coevolution of lactase persistence and dairying in Europe.

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## 100,000 Stars

With 200 billion stars, there’s a lot to see in our galaxy, and through tapping a myriad of imagery and data from a range of sources, including NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), Google plots the nearest stars to Earth’s Sun.

Using Chrome’s WebGL, CSS3D, and Web Audio support, you can zoom in and out to explore the layout of the stars, set against a dreamy soundtrack. You can click on each name to learn more about it and see a digital rendition, and zoom all the way out to get a little context for where l’il ol’ us sits in the grand scheme of things.

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## Humans Can't Be Empathetic And Logical At The Same Time

A new study published in NeuroImage found that separate neural pathways are used alternately for empathetic and analytic problem solving. The study compares it to a see-saw. When you’re busy empathizing, the neural network for analysis is repressed, and this switches according to the task at hand.

Anthony Jack, an assistant professor in cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University and lead author of the study, relates the idea to an optical illusion. You can see a duck or a rabbit in the image, but not both at the same time. This limitation to what you can see is called perceptual rivalry. Jack's new study takes this concept beyond visual perception, and investigates how the brain processes situations. It found separate neural networks for social/emotional processing and for logical analysis.

The study took magnetic resonance images of 45 college students as they were presented with problems involving social issues or physics. The MRIs showed that separate regions of the brain activated and deactivated according to the type of problem.

Finding a balance between the use of the two neural pathways could give insight into treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, according to Jack.

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## Into the Permian Woods

Last April, Pfefferkorn and Wang, a paleobotanist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, described the full magnitude of the find: an entire swath of ancient swamp forest frozen in time beneath more than 20 square miles of volcanic ash. The scientists realized they could re-create, in striking detail, the swampland that would have stood before them during the early Permian period, 298 million years ago. Back then, the landscape was flat, mostly waterlogged, and thick with greenery. Animals including the Arthropleura—a nearly 10-foot-long relative of the centipede—splashed through grass-free, shallow waters, their feet skimming the spongy peat made from decomposing foliage. Dragonfly-like insects with foot-long wingspans buzzed in the humid air, and chunky primitive spiders called trigonotarbids, bearing thick black-tipped fangs, sat atop trees, says Smithsonian Institution paleobiologist Bill DiMichele. Over tufty ground covers and ferns, the brushlike tops of slim Sigillaria trees towered up to 80 feet high; they are related to club mosses and squat ground pines that today hikers trample without a thought. In patches, the forest thinned and ferny undergrowth dominated.

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## What Is the Speed of Sound?

The big question that comes up - did the Red Bull Stratos jump break the speed of sound or not?

At sea level, the value is right around the 340 m/s mark. If you move up to 120,000 feet, the speed will drop down to around 200 m/s. Just from this data, you can see that Felix Baumgartner did indeed fall faster than the speed of sound. However, the question doesn’t really make sense. Did he fall faster than the speed of sound at sea level? Yes. Was he also going faster than the speed of sound for the altitude he was at? Well, it makes logical sense that if the speed of sound is greatest at sea level and he went faster than the speed of sound he would be going faster than the locals speed of sound.

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Earth’s oceans and waterways wouldn’t be the same without the amazing birds that wing so gracefully over water and crashing waves. Pelicans are fascinating creatures. Not only are they gigantic, with wingspans as large as 10 feet, but they can also soar up to heights of 10,000 feet on thermals!

When it eats, the pelican catches prey in its large gular sack, squeezes the water out the side of its bill, moves the food until it is facing head-down in its throat, and swallows.

Pelican bills are actually able to sense creatures underwater, which is handy if the water is murky and the birds can’t see. Most pelicans will fish in groups. They beat the water with their wings to drive fish into the shallows and then scoop them up with their bills. A hook on their upper mandibles helps them grip slippery food – and sometimes even allows them to nab a large fish, toss it into the air, and swallow it in one gulp!

Aside from making the birds lighter and helping them float in water, the air sacs also improve flight aerodynamics by smoothing and stiffening the feathers across the abdomen and helping to cushion the impact when they dive for fish.

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## HIV Map

Statistics pointing out that Southern Africa is one of the most endangered zones of HIV/AIDS.

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## Mapping the Brain - Interactive

Identify parts and regions of the brain and their functions in different scans in 2D and 3D.

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## PLOS ONE: Getting a Grip on Memory: Unilateral Hand Clenching Alters Episodic Recall

"Unilateral hand clenching increases neuronal activity in the frontal lobe of the contralateral hemisphere. Such hand clenching is also associated with increased experiencing of a given hemisphere’s “mode of processing.” Together, these findings suggest that unilateral hand clenching can be used to test hypotheses concerning the specializations of the cerebral hemispheres during memory encoding and retrieval. We investigated this possibility by testing effects of unilateral hand clenching on episodic memory. The hemispheric Encoding/Retrieval Asymmetry (HERA) model proposes left prefrontal regions are associated with encoding, and right prefrontal regions with retrieval, of episodic memories. It was hypothesized that right hand clenching (left hemisphere activation) pre-encoding, and left hand clenching (right hemisphere activation) pre-recall, would result in superior memory. Results supported the HERA model. Also supported was that simple unilateral hand clenching can be used as a means by which the functional specializations of the cerebral hemispheres can be investigated in intact humans."

Martin Daumiller's insight:

This article recieved a lot of media coverage lately, however it lacks in scientific quality, with the hypothesis having hardly any (rather even: contradictive) basis in literature, as little as 9 participants per group (typeII errors!), but a very high number of overall groups, which have not even been reported and only one significant result (which still did not include correction for multiple comparisons). The denoted "strong trends" are nothing but trends, but lead to an impressive impact in populac-scientific journals.

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## Caffeine Improves Left Hemisphere Processing of Positive Words

A positivity advantage is known in emotional word recognition in that positive words are consistently processed faster and with fewer errors compared to emotionally neutral words. A similar advantage is not evident for negative words. Results of divided visual field studies, where stimuli are presented in either the left or right visual field and are initially processed by the contra-lateral brain hemisphere, point to a specificity of the language-dominant left hemisphere. The present study examined this effect by showing that the intake of caffeine further enhanced the recognition performance of positive, but not negative or neutral stimuli compared to a placebo control group. Because this effect was only present in the right visual field/left hemisphere condition, and based on the close link between caffeine intake and dopaminergic transmission, this result points to a dopaminergic explanation of the positivity advantage in emotional word recognition.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

For this study participants (n=66) were randomly assigned to a placebo control group or a caffeine group, which recieved an intake of 200mg of caffeine (eq. to 2-3 cups of coffee). In the 30min afterwards word-recognition test (Berlin Affective Word List in a 3 (EMOTION)*2 (LEXICALITY) design) participants were asked to distinguish pseudowords from proper words in a divided visual field lexical decision task.

Participants were right-handed and consequently likely with language processing-centers in thei left hemispheres.

Caffeine is known to stimulate dopamine, therefore the research suggests that the processing of positive words being quicker than of negative or neutral words, is likely due to that neurotransmitter. That goes in concordance with known studies showing the importance of dopamine in regulating reward and pleasure.

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## The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers' Perception of a Hot Beverage

Research has demonstrated that the physical attributes of the containers from which we eat and drink can influence our perception of various foods and beverages and the overall consumption experience. In the present study, we extended this line of research in order to investigate whether the consumer's perception of a hot beverage (namely hot chocolate) would be influenced by the color of the plastic vending cup from which it was served. To this end, 57 participants tasted four samples of hot chocolate from four cups of the same size but different color (red, orange, white and dark cream). The participants had to rate each sample of hot chocolate (two of which had been sweetened) on a number of sensory scales. The results revealed that orange (with a white interior) and dark-cream colored cups enhanced the chocolate flavor of the drink and consequently improved people's acceptance of the beverage. By contrast, sweetness and chocolate aroma were less influenced by the color of the cup, but the results still showed that the hot chocolate, when consumed from the dark-cream cup, was rated as sweeter and its aroma more intense.

Martin Daumiller's insight:

The sweetness and the aroma (smell) where hardly influenced by the colour of the cup. This shows that there is no correlation between the intensity of the color and the perception of the sweetness of the beverage, as one might expect from an evolutionary point of view and after consideration of the linkage between cocoa content and color internsity. In addition to that it turned out, that the cream-colored cup did not enhance the creaminess of the beverage.

The result of this study therefore demonstrate that the color of the cup directly influences the sensory-discriminative and hedonic evalutations of a hot beverage and poses the challenging theoretical question as to why such effects occur.

On the other hand practical implications are stressed, as every chef has to reconsider the paid focus on colors. It goes without saying that the results of this study cannot be generalized to all kinds of beverages or food and that in fact we might assume completely different - but strong - effects of its color.

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## 21 Emotions with No English Word Equivalents

Martin Daumiller's insight:

Design student Pei-Ying Lin took Parrot|s Classification of Human Emotions as a base and tried to add different emotions to it, which don't exist in English, but in other languages, such as Hebrew, Russian, German, Italian, Mandarin, etc.

She tried to express similarities and closeness to other emotions and managed to visualize the relationship between the foreign emotion-words and the English ones.

In Lins words, her project is one "that investigates human emotions and languages. By re-looking at how humans communicate, it searches for a way to connect our inner self and personal emotions, through the design of a personal language and several new ways of communication. It is an investigation of how language can be improvised to connect our emotions in this multilingual world."

This is a nice example and visualization of the culture-rootedness of emotions. It underlines the historical and social background necessary for the development of a certain set-of-mind required to feel and express specific emotions.

Sophie Martin's comment, March 13, 7:30 PM
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## Coke and Cargill File for Patents on Natural Sweetener Stevia

There might just be a sweet revolution following the news that corporate giants Coca Cola and Cargill filed for 24 U.S. patents related to stevia, a South American herb used for centuries to sweeten food and drinks.

“Stevia is the world’s only zero-calorie, zero-glycemic, all-natural sweetener,” says Steve May, innovator of Arizona-based SweetLeaf stevia products. “It’s kind of the holy grail of the sweetener business.”

Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sucrose and in October the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the organic foods firm Hain Celestial Group, which uses the product in certain tea and drink mixes, saying it had concerns about the effects the sweetener had on blood sugar levels, the cardiovascular system, and the reproductive system.

Still media reports say Coke and Cargill are working to petition the FDA for the product’s approval. “The tide is changing for this little leaf. It’s almost a perfect storm,” May says.

For quick-service restaurants, that could mean that one day, green packets of stevia sweeteners will be as omnipresent as white, pink, and blue packets at coffee counters. And since all-natural extracts are part of everything from sodas to marinades, the change could even cross over into the kitchen.

Cargill plans to experiment with various food products, adding its stevia extracts to “anything it makes sense to add it to—ice creams, desserts,” says Anne Tucker, spokeswoman for the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company. “People are more concerned about where things come from, what’s in their food. There’s nothing added to this. It’s an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener.”

Coca Cola and Cargill spent more than four years researching stevia before submitting information for patents. “This is another step toward meeting the public’s need for all-natural,” says Coca Cola spokeswoman Wanda Rodwell. “It’s an alternative we want to be able to deliver to our consumers.”

Neither company has a timetable for introducing stevia in the U.S. or worldwide. The process for U.S. approval of food additives can take years, according to the FDA. Companies submit information attesting to the ingredient’s safety and wait for it to clear. If and when Coke and Cargill achieve FDA approval, stevia could be sold as a sweetener and used as a food and drink ingredient.

Coca Cola is now planning to launch products in one of 12 countries where stevia is permitted, but hasn’t decided where or in what product the sweetner will be used, Rodwell says.

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## The myth of breakfast, lunch and dinner

British people - and many others across the world - have been brought up on the idea of three square meals a day as a normal eating pattern, but it wasn't always that way.

People are repeatedly told the hallowed family dinner around a table is in decline and the UK is not the only country experiencing such change.

The case for breakfast, missed by many with deleterious effects, is that it makes us more alert, helps keep us trim and improves children's work and behaviour at school.

Breakfast as we know it didn't exist for large parts of history. The Romans didn't really eat it, usually consuming only one meal a day around noon, says food historian Caroline Yeldham. In fact, breakfast was actively frowned upon.

"The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day," she says. "They were obsessed with digestion and eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking impacted on the way people ate for a very long time."

The Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th Century regularised working hours, with labourers needing an early meal to sustain them at work. All classes started to eat a meal before going to work, even the bosses.

At the turn of the 20th Century, breakfast was revolutionised once again by American John Harvey Kellogg. He accidentally left some boiled maize out and it went stale. He passed it through some rollers and baked it, creating the world's first cornflake. He sparked a multi-billion pound industry.

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## World Record Paper Airplane Distance

"The farthest flight by a paper aircraft is 69.14 meters (226 feet 10 inches), achieved by Joe Ayoob and aircraft designer John M. Collins (both USA), at McClellan Air Force Base, in North Highlands, California, USA on 26 February 2012."

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## The Coffee Ring Effect - Intriguing Microscopic Video

Penn physicists have recently shown that simply changing particle shape can eliminate the ring-shaped stain that is left behind when drops of certain liquids dry. In this video microscopy footage from their experiments, watch as spherical particles get swept to the edges, while oblong particles are distributed consistently.

Via Sakis Koukouvis
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## Beluga Whale Learns to Speak Like a Human

Beluga whales can vocalize in a way remarkably close to human speech – or at least one of them can, according to new observations described in the journal Current Biology. The discovery came as a shocker to scientists, who previously knew that dolphins sometimes mimic the patterns and durations of human speech but had no evidence that an animal may spontaneously put its vocal skills to such a mimicry test.

NOC’s vocal bursts averaged about three per second, with pauses interspersed similar to human speech. The frequencies within those bursts resembled human “harmonics” rather than whales’ normal vocalization patterns.They went on to teach NOC to make the speech-like sounds on command and fitted him with a pressure transducer in his nasal cavity to investigate the way the whale was pulling off the unique vocalizations. It turned out the sounds were due to a rapid change in pressure within his nasal cavity, which he amplified by over-inflating a sac in his blowhole that is normally used to stop water from entering the lungs.

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Here is a series of brilliant billboard ads dedicated to promoting science in Vancouver, by Science World Museum in collaboration with Rethink Canada...

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## Status affects how readily people return smiles, research reveals

People who feel powerful are more likely to mimic the smiles of those they perceive as low status, according to research presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans. They are less likely, however, to return the smiles of people they consider of higher status than themselves. And when people are not feeling particularly powerful, they return everyone's smiles almost equally.

Mimicking other people's behaviour is an important mechanism of bonding in group situations, according to Evan Carr from the department of psychology at the University of California in San Diego, who led the study. "Mimicry has been shown to help build relationships, and both power and status seem to affect how we unconsciously employ this strategy," he said.

A large part of the social mimicry process seems to be subconscious. Carr used a technique called a facial electromyograph to measure muscle activity in volunteers' faces, which records the minute electrical currents whenever a muscle twitches. It is so sensitive that it can measure electrical activity even when the muscle itself does not look as though it is moving to an observer. This was a useful way to capture all of the true reactions by volunteers, even when they did not seem to be moving their face in response to a video. "If you watch the video playback of many of these subjects, they would look like they just had a stoic expression looking at the screen," said Carr. "The interesting thing is that subjects do not know that they are activating their muscles at all."

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## Hospitals Ditch Formula Samples to Promote Breast-Feeding

Health authorities and breast-feeding advocates are urging hospitals to stop handing out samples of formula, saying they can undermine the resolve to breast-feed.

For years, virtually every new mother has been sent home from the hospital with a gift bag full of free product samples, including infant formula.

Now health authorities and breast-feeding advocates are leading a nationwide effort to ban formula samples, which often come in stylish bags with formula company logos. Health experts say they can sway women away from breast-feeding.

The debate over formula samples isn’t about whether breast-feeding is healthier. Even formula companies acknowledge that “breast milk is the gold standard; it’s the best for babies,” said Christopher Perille, a spokesman for Mead Johnson, which makes Enfamil formula. . . .

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"The brain works more like a muscle than we thought," Trevor Blake says in his new book. "So if you're pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you're more likely to behave that way as well."

Even worse, being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity--including viewing such material on TV--actually peels away neurons in the brain's hippocampus. "That's the part of your brain you need for problem solving," he says. "Basically, it turns your brain to mush."

But if you're running a company, don't you need to hear about anything that may have gone wrong? "There's a big difference between bringing your attention to something that's awry and a complaint," Blake says. "Typically, people who are complaining don't want a solution; they just want you to join in the indignity of the whole thing. You can almost hear brains clink when six people get together and start saying, 'Isn't it terrible?' This will damage your brain even if you're just passively listening. And if you try to change their behavior, you'll become the target of the complaint."

Tactics:
1. Get some distance

2. Ask the complainer to fix the problem

3. Shields up!

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