Boing Boing 

Get high for free: stare in a friend's eyes for ten minutes

nan-palermo

Induced dissociative states are the best dissociative states, and one cheap and easy way to get there is to stare into someone's eyes for about ten minutes. More researchers are looking into the phenomenon.

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Girls care more about playing as girls than boys do about playing as girls

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It's never a bad time to revisit this GDC Vault talk from Ashly Burch and Rosalyn Wiseman about how gender and sexuality portrayals in video games are received by audiences. Burch and Wiseman have done some research into how games impact the social lives of young people, and how important representation is to boys versus girls.

The results are fun and interesting, and especially yield important takeaways for media makers hoping to broaden the appeal of their work. In particular, Burch looks at surveys indicating that boys seem to care less whether they play as male or female characters as they get older, while girls seem to care more about playing as their own gender.

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"What's interesting to me about this is that if men don't care over time, and women prefer to play as their own gender more over time, it seems more advantageous to include female protagonists," says Burch. "So why are we not catering to the demographic with the stronger desire?"

Header image is a "female link" clipped from some official Zelda artbook, images of which seem to've originated on GoNintendo.

Disabled chicken will receive a 3D-printed prosthetic leg

Shutterstock


Shutterstock

Cecily is a hen who was born with a bum leg due to a damaged tendon. The options were to put her down or make her a new leg. Her owner, Andrea Martin, who rescues chickens in Clinton, MA, opted to pay $2,500 to have the hen's leg replaced with a new 3D-printed version.

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Interactive chart displays opinion gaps between scientists and public

pew-aaas

Pew Research Center just released an interactive chart showing gaps between scientific consensus and public opinion. Refine results by gender, age, race, education, ideology, political party, and level of science knowledge.

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WATCH: BioBots, remote-controlled iBionic insects

North Carolina State University researchers are wiring up Madagascar hissing roaches with remote-control steering, with a long-term goal to use roaches, moths, and other insects as data-gathering vehicles in inaccessible places like disaster sites.

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An algorithm to figure out your gender

Twitter claims a 90 percent accuracy rate for the clever techniques it uses to learn the gender of any given user. Glenn Fleishman reports on the company's disconcerting new analytics tools, the research behind them, and how large a pinch of salt they come with.Read the rest

Newly minted Nobel laureates speak out against excesses of scientific publishing

One of the perks that comes with winning a Nobel: Access to the bully pulpit. In the last week, Peter Higgs (of boson fame) spoke out against the pressure to publish — pressure that he thinks prevents younger scientists from taking the time to formulate really groundbreaking new ideas. Meanwhile, fellow 2013 winner Randy Schekman announced that he's boycotting brand-name journals like Science and Nature because of the negative impact that they have on scientific culture.

Scientists learn more about the fascinating connection between our brains and our bowels

Bacteroides fragilis — one of the many "friendly" bacteria that live in our gut — seems to be capable of altering the behavior of mice, according to a new study. In a mouse model for autism, exposure to Bacteroides fragilis improved the mice's gastrointestinal function and, along the way, reduced some of their external behavioral symptoms, including obsessive behaviors and anxiety.

Men move more than women do inside an MRI machine

There's a new paper out suggesting that ladies' brains are different from mens' (in ways that support Western stereotypes of gender behavior, natch). It's pretty flawed and has been heavily critiqued, but one critique surprised me — turns out, there's evidence that men tend to move more than women do when you put them in an MRI machine, something that could throw off any attempt to compare MRI data between men and women.

Scientists unearth ancient water in Virginia

Researchers taking a core sample of sediment beneath Cape Charles, Virginia, found something surprising sandwiched between the layers of mud and ooze. Locked inside a rocky layer 5000 feet down, they discovered water — water from the early Cretaceous period.

What we learn about women from research vs. what we learn from evolutionary psychology speculation

An interesting study on female aggression points out the trouble with making declarations about inherent human nature based on speculation about sexual dynamics. New studies, including this one, are finding that women can be plenty competitive and aggressive. At The New York Times, John Tierney points out that old ideas about female passivity were based on "an evolutionary analysis of the reproductive odds in ancient polygynous societies in which some men were left single because dominant males had multiple wives".

Planetary overprotection: Have we made ourselves Mars' helicopter parents?

We've talked here before about the Office of Planetary Protection and efforts to make sure that we Earthlings don't contaminate the rest of the galaxy with our bacteria, viruses, and other assorted detritus. Now, some scientists are arguing that we've done this job too well, effectively barring ourselves from exploring the parts of Mars that are most likely to be hospitable to life precisely because they could also be hospitable to tagalong life from Earth.

Epigenetics continues to be just freaking nuts

We know that stressful experiences can have negative biological repercussions — not just for the people who experience the stress, but also for their children. Now, there's some evidence that this transfer of stress effects might not just be due to a simple case of PTSD changing the way you raise/treat your kids. In a study that's inspired both deep skepticism and jaw-dropping awe (both with good reason) scientists were able to train male mice to fear a specific smell — and then observe that same fear/stress response to the smell in the mice's children and grandchildren. This, despite the fact that the younger generations never had contact with their trained fathers. These results are crazy enough that you shouldn't take them as gospel. But they are hella interesting and will definitely lead to a lot more research as other scientists attempt to replicate them.

Journal of science about kids edited by kids

This seems like it has the potential to be pretty cool. Frontiers in Neuroscience for Young Minds is a new scientific journal that will have kids — ages 8 to 18 — on the editorial review board. The goal: Mentor kids in the process of how science works while simultaneously engaging scientists with questions and comments by the people who are the subject of their research, questions they might not ever hear otherwise.

The Candy Hierarchy, 2013

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Serbian researchers troll academia

The journal Metalurgia International recently published a paper entitled "Evaluation of Transformative Hermeneutic Heuristics for Processing Random Data". Though submitted by real researchers from the University of Belgrade, the paper was a hoax, an attempt to expose lax publishing standards. How lax, you ask? Take a look at the paper. The obvious trolling starts with the authors donning wigs and fake moustaches, continues into an abstract full of blithely meaningless jargon, and includes references to the work of revered academics such as Ron Jeremy, A.S. Hole, Borat Sagdiyev and, yes, Alan Sokal. Retraction Watch has compiled some of the highlights.

People who've never had leukemia show signs of immune battles that fought it off

Far more people have cells that briefly behave in cancerous ways then ever actually develop cancer. Most of the time, those cancerous cells are destroyed before they can do any real damage, and scientists can see evidence of this by looking at echoes of past battles with the immune system. If you've had chicken pox, some of the immune cells that fought off that disease will stick around, ready to more-quickly mount a response against a repeat attack. The same seems to be true with certain kinds of cancers. Scientists found immune cells in healthy people that appear to be primed to attack leukemia — leftover remnants of the body's previous, successful skirmishes.