These are the two COVID-19 data sites I incessantly check

Even tho they are only updated once a day (at most) I check, check and re-check 91-divoc and the IHME COVID-19 Projections.

The linear scale graphs on 91-divoc have given me the best picture of 'is the curve flattening' for the regions I watch. Tribalism runs rampant during Trump's Pandemic and I am naturally more focused on the regions where my loved ones live.

IHME's projections give me an idea about what to expect based on data and models they've explained and I can trust. What comes out of the Orange one's mouth is useless.

Please help me add to my list... Read the rest

Espresso is better with fewer beans, more coarsely ground

Going against conventional wisdom, researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the UK say the way to consistently make better espresso is by using fewer beans and grinding them more coarsely, reports Interesting Engineering:

"When beans were ground finely, the particles were so small that in some regions of the bed they clogged up the space where the water should be flowing," Dr. Foster said in a press release announcing the research. "These clogged sections of the bed are wasted because the water cannot flow through them and access that tasty coffee that you want in your cup. If we grind a bit coarser, we can access the whole bed and have a more efficient extraction. It's also cheaper, because when the grind setting is changed, we can use fewer beans and be kinder to the environment. Once we found a way to make shots efficiently, we realised that as well as making coffee shots that stayed reliably the same, we were using less coffee."

Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash Read the rest

Yet another study shows that the most effective "anti-piracy" strategy is good products at a fair price

It's been 20 years since Napster burst on the scene, and after decades of lawsuits, draconian criminal penalties, even no-knock gunpoint search warrants, there remains no evidence that "copyright enforcement" has a measurable impact on copyright infringement -- and at the same time, there's persistent, credible evidence that infringement goes down when product offerings get better and prices get more reasonable. Read the rest

How the Director of Research for Radiolab finds story ideas

Latif Nasser is Director of Research for WNYC's Radiolab. He wrote a piece for Transom about how he comes up with story ideas for the show. He has an interesting "bag of tricks" to find stories and have lots on hand so that he doesn't panic under a deadline. The tricks include setting up dozens of Google Alerts on the names of interesting people, "juicy phrases" (such as “the human equivalent of”), and topics he finds fascinating (such as the "alford plea"). He signs up for lots of newsletters -- "The more obscure the field the better." (He recommends creating a separate email account for newsletters). He searches for oral histories on ArchiveGrid. He also talks to strangers -- on planes, in lines, "even wrong numbers." The piece includes many other tricks I didn't include here. Highly recommended!

Image: Transom.org Read the rest

Wheelchairs could one day be a relic of the past thanks to this amazing discovery

Being told that you've been injured in such a way that you'll never walk again must be absolutely horrific. Such a loss of mobility would mean not only a great loss of one's options in life, but also having to worry about the peripheral effects that the loss of mobility could have on your health, such as a loss of bone density or the weakening of your cardiovascular system. For those who have to pay for their own healthcare, it could mean bankruptcy. I wouldn't even want to consider the sort of stress it would place on an individual's psyche, not to mention the emotional toll it would have on their loved ones. However, a breakthrough in treating spinal cord injuries made by the University of Louisville could, one day, make paralysis a thing of the past.

From The Verge:

Thomas and Jeff Marquis, who was paralyzed after a mountain biking accident, can now independently walk again after participating in a study at the University of Louisville that was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Thomas’ balance is still off and she needs a walker, but she can walk a hundred yards across grass. She also gained muscle and lost the nerve pain in her foot that has persisted since her accident. Another unnamed person with a spinal cord injury can now independently step across the ground with help from a trainer, according to a similar study at the Mayo Clinic that was also published today in the journal Nature Medicine.

Read the rest

Open offices sap collaboration and productivity, reducing face-to-face time by 70%

Silicon Valley's War on Walls has declared its first casualties according to a new study in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Those casualties are workplace interaction and productivity. Read the rest

Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in over 15,000 published scientific studies

Vanessa Hill at BrainCraft got obsessed with tallying up how many times Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in scientific papers, but she wasn't prepared for the actual number of papers: over 15,000. Read the rest

Study: Publishers sell books written by women for less than those written by men

Women have had to deal with the shitty end of the employment stick since, well, forever. Sexual harassment, rampant misogyny and pay disparity are but a few of the crap things they frequently have to put up with. Apparently, you can add being screwed out of equal pay for authoring a frigging book to the list: researchers at Queens College have discovered that books written by female authors are, on average, sold for just over 50% less than those written by a dude.

The study looked at sales data for titles released by large publishing houses in North America between 2002 and 2012. Looking to the gender of the authors of the books reviewed, cross factoring this with data on the price, genre and how the books were published brought the study's authors to a lousy conclusion: Books written by women that are released by mainstream publishing houses sell, on average, for 45% less than those written by men.

The study's authors, Dana Beth Weinberg and Adam Kapelner, a sociologist and mathematician, respectively, found that even when you looked at book genres that are dominated by female authors, the percentages only go up by an average of 9% – so, even if hardly any men are writing, say, romance novels, the women who are writing them are still getting screwed out of equal pay.

From The Guardian:

It was little surprise to see evidence of segregation by genre and the differing values placed on each genre, Weinberg added, but the researchers were very surprised at how clear this discrimination was.

Read the rest

Why Indonesia's Bajau people can stay submerged under water longer than you or me

This is amazing. Read the rest

IBM Security survey finds users value "security" over "convenience"

IBM Security's 2018 survey of 4,000 adults worldwide found that for the first time in the history of their research, the majority of users say that they'd take extra steps in the name of "security" even if it meant that their usage would be less "convenient." Read the rest

As more published reports tout ayahuasca benefits, researchers push back against criminalization

A newly-published overview of self-reported ayahuasca experiences indicates that the hallucinogen can help alleviate eating disorders and reduce alcohol consumption. Now, more scientists are pushing to make it easier to study the drug legally. Read the rest

Are cats solid or liquid? And other award-winning absurd scientific research of 2017

The winers of the 2017 Ig Nobel awards, "for achievements that first make people laugh then make them think," were announced at Harvard last night. From Phys.org:

Scientists who discovered that old men really do have big ears, that playing the didgeridoo helps relieve sleep apnea and that handling crocodiles can influence gambling decisions are among this year's recipients of the Ig Nobel, the prize for absurd scientific achievement.

This year's winners—who each received $10 trillion cash prizes in virtually worthless Zimbabwean money—also included scientists who used fluid dynamics to determine whether cats are solid or liquid; researchers who tried to figure out why some people are disgusted by cheese; and psychologists who found that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart in visual images.

Research on big ears, crocodile gambling wins Ig Nobels (Phys.org) Read the rest

Evolutionary psychologists are very butthurt about the new Scientific American

Scientific American dedicates its September issue to The New Science of Sex and Gender, and sociobiologists haven't been in this kind of tizzy since the Emmy-nominated Bill Nye episode about sex and gender. Read the rest

Maybe sexting wasn't quite the crisis they warned us about

A meta-analysis of 15 published studies concluded that "although sexting might be an indicator of risky sexual practices, it is not a particularly good one." Read the rest

Watch researchers modify caterpillars, revealing wing development inside cocoons

Biologist Nipam Patel and his team at UC Berkeley study how butterflies develop wing shape and color by performing surgery on caterpillars, creating translucent windows in their cocoons. Read the rest

Advanced de-faking: using public sources to trace the true age of a suspected propaganda video

Henk van Ess teaches workshops in online investigative techniques; he worked with colleagues and a team of students from Axel Springer Academie to analyze a viral news video that purported to show a discarded missile launcher that had been discovered near Cairo's international airport in 2011, but only published last month. Read the rest

How LSD microdosing made a mega difference in one woman's mood, marriage, and life

Ayelet Waldman is a novelist, non fiction author, and former federal public defender. Her latest book is called A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. I interviewed her this morning.

Why did you start microdosing?

I started microdosing because I was profoundly and dangerously depressed. I have a mood disorder and for many, many years my medication worked great. I took it, I did what my doctor told me and everything was fine. But at some point my medication stopped working. I tried all sorts of different things. And nothing helped. I was getting worse and worse and more and more full of despair and more and more full of rage and more and more unstable and I became suicidal. I started doing things like googling the effects of maternal suicide on children and I was so terrified that I was going to do something to myself, that I was going to hurt myself, that I decided to do something drastic and something that some people might think is crazy -- I decided to try microdosing with L.S.D.

Did it work?

Oh absolutely. It worked for sure. It's sub-perceptual. In fact, if I told you right now, "Hey Mark, I slipped a microdose of LSD. in your coffee," you wouldn't even know the difference. The effect for me was instantaneous. My depression lifted right away. The book is called A Really Good Day because at the end of that very first day, I looked back and I thought, "that was a really good day." Read the rest

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