Tag Archives: science tech and health

People interpret emojis in different ways

Emojis are used very widely by a diverse range of people. A recent study hoped to find how individuals interpret emojis, and if there was a general consensus among individuals about what different emojis meant.

The study, led by researchers from a Research lab, called GroupLens, at the University of Minnesota, found that individuals often view emojis in different ways. The discoveries will be presented in May at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Conference on Web and Social Media in Germany.

Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji
Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji

The study discovered that individuals who viewed the same emoji disagreed on if the emoji expressed a negative, neutral or positive feeling approximately 25 percent of the time. For 95 percent of emojis, individuals did not strongly agree on what feeling the emoji expressed.

Each mobile platform has its own version of emojis, because of this, interpreting emojis can be particularly problematic when the sender and the receiver are using separate platforms.

The study’s participants, made up of 334 individuals, rated a total of 125 emojis. They were asked to rate the feeling expressed by an emoji on a scale from –5 (strongly negative) to 5 (strongly positive).

The researchers discovered, on average, that when two individuals viewed the same emoji, their feeling ratings were different by approximately 1.8 points, and when they looked at different versions of the same emoji, their ratings were different by approximately 2 points.

Individuals used contrasting words to describe the different renderings of the same emojis. For instance, when viewing the emoji of a “person raising both hands in celebration” individuals used words like “hand” or “celebrate” to describe the emoji from the Apple version, and words like “exciting” or “high” to describe the Microsoft version.

According to the study, the findings suggest that it would benefit users to merge the design of emojis across all platforms, which could lower the probability of miscommunication.

According to researchers, future studies may determine how individuals view emojis when they are viewed in the context of a text message, or if individuals from separate cultures also view emojis differently. Because the new study only looked at emoji with human characteristics, or anthropomorphic, future studies could investigate how individuals view non-anthropomorphic emojis.

NSA surveillance: protection or violation?

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) claims that the “NSA/CSS exists to protect the Nation”.

In 2013, a federal U.S. judge ruled that the National Security Agency phone surveillance program was lawful. The agency, however, is known to break the law on a large scale and lie about it.

If you’ve never heard the name Edward Snowden uttered in any political debate or in the news, you should probably learn the importance of his name. Edward Snowden is a former Intelligence Community officer and has been called anywhere from a hero, a whistleblower, a patriot, or a traitor. In May 2013, he revealed documents that provided a look into the NSA and its secret mass surveillance programs and capabilities.

The documents disclosed that the NSA was operating without public oversight and outside the limits of the US Constitution. Snowden was charged with theft of government property, and two charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The revelations that Snowden divulged led to attention around the world on privacy intrusions and digital security, and now the issue is a global debate.

In an interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden said, “I don’t want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.”

Do any of us wants to live in a society that does these things? And even further with no hint of probable cause, and no sham of due process. The NSA has been thoughtlessly and carelessly forcing violence against freedom, ever since the agency was founded on November 4, 1952.

“To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?” Graphic from quickmeme.com

The NSA surveillance that invades our privacy because of “national security” was a complete secret before Edward Snowden blew the “freedom” whistle. The phone surveillance violates the fourth amendment in respect to Americans’ privacy rights, and it also violates our natural sense of personal privacy.

Concerning these issues, the government is the one in violation of the laws and should be held accountable, right? But Edward Snowden was the one who was charged and seen as the traitor and as the criminal, for doing the right thing and letting us know that we’re being watched. The government is just hiding its own abusive power, and saving themselves.

To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?

Benjamin Franklin, a radical defender of freedom once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” This quote has been used by anti-war protestors, and for protests against the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

The quote has many variations, and has been taken out of context multiple times and is originally “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” However, despite the lack of context and the more-modern form of the quote, believe that Benjamin Franklin would agree with what the quote has been modernized to illustrate.

Industrial technology: solving our problems or providing them?

This semester, I’ve been taking an introductory Philosophy course on Ethics and Society (PHIL 112). I’ll try my best not to ramble on about how I love the course so much, so much so that I decided to change my major from Fashion Design to Philosophy and Religious Studies.

One thing is for sure: this course has challenged my thinking on many things—especially on how we treat our world, the only world that we’ve been given. Through industrial technology and industrialization, we have become a destructive presence on Earth.

We are still dealing with the consequences of industrial technology.

We begin a kind of fragmentation of the world. We look at the world in parts, not as a whole; looking at the world as market value. Corporations and privileged people in power look to spend the least amount of money for the most profit.

“Corporations will do anything to save a penny.” Cartoonist: Justin Bilicki

We begin replacing human workers with machines, market products regardless of usefulness or effects, to make the highest possible profit and concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands. All with a maxim that all competition is for competition’s sake.

We can continue to insist that our land-destroying, water-and-air polluting agriculture is the only way, because it’s the most accessible and widespread way of doing so. Economically, “green” ways of production and agriculture are the most financially straining, they cost the most amount of money. Corporations will do anything to save a penny.

We live in this notion that we live on a planet that is unlimited with resources. This notion of an unlimited source of resources is because we’re ashamed about how we’ve lived in the world as a destructive presence. These natural resources that the world depends on, we use destructively and foolishly. We stay oblivious, unaware and naive of the detrimental effects of agriculture and industrialization. We’re headed towards an entire eradication of human beings and a destruction of our planet, because of our finite resources.

We are being programmed that this is supporting “our way of life”, so it is obviously beneficial. “Our ‘natural resources’ are naturally occurring, and so they will not be depleted.” Is this not a way of corruption of young minds? We are not educated to know that one day our actions will catch up to us, as they are currently doing, and will cause a landslide of “unintended” consequences.

The violence towards our own world brings money to our culture. The industrial society is the most violent the world has ever known, and we’re all complicit in it.

But technology solves our problems, right?

iPhone SE: Good things can come in small packages

Image from apple.com
Apple’s latest iPhone model. Image from apple.com

On Thursday, March 31, Apple released the iPhone SE, the latest model of the smartphone that has been around since the first generation was released on June 29, 2007. iPhone SE may look like an updated iPhone 5s with the specs of an iPhone 6s, but the small phone still has a lot going for it. However, if you don’t want to switch from a large screen, you probably don’t want to switch to a four-inch phone, and are better off waiting until the estimated release date of the iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Here are the looks and the technical specifications of the new iPhone SE model, laid out in an easy-to-read format so you can see if the latest model is just what the doctor ordered. 


Design Features

Size

If you don’t want to switch from a 5s to a larger, more impractical sized, phone, the iPhone SE has the same four-inch screen that’s easy to use — you can type easily with one hand, and reach all four corners of the screen of your phone.

Color

The iPhone SE is available in four colors: silver, gold, space gray and rose gold.

The colors of the iPhone SE. Image from apple.com

Other Design Features

The new iPhone SE has a stainless steel Apple logo inset, instead of an Apple logo stamped-on the back of the phone.

The chamfered edges of the iPhone 5s have been redesigned as “refined” and are now more matte than before.

The iPhone SE features a somewhat thicker design, and doesn’t have a bump where the camera is placed.

Tech Specs

Display

The iPhone SE features a 4-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a 1136‑by‑640‑pixel resolution at 326 ppi. The contrast ratio is 800:1, the same as the iPhone 5s. However, if you’re switching from an iPhone 6s (or 6s Plus), they feature 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, which is a big difference to take in.

Chip

The iPhone SE features an A9 chip with 64‑bit architecture, with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. This means that the latest model has the same great performance as the iPhone 6s. The M9 motion coprocessor collects, processes, and stores sensor data, which improves functionality further.

iSight Camera

The iPhone SE iSight camera is rated at 12-megapixels with1.22µ pixels and an ƒ/2.2 aperture.

Video Recording

The new iPhone SE can shoot and edit 4k (3840 by 2160) video at 30fps. It shoots slow-motion video at 240fps (720p) and 120fps (1080p) and 1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps, and 720p HD video recording at 30fps.

FaceTime HD Camera

The FaceTime HD Camera on the iPhone SE takes 1.2-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording with an ƒ/2.4 aperture.

Retina Flash allows your iPhone SE screen to flash three times brighter than it normally does on models prior to the iPhone 6s. The features measures current lighting conditions, and a True Tone flash matches ambient light.

Touch ID

The iPhone SE features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is built into the Home button. It’s not as fast as the iPhone 6s’, however, but it’s not noticeable unless you hold either of these phones in each hand.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay allows you to use your device to pay with your iPhone SE using Touch ID in stores and within apps.

Power and Battery

The iPhone SE gets up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, up to 13 hours on Wi-Fi and LTE of internet use, up to 13 hours of video playback, up to 50 hours of audio playback, and has a standby time of up to 10 days.

Sensors

The iPhone SE doesn’t feature 3D touch, because it’s using the same display technology as the iPhone 5s. But if you haven’t had a iPhone 6s, and even if you do, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.


The iPhone SE has an entry-level price for the 16 GB model of $399, and compared to the iPhone 6 prices from $549 and the iPhone 6s prices from $649 and up, you get enough bang for your buck without breaking the bank.

Snapchat’s new update

Snapchat released a new update, called Chat 2.0 on Tuesday March 29, unveiling 6 new features to add new practical services to the app.

This update, for me at least, wasn’t easily recognizable, except for one key feature — an auto-lay function for Stories. The auto-play function allows users to view each story back-to-back. Personally, and for some of my friends, this feature didn’t go over too well. I like to click on each video one-by-one, to view the stories I want to see, in the order I want to see them. The look of the feature isn’t preferable either, you can barely tell who the story is by because of the small header in the upper left hand corner.

However, after searching through the rest of the updates, I can faithfully say that this update has a lot more going for it. First of all, Snapchat lets people send video and audio messages, and even make voice calls — watch out Skype.

Snapchat’s new voice call feature. Graphic from http://money.cnn.com/

In addition, you can also set up a video call with multiple friends on Snapchat. They can either put on their own audio or video, or simply watch the lifestream and message to the group. Anything you film in the video call, however, can’t be saved or downloaded to your phone.

On top of the new Stories and chat features, Snapchat also revealed brand new stickers, which you can use when sending messages or chatting across the app.

 

 

Snapchat has been pressed to stay in the social media and network competition because less and less people have been spending time on the app. Getting people to use the app and keeping their attention can be hard to do, but I believe, if they keep releasing useful services through updates on their app, Snapchat can continue to grow.

However, Snapchat has a huge competitor coming close in the race. On the same day as Snapchat’s new update, Tuesday March 29, Instagram made an announcement stating that the time limit of videos uploaded to Instagram was raised from 15 seconds, to 60 seconds. Time will see if this is announcement will become an advantage for the platform.

Additionally, every single one of Snapchat’s features exist on other platforms including Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype and WhatsApp. However, having all of these services inside one app could prove to be an advantage for keeping people on Snapchat.

Instead of finding alien life, should we be hiding from it?

A recent study suggests a method for hiding from aliens. This study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, comes at a time when most papers and study are related to how to find alien life.

A great deal of our quest for Earth-like planets depends on transiting planets. Transiting planets travel in front of their host star in a manner in which the transit can be seen from our viewpoint. The travel of the planet in front of the host star makes the light from that star diminish or glimmer, and we can utilize that to determine a wide range of information about far off planets — including how sustainable they might be for life.

Should we hide from the aliens? Graphic from Andreas Rocha
Should we hide from the aliens? Graphic from Andreas Rocha

A few scientists have proposed that we ought to hope that Earth is a transiting planet from the viewpoint of another planet that contains intelligent life. At the end of the day, our best endeavor for discovering alien life may be trusting that aliens are utilizing similar techniques of planetary detection that we are, and that the movement of Earth in front of the sun is visible with their telescopes.

Graduate student Alex Teachey and Professor David Kipping, both from Columbia University in the City of New York, attempted to figure out how much laser light would be required to cover the diminishing or glimmering light brought about by the transit of Earth.

As indicated by their calculations, it would take about 10 constant hours of shining a 30 MW laser once every year to shield the transit signal in discernible light. Reproducing each wavelength of light released by the sun would require around 250 MW of power.

Teachey said in a statement that “Alternatively, we could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just 160 kW per transit. To another civilization, this should make the Earth appear as if life never took hold on our world.”

There’s still a major, interdisciplinary deliberation about whether we should try to contact alien life from other planets. This study will become one of many that detail whether or not we should be hiding from alien life, instead of if we should find it and try to communicate with them.

Neuroscientist pled guilty to 17 fraud-related charges

Scientific integrity suffered Thursday March 31 when an Australian neuroscientist was given a two-year suspended sentence after entering a plea of guilty to 17 fraud-related charges. The main counts that faced Bruce Murdoch were for an article that proclaimed an outstanding discovery in the treatment of Parkinson’s.

The judge’s conclusions were definitive. She articulated that there was no evidence, that Murdoch even directed the clinical trial on which his alleged discoveries were supported.

Murdoch produced forged consent forms for participants of his studies, one of which was deceased at the time the supposed study occurred. Additionally, Murdoch fraudulently took private and public research money for the fake study, that was distributed in the very respectable European Journal of Neurology in 2011.

The quantity of U.S. academic fraud cases in science have risen drastically since the beginning of the 20th century. In 2011, the journal Nature recorded the amount of retractions in the past decade and discovered they had elevated ten times as much. The journal noted that around 50 percent of the retractions were based on scientist misconduct, not based simply on errors.

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which conducts investigations for supposed misconduct involving National Institutes of Health funding, has been much more occupied recently. Throughout 2009 and 2011, ORI had identified merely three cases of misconduct which called for a course of action. Throughout 2012 and 2015, three cases increased to 36 cases that had a cause for action.

Although criminal cases against researches are very uncommon, they are climbing. Jail time is even more uncommon, but still occur. In July 2015, an ex-biomedical scientist at Iowa State University, Dong-Pyou Han, conceded and plead guilty to two felony charges of making false statements to acquire NIH research grants. Han was sentenced to over four years in prison.

Han confused to falsifying the outcomes of many vaccine experiments, some in which he spiked blood samples from rabbits with human HIV antibodies in order for the rabbits to seem to have built up an immunity to the virus.

Two years ago, ORI forced its own punishment against Han. In spite of the fact that it could have issued a funding ban for his entire lifetime, it just blocked Han from obtaining federal dollars for three years.

Ivan Oransky, the executive director of the Center for Scientific Integrity, which runs the blog Retraction Watch, that keeps an informal list of the most unfavorable offenders of scientific retractions, announced plans to ultimately track research misconduct.

New nicotine vaccine could help smokers quit

According to data collected by the American Cancer Society, 70 percent of smokers want to quit altogether, 7 percent actually succeed at quitting smoking their first time, and 3.5 percent quit smoking cold turkey. These statistics are already extremely unsettling. Even though 40 percent of smokers tried to quit in 2015, half of smokers will relapse into smoking while intoxicated with alcohol.

Graphic from http://rcnky.com/
50 percent of smokers will not succeed in quitting on their first try. Graphic from http://rcnky.com/

These statistics even come into play with individuals who are underage. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of smokers began smoking before the age of 18, while 90 percent began smoking before the age of 21. 3,900 teens begin smoking each day, totaling 600,000 teens each year. What’s disturbing is that 11 percent of middle school students reported having smoked. That means 11 percent of pre-teens between the ages of 11 and 14.

A successful vaccine to assist individuals in quitting smoking for good has been difficult to discover. According to a report in ACS’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a new vaccine for quitting smoking has been designed.

Over half of smokers who want to quit will not succeed in quitting their first time. There are several ways to quit smoking available. Smokers can quit cold turkey, use behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, spray, and lozenges), and medicine like Zyban and Chantix. These tools are readily available, but aren’t always effective, and may even have undesirable side effects.

This new vaccine design would target the nicotine molecule directly. Two individuals participated in a clinical study of the vaccine which ultimately failed. However, the clinical study provided worthwhile pieces of information, that scientists could improve upon.

The trials indicated that the individuals who produced the most elevated amounts of anti-nicotine antibodies were more likely to refrain from smoking for more than six months. Kim D. Janda, Ph.D., and fellow researchers from The Scripps Research Institute wanted to expand on this discovery.

The team designed a new vaccine that could raise the amount of antibodies that could attach to nicotine molecules.

While testing in mice, they discovered that the vaccine deferred the effects of nicotine after injection within the initial 10 minute period. Additionally, they discovered that the mice treated with the vaccine had lower concentrations of nicotine in their brains, which is where nicotine has its effects. The team expressed that their future endeavors will concentrate on further perfecting the formula of the vaccine to prepare it for potential clinical studies.

How to make it through allergy season

Spring allergy season is upon us and with so many irritants that make day-to-day life miserable, it’s necessary to prepare yourself now before it gets worse. This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.

1. Go to your local grocery or drugstore

Over-the-counter decongestants help in relieving your stuffy nose; antihistamines help in reducing sniffles, runny nose and itching. If your allergies are severe, visit an allergist who will be able to prescribe you medications that are long-lasting. You can even consider immunotherapy shots for long-term relief.

2. Get relief from drowsiness from allergy pills

If you don’t like the way your allergy medicine makes you feel drowsy and tired, try a saline nasal rinse — through a spray neti pot — to clear away pollen from your nasal membranes and minimize symptoms. You can even gargle with salt water to aid in soothing your itchy or sore throat.

Take your allergy medicine (look into a 24-hour allergy pill) before you go to sleep. Since many take one to two hours to kick in, it’ll start working while you sleep and when you wake up you won’t feel the drowsy side effects of the pill.

3. Stay indoors as much as possible

sneezing
“This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.”

Check the pollen count online at weather sites, watch morning news, or download pollen count apps on your phone. You can also check pollen counts at aaaai.org, the site of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. It’s best to stay inside if the pollen count is high.

Pollen counts in the morning are generally the highest, so you should exercise in the afternoon. Check them before you head out on a walk, run, or an errand. If pollen counts are high, you should try to stay inside and do at-home workouts, or head to the gym. Don’t wait too late, however, because pollen counts are also higher in later hours.

4. Keep allergens out of your home

Take off your shoes and work clothes right when you go home. Take a shower right when you get home, or before you get into bed — to wash off any lingering pollen on your hair or body.

If you have an outdoor dog or cat, wipe their paws and fur off when they come into the house. Keep them off of your bed, just in case, to keep any lingering pollen from getting into a place where you spend most of your time at home.

Close your windows and keep them closed. Run your air conditioner to keep the air circulating throughout your house. It’s a good idea to change your filters often to remove any pollen, dust, and mold. If your allergies are more severe, try getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter to clear any allergens in your home.

5. Take your allergy symptoms seriously.

Allergy symptoms can lead to several detrimental effects on your health. Drink lots of water and rest whenever you can. Overdoing it when you feel miserable will only make you feel worse and will take a toll on your well-being.

New app lets you lend your dog and borrow another

Anna Browne is a woman who loves dogs, but unfortunately can’t be responsible for a dog of her own. She discovered an app called Bark’N’Borrow. The app allows for people who don’t have room for a dog, or can’t completely take care of a dog of their own, to be able to borrow other people’s dogs for a small vacation or simply a doggy sleepover.

Browne found the app because she loves corgis but wasn’t ready to have her own. She states “I live in a studio… I work late most nights.” As someone who works in financial services, Browne desperately wanted a cute little pooch to cuddle with at night, but the responsible person in her knew a long term commitment like owning dog wasn’t appropriate for her at this point in her life.

dog
“The app’s founder, Berkeley, individually reviews and approves every borrower’s profile.”

The app, Bark’N’Borrow, allows for dog owners to reach out to dog lovers who can’t have their own man’s best friend. The CEO and Founder Liam Berkeley said “This is the next best thing between not owning a dog and committing to one.”  It allows for dogs to continue to be put into safe environments, with people who have the time, space, and money to take care of them.

This app, however, isn’t just for people who don’t have the time or space to take care of dogs, it’s also for owners who wish to give their dogs more socialization, exposure to new environments and people. Weiling Chen, the owner of Sam the Corgi, made a profile for Sam after hearing about Bark’N’Borrow.

She said she had some initial hesitations, “It sounded a little odd but you kind of figure if they’re dog owners or dog lovers than it shouldn’t be too bad,” Chen said.

She had found a few potential borrowers, but Browne has become her favorite. “It’s like a delight,” Browne said. “On the weekend if I can hang out with a corgi for a couple of hours it’s amazing.”

To prevent the types of people who go on this app who want to hurt the dogs, the app’s founder, Berkeley, individually reviews and approves every borrower’s profile.

If you want to borrow a sweet, little, cute dog for a short period of time, check out Bark’N’Borrow.

Microsoft’s Tay “chatbot” was trolled into becoming the “Hitler-loving sex robot”

Microsoft was forced to shut down the chatbot named Tay, after it tweeted several sexist and racist remarks.

According to the software giant, Microsoft endeavored to connect with millennials 18 to 24 years old, and they planned to do this task through Tay. She was an AI designed to talk like a teenage girl.

According to a Microsoft post, “The more you chat with Tay, the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you”.

Microsoft’s concept and idealization for Tay was that the chatbot would produce entertaining and funny reactions and responses based on tweets and other messages it was sent through applications like Kik and GroupMe.

Despite the good-intentions, internet trolls started to connect and bombard Tay on Wednesday March 23 almost exactly when it was launched. Tay started to utilize a percentage of the bigot, racist, and sexist remarks in its own Twitter conversations.

Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.
Tay’s responses were learned by conversations she had with people online. Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.

 

The bot’s tweets were so offensive and drew such an uproar that one newspaper named Tay the “Hitler-loving sex robot.”

Microsoft’s chat robot Tay was taken offline less than 24 hours after its launch since it was tweeting such sexist and racist language. But not before the AI robot tweeted approximately 96,000 times, which seems like a lot of tweets for an average teen girl or millennial.

 

 

In a released statement by Microsoft, they said ”Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways”.

Microsoft, who designed the AI with a specific end goal of enhancing the customer service on their voice recognition software, apologized directly after the incident in a blog entry made by Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research.

Lee wrote, “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay”.

Microsoft said that it’s modifying Tay, however was not able to say if or when the bot may return. Lee said that they will only bring her back when they are confident that they can make better prepare to limit technical exploits.

Instagram took one more step in becoming Facebook

On March 15, Instagram released a statement telling its subscribers that they will be updating their newsfeed, making it non-chronological, similar to the way Facebook is set up. The way they organize the posts will depend on a variety of factors including the number of post engagements, and other social signals.

Instagram will also take into consideration the posts that you have previously liked in an attempt to find the correct images that are relevant and will interest the subscriber the most.

Instagram is evolving into Facebook. Graphic from Instagram Takipci Satin Al
Instagram is evolving into Facebook. Graphic from Instagram Takipci Satin Al

Since Instagram’s initial launch in 2010, their success has skyrocketed. They started out as, simply, an app used for teens to share the photos and socialize with each other. At the time, Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars, which in hindsight, was an incredible deal because Instagram is estimated to make 1.86 billion dollars in revenue just this year, thanks to its users constant social networking usage.

Although Instagram is attempting to update its aesthetic for the benefit of the user, there have been thousands of complaints. The users even created a petition on Change.org begging Instagram to leave the newsfeed alone. Most people complained because they didn’t want Instagram to look like Facebook, as well as the fact that Facebook is well-known for discriminating business pages’ content and their inability for users to reach posts. Instagram, on the other hand, is notorious for their chronological order and an unlimited reach of posts.

There is an argument, however, that the chronological newsfeeds are only effective when businesses post on Instagram every half hour and when their followers have very limited number of people that they follow. According to Optical Cortex data “based on 20,000+ Instagram users, average number of people they follow is 822.” This suggests that chronological order doesn’t matter anyway because the brands said users follow probably weren’t the first things they saw.

The change in newsfeed might be beneficial. If you post amazing pictures, your followers will see it even if it was posted hours ago.

“Instagram user survey indicated that 60% of Instagrammers learn about products and services on the network and 75% take action after being inspired by an Instagram post.” So all you have to do is be clever, be active, and post away!

A new study definitively finds binge-drinking leads to a longer life

Here’s some news that you can drink to. An extra cheers to the weekend that ends on Sunday and starts back up again on Tuesday here at Radford University, and several colleges across the nation. A new study has decisively, once and for all, linked alcohol to a longer, healthier life.

Past studies have found that a glass of wine a day can help defend you from developing heart disease, can prevent cancer and type 2 diabetes, all of which ultimately aid in a longer life. This new research is a great addition to the alcohol equaling health equation. Let’s all toast to our health and long lives!

From http://www.3quarksdaily.com
From http://www.3quarksdaily.com

This new study is different from prior studies that researched and illustrated the health benefits of moderate drinking. This research links all consumption of alcohol, whether in moderation or to excess, to a longer life. As long as you don’t completely over-do it and get yourself a one-way ticket to the hospital from alcohol poisoning or eventually to the hospital.

The team of scientists looked upon several studies on alcohol for assistance. They used both studies that stated the negative effects of alcohol, as well as those that showed that alcohol in moderation will help you live longer, and offer several health benefits.

The researchers then designed their own study. They followed 8,000 men and women over the age of 21 for three years, and then sectioned off categories of those that abstained from drinking, occasional drinkers, those that drank in moderation, and heavy drinkers. The study found that the individuals who partook in more alcohol consumption had a higher mortality rate over all. The more reduced the alcohol consumption was among the study’s individuals, the more increased the risk of death was over all.

Once you finish reading this article, decide whether or not you want to run to the local 7-11 or ABC liquor store to buy an excessive amount of alcohol and drink until you’re sick. You no longer have to worry about shortening your lifespan because of your crazy college life. Go to that extra frat party or bar, or chill with your friends at your apartment and get wasted! Need a reason to drink? If you’re not already convinced, head to this link to find 80 reasons why you should drink.

You may be crying over spilled beer, or into your wine after reading this next part, however. Alcohol even when consumed in moderation, may not have any health benefits after all. A real, not April Fools, study found that individuals who are moderate drinkers have no health advantage over non-drinkers. Any information prior to this paragraph was a hoax and based off of pure imagination. Sorry!

The cause of junk food cravings

A new study suggests that if you crave junk food after a manic day, it might be because you’re lacking sleep. The study found that sleep deprivation may lead to increased appetite and a love of unhealthy foods.

More than a third of adults in the United States don’t get enough sleep (7 or more hours per day) regularly and approximately the same amount are obese (having a BMI of more than 30.0), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Erin Hanlon, a University of Chicago research associate and study author, intended to link these two widespread issues.

Sleep deprivation increases hunger, which can be dangerous because of the fragile stability separating the expenses in energy of remaining awake and the nourishment ingested — these normally do not change if you’ve had or haven’t had enough sleep.

Hanlon’s study which was published in the journal Sleep, measured data between 14 generally healthy young adults with four normal nights of sleep (8.5 hours) against data of those who had four restricted nights of sleep (4.5 hours). Every day, the two groups of participants were given healthy meals. On the last day, study subjects were provided with a carefully prepared meal, accompanied by unrestricted freedom at a snack bar that contained plenty of junk food. The young adults who had four nights of restricted sleep gravitated to snacks with almost double the fat and protein and added carbohydrates.

chips
“Sleep deprivation increases hunger.’

Previous research by the University of Chicago team indicated that sleep deprivation influenced endocannabinoid levels, chemicals in the brain that are associated with managing and regulating appetite.

The researchers calculated the concentration of 2AG, a particular endocannabinoid, in the young adults’ blood. The team then correlated the young adults’ 2AG concentration levels with their hunger and food intake.

The young adults who had four nights of normal sleep, had a 2AG concentration that progressively rose in their blood throughout the day. The concentration of 2AG peaked in the early afternoon that was accompanied by the emergence of a craving for food.

Hanlon’s team recorded a higher concentration of 2AG that continued later on into the evening in the participants who slept less. Subjects were also more hungry and had a higher probability of eating junk food.

According to Hanlon, the study is a single step in comprehending how sustaining sufficient sleep can boost our health.

Investigating Trump and the small hands, small penis myth

Marco Rubio, former Republican candidate, may have dropped out of the presidential race after losing to Donald Trump in the Florida Primary, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hilarious arguments and fights left behind to peruse. Some even point to the following scenario as an explanation for what went wrong in his candidacy.

Shortly before Super Tuesday, Marco Rubio decided to attempt to stump Donald Trump, by mocking his hair and spray tan, then criticizing the size of Trump’s hands. Trump,  the Republican front runner, reassured voters that there was no problem with the size of his hands, or any other part of his body. This has become one of the most famous debate moments thus far in this campaign.

Donald Trump has tiny hands. Graphic from Vocativ
Donald Trump has tiny hands. Graphic from Vocativ

Presidential hopeful and former presidential hopeful, were citing back to urban legend, that says that you can assume a man’s penis size after looking at his hands, feet, or by how tall he is.

If a man’s hands are small, so is the size of his penis. This isn’t the first time the size of Trump’s hands or his anatomy has been brought into the media. Ever since a 1988 Spy magazine article branded him a “short-fingered vulgarian”, Trump has been excessively sensitive about the size of his hands and penis.

Science hasn’t come to a consensus on the small matter, but there may be some truth to the small hands, small penis myth. However, the size of a man’s penis doesn’t come down to his hands, but down to a finger.

If a man’s ring finger is longer in relation to his index finger, there’s a possibility that his penis is a tad longer than an average penis. This is only a difference of centimeters.

For most researchers to determine this, they evaluated a man’s overall measurements. They assessed his height and weight, and additionally measured his fingers and his erect penis. One team of researchers even studied this theory in rats.

However, what might actually determine the length of an adult man’s penis relies on how much of the hormone androgen he was introduced to while in his mother’s womb.

To demonstrate this theory, scientists tested on rats. The proportions of their finger length resemble those of humans. Scientists first blocked a mother’s androgen level during the rat’s development cycle. When the rat became an adult, his penis size was smaller than the average penis size. Another study similar to the latter, found that the rats that are introduced to more androgen during the development cycle had ring fingers that were slightly longer than average.

According to Dr. Chad Ritenour, Professor of Urology at Emory School of Medicine at Emory University, “Men are very attached to their penises in more ways than one.”

Even presidential candidates vying for the White House, make their penises a momentous part of their platforms.

A new report links extreme weather to climate change

A new report called Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change written by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution links extreme weather to climate change. The report was pre-published recently and the final report will be available through the National Academies Press in spring 2016.

Working under Washington’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the researchers of climate from British and American universities laid out the reports findings Friday March 11 at a news conference.

The committee expresses that they have a strong belief that most events of extreme weather such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, and droughts are being affected or caused by climate change.

Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia
Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia

Prior to this report, scientists and researchers had a general consensus that the happenstance of extreme weather and climate change had no conclusive link.

The researchers gathered long-term data on extreme events which allowed them to outline how they were developing in severity as the impacts of climate change grew over time.

The committee members noted the heatwave in Russia that occurred in 2010, which prompted the nation’s most detrimental drought in about 40 years, and the loss of around 34,749 square miles of crops. They additionally pointed to the extreme rain in the United Kingdom that occurred in 2000, which led to the most damaging and widespread flooding since the 1940s.

According to researchers, they don’t quite have enough information to conclude that every event of extreme weather is due to climate change. However, as the research is expanded, they may be able to link wildfires, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and tornados to climate change.

As these extreme weather events become more dangerous and more frequent, the repercussions will be taken out on the economy and individual’s lives.

In 2014, the World Meteorological Organization approximated that occurrences of extreme weather cost the human race over 2 trillion dollars and have killed over 2 million people, while devastating millions more.

The researchers hope that they can expand upon the reports findings through research in order for researchers and forecasters to eventually design better predictive models not just with respect to the understanding of climate, but with the conclusive understanding of the effect that climate change is having on Earth’s weather systems.

Machines can cut down domestic violence

In a metropolitan area, arraignment decisions made with the help of machine-learning, decreased new domestic violence occurrences by 50 percent, which led to a cut of more than 1,000 post-arraignment arrests yearly, according to new discoveries made by the University of Pennsylvania.

In the U.S., the average pre-trial process progresses from arrest to preliminary arraignment to a mandatory court appearance.

Throughout the preliminary arraignment, a magistrate or judge decides whether or not to release the offender, depending on the chance that the individual will return to court or commit new violations.

Machines will be able to help us out. Don't be afraid. Photo from coursera.com
Machines will be able to help us out. Don’t be afraid. Photo from coursera.com

Susan B. Sorenson, a professor of social policy in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice and Richard Berk, a criminology and statistics professor in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and Wharton School, discovered that utilizing machine-learning forecasts at the preliminary arraignment can significantly decrease future domestic violence arrests.

To see how machine-learning could assist in cases of domestic violence, Sorenson and Berk acquired data from over 28,000 domestic violence arrangements between January 2007 and October 2011. Additionally, they observed a two-year follow-up period after release, which ended in October 2013.

Computers can “learn” from certain training data which sort of people are prone to re-offend. For this research, the 35 beginning inputs involved age, gender, prior warrants and sentences, as well as residential location. This data assists the computer in understanding proper relationships for projected risk, which offers additional data to a court official deciding whether to release or detain a suspect.

The quantity of inaccurate predictions can be somewhat high, and a few individuals object on a basic level to utilizing information collected and machines for these situations. To these objections, the researchers simply retort that machine-learning is just a tool.

Some criminal justice settings already utilize machine-learning as a procedure, although various types of choices calls for distinctive datasets from which the machine must learn. Nevertheless, the underlying statistical techniques, nevertheless, continue as before.

Sorenson and Berk both contend that the new system of cutting down domestic violence can make current practices better and more improved.

The study was published in the March issue of The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

Are gays undermining the institution of marriage?

According to a study published online on Feb 26 in the journal Psychological Science, many individuals think that gay men and women are much more sexually promiscuous than heterosexual people, making those heterosexual people afraid that gay people may threaten their marriages and lifestyle.

David Pinsof and Martie Haselton, a graduate student and professor at UCLA were the authors and researchers on this study.

They discovered that those who felt threatened by gays, or more specifically, sexual promiscuity, were people who are conservatives, those who believe in strong traditional gender roles.

Pinsof and Haselton surveyed 523 men and 562 women, a percentage of which oppose same-sex marriage.

For the first half of the experiment, the volunteers underwent a testing activity, specifically designed to expose whether or not the subjects associated gay couples with words or phrases such as “promiscuous” or “one-night stand.”

The people being surveyed were also given pictures of heterosexual couples along with words like “faithful” and “loving” and they were told to match the words to the pictures they felt fit best with each word. They were instructed to press a button when they saw a gay couple or a word associated with “promiscuous”, and the same situation when it came to a gay couple or a word linked with “monogamous.” Pinsof and Haselton then measured how quickly the participants reacted to each picture or word.

As one can predict, the results found that many people tend to associate the concepts “gay” and “promiscuous” together, or having the same meaning.

Homosexuals are obviously possessed by demons, ruining your heterosexual marriages and way of life. Photo from queerty.com
Homosexuals are obviously possessed by demons, ruining your heterosexual marriages and way of life. Photo from queerty.com

 

During the second half of the experiment, participants were asked if they agreed or disagreed to statements like:

“Marriage is between a man and a woman.”

“Same-sex marriage undermines the meaning of the traditional family.”

“I oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

“I support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”

“Same-sex couples should have the same legal rights to get married as heterosexual couples.”

The researchers discovered that agreement to certain statements like “I’m okay with having sex without love,” or “ I’ve had a one-night stand,” showed that they support same-sex marriage and have no problem with gay people.

According to Pinsof, “Those who oppose same-sex marriage do so because they are trying to protect their own marriage as well as those marriages in their community. They’re fearful that altering the definition of marriage is threatening their way of life because they view gay people as promiscuous, they view the idea of same sex marriage as undermining the institution of marriage.”