links for 2011-04-27

New ‘Virtual Reality’ techniques suggest ways to imagine our futures and save for retirement

  • Want To Retire Wealthier? Start by Scanning Your Photo – WSJ.com
    New ‘Virtual Reality’ Techniques Could Help Solve The Age-Old Problem of Saving for Retirement. These researchers are tapping into what is called the Proteus effect, behavioral alterations in the real world that are triggered by changes in how our bodies appear to us in a virtual world. It can be a powerful tool. Experiments have shown that if you are sent into a virtual-reality environment with a particularly good-looking “avatar,” or digital self-image, you are likely to become more sociable. Seeing your avatar exercising in a virtual world can spur you to add an hour a day to your exercise routine in the real world.

Rituals and Superstitions before cosmonauts launch into space!

  • At breakfast the cosmonauts sip champagne and afterwards sign their hotel room door. As they leave they are serenaded by a Soviet-era rock song, “The Green Grass Near My Home” by the band Zemlyane (“The Earthlings”), which speaks of a cosmonaut’s love for planet Earth. The crew board the transfer bus, suitably adorned with horseshoes, and on their trip to the pad perform yet another ritual harking back to Yuri Gagarin. The bus stops, the crewmembers file out, and repeating an act performed by the great Gagarin himself, urinate on the right rear wheel of the bus. Female members are excused this obligation, but the more enthusiastic women cosmonauts have been known to take a vial of their urine with them and sprinkle it on the bus.

Extra strands of DNA

Obesity pill is the sticky plaster

Science of empathy & sexual preference

  • Artist Ward Shelley has produced another fine, fine, fine hand-drawn flowchart that will blow your mind: This time, it’s dedicated to the 2,500 years of intellectual history that have produced the modern sci-fi genre.
  • As a scientist I want to understand the factors causing people to treat others as if they are mere objects. So let’s substitute the term “evil” with the term “empathy erosion”. Empathy erosion can arise because of corrosive emotions, such as bitter resentment, or desire for revenge, or blind hatred, or desire to protect. In theory these are transient emotions, the empathy erosion is reversible. But empathy erosion can be the result of more permanent psychological characteristics.
  • A chemical in the brain controls sexual preference in mice, according to scientists in China.Male mice bred without serotonin lose their preference for females, a report in Nature says. The researchers say it is the first time that a neurotransmitter has been shown to play a role in sexual preference in mammals.

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