science

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Diagram of death

Despite the way we all sort-of live in the future (except we don't drive spaceships yet as a matter of course for some reason) science hasn't solved the inevitability of death yet - but we don't all die of the same thing.

In case you wanted to check out the likely possibilities of what you and your friends will die of then the US National Safety Council has produced a diagram and accompanying numeral-filled table of a selection of relatively common ones. The diagram is a bunch of circles whose area presumably reflects the relative odds of expiring via that method. Of course the information is only especially relevant if you're Mr or Mrs Average American citizen born in 2003, but the Poorhouse was interested to see it nonetheless.

Rapid fire lying

Speed-daters and their ilk beware. Humans are compulsive liars when meeting each other, especially if they don't know each other at first. Furthermore, contrary to possible intuition both men and women are no strangers to the falsehood spreading, seemingly lying fairly comparably in frequency. The difference is men lie more about how amazing they are, what they've done and so on whereas women do it to make other people feel better, bless them. It may be true that a woman has never answered "Does my bum look big in this?" with the killer phrase "Yes".

And how do we know this? Well, from Feldman et al.'s study "Self-Presentation and Verbal Deception: Do Self-Presenters Lie More?" amongst other sources, such as MTV reality shows no doubt.

Mystery men

Fourteen years ago or so, the New Yorker published a mini-cartoon with the tagline "On the Internet nobody know you're a dog". It is of course just as true today more often than not, and potentially greatly exacerbated in practical terms with the rise of all the chat, Instant Messaging and social networking type sites. Sure, most people are no doubt not too far away from who and what they say they are, but there is still going to be a bunch of people who make up their own new identities for the online world. Fine, if it's harmless japery, very much less so if its not.

Most notorious from the media are "chat rooms"; locations on the Internet where you can go type stuff, send pictures and so forth live. MSN Messenger and the like have that sort of facility, both one-to-one and in a more communal manner. But imagine people acted up this way in real life instead of a chat room. Funny? Weird? Disturbing? Well, watch the below short video scripted by Geoff Haley of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame and see what you reckon.

Chop off your brain...mind reading computers are here

It was already kind of scary, but potentially very useful, back in the good old days when computers could merely be controlled by the power of your mind. Mr Nagle, having been paralysed below the shoulders by a stabbing spent four days learning to play pong, do his email and draw pretty pictures using the power of his mind via a painless brain implant. To do this, he plugged his brain into a computer and imagined moving his arm to hit targets. The sensor read the associated electric brain signals and translated them into cursor movement.

He's not the only one. Four people elsewhere suffering epilepsy also managed to move a cursor by thinking about opening either their right or left hand. The technology is clearly progressing. In fact it recently got so far that not only could you control a computer via the mind, but the computer could look into the depths of your mind and read your future intentions. Yep, a mind-reading computer is now apparently reality.

Is anything unnacceptable these days?

Results and analysis from the latest British Social Attitudes survey have just been published by the National Centre for Social Research. Each year, the BSA asks about 3300 random people for their thoughts on various topics, in order to see changes over time or pinpoint new matters of great interest.

This year, it seems the terrorists are winning.

Close your ears

Ears are useful for many a thing, but sometimes one really could do without them. There are several sounds that once having penetrated through your eardrum can instil fear, terror, revolt, panic, annoyance or probably violence. Whilst the sound of your husband / wife / colleague / parent / child et al. may well be the final straw for you personally, there are some more general sounds that cause negative emotions in many people.

An oft-cited "worst sound ever" is that of fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. But an experiment set up by Mr Cox of Salford University shows this is far from the truth. It is merely the 16th worst sound from their test-bed of 34 down and dirty annoyances.

America's most hated?

Dividing people up into common categories with labels, whether ethnic, racial, sexual or otherwise, what group of people would be the most distrusted section of society in America? What group would you absolutely never vote for as a president? What group would you cry with rage should you lovely innocent son/daughter decide to foolishly fall in love with them? What group is a threat to your wholesome all-American values and way of life?

As much as the answer should be "none of them", we all know prejudice is rife throughout the world and America is certainly no exception. So in general, who does the population most find unacceptable? Jews, Black Americans, homosexuals? Maybe that Islam religion the media constantly tells you is about to kill you and your loved ones?

Wrong.

You don't have to be mad to vote for Bush...

But it might possibly help.

Recently an article in the New Haven Advocate has caused something of a stir in the blogosphere. Christopher Lohse, a masters student at Southern Connecticut State University, re-analysed some data to do with his project on encouraging those with mental illness to go vote. He found a correlation between the level of a psychiatric patient's psychosis as defined by the Modified General Assessment Functioning scale and the chance of them voting for George Bush. That is to say "The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush".

It also showed that those who voted Bush also had less knowledge about politics and various current issues than those who voted the Democrat way.

Sex tech

Traditionally when it comes to chemical birth-control, it's been entirely up to the woman to take the necessary pharmaceutical precautions via taking "the pill" - a tablet containing the hormones estrogen and progesterone that if taken regularly (mostly) prevent pregnancy. Equality and responsibility issues aside, the pill has plenty of side effects that prevent some women using it.

Of course there have been several attempts at making a male pill but whether through dodgy side effects, the need for long term use or just lack of demand no real breakthrough has been made.

Buy your own allergy free cat

Cat: made for youCat: made for youCats are kind of nice, cuddly, friendly things most of the time, but many people suffer intentionless-harm from them. Somewhere around 2% of the population (in the US anyway) reportedly suffer from some sort of cat allergy. For anyone wanting non-Loreal style science, it is because cats have a protein allergen called Fel d 1 which appears like an evil air-borne monster via their sebaceous glands.

Unfortunately, until recently, most of the best advice to be given was to avoid them. Apparently this advice didn't go down well, as a third of the above-mentioned two percent actually kept a cat in their house anyway. A better solution was needed.

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