blinded by science
Archived sector
Although straightforward pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries, such "businesses" often camouflage themselves quite successfully by assuming the form of various MLM (multilevel marketing) or Network Marketing companies. Their organizers and promoters often refer to such activities as "the 21st century business", however there's nothing about them that is particular to the 21st century, for they always existed (see below), especially in times of economic uncertainty. An MLM operation normally involves the distribution of an actual product (thus legally separating itself from a straightforward pyramid scheme), but its "success" (or rather success for those who are at the top of the pyramid or close to it) is afforded by ever increasing participation of new members whose numbers grow in geometric progression.  
 
A Russian and Soviet science writer Yakov Isidorovich Perelman (1882-1942) authored numerous books in which he popularized physics, mathematics, mechanics and other sciences. Thus, in 1927 he published a marvel of popular mathematics entitled "Mathematics Can Be Fun". As it happens, in one of the stories presented in the book the author employs a fairly straightforward mathematics to expose how what we call today "MLM companies" operated in pre-revolutionary Russia. Please enjoy and learn:
...Researchers have documented the first-ever case of a cookiecutter shark attacking a human. Although this shark maxes out at ~22 inches, its scoop-like bite is the stuff of nightmares.  
 
The cookiecutter shark (a.k.a. the cigar shark) may not be the most dangerous shark out there, but its modus is gnarly...  
 
...In 2009, distance swimmer Mike Spalding was attacked off the coast of Hawai'i...
 
 
With links to photograph of injury (ack!) and nature video.
A tiny water boatman is the loudest animal on Earth relative to its body size, a study has revealed.  
Scientists from France and Scotland recorded the aquatic animal "singing" at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row.  
The insect makes the sound by rubbing its penis against its abdomen in a process known as "stridulation".  
Researchers say the song is a courtship display performed to attract a mate.  
 
Worm Penis Fight
Happy Tau Day (6.28)!  
 
This manifesto is dedicated to one of the most important numbers in mathematics, perhaps the most important: the circle constant relating the circumference of a circle to its linear dimension. For millennia, the circle has been considered the most perfect of shapes, and the circle constant captures the geometry of the circle in a single number. Of course, the traditional choice of circle constant is pi — but, as mathematician Bob Palais notes in his delightful article "Pi Is Wrong!", pi is wrong. It’s time to set things right.
 
 
By Michael Hartl.  
While high school graduates in Oslo, Norway, partied hard for two weeks last spring during the so-called Russ graduation festivities, levels of the drug ecstasy spiked about 10-fold in the city's sewer system, according to new research.  
 
 
[what goes on in vegas can now be tested in vegas]
In their recently published book Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams Jr.—a cognitive scientist, a philosopher, and a psychologist—set out to discover a grand unified theory of humor. That theory would properly address questions such as: Why do only humans seem to have humor? Why do we communicate it with laughter? How can puns and knock-knock jokes be in the same category as comic insults? Why does timing matter in joke telling? And, of course, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing to be funny?  
 
In brief, the researchers assert that humor serves an evolutionary purpose: In comprehending the world, we sometimes commit too soon to conclusions we've jumped to; the humor emotion, mirth, rewards us for figuring out where we've made such mistakes. In developing this view, the authors considered—but ultimately had to discard—some long-cherished theories. Here, they present five such hypotheses—plus the jokes that demonstrate that they don't hold water:
Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic condition -- so rare, in fact, that few people have ever heard of it. Of about 7,500 newborns, only one will have it. But that one, should you ever meet him or her, will likely have a personality of unforgettable ebullience and warmth. It is the type of personality seen only occasionally beyond the world of Williams Syndrome.  
 
Williams Syndrome is caused by the deletion of roughly 25 genes on chromosome 7. The deletion can occur randomly during the production of a sperm or egg cell. Though there are 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome, even the loss of just 25 genes can have profound effects on a person's physical, behavioral and cognitive make-up.  
 
Why the deletion of genes causes such friendliness and social disinhibition is not well understood. The development of our personalities is a complex relationship between our social environment and our genes -- both present and not.
“Our sun formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it’s got 6 billion more before the fuel runs out,” Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, told the audience seated among the busts and weathered books of the institution’s second-story library. “It won’t be humans who witness the sun’s demise: It will be entities as different from us as we are from a bug.”  
 
The occasion for Rees’s mind-bending assertion was his acceptance of the 2011 Templeton Prize, an annual cash award of $1.7 million, payable to individuals who have made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension” — in Rees’s case, by looking millions of years into the future and venturing a guess as to what might be waiting.  
 
Humans have been interested in the future for millennia, mostly as a subject for theologians. But theologians were, along with everyone else, thinking small. Most humans who have ever lived have died in conditions almost exactly like the ones into which they were born, and without written history had no way to grasp that the future might be different at all. Only now have we gained the scientific knowledge necessary to appreciate how exactly how deep a rabbit-hole the future really is: not just long enough to see empires rise and crumble, but long enough to make all human history so far seem like a sneeze of the gods.
Diving bell spiders only need to come up for air once a day, according to researchers.  
 
The spiders are named for their sub-aqua webs which they fill with air in order to breathe underwater.  
 
Scientists studying the European arachnids measured oxygen levels inside and around an air bubble web.
Where does your kitty go when you let her out? What do stray cats do all day? Do alley cats hang out with each other?  
 
These are just some of the questions answered by a newly completed research project in which 42 free-roaming cats — some with no owner, some outdoor pets — were radio-collared and tracked for two years by researchers at the University of Illinois.
How did one ape 45,000 years ago happen to turn into a planet dominator? The answer lies in an epochal collision of creativity.
Searching all the porn on the Internet might not seem like the most scientifically productive activity, but computational neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam did it anyway.  
 
For their new book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire, Ogas and Gaddam analyzed the results of 400 million online searches for porn and uncovered some startling insights into what men and women may really want from each other — at least sexually. I spoke recently with Ogas.
Discovery of ‘worms from hell’ deep beneath Earth’s surface raises new questions  
 
For the first time, scientists have found complex, multi-celled creatures living a mile and more below the planet’s surface — raising new possibilities about both the spread of life on Earth and potential subsurface life on other planets and moons.  
 
Nicknamed “worms from hell,” the nematodes, or roundworms, were found in several gold mines in South Africa, where researchers have also made breakthrough discoveries about deep subterranean single-cell life.  
 
The two lead researchers, Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium and Tullis Onstott of Princeton University, said the discovery of creatures so far below ground, with nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, was akin to finding “Moby Dick in Lake Ontario...”
Global and local inequality has been a major topic of debate, leading to many attempts to quantify income disparity. The Gini Coefficient is the best-known measure of inequality, but it has its flaws, as do all inequality measurements.  
 
A popular measurement of economic inequality focuses on variations in income among people in a state. Since no country has perfect equality, the question becomes one of calculating how unequal a particular society is. Various formulas have been devised to measure the difference between the average income and the distribution of earnings. At the end, a single number is used to represent a nation’s level of inequality. A good index should take into account several basic rules. For example, the size of the country should not affect the level of inequality. Moreover, the absolute value of income should not change the calculated level of disparity. Finally, if income is transferred from the rich to the poor, the level of inequality should fall.
A rocky world orbiting a nearby star has been confirmed as the first planet outside our solar system to meet key requirements for sustaining life.