Why non-conformists look the same

A mathematician took up the topic of hipsters.  Specifically, why different individuals who try not to conform to what is seen as normal end up looking and acting very much like each other.

After the jump, read the details, link to the math, and consider my thoughts on the matter, which offers a different account of non-conformists and sort of a defense of hipsters. [Read more…]

Ancient Polynesians had children with American Indians

Easter Island, known for its mysterious stone figures,  is 2,300 miles from South America.  And yet, DNA research has found that the ancient Polynesians had children with Native Americans.  This happened between 1300 and 1500 A.D.  Today, the residents of Easter Island are 10% American Indian.  Meanwhile two skulls have been found in Brazil that have been identified as Polynesian.   How this mixing of two peoples with primitive technology separated by so much distance is a mystery. [Read more…]

The urination constant

I am a squeamish person, and I dislike talking about bodily functions.  But I stumbled upon a finding that is so interesting that I had to share it with you.  Did you know that virtually all animals, from a dog to an elephant–including human beings–take about the same amount of time to urinate?  That would be around 21 seconds.  See why after the jump. [Read more…]

The Nobel Prize winners

After the jump, a complete list of the 2014 Nobel Prize winners.  Which do you find especially significant? [Read more…]

Psychology experiments often can’t be replicated

There is currently what is being described as a “crisis” in the field of social/personality psychology.  It turns out, many psychological experiments, however heralded in the media and whose findings are made a big deal of, cannot be replicated by other researchers.  Is that due to fraud?  Statistical quirks? Or does it mean that psychology is not a science after all? [Read more…]

The failure of reality to match up with computer models

The ice caps are supposed to be melting.  But the ice in Antarctica is at record levels.  And the ice at the North Pole, after declining for awhile, is back to normal levels.  So reports a British newspaper, the Register.  I’m struck, though, by a comment in the article that cites,  “This failure of reality to match up with climate modelling.”

That “reality” has somehow failed is rather humorous.  Isn’t computer modelling dependent on what data is programmed into the model?  And isn’t reality always going to be more complex than a model, with far more variables, many of which are unknown to the researcher?  [Read more…]