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Why Are Victorian Houses So Creepy?

Bates Motel

Americans have a very specific idea about what makes a house look creepy. If you search for “haunted house” on Google images, only one type of architecture appears in the first 25 images: a Victorian mansion.

Art historian Sarah Burns wrote about the phenomenon for the academic journal American Art back in 2012. “Certainly, there are other sorts of places we associate with ghosts: old world castles, dungeons and crypts, the antebellum Big House, the alleged ‘witch’ houses of seventeenth-century Salem,” she writes. “Yet none so pervades and dominates the haunted visual landscape as the Victorian house does today.”

More at Fast Company

You’re Crazy If You Think You’re A Genius

John Forbes Nash

When John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician, schizophrenic, and paranoid delusional, was asked how he could believe that space aliens had recruited him to save the world, he gave a simple response. “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.”

Nash is hardly the only so-called mad genius in history. Suicide victims like painters Vincent Van Gogh and Mark Rothko, novelists Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, and poets Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath all offer prime examples. Even ignoring those great creators who did not kill themselves in a fit of deep depression, it remains easy to list persons who endured well-documented psychopathology, including the composer Robert Schumann, the poet Emily Dickinson, and Nash. Creative geniuses who have succumbed to alcoholism or other addictions are also legion.

More at Nautilus

The Painting Hidden From Hitler In Case It Gave Him Magic Powers

Stitched Panorama

One of the world’s most famous self-portraits is going on rare public display in the northern Italian city of Turin. Very little is known about the 500-year-old, fragile, fading red chalk drawing of Leonardo da Vinci but some believe it has mystical powers.

There is a myth in Turin that the gaze of Leonardo da Vinci in this self-portrait is so intense that those who observe it are imbued with great strength.

Some say it was this magical power, not the cultural and economic value of the drawing, that led to it being secretly moved from Turin and taken to Rome during World War Two – heaven forbid it should ever fall into Hitler’s hands and give him more power.

More at BBC

Can Video Games Fend Off Mental Decline?

Video Games Brain

“You just crashed a little bit,” Adam Gazzaley said.

It was true: I’d slammed my rocket-powered surfboard into an icy riverbank. This was at Gazzaley’s San Francisco lab, in a nook cluttered with multicolored skullcaps and wires that hooked up to an E.E.G. machine. The video game I was playing wasn’t the sort typically pitched at kids or even middle-aged, Gen X gamers. Indeed, its intended users include people over 60 — because the game might just help fend off the mental decline that accompanies aging.

More at The New York Times

Decades Old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter

SLAC Experiment

Here’s one reason libraries hang on to old science journals: A paper from an experiment conducted 32 years ago may shed light on the nature of dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to keep the galaxies from flying apart. The old data put a crimp in the newfangled concept of a “dark photon” and suggest that a simple bargain-basement experiment could put the idea to the test.

No one really knows what dark matter is. Since the 1980s, theorists’ best hunch has been that it consists of so-called weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. If they exist, WIMPs would have a mass between one and 1000 times that of a proton. They would interact only through the feeble weak nuclear force—one of two forces of nature that ordinarily flex their muscle only within the atomic nucleus—and could disappear only by colliding and annihilating one another. So if the infant universe cooked up lots of WIMPs, enough of them would naturally survive to produce the right amount of dark matter today. But physicists have yet to spot WIMPs, which every now and then should ping off atomic nuclei in sensitive detectors and send them flying.

More at AAAS.org

Why We Gossip

Gossip

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.

Did you hear what happened at yesterday’s meeting? Can you believe it? If you find those sort of quietly whispered questions about your co-workers irresistible, you’re hardly alone. But why are we drawn to gossip? A new study suggests it’s because the rumors, innuendo, and hearsay are ultimately all about us—where we rate in the unofficial local hierarchy, and how we might improve our standing.

More at Pacific Standard

Why Is The Otsuka Museum Of Art So Popular?

Otsuka Museum of Art

The Otsuka Museum of Art is a place of extremes. It’s the biggest exhibition space in Japan, housing masterpieces of Western art from antiquity to the modern day. The route around its 1,000 artworks is 4km long (2.5 miles), and it takes a full, tiring day to see it all. And with a 3,150 yen (US $29.22) adult admission fee, it’s also Japan’s most expensive gallery.

The works on show are, quite literally, too good to be true. The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Guernica, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Rembrandt’s self-portraits: everything is here. And every single one of them is a replica. But why are so many people prepared to pay through the nose to see prints of masterpieces?

More at Rocket News 24

People Feel The Weather In Their Bones

Bones

When I was younger, my grandma would occasionally issue solemn prophesies for rain. These declarations would come after she’d spent a few minutes rubbing her arthritic wrists. With a pensive gaze, she’d credit the prediction to her aching joints.

I was reminded of this yesterday. I’d been working on my laptop when my ankle, titanium-braced from an old break, started throbbing. I thought nothing of it until I stepped outside, and into a surprise rainstorm. I’d always been skeptical of grandma’s arthritic omens, but limping down the sidewalk in the wake of my own revelation gave me reason to reconsider. Could science have an answer for why some people seem to feel the weather in their bones?

More at Wired

Hunger Is Associated With Advantageous Decision Making

Decision Making

In their daily lives, people are frequently confronted with self-control dilemmas requiring them to choose between an immediate but small reward or a larger reward in the long run. Opting for a small reward when a bigger one is available can be regarded as self-control failure, even when the bigger one is delayed. Yet, many people tend to engage in this kind of disadvantageous choices, such as weight watchers who prefer a high caloric muffin for breakfast over a slim waist or business men preferring a night out at the casino over preparing next day’s meeting. Hot states like emotions or visceral drives have a bad reputation of compromising such self-control dilemmas by making people less patient to wait for the long-term benefits.

More at PLOS One

The Airplane Of The Future Won’t Have Windows

See Through Airplane

Vague, over-wing cloud photos are a staple of vacation albums across the Internet, but a British technology incubator wants to do away with them completely. You’ll still be able to see the sky, though. The Centre for Process Innovation is proposing the elimination of airplane cabin windows to make room for floor to ceiling wraparound screens showing continuous footage from outside the plane.

The goal of the proposal is to reduce how much commercial aircraft bodies, or fuselages, weigh thereby also reducing fuel consumption, costs, and carbon emissions. Windows add weight to aircraft cabins because of both the materials used to make them, and the additional components that must be added to the hull to strengthen and secure it.

More at Slate