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Your Brain Can’t Handle The Moon

Moon On The Horizon

What is this new theory?” the long-retired New York University cognitive psychologist, Lloyd Kaufman, asked me. We were sitting behind the wooden desk of his cozy home office. He had a stack of all his papers on the moon illusion, freshly printed, waiting for me on the adjacent futon. But I couldn’t think of a better way to start our discussion than to have him respond to the latest thesis claiming to explain what has gone, for thousands of years, unexplained: Why does the moon look bigger when it’s near the horizon?

More at Nautilus

Catholics Are Going to Freak When We Find Aliens

Aliens

Once, a long time ago, while partaking in an activity that is now legal in Washington and Colorado, I got stuck on one hell of a deep question: What would happen to the world’s religions if we made contact with alien life? Would leaders tweak their theology in the face of the revelation that humans are no more unique than a particularly resilient strain of mold? Or would the pious see that their scriptures were bullshit and riot in the streets with nothing left to live for?

More at Vice

Is It Wrong Not To Accept The Nobel Prize?

Nobel Prize

If the members of the Nobel Academy felt slighted when Jean-Paul Sartre rejected their prize 50 years ago, they didn’t show it. The Academy set out the dinner plates and made their speeches anyway — without the philosopher. The 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, announced Anders Österling — longtime member of the Swedish Academy, and a writer himself — was being given to “the French writer Jean-Paul Sartre for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age.”

More at The Smart Set

Why Did A Ghost Hunter Stab Himself Inside A Famous Axe Murder House?

Villisca Axe Murder House

On November 7, a visitor to the world-renowned Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa, was rushed to a nearby hospital after being found with a self-inflicted stab wound to his chest. The house is a familiar site to paranormal investigators, who have ​proclaimed it to be one of the most haunted places in America following the 1912 murders of six children and two adults whose skulls were crushed while they slept in their beds. The crime was never solved, and visitors to the house regularly report emotional, physical, and supernatural disturbances during their overnight visits.

More at Vice

Every Episode Of The Sopranos Ranked

Sopranos

2014 marks the 15th anniversary of the premiere of “The Sopranos.”

Earlier this month HBO finally released the complete series on Blu-ray. “The Sopranos” laid the groundwork for the new golden age of television we live in today. It told a story on the small screen that was greater than most films, and that achievement will be studied 100 years from today. Keep in mind that this is a TV show made by humans. It’s not perfect. But “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and “Mad Men” are the greatest shows ever made and even their worst episodes are better than 99% of everything else that’s on television.

More at deathandtaxes

The Comeback Of Soviet Cooking

Russian Cuisine

Nobody minds the lines at Moscow’s Stolovaya 57 — it’s all a part of the Soviet-throwback experience. This clever reprise of a USSR-era canteen, with its sprawling retro interior, opened a few years ago on the third floor of GUM, an upscale department store by the Red Square better known for blingy shrines to Hermes and Armani. At lunchtime, everyone’s here: well-dressed GUM salesgirls, biznesmen, a taxi driver or two — all bussing their own plates, nostalgic, apparently, for the days of a “classless society.” Here misty-eyed babushkas swoon over fluffy bitki (meatballs) in sour cream and that sine qua non of proletarian repasts, herring “under a fur coat” of beets and eggs. Their Putin-era grandchildren gawk in glee at the clunky Soviet-issue soda machine and primordial conical juice fountains. It’s a campy vision of Sovietness, cooked up by Bosco di Ciliegi, a pseudo-Italian, actually-Russian importer of global luxury brands.

More at Foreign Policy

This Is How You Mathematically Predict Lightning Strikes

Lightning

Soon, it’s very possible that when you say something like “you have better odds of being struck by lightning,” that won’t necessarily mean it’s all that rare. And there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to tell that person (roughly) what the odds of that happening are. Let me explain. Lightning is expected to increase along with global temperatures. The problem is, scientists haven’t known by how much, because it’s really hard to make a lightning prediction model. But now, for the first time, it looks like researchers at the University of California-Berkeley have figured out exactly how to predict and model lightning strikes around the country.

Turns out, it’s not insanely complicated, provided you have the correct inputs. In fact, it’s a simple multiplication problem.

More at Motherboard

For $200,000 This Lab Will Swap Your Body’s Blood For Antifreeze

Life Extension

In 1972 Max More saw a children’s science fiction television show called Time Slip that featured characters being frozen in ice. He didn’t think much about it until years later, when he started hanging out with friends who held meetings about futurism. “They were getting Cryonics magazine,” he says, “and they asked me about it to see how futuristic I was. It just made sense to me right away.”

More is now the president and chief executive officer of Alcor, one of the world’s largest cryonics companies. More himself has been a member since 1986, and has decided to opt for neuropreservation—just deep freezing the brain—over whole body preservation. “I figure the future is a pretty decent place to be, so I want to be there,” he says. “I want to keep living and enjoying and producing.”

More at The Atlantic

VR Is Here To Stay And It’s Going To Change More Than Gaming

Virtual Reality

In the fourth day of the Ars UNITE virtual conference, we took a look at how the promise of cheap virtual reality head-mounted displays from Oculus and others are already revolutionizing fields well outside of the gaming industry that gets the most attention. This morning’s feature on the topic attracted a number of comments, ranging from skepticism to excitement.

“I remember the last time it was all the rage. E3 1995 IIRC,” commenter Feniks noted, echoing others who remember the last time VR was the “next big thing.” But our expert live chat panel agreed that things are different this time around. “For starters, the technology is more affordable today than it was back then,” Virtually Better Inc.’s Dr. Marat Zanov said. “I think what happened in the 90’s wasn’t nearly the scale of what we’re seeing now. The number of companies, from tiny startups to megacorps, that are investing in the technology at this point is unprecedented,” added NASA JPL engineer Jeffrey Norris.

More at ars technica

The Downside Of Art Going Viral

Kristine Potter

I first encountered Kristine Potter‘s work in her studio in Greenpoint in 2010. I remember her West Point series, known as The Grey Line, which consisted of large black and white images of cadets at the military academy. She came across as protective of the images and allowed me to photograph them only obliquely, and from a slight distance. The above photo conveys a great deal about the work and its scale. These stark images are not your typical über-masculine meditations on future soldiers, but they blur subject and background, often feeling like the men — they are all male — disappear into the landscape.

More at Hyperallergic