In June 2012, “Welcome to the Anthropocene”—a film about the state of the planet—opened the UN’s Rio+20 summit on sustainable development. The summit was the largest UN meeting to date.
A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.
Over six years, psychological scientists examined whether or not seeing sex on the big screen translates into sex in the real world for adolescents. Their findings, which are to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, revealed not only that it did but also explained some of the reasons why.
These researchers examined the role of a personality trait known as sensation-seeking. One of the great dangers of adolescence, is the predisposition for “sensation seeking” behavior. Between the ages of ten and fifteen, the tendency to seek more novel and intense stimulation of all kinds peaks. The wild hormonal surges of adolescence makes judicious thinking a bit more difficult.
O’Hara and his colleagues found that greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age actually led to a higher peak in sensation seeking during adolescence.
Many adolescents turn to movies to acquire “sexual scripts” that offer examples of how to behave when confronted with complicated emotional situations. For 57 percent of American adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16, the media is their greatest source of sexual information. They often don’t differentiate between what they see on the screen and what they must confront in daily life.
Read about how the study was conducted at ScienceDaily
From New Scientist:
At first glance, blowing a bubble net to trap sardines is not the smartest move a dolphin can make. Bubbles reflect sonar signals better than sardines do, rendering the fish invisible and giving them a chance to escape.
But mathematical tricks can get around this, and dolphins may naturally use them to locate the fishy signal amid the bubbles.
Read the rest at New Scientist.
When we learn, our brain relates new information with past experiences to gain fresh knowledge, research shows. Published in the journal Neuron, a study shows this memory-binding process allows people to better understand new concepts and make future decisions, a finding that could lead to better teaching methods and treatment of degenerative neurological disorders, such as dementia. “Memories are not just for reflecting on the past; they help us make the best decisions for the future,” says Alison Preston, assistant professor of psychology and neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin and a research affiliate in the Center for Learning and Memory. “Here, we provide a direct link between these derived memories and the ability to make novel inferences.” (via Futurity.org – Memories reflect past, anticipate future)
After a plane crash, where should the survivors be buried?
If you are considering where the most appropriate burial place should be, you are not alone. Scientists have found that around half the people asked this question, answer it as if they were being asked about the victims not the survivors.
Similarly, when asked “Can a man marry his widow’s sister?” most people answer “yes” — effectively answering that it would indeed be possible for a dead man to marry his bereaved wife’s sister.
What makes researchers particularly interested in people’s failure to notice words that actually don’t make sense, so called semantic illusions, is that these illusions challenge traditional models of language processing which assume that we build understanding of a sentence by deeply analysing the meaning of each word in turn.
Instead semantic illusions provide a strong line of evidence that the way we process language is often shallow and incomplete.
328: The magic number
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their latest “State of the Climate” report. June 2012 marks the 328th month in a row that global surface temperatures – the temperatures that affect our local climate and weather – were above average. This unfortunate proof of the “new normal” is just the latest straw on the climate camel’s back, and you really have to wonder how many more it will take before more people start to view this as the serious situation that it is.
Some other high/lowlights:
- The Northern Hemisphere was more than 2˚F above normal for June, an all-time record.
- Globally, June 2012 was the warmest on record (for land temps).
- Ocean temperatures, whose rise is perhaps more dangerous than land (feeding extreme weather and ice melt), were at their 10th highest level on record.
There’s hope, however. A new poll from Stanford University and The Washington Post says that 6 in 10 Americans now agree that the climate is changing, and two-thirds want the U.S. to lead the world in fighting climate change. They can’t yet agree on what that means, exactly. More interesting tidbits from that poll here.
Previously: Record highs to record lows ratio at 10:1 in 2012! Ack!