Posts Tagged ‘past’

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Dogs Smell Time

July 1, 2014

Can you smell time? Your dog can.

On a very basic level, so can you: When you crack the lid on that old quart of milk, tentatively sniff and—peeyouu!—promptly dump that foul stuff down the sink, you are, in effect, smelling time. Specifically, you can smell that far too much time has elapsed since that milk was fresh.

But a dog can smell time with a sophistication that puts our simple sniffers to shame. “Odors exist in time, and dogs perceive that,” explains cognitive scientist and canine researcher Alexandra Horowitz of Columbia University. “Dogs use smell to ‘tell time,’ in some sense, because a more recently laid odor smells stronger, and an older odor smells weaker.”

A dog’s nose is a notoriously sensitive piece of equipment. With up to 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our lousy 5 million, a dog can detect a single teaspoon of sugar dissolved into a million gallons of water, the equivalent of two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Unlike us, dogs are able to take in scent continuously, even as they exhale. What’s more, a dog’s nostrils are smaller than the distance between them, effectively giving dogs “stereo” sniffing power that carries subtle grades of information, including directionality.

Read full article at Strange Attractor

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US Patent Illustrations: The Past when it was still the Future

March 26, 2013

A recompilation of US Patent illustrations. US Patent Illustrations: The Past when it was still the Future.

US Patent 3316993MOTORIZED TRAVELING CASE SCOOTER TO CONVEY PASSENGER – DM Weitzner, 1967


EP0396720 B1 – Method for Increasing Body Heat Transfer – William Patrick Campbell – 1989

US 620600B1 – Canine scuba diving apparatus – Dwane L. Folsom, 2001

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Mind bending: Why our memories are not always our own

July 15, 2012

Without memories, we would be lost. Yet, in an extract from his new book,the psychologist Charles Fernyhough reveals that some of our most precious recollections are perhaps not ours at all.

Adult siblings generally do not face the same pressures as, say, married couples to agree on a story about their pasts. Individuals who have spent a lifetime trying to define themselves in opposition to each other are unlikely to be quite as motivated to settle their memory differences. And the fact is that adult siblings usually do not get as many opportunities as couples do to negotiate their memory disputes.

Excerpt of an extract from ‘Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory’ by Charles Fernyhough. Read it at The Independent

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How a time cloak could change the past

March 24, 2012

Ever wish you could cover up an embarrassing event? By getting your hands on a time cloak, you could make it seem like it never happened.

Now, a new animation by Moti Fridman and his team at Cornell University, who have developed a technology that can hide superfast events, demonstrates how such a device would work. It shows how a stealthy ball can sneak by a laser beam thanks to a series of light tricks that mask an event over a specific period of time.

The demo shows how manipulating the laser beam creates an opportune time gap. Laser pulses, shown in red, break the signal beam, denoted in green, into a rainbow of different wavelengths that travel at different speeds. This change creates an opening in the beam where the ball can pass. The effect is then reversed with another pulse of light to make the change undetectable.

So far, the team has used the effect to edit out 15 picoseconds as a light beam passed through filters. However, the technique could be developed for a range of applications, for example to hide data moving through fiber optic cables to prevent eavesdropping.

To find out more about the technology, read our full blog post. If you enjoyed this video, check out how to build a time machine or see why the past and the future are the same.

Text via New Scientist
Image via IBT

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If I ruled the world: Steven Pinker

January 11, 2012

Steve Pinker: My first edict as global overlord would be to impose the following rule on pundits: No one may bemoan a decay, decline, or degeneration without providing (1) a measure of the way the world is today; (2) a measure of the way the world was at some point in the past; (3) a demonstration that (1) is worse than (2).

This decree would, first of all, eliminate tedious jeremiads about the decline of the language. The genre has been around for centuries, and if the doomsayers were correct we would now be grunting like Tarzan. But not only do we see vast amounts of clear and competent prose in everyday outlets like Wikipedia and Amazon reviews, but a gusher of superb writing appearing daily, as anyone who has lost a morning to sites like The Browser and Arts and Letters Daily can attest.

Language mavens commonly confuse their own peeves with a worsening of the language. A century ago editors issued fatwas against barbarous innovations such as “standpoint,” “bogus,” “to run a business,” and “to quit smoking.” Decades ago they fulminated against “six people” (as opposed to persons), “fix” (for repair), and the verbs “to contact” and “to finalize.” Today this linguistic contraband is unexceptionable, if not indispensable. Also vilified is the seepage of new technological jargon into the language (leverage, incentivise, synergy). Yet old technological jargon (proportional, placebo, false positive, trade-off) has made it easier for everyone to think about abstract concepts, and may even have contributed to the Flynn effect, the relentless increase in IQ scores during the 20th century.

And speaking of technology, today’s Luddites have a short memory. Parents who lament the iPods and mobile phones soldered onto the ears of teenagers forget that their own parents made the same complaint about them and their bedroom telephones and transistor radios. The abbreviated prose in tweets and instant messages is no more likely to corrupt the language or shorten attention spans than the telegrams, radio ads, and advertising catchphrases of yesteryear. Email can seem like a curse, but who would go back to stamps, phone booths, carbon paper, and piles of phone messages? And now that dinner companions can fact-check any assertion on an iPhone, we are coming to realize how many of our everyday beliefs are false—a valuable lesson in the fallibility of memory.

But nowhere is the confusion of a data point with a trend more pernicious than in our understanding of violence. A terrorist bomb explodes, a sniper runs amok, an errant drone kills an innocent, and commentators ask “What is the world coming to?” Yet they seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” Continue HERE