perception

Right-handers: right arm is longer than left. Left-handers: arms are equal length.


Volunteers were brought to the lab and estimated their perceived arm length and how far they could reach with their arms… Left-handed volunteers judged both of their arms to be the same length, but right-handed participants underestimated the length of their left arm—they consistently perceived their right arms as being longer. In addition, right-handed volunteers thought their right hands were larger than their left, when in fact, they were both the same size. When guessing how far they could reach with their arms, left-handed volunteers estimated they could reach equally far with both arms while right-handed volunteers predicted they could reach farther with their right arm.

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neuroscience

Turn a female rat into a male by rubbing its tummy

US scientists found that mother rats spent many more hours licking and grooming male offspring than female ones. By tickling a baby female rat’s tummy for hours on end, the team from the University of Wisconsin managed to make the DNA clusters in its brain become more like a male’s. The research, reported in the New Scientist, challenges the long-accepted belief that the physical differences between a male and female brain are genetic.

(via Althouse)

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transhumanism

Implants for magnetic sensitivity

This is a couple of years old, but cool:

What if, seconds before your laptop began stalling, you could feel the hard drive spin up under the load? Or you could tell if an electrical cord was live before you touched it? For the few people who have rare earth magnets implanted in their fingers, these are among the reported effects — a finger that feels electromagnetic fields along with the normal sense of touch.

The magnet works by moving very slightly, or with a noticeable oscillation, in response to EM fields. This stimulates the somatosensory receptors in the fingertip, the same nerves that are responsible for perceiving pressure, temperature and pain. Huffman and other recipients found they could locate electric stovetops and motors, and pick out live electrical cables. Appliance cords in the United States give off a 60-Hz field, a sensation with which Huffman has become intimately familiar. “It is a light, rapid buzz,” he says.

The author had a magnetic implant put in his own finger:

I would circle my finger with a strong magnet and feel the one in my finger spin. In time, bits of my laptop became familiar as tingles and buzzes. Every so often I would pass near something and get an unexpected vibration. Live phone pairs on the sides of houses sometimes startled me.

New sensory modes using low cost, low tech methods—why not? Show me a few hundred people who like their magnetic implants and I’d probably do it too.

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robotics

On Fembots and Gynoids

With the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the idea that in fifty years the Russians would be using gynoids to seduce men and compromise security might have seemed plausible. Fact:

A program that can mimic online flirtation and then extract personal information from its unsuspecting conversation partners is making the rounds in Russian chat forums, according to security software firm PC Tools.

The artificial intelligence of CyberLover’s automated chats is good enough that victims have a tough time distinguishing the “bot” from a real potential suitor, PC Tools said. The software can work quickly too, establishing up to 10 relationships in 30 minutes, PC Tools said. It compiles a report on every person it meets complete with name, contact information, and photos.

“As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud, CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering,” PC Tools senior malware analyst Sergei Shevchenko said in a statement.

Among CyberLover’s creepy features is its ability to offer a range of different profiles from “romantic lover” to “sexual predator.” It can also lead victims to a “personal” Web site, which could be used to deliver malware, PC Tools said.

Combine software like this and a (hot) robot hardware platform and you would have the most powerful human intelligence tool in history. Sounds like a job for haptics!

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