Blood Vessels Around the World (WFOTD)

Posted By Ben Goulding, 10 March, 2010 | permalink

If you could take all of your blood vessels and lay them end-to-end, they would stretch approximately 60,000 miles (96,500 kilometers) – that’s two times around the world! It would take four average human’s blood vessels to stretch all the way to the moon though.

There’s a challenge for you!

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The Human Body Subway Map

Posted By Ben Goulding, 9 March, 2010 | permalink

Sam Loman created this human body using a typical subway map to illustrate how our bodies are structured and how they work. Click here for larger image.


3 Comments | Posted in: Health | Lifestyle
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Human Behavior is ‘93 per cent’ Predictable

Posted By Ben Goulding, 25 February, 2010 | permalink

Location data from mobile phones has revealed that the vast majority of human behavior is predictable, suggesting that we really are creatures of habit.

Location data from mobile phones has indicated that 93 per cent of human movement is predictable. A study published by peer-reviewed journal Science examined anonymised data culled from mobile phone service providers and found that it was possible to accurately predict movement and location up to 97 per cent of the time for the majority of people, and 93 per cent of the time for the entire set of data.

The study also found that the majority of people did not stray outside a 6 mile radius for the bulk of the period investigated, and that at any one time people were 70 per cent likely to be at their most-visited location.

Link Image: Getty

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Three-Legged Bear Walks Like A Human

Posted By Ben Goulding, 16 February, 2010 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

This video shows a bear with three legs which has adapted to walk upright, like a human. The details as to why it only has three legs are unknown, but presumably it was either born without a front leg, or lost one at a later stage. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s real or fake.

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Hand From Above Controls The British Public

Posted By Ben Goulding, 16 October, 2009 | permalink

(Vimeo Video)

Hand From Above is a project by Chris O’Shea. It encourages us to question our normal routine when we often find ourselves rushing from one destination to another. Inspired by Land of the Giants and Goliath, we are reminded of mythical stories by mischievously unleashing a giant hand from the BBC Big Screen. Passers by will be playfully transformed, tickled, stretched, flicked or removed entirely in real-time by a giant deity. What if humans weren’t on top of the food chain?

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Emotional Robot Substitutes Human Contact

Posted By Ben Goulding, 6 October, 2009 | permalink

(Vimeo Video)

Ignoring the rather odd music, this concept of an emotional robot is pretty awesome if I’m being honest. The closest thing that I can compare it to, is a gigantic cuddly Tamagotchi.

Based on EAP-technology “Funktionide” is a concept for an emotional robot that substitutes human contact. In a future where technology will play a huge part in our lifes it is very likely that some day it will shift from satisfiying our basic funtional needs to include our emotional needs as well.

How will this future be? How do we want it to be? Will it affect our human interactions if we start to fall in love with machines? Will the machines fall in love with us?

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Dead Fish Gets Emotional Over Photos Of Humans

Posted By Ben Goulding, 23 September, 2009 | permalink

This is an article taken from Derren Brown’s blog. As you probably know, Derren is a very talented magician and illusionist who recently received great publicity for correctly predicting the UK lottery results. I am a great admirer of his work, as I’m sure many of you are. Here Derren considers the Multiple Comparisons Problem when looking at the results of an MRI scan on a dead fish.

fish fmri

This is a poster presented by Bennett and colleagues at this year’s Human Brain Mapping conference. It’s about fMRI scanning on a dead fish, specifically a salmon. They put the salmon in an MRI scanner and “the salmon was shown a series of photographs depicting human individuals in social situations. The salmon wasasked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing.”

I’d say that this research was justified on comedic grounds alone, but they were also making an important scientific point. The (fish-)bone of contention here is multiple comparisons correction. The “multiple comparisons problem” is simply the fact that if you do a lot of different statistical tests, some of them will, just by chance, give interesting results.

In fMRI, the problem is particularly severe. An MRI scan divides the brain up into cubic units called voxels. There are over 40,000 in a typical scan. Most fMRI analysis treats every voxel independently, and tests to see if each voxel is “activated” by a certain stimulus or task. So that’s at least 40,000 separate comparisons going on – potentially many more, depending upon the details of the experiment.


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Immortality is Only 20 Years Away?

Posted By Ben Goulding, 22 September, 2009 | permalink

Immortality. Terminator

The concept of immortality may seem science-fiction for most, however scientist, Ray Kurzweil believes that immortality could be only 20 years away through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the human body works.

Kurzweil, 61, who has predicted new technologies arriving before, says theoretically, at the rate our understanding is increasing, nanotechnologies capable of replacing many of our vital organs could be available in 20 years time.

Mr Kurzweil calls his theory the Law of Accelerating Returns. Writing in The Sun, Mr Kurzweil said: “I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever.

“Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.

“Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen.

“Heart-attack victims – who haven’t taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts – will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive.

“Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes.

“If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go. Virtual sex will become commonplace. And in our daily lives, hologram like figures will pop in our brain to explain what is happening.

“So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs.”

Do you believe that there is potential for humans to become immortal, and if so, do we really want it/is it rational to have it as an option?


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10 Human Mysteries Scientists Can’t Explain

Posted By Ben Goulding, 6 August, 2009 | permalink

Human Mysteries

Here’s a really interesting list of 10 features of human behavior that scientists are unable to explain. It was compiled by The Magazine.

1. Blushing

Even Darwin struggled to explain why we would evolve a response that lets others know that we have cheated or lied.

2. Laughter

The discovery that laughter is more often produced at banal comments than jokes prompts the question, why did it evolve?

3. Pubic hair

Scent radiator, warmth provider, or chafe protection? The answer to why humans have clumps of hair in private places is still open for debate.

4. Teenagers

Even our closest relatives, the great apes, move smoothly from their juvenile to adult life phases – so why do humans spend an agonising decade skulking around in hoodies?

5. Dreams

Today, most researchers reject Freud’s belief that dreams are expressions of our unconscious desires – but if that’s the case, what are they for?

6. Altruism

People still debate whether humans are genuinely altruistic by nature, but if we are, most agree it doesn’t make evolutionary sense.

7. Art

Sexual display, learning tool or form of social glue? Art still refuses to be pinned down.

8. Superstition

Many of us have superstitions – odd, reassuring habits that make no rational sense – but there may be an underlying reason for such behavior.

9. Kissing

The urge to kiss is not brought about by genes, so why do we find it so pleasurable to share saliva?

10. Nose-picking

Many of us do it, but eating bogeys offers little nutritional reward – could there be a health reason for the unappealing habit?

Have you ever wondered about any of these weird and wonderful things we do and why we do them? Do you have any potential theories to these mysteries? Let us know.


6 Comments | Posted in: Health | Lifestyle | Sci/Tech
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Robot Runs Like A Human

Posted By Ben Goulding, 4 August, 2009 | permalink

(Youtube Link)

This very cool robot by Toyota has perfect balance, which enables it to run and withstand mild force, just like a human.

The humanoid robot can run up to speeds of 7kmh, which isn’t too fast, but it’s balance at that speed is pretty special.

The robot takes a step every 340ms and has no contact with the ground for 100ms of that.

The only downside, is that the only function of this robot is it’s ability to run and balance. I’d like to see it push back!

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Artificial Brain ‘10 Years Away’

Posted By Ben Goulding, 23 July, 2009 | permalink

Artificial Human BrainA leading scientist has claimed that a detailed, functional human brain can be created within the next 10 years.

Mark Markram, who has already simulated parts of a rat brain says that an artificial brain would be of particular use to people with mental illnesses.

With around two billion people thought to be suffering with some kind of brain impairment, this medical breakthrough would help the masses. Let’s hope it’s a success.


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Bowlingual Translates Dog Barks Into Words

Posted By Ben Goulding, 20 July, 2009 | permalink

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

Bowlingual. Image: AFP

The Bowlingual, a gadget that analyzes a dog’s bark to detect its emotion, is being relaunched.

Japanese toy maker, Takara Tomy produced the Bowlingual. The device is able to analyse the acoustics of a dog’s bark and translate it into words. It focuses on six emotions including sadness joy and frustration and is able to convey these emotions to a human.

The Bowlingual Voice was first put on sale in 2002, however today’s model is much more technologically advanced. It consists of a microphone which is attached to the dog and a hand-held unit device. When the dog barks, the technology is able to translate the sound into words displayed on the hand-held device which attempts to tell the user what the dog is trying to say.

A good idea, but is it really needed? Dogs aren’t the most complicated of creatures. Surely an owner could take an educated guess at why the dog is barking. It doesn’t have too many thoughts or demands does it? Having said that, with 300,000 orders of the first Bowlingual, maybe it’s a must-have gadget.


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Cats Manipulate Humans By Purring

Posted By Ben Goulding, 14 July, 2009 | permalink

Cat. Image: radio weblogsYour cat is hungry and begins purring loudly to attract your attention so that you will feed it. This is the standard way cats communicate with their owners isn’t it? Well, no. Cats are far more clever than that.

Researchers at the University of Sussex, UK, have found that unlike an ordinary purr, cats use a ’soliciting’ purr to demand food that is able to overpower their owner, but at the same time appeal to their nurturing instincts.

The sound incorporates a ‘cry’, with a similar frequency to that of a baby’s.

The team recorded the purrs of 10 different cats when they were soliciting food, and when they were purring in a different context. Fifty people who were asked to rate the purrs on how pleasant and urgent they sounded consistently rated the “solicitation purrs” as more urgent and less pleasant. Cat owners were especially good at distinguishing between the two kinds of purring.”


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