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Science News

When good people do bad things: Being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs

When people get together in groups, unusual things can happen -- both good and bad. Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group.Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When people get together in groups, unusual things can happen -- both good and bad. Groups create important social institutions that an individual could not achieve alone, but there can be a darker side to such alliances: Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group.

"Although humans exhibit strong preferences for equity and moral prohibitions against harm in many contexts, people's priorities change when there is an 'us' and a 'them,'" says Rebecca Saxe, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at MIT. "A group of people will often engage in actions that are contrary to the private moral standards of each individual in that group, sweeping otherwise decent individuals into 'mobs' that commit looting, vandalism, even physical brutality."

Several factors play into this transformation. When people are in a group, they feel more anonymous, and less likely to be caught doing something wrong. They may also feel a diminished sense of personal responsibility for collective actions.


Long-range tunneling of quantum particles

Quantum particles transmit through a whole series of barriers under conditions where a single particle could not do the move.University of Innsbruck

One of the most remarkable consequences of the rules in quantum mechanics is the capability of a quantum particle to penetrate through a potential barrier even though its energy would not allow for the corresponding classical trajectory. This is known as the quantum tunnel effect and manifests itself in a multitude of well-known phenomena. For example, it explains nuclear radioactive decay, fusion reactions in the interior of stars, and electron transport through quantum dots. Tunneling also is at the heart of many technical applications, for instance it allows for imaging of surfaces on the atomic length scale in scanning tunneling microscopes.

All the above systems have in common that they essentially represent the very fundamental paradigm of the tunnel effect: a single particle that penetrates through a single barrier. Now, the team of Hanns-Christoph Nägerl, Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, has directly observed tunneling dynamics in a much more intriguing system: They see quantum particles transmitting through a whole series of up to five potential barriers under conditions where a single particle could not do the move. Instead the particles need to help each other via their strong mutual interactions and via an effect known as Bose enhancement.



Technology News

ACLU Sues After Illinois Mayor Has Cops Raid Guy Parodying Him on Twitter

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis. Image: Ron Johnson/APBy Kim Zetter

Countless parody Twitter accounts have been created over the years — British Petroleum, Mark Zuckerberg, the NSA, the Queen of England and even God.

In each case, the target of the account either did nothing in response or simply requested that the owner of the account clearly label it a fake.

Not the mayor of Peoria, Illinois, however.

Mayor Jim Ardis directed his city manager to use the police to hunt down the author of a parody account about him and threatened Twitter with litigation unless it suspended the account, which it did. Now a man who was raided and arrested for creating the account is suing the mayor, a former police chief, and others for violating his constitutional rights.

Jonathan Daniel, 29, created the Twitter account @peoriamayor in March and used it primarily to amuse his friends by retweeting their comments as the mayor. Daniel sent out satiric tweets that contradicted the mayor’s clean-cut image by conveying the mayor as having a preoccupation with sex, drugs, and alcohol. Though he also sent out tweets from the account, he labeled it a parody account three days after he created it, and the account was only active 10 days before it closed.


The Physics of Keeping Cool

Yes, there is snow and ice in the winter but where is it during the summer when we need it? Image: Rhett AllainBy Rhett Allain

Refrigeration: the process of decreasing the temperature of some thing (my definition). Air conditioning (AC) can be a form of refrigeration.

There are several ways to reduce the temperature of things – like a person or a beer. The history and physics of cooling things can be quite interesting. I’m not a historian, so I am only going to speculate on the timeline of events in the life of refrigeration. However, I feel comfortable explaining the physics in each method.

Humans Discover Sweat

Humans just can’t help it. Sometimes they get hot. But alas! Humans have a built in cooling systems. It’s called sweat. In order to understand how it works, maybe we should first look at temperature. You can measure the temperature in Celsius (°C) or Fahrenheit (°F), but what are you actually measuring?

If I were to give a simple definition of temperature, I would say that it is a measure of the average motion energy of the particles that make up that object. That’s not a perfect definition, but I think it will be fine for now. This means that when you cool something, you decrease the average motion energy (kinetic energy) of its particles.



Environmental News

Very Serious Superbugs in Imported Seafood

Image: Matsuyuki/ FlickrBy Maryn McKenna

Breaking news today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of its open-access journal Emerging Infectious Diseases: Researchers in Canada have identified a very highly resistant bacterium in squid imported from South Korea and being sold in a Chinese grocery store.

The letter reporting the finding was supposed to go live at noon ET, but hasn’t yet. When it does, it will be linked from this page, under the subheading Letters. It is titled: “Carbapenamase-Producing Organism in Food, 2014.”

The letter, signed by Joseph E. Rubin, Samantha Ekanayake and Champika Fernando of the University of Saskatchewan, reports that, in the squid, they found a variety of a common bacterium, Pseudomonas, carrying a gene that directs production of an enzyme called VIM-2 carbapenemase. It’s the “carbapenemase” that is the troubling factor here. Carbapenems are the truly last of the few remaining last-resort antibiotics in the world. The global advance of carbapenem resistance — via superbugs such as NDM from Asia, and OXA and VIM primarily from southern Europe — is what the CDC’s director was talking about last year when he referred to the worldwide threat from “nightmare bacteria.”


Climate Change Hits America in Its Sweet Tooth

Corn syrup is at risk due to weather and water threats
Corn, the biggest U.S. agricultural crop by far, is at risk because its thirst for water is growing at a time when the threat of drought is increasing.By Marianne Lavelle and The Daily Climate

Climate change is creating significant new risks for the $65-billion-a-year U.S. corn industry, foundation for the nation's favorite soft drink sweetener – corn syrup – says a report released today by Ceres, a coalition of investor and environmental groups.

But while climate change may prove more durable than America's fickle diet trends, a consumer shift away from the sweetener may ultimately have bigger influence in the amount of corn syrup in our lives.

Corn, the biggest U.S. agricultural crop by far, is at risk because its thirst for water is growing at a time when the threat of drought is increasing, the report says. Ceres said corn production especially is imperiled by its reliance stressed aquifers—in particular, the High Plains aquifer that spans eight Great Plains states and California's over-extended Central Valley aquifer.



Medical News

If timing’s right, cats and roaches may be good for kids’ allergies

Exposure to mice, roaches and cats before a child’s first birthday may confer protection against asthma and allergies, a new study suggests.by Laura Sanders

As I can attest, parents of newborns can get a little hyper about germs. Looking back, I’m slightly embarrassed by the amount of hand sanitizer that lived in our house when we first brought Baby V home. (But only slightly embarrassed. Newborns really don’t need your well-wishing neighbor’s phlegmy rattle.)

Sometimes, though, germs and other unsavory allergens can actually keep your baby healthier.

Urban babies exposed to cockroaches, mice and cats before their first birthday were less likely at age 3 to suffer from recurrent wheezing, a warning sign for asthma, than children who weren’t exposed to the allergens, researchers report June 6 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (Bad news for dog-lovers: Pooch exposure didn’t seem to help.)


Synchronized brain waves enable rapid learning

MIT neuroscientists found that brain waves originating from the striatum (red) and from the prefrontal cortex (blue) become synchronized when an animal learns to categorize different patterns of dots.Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These quickly changing brain states may be encoded by synchronization of brain waves across different brain regions, according to a new study from MIT neuroscientists.

The researchers found that as monkeys learn to categorize different patterns of dots, two brain areas involved in learning -- the prefrontal cortex and the striatum -- synchronize their brain waves to form new communication circuits.

"We're seeing direct evidence for the interactions between these two systems during learning, which hasn't been seen before. Category-learning results in new functional circuits between these two areas, and these functional circuits are rhythm-based, which is key because that's a relatively new concept in systems neuroscience," says Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and senior author of the study, which appears in the June 12 issue of Neuron.



Space News

Gigantic explosions buried in dust: Probing environment around dark gamma-ray bursts

Arachnid outruns cheetah in terms of body lengths per second
Close-in view of the artist’s conception of the environment around the gamma ray burst GRB 020819B based on ALMA observations.By Ashley Yeager

Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time directly mapped out the molecular gas and dust in the host galaxies of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) -- the biggest explosions in the Universe. In a complete surprise, less gas was observed than expected, and correspondingly much more dust, making some GRBs appear as "dark GRBs." This work will appear in the journal Nature on 12 June 2014 and is the first ALMA science result on GRBs to appear. It shows ALMA's potential to help us to better understand these objects.

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are intense bursts of extremely high energy observed in distant galaxies -- the brightest explosive phenomenon in the Universe. Bursts that last more than a couple of seconds are known as long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs) [1] and are associated with supernova explosions -- powerful detonations at the ends of the lives of massive stars.

In just a matter of seconds, a typical burst releases as much energy as the Sun will in its entire ten-billion-year lifetime. The explosion itself is often followed by a slowly fading emission, known as an afterglow, which is thought to be created by collisions between the ejected material and the surrounding gas.


Nearby Dwarf Galaxies Don’t Fit Standard Model of Cosmology, Study Says

This image shows the Tadpole galaxy (Arp 188), a disrupted barred spiral galaxy located 420 million light-years from our planet. Material stripped from the galaxy during its collision with a smaller galaxy (seen in the upper left corner of the larger interaction partner) forms a long tidal tail. Young blue stars, star clusters and tidal dwarf galaxies are born in the tidal debris. These objects move in a common direction within a plane defined by the orientation and motion of their tidal tail. A similar galaxy interaction might have occurred in the Local Group in the past, which could explain the distribution of dwarf galaxies in co-rotating planes. Image credit: H. Ford, JHU / M. Clampin, STScI / G. Hartig, STScI / G. Illingworth, UCO, Lick / ACS Science Team / ESA / NASA.by Sci-News.com

According to the standard model, also called the ‘Lambda cold dark matter model,’ 23 percent of the mass of the Universe is shaped by invisible particles known as dark matter.

The theory says that satellite dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way and Andromeda are expected to behave a certain way – the galaxies would form in halos of dark matter, be widely distributed and would have to move in random directions.

“The model predicts that dwarf galaxies should form inside of small clumps of dark matter and that these clumps should be distributed randomly about their parent galaxy,” Prof David Merritt of Rochester Institute of Technology, a co-author of the study accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv pre-print).

“But what is observed is very different. The dwarf galaxies belonging to the Milky Way and Andromeda are seen to be orbiting in huge, thin disk-like structures.”



Odd News

California mite becomes fastest land animal

SPEEDY LEGS The California mite Paratarsotomus macropalpis can outpace Usain Bolt and even a cheetah in terms of body lengths per second.

A sesame seed–sized mite from California can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, and it is definitely not more powerful than a locomotive. But it is quick. New videos have captured the Paratarsotomus macropalpis mite skittering  along at almost 30 centimeters per second. P. macropalpis moves 322 body lengths per second and is now by far the fastest land animal in terms of speed for its size. A human running that many body lengths per second could cover about 2,317 kilometers, or 1,440 miles, per hour. For comparison, Usain Bolt, among the fastest humans in the world, runs 45 kilometers per hour (28 miles per hour) at full speed, and only for short sprints. The cheetah retains its title for fastest animal land speed overall, but for relative speed the animal that comes closest to the mite is the Australian tiger beetle, the previous record holder. Studying the biomechanics of the mite might help engineers develop ultrafast robots and other devices, scientists say. The team announced the mite’s new record in April at the 2014 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    ...morals elevated to the status of ethics, prejudices elevated to the status of morals, whims elevated to the status of prejudices -- 'Mickey Finn' in Spider Robinson's The Guy with the Eyes

    by rfall on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:00:24 PM PDT

  •  see Open Carry activism (12+ / 0-)
    When people get together in groups, unusual things can happen -- both good and bad. Groups create important social institutions that an individual could not achieve alone, but there can be a darker side to such alliances: Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:04:01 PM PDT

  •  Dang, tonight of all nights I was really not (8+ / 0-)

    hoping for the science edition of the OND, much as I love it (and I do!). I'm pretty nervous about the situation in Iraq and waiting anxiously for news on that.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:07:48 PM PDT

  •  Scandal And Controversy At The World Cup (8+ / 0-)

    Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the World Cup opening game today. But the event did see some controversy. Croatia complained of unfair officiating, pointing to the call that occurred with the match tied at 1-1 in the second half. Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a contentious spot-kick when striker Fred went down after a light touch from Croatia's Dejan Lovren.

    "I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty," Croatia coach Niko Kovac said. "If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5 billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty.

    "This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus.

    "Fred is an 85-kilogram [187-pound] man and I don't believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner."

    Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari disagreed with Kovac's viewpoint.

    But the controversy is indicative of other controversies surrounding FIFA and the World Cup.

    It's not an exaggeration to say that FIFA is the most corrupt sports organization on the planet. FIFA claims to be a nonprofit organization. However, it has billions in reserve and its officials basically blackmail countries in awarding the event.


    From Mother Jones:

    • Over the course of the past few years, Brazilians have grown outraged at the government's handling of the World Cup. Even in this soccer-obsessed country, people are deeply resentful of the government's decision to spend as much as $14 billion on the Cup while millions of its citizens lack basic services—services the government promised to improve ahead of the Cup. On top of that, at least nine workers have been killed in accidents related to rushed World Cup construction projects; activists are alleging that more than 250,000 people faced eviction threats to accommodate Cup construction and preparations; and the presence of brand-new Cup buildings has raised rent in working-class neighborhoods, pricing longtime residents out.
    • The world was shocked when Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010. Of course, there's the weather: the Persian Gulf state suffers temperatures well north of 100 degrees—sometimes over 120—in the World Cup months of June and July. And there's the fact that the tiny, oil-rich nation has little soccer history or presence on the sport's international stage: It's never sent a team to the Cup to compete. Turns out, there may have been more suspicious factors behind FIFA's bizarre decision. The British press have alleged that Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam paid off FIFA officials in order to secure their votes to bring the Cup to his country. Emails obtained by the Sunday Times suggest that Qatar and 2018 World Cup host Russia cooperated to help each other win bids, and that bin Hammam used his connections in business and government to bribe officials from Thailand to Germany. If the allegations are true, FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce said he'd push to strip Qatar of the Cup and re-award it to another country. Another worry, especially for fans, is the cultural conservatism of Qatar. Gay fans have expressed concern about visiting the country, where homosexuality is illegal, and foreigners have been whipped and deported for violation. In 2010, FIFA President Sepp Blatter made headlines by suggesting that gays "should refrain from sexual activity" if they visit Qatar. He quickly apologized.
    • While World Cups' present and future are beset with trouble, the 2010 Cup in South Africa was widely considered a success and a model for future hosts to follow. That legacy may soon be tarnished, if only slightly: Reports have surfaced that pre-cup exhibition matches in South Africa were fixed. A New York Times investigation alleges that powerful gambling interests paid off referees to manipulate the outcomes of certain games. At least five games, and possibly as many as 15, were targeted. While the referees giving out questionable handball calls and yellow cards are clearly to blame, FIFA concluded that some South African soccer officials probably helped to some extent.

    There have been rumors Qatar may be stripped of the 2022 World Cup. And there were even more rumors today that the United States may be considered as an alternate site. However, FIFA is denying all of those rumors at present.
  •  Friday the 13th Full Moon - triple good luck (9+ / 0-)

    This doesn't happen too often, but it's tomorrow.

    [Nearly full moon with dawn shadow of Komo Kulshan against the horizon. Image was not actually taken tomorrow]
  •  Minor Party news (6+ / 0-)

    Examiner.com: Michigan Green Party nominates pipeline protester for U.S. Senate

    This past weekend, the Green Party of Michigan held its convention in Detroit to nominate its nominees for federal, state, and local offices ranging from U.S. Senator and Governor down to Trustee for Washtenaw Community College and announced the candidates on its website Monday.

    Among the nominees is one who is willing to stand up for his political and environmental convictions.  Chris Wahmhoff, who is the Green Party of Michigan nominee for U.S. Senate, spent his thirty-fifth birthday skating inside a pipeline under construction in Marshall to protest tar sands.  He faced trespassing charges that have since been dismissed.

    Wahmhoff followed in the footsteps of 2012 Green Party nominee for President Jill Stein, who had been arrested for trespassing during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline in the middle of her election campaign two years ago.

    Wahmhoff, who will be facing Democrat Gary Peters, Republican Terri Lynn Land, and Libertarian Jim Fulner, along with likely nominees from the U.S. Taxpayers Party and Natural Law Party, joins ten other candidates who will appear on Washtenaw County ballots in November.

    Believe it or not, this is the most popular article I've ever written for Examiner.com.  It has been shared 570 times so far on Facebook alone.  I guess the Greens are desperate for good press.

    "My friend Vince Lamb often comments that Americans will take all manner of social, economic and political abuse, but will rise up with righteous fury when you disturb their Entertainment."-Michael Varian Daly

    by Neon Vincent on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:47:25 PM PDT

  •  Willie Pete, yep, White Phosphorous... (4+ / 0-)

    ...being dropped on Slavyansk.  Like napalm, WP burns right through to the bone.  Water can't put it out.  It can only be smothered.  Willie Pete sucks the air right out of the lungs.  Just ask a Nam vet.  It's being dropped on civilians, on children.  By whom?  Surely the Russians would not drop such a WMD on Russian-speaking residents of East Ukraine.
    But I do expect to hear that story pedaled soon.

    And...the US did use white phosphorous on Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.

    Very sorry to remind us all of that sad fact!

    "After all, the dead citizens are Untermenschen. WE are Untermenschen." -- a citizen of Eastern Ukraine

    by dharmasyd on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:51:39 PM PDT

    •  dharmasyd (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmasyd, JML9999, Jeff Y, side pocket

      From the 'old days" while responding to an old online friend.

      "Here`s one on the situation in Falujia at the time this nation was on a revenge trip for the "mercs" hanging from the bridge.

      The buildings are a crop from a pack of Camel cigs.
      The skull from a shell , the eyes from my face & the results from burning people alive with phosphorous.
      When I get pissed off, I make these horrific images.
      Pardon me."

      hellfaloujaburningjp7

      I`m already against the next war.

      by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:21:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely pardoned because... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JML9999, Knucklehead, side pocket

        ...I feel, if we do not vent the anguish felt over these atrocities, we only perpetuate them, and accept that they will be done again.  

        I cannot accept that. I cannot do that.  I must say that these atrocities must end.

        Your graphic is a significant, profound statement.  Thank you.

        "After all, the dead citizens are Untermenschen. WE are Untermenschen." -- a citizen of Eastern Ukraine

        by dharmasyd on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:30:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  dharmasyd (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          side pocket, dharmasyd

          You do know I`ll eventually take you up on a proffered offer.
          In that item are more of my "anger management" pieces.
          To keep me from going ballistic, I would create images of how I perceived the horrors, most of the time to just hide them away in my archives after having subdued the savage beast my heart begged me to morph into.
          It was a release for me.
          Luckily I`d found one.
          Some don`t.
          As you know my time is occupied with a mission right now.
          All is going as planned & I may even soon post images of some of my newly found treasures.
          I hauled that 25' flatbed trailer with my long bed dually pick-up filled with someone`s past life to my place today & I have one more similar trip.
          Then comes Phase 2, but that`s for another day.

          Have a great weekend, & likewise to all wONDers.

          I`m already against the next war.

          by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:51:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  A Dwarf Galaxy would go a long way to explain (4+ / 0-)

    That long time ago Far Far Away Galaxy in the context of the relatively short time it takes to get across it.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:01:46 PM PDT

  •  rfall (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Man Oh Man, JML9999

    Your article on temperature rings true with me since I seem to have been there a few times in Northern Canada.
    When molecular(?) motion stops the temperature then can not get colder so it`s the coldest it can get, or absolute zero.
    -459.67.
    My confusion lies in the fact that "absolute hot" is so damned hot, it seems out of equilibrium with its opposite.
    I guess it`s just something I`ll have to live with.
    Great OND.

    About Iraq:
    Do you know the court schedule in the war crimes tribunal at the Hague regarding george bush`s appearance there.
    If it is going to take a while, then I suggest they hold him confined till he is to appear.
    I`ve been setting aside water colors & paper plus crayons to make his wait a little more enjoyable, that m**ther*ing Bast*d

    Plus I`ll even let him have a pet.

    Trigger trigger trigger
    snake snake trigger

    BLACK ANGER DSCN6904

    I`m already against the next war.

    by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:09:44 PM PDT

  •  About that whole flying pig scenario (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, annieli, Jeff Y

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    Pig Jumps From Truck To Escape Slaughterhouse In South America

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:57:40 PM PDT

  •  I learn so much in the OND diaries (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks!

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 11:14:31 PM PDT

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