Lots of Thought-Provoking Links This Week in Big Think

Some within the autism community take issue with seeing autistic people as having a disorder, decrying the “cure culture”.
If There Are Other Dimensions, Where Are They? 

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene discusses how we may not be able to see other dimensions.
The Science Behind Why Cops Kill Black Men – And How to Fix it 

Cops use the same mechanism to make split-second life-or-death decisions that we do. But that mechanism is kind of a racist idiot. We Depend on Comedians to Ask the Questions Newscasters Won’t 

When the news media don’t do their job, comedians step in to ask the tough questions.
This Aspect of a Father’s Health Can Increase his Daughter’s Breast Cancer Risk 

Though those of the mother have been researched, the father’s biometrics are now getting a closer look.
Will We See An End to the Brand Ambassador? 

Hash-tag capitalism, paid posts, and transparent (but not honest) sponsored captions – will this social media influencer trend ever end?
The Thing Is We Don’t Really Want What We Think We Desire 

Slavoj Žižek considers the pursuit of happiness to be dumb because we don’t really want it anyway.
The Very Common Painkiller Linked to Autism and Hyperactivity in Children 

A new study links one of the world’s most popular painkillers to an increase in autism spectrum and hyperactivity symptoms.
Is Loss of Community the #1 Cause of Depression? Sebastian Junger on PTSD 

Sebastian Junger takes a big-picture look at depression, PTSD, and the importance of the tribe in his new book.
Ozone Hole Could Be Completely Healed by 2050 

The atmosphere is on the mend, according to an article published in Science . It took almost 30 years for the ban on ozone-depleting substances to work and scientists are saying the ozone could be completely healed by the middle of the century.
Scientists Discover Brain Circuits Attached to Mood, and How to Hack Them 

Emotional hacking is real with implications toward mental health. What if this got into the wrong hands? We could be joyously enslaved without the emotional countenance to fight back.
52 Common Myths, Rumors and Falsehoods Debunked 

A list debunking commonly believed falsehoods, misconceptions and just bad ideas.
Would God Create a World Full of Other Competing Gods? 

The conflict between faiths is one good reason to doubt God’s existence.
What Drugs the Kids Are Using and Why 

An expansive new study makes clear the extent of the problem and the importance of parents in avoiding teen drug use.
Psychopath Test: Would You Kill Baby Hitler? 

Wherein moral conundrums could determine the fate of millions — and how a psychopath might respond to them.
How Henry Rollins Escaped the Bleak Existence He Calls “The America” 

Henry Rollins talks about how fear of winding up starting in The America drove his to his remarkable career.
That Time Neutrinos Moved Faster Than Light. Major Uh-Oh. 

Michio Kaku tells the story of one super-scary mistake in physics and reminds us how hard it is to get science right.
No Biggie, Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Proposed a New Kind of Government 

Neil deGrasse Tyson proposes an ideal form of government and causes a viral debate.

“Jury-Rigged Drone Strikes”: Ethical Ramifications of Police Killing Suspects With Robots

“It might be justified to use remotely controlled robots to apply lethal force where such force is justified,” Jay Stanley, a senior legal analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union told me. “As a legal matter, the choice of weapon in a decision to use lethal force does not change the constitutional calculus, which hinges on whether an individual poses an imminent threat to others, and whether the use of lethal force is reasonable under the circumstances.”

Dallas police chief David Brown told reporters Friday that the force “saw no other option than to use our bomb robot” to kill Johnson, and said that prior to using the bomb, Johnson and officers on the force exchanged gunfire.

“It is essentially a jury-rigged version of a drone strike,” Ryan Calo, a University of Washington School of Law professor specializing in cyber and robotic law, told me. “If they would have been justified in throwing a grenade, then they’re likely justified in doing this, which was quite frankly a creative thing.”

Source: Motherboard




Evidence of Neanderthal Cannibalism Puzzles Researchers

‘A team of researchers led by Dr. Hélène Rougier of California State University has announced a landmark discovery in the journal Scientific Reports this week. The team has uncovered evidence of cannibalism among a population of Neanderthals at the Goyet cave site in Belgium—the first discovery of Neanderthal cannibalism in Northern Europe.

Paleoanthropologists have debated evidence for Neanderthal cannibalism for over 100 years, since researchers first discovered remains believed to show evidence of cannibalism in Croatia, although those findings were later disproven. More recently, cannibalized remains were found in France in 1999, Spain in 2006, and in other parts of Southern Europe.

The Goyet remains, which consist of four adolescent or adult neanderthals and one child—the largest discovery of cannibalized remains in Northern Europe—exhibit cut marks where flesh and muscle was separated from bone and percussion marks where bones were crushed to extract marrow. The research team concluded the remains were processed for consumption based on the similar treatment of horses and reindeer remains also found at the site. Because there is no evidence that modern humans were in the area, the scientists believe it is most likely the remains were butchered by other Neanderthals. Basically, it’s a clear case of cannibalism.There’s also evidence the remains weren’t solely used as a food source, as some bones appear to have been used as tools to reshape or sharpen stones. Neanderthals’ use of other Neanderthals’ bones as tools has been seen before in Croatia and France, but the quantity found in Belgium far surpasses what has been recovered at the other sites. Eerily, the researchers note that the living Neanderthals “may have been aware that they were using human remains” as tools, although it’s unclear whether the use was ceremonial or functional.

While the discovery represents “unambiguous evidence” that Neanderthals in Northern Europe practiced cannibalism, the findings shed little light on the motivations behind the behavior. In the published results, the research team argues that the state of preservation of the remains makes it “highly unlikely” that cannibalism was part of a funerary rite, although they acknowledge that it’s ultimately “impossible to infer the behavioural signature represented by these remains.” …’

Source: Atlas Obscura


We’re Getting a Leap Second This Year

‘Twenty-six times since 1972, the world’s timekeepers have added a leap second to the clock, the last time being on June 30 of last year, when the day got a little longer, even if you might not have noticed.

It’s going to happen again this year, according to the Associated Press, with the leap second added to the final day of 2016, when the clock will strike 11 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. Ordinarily the next tick would be midnight, but timekeepers said this year it will be 11:59:60, before turning over to 12:00.

The leap second isn’t necessary on some years, if the Earth orbits more quickly around the Sun. But an official from the U.S. Naval Observatory told the AP that the Earth was a bit slower around the Sun this year, in part because of El Niño…’

Source: Atlas Obscura


The Loudest Sound In The World Would Kill You On The Spot

‘Q: I want to hear what the loudest thing in the world is! — Kara Jo, age 5

No. No, you really don’t. See, there’s this thing about sound that even we grown-ups tend to forget — it’s not some glitter rainbow floating around with no connection to the physical world. Sound is mechanical. A sound is a shove — just a little one, a tap on the tightly stretched membrane of your ear drum. The louder the sound, the heavier the knock. If a sound is loud enough, it can rip a hole in your ear drum. If a sound is loud enough, it can plow into you like a linebacker and knock you flat on your butt. When the shock wave from a bomb levels a house, that’s sound tearing apart bricks and splintering glass. Sound can kill you.

Consider this piece of history: On the morning of Aug. 27, 1883, ranchers on a sheep camp outside Alice Springs, Australia, heard a sound like two shots from a rifle. At that very moment, the Indonesian volcanic island of Krakatoa was blowing itself to bits 2,233 miles away. Scientists think this is probably the loudest sound humans have ever accurately measured. Not only are there records of people hearing the sound of Krakatoa thousands of miles away, there is also physical evidence that the sound of the volcano’s explosion traveled all the way around the globe multiple times…’

Source: FiveThirtyEight