Cognitions about cognition (and other science)
Recent Tweets @jane_c_hu
“We found that in the role-play, people were significantly more likely to blatantly lie to women,” says Laura Kray, the lead author of the study. Twenty-four percent of men said they lied to a female partner, while only 3 percent of men said they lied to a male partner. Women also lied to other women (17 percent), but they lied to men as well (11 percent). Perhaps even more telling: People were more likely to let men in on secrets. “Men were more likely to be given preferential treatment,” says Kray. In several instances, buyer’s agents revealed their client’s true intentions to men saying, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but … ” This sort of privileged information was never offered to women.

Gender in negotiation study: Women fare worse in negotiations because people lie to them more | Slate

Here’s the latest bad news for women in the workplace. No matter how hard women lean in, stereotypes will still be a problem.


Mathematically Correct Breakfast - How to Slice a Bagel into Two Linked Halves. If a torus is cut by a Möbius strip it will split up into to interlocking rings.

It is not hard to cut a bagel into two equal halves which are linked like two links of a chain. Figure 1:

  1. To start, you must visualize four key points.  Center the bagel at the origin, circling the Z axis. A is the highest point above the +X axis.  B is where the +Y axis enters the bagel. C is the lowest point below the -X axis.  D is where the -Y axis exits the bagel.
  2. These sharpie markings on the bagel are just to help visualize the geometry and the points.  You don’t need to actually write on the bagel to cut it properly.
  3. The line ABCDA, which goes smoothly through all four key points, is the cut line.  As it goes 360 degrees around the Z axis, it also goes 360 degrees around the bagel.
  4. The red line is like the black line but is rotated 180 degrees (around Z or through the hole). An ideal knife could enter on the black line and come out exactly opposite, on the red line. But in practice, it is easier to cut in halfway on both the black line and the red line. The cutting surface is a two-twist Mobius strip; it has two sides, one for each half.
  5. After being cut, the two halves can be moved but are still linked together, each passing through the hole of the other.

It is much more fun to put cream cheese on these bagels than on an ordinary bagel. In additional to the intellectual stimulation, you get more cream cheese, because there is slightly more surface area.
Topology problem: Modify the cut so the cutting surface is a one-twist Mobius strip. (You can still get cream cheese into the cut, but it doesn’t separate into two parts). See more at: Mathematically Correct Breakfast: How to Slice a Bagel into Two Linked Halves by George W. Hart.

Images: How to Slice a Bagel into Two Linked Halves by George W. Hart - Cutting bagels into linked halves on Mathematica. - Interlocking Bagel Rings

Maybe, that’s one of the reasons why I love bagel :)

For your next science-themed brunch (what, you don’t have those?!) h/t to Slate discuss.

SPOILER: You already do!

How is this still a myth? For the millionth time: you can access 100% of your brain. Hollywood, do you guys just not know ANY scientists? You can call me any time you want if you promise to never use this dumb premise ever again.

Hey anti-vaxxers: time to give it up. Most of the risk for autism can be explained by common genes.


Changyuraptor yangi is a newly-described microraptorine dromaeosaur dinosaur from the early Cretaceous (Yixian formation) of Liaoning, China.

The animal would have been around 4 feet long in life, and its fossil shows that it was covered in feathers — including, as in its smaller cousin Microraptor, a pair of “leg wings” represented by long paired pennaceous feathers on the metatarsals and tibiotarsus. One of Changyuraptor's most unique features is its voluminous tail feathers, and these feathers constitute the longest of any known non-avian dinosaur, with the most distal retrices reaching around 30 cm in length.

Changyuraptor is also by far the largest “four-winged” dinosaur known, and while this might not be as big of a deal as it sounds (given that there aren’t very many “four-winged” dinosaurs), it does show that small size wasn’t necessarily the gatekeeper to certain volant adaptations. I personally doubt that this animal was doing anything approaching powered flight, but the long tail feathers and multiple sets of long, well-developed lifting surfaces may have been a boon to gliding and controlled descent. The exceptionally long tail feathers therefore might have been used as a sort of “pitch control” device, wherein a large, relatively heavy animal would have needed especially fine-tuned control over rapid falls onto prey or in safe landings from higher ground. As Buzz Lightyear would say, “This isn’t flying, it’s falling with style!”

Gouache paint on A3-size hot-pressed illustration board, approx. 5-6 hours.

Gang Han et al. 2014. “A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance”. Nature Communications. 5: 4382.

What a gorgeous illustration (and great description)! I also wrote about Changyuraptor last week - it’s fun to see what its second pair of wings might’ve looked like.

Reason #1938751938713 why “lean in” isn’t always good advice.

Weird Al | Word Crimes (Blurred Lines parody)

Today was a horrible news day. The Malaysia Airlines crash, Gaza, a super racist casting call, the transphobic cover of Science magazine. So I thought I would go home and watch all the Weird Al videos that came out this week: Foil (parody of Lorde’s Royals), Handy (parody of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy), Tacky (parody of Pharrell’s Happy), and this.

And somehow, even Weird Al managed to irk me! He’s clearly a smart guy, and it’s disappointing he’s pushing a prescriptivist message here - that there is one correct grammar, and that’s the grammar of white people from the ’50s. Anyone else was raised “in a sewer” - or, you know, grew up speaking a different dialect or language, or didn’t have the privilege of receiving an upper class language arts education.

Language is a living, breathing thing, and like it or not, “literally” now means “figuratively,” and we can end sentences with prepositions whenever we want to. (See what I did there? Sorry.) Using “proper grammar” is an indication of your class, not your intelligence. It may seem like a frivolous thing to be irked by, but to me, the attitude of self-proclaimed grammar nazis is not much different from a xenophobe’s declaration that “we speak English here in ‘murrica”: it’s about whether or not you speak the “right” language to signal that you fit in with the upper class.

Equally irksome: A LINGUIST IS NOT A PERSON WHO EDITS YOUR GRAMMAR! A linguist is a person who studies languages. Of all people in the world, linguists are probably least likely to endorse this type of message, because their entire job relies on understanding that language is a social construction.

Also, I will never stop using emojis and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, Weird Al. 💩

For the new study, published in June in Diabetes, researchers affiliated with the National Institutes of Health persuaded five healthy young male volunteers to sleep in climate-controlled chambers at the N.I.H. for four months. The men went about their normal lives during the days, then returned at 8 every evening. All meals, including lunch, were provided, to keep their caloric intakes constant. They slept in hospital scrubs under light sheets.

For the first month, the researchers kept the bedrooms at 75 degrees, considered a neutral temperature that would not prompt moderating responses from the body. The next month, the bedrooms were cooled to 66 degrees, a temperature that the researchers expected might stimulate brown-fat activity (but not shivering, which usually begins at more frigid temperatures). The following month, the bedrooms were reset to 75 degrees, to undo any effects from the chillier room, and for the last month, the sleeping temperature was a balmy 81 degrees. Throughout, the subjects’ blood-sugar and insulin levels and daily caloric expenditures were tracked; after each month, the amount of brown fat was measured.

The cold temperatures, it turned out, changed the men’s bodies noticeably. Most striking, after four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the men had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. Their insulin sensitivity, which is affected by shifts in blood sugar, improved.
I’m psyched that there’s research that justifies my preference for sleeping in cold rooms, but the real news here: the NIH got these guys to sleep at the NIH for four months? Eating NIH-issued food and sleeping in NIH-issued beds in hospital scrubs? I wonder how much that job pays.

Last week, hundreds of EU neuroscientists signed a petition urging the European Commission to revamp their plans for the Human Brain Project, a billion-euro project to “map the human brain.” Scientists have criticized the project for being unfocused - here’s why.