Saturday, December 20, 2014

Discover the science behind the interconnection of all things in the Universe.


 When you begin to truly see and understand how THE Universe is interconnected, YOUR Universe begins to expand and you begin to more deeply feel the connections that are all around you.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Isn’t this supposed to go on the front door?

via

  Share/Save/Bookmark

How to Give the Best Gifts, According to Science

Aunt Edna's fruitcake. Pink bunny pajamas. Jelly of the Month Club. Ever feel like you just didn't get what you wanted for the holidays?
Science can help explain why: The person who gave you that dubious present actually wanted you to like it too much. Givers often focus on the perceived desirability of their gift because they feel it will make the recipient more appreciative of them, says Nathan Novemsky, an expert on the psychology of judgment and decision-making at Yale University.
But receivers really value convenience, feasibility and ease of use in a gift. This difference can lead to disappointment, according to research Novemsky and colleagues published in the Journal of Consumer Research earlier this year.

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Dressed in Dew

Photography by Stefano Coltelli 

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Birds build snow tunnels for fun

Whether it's making snow angels or building a snow man, most of us love playing in a winter wonderland - and it turns out some birds do too. It usually starts with one bird that burrows in the snow, creating tunnels. Another joins in, then a few more, until the entire group is doing it, leaving behind a maze of burrows and furrows. Bernd Heinrich, professor emeritus at the University of Vermont, studied the peculiar behaviour in Western Maine.
He observed a flock of about 150 redpolls (Carduelis flammea) making at least 252 cavities and short tunnels between November 2012 and February 2013, and has just published his findings (Northeastern Naturalist, doi.org/xvj).
He didn't see any evidence that redpolls are seeking food in the snow and there wasn't any vegetation near the tunnels. The birds were also unlikely to be bathing, as they were very clean, and they didn't appear to be taking shelter – so were they just having fun?
 "Play is defined as behaviour with no immediate function, so in that sense, yes, it is 'just' play," Heinrich says. 

   Share/Save/Bookmark

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Colbert Report finale: the perfect way to say goodbye


Share/Save/Bookmark

Snow babies



Camilla de la Bedoyere shares some stunning pictures and amazing facts about cute baby animals in the snow!

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Flu or Love

via

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Putin’s Russia is an extreme version of crony capitalism, indeed, a kleptocracy.

Russia has an economy roughly the same size as Brazil’s. And, as we’re now seeing, it’s highly vulnerable to financial crisis — a vulnerability that has a lot to do with the nature of the Putin regime. For those who haven’t been keeping track: The ruble has been sliding gradually since August, when Mr. Putin openly committed Russian troops to the conflict in Ukraine. A few weeks ago, however, the slide turned into a plunge. Extreme measures, including a huge rise in interest rates and pressure on private companies to stop holding dollars, have done no more than stabilize the ruble far below its previous level. And all indications are that the Russian economy is heading for a nasty recession.
 The proximate cause of Russia’s difficulties is, of course, the global plunge in oil prices, which, in turn, reflects factors — growing production from shale, weakening demand from China and other economies — that have nothing to do with Mr. Putin. And this was bound to inflict serious damage on an economy that, as I said, doesn’t have much besides oil that the rest of the world wants; the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict have added to the damage. But Russia’s difficulties are disproportionate to the size of the shock: While oil has indeed plunged, the ruble has plunged even more, and the damage to the Russian economy reaches far beyond the oil sector. Why? Actually, it’s not a puzzle — and this is, in fact, a movie currency-crisis aficionados like yours truly have seen many times before: Argentina 2002, Indonesia 1998, Mexico 1995, Chile 1982, the list goes on. The kind of crisis Russia now faces is what you get when bad things happen to an economy made vulnerable by large-scale borrowing from abroad — specifically, large-scale borrowing by the private sector, with the debts denominated in foreign currency, not the currency of the debtor country. In that situation, an adverse shock like a fall in exports can start a vicious downward spiral. When the nation’s currency falls, the balance sheets of local businesses — which have assets in rubles (or pesos or rupiah) but debts in dollars or euros — implode. This, in turn, inflicts severe damage on the domestic economy, undermining confidence and depressing the currency even more. And Russia fits the standard playbook. Except for one thing. Usually, the way a country ends up with a lot of foreign debt is by running trade deficits, using borrowed funds to pay for imports. But Russia hasn’t run trade deficits. On the contrary, it has consistently run large trade surpluses, thanks to high oil prices. So why did it borrow so much money, and where did the money go?
Well, you can answer the second question by walking around Mayfair in London, or (to a lesser extent) Manhattan’s Upper East Side, especially in the evening, and observing the long rows of luxury residences with no lights on — residences owned, as the line goes, by Chinese princelings, Middle Eastern sheikhs, and Russian oligarchs. Basically, Russia’s elite has been accumulating assets outside the country — luxury real estate is only the most visible example — and the flip side of that accumulation has been rising debt at home. Where does the elite get that kind of money?
The answer, of course, is that Putin’s Russia is an extreme version of crony capitalism, indeed, a kleptocracy in which loyalists get to skim off vast sums for their personal use. It all looked sustainable as long as oil prices stayed high. But now the bubble has burst, and the very corruption that sustained the Putin regime has left Russia in dire straits. How does it end?

By Paul Krugman / continue

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Wheelies All Day

via

  Share/Save/Bookmark

The Creepiest Christmas Greeting Ever

via 

  Share/Save/Bookmark

"White Christmas" Is Actually the Saddest Christmas Song

The slow, wistful and almost melancholy tune of "White Christmas," written by Irving Berlin, stands in contrast to all the unabashedly happy songs of the season.
 "And I think that’s one of the reasons why people keep responding to it, because our feelings over the holiday season are ambivalent," author Jody Rosen told NPR.
 Linda Emmett, one of Berlin’s daughters, also has thoughts on one of her father’s most popular songs. "It’s very evocative: the snow, the Christmas card, the sleigh, the sleigh bells," she says.
"It’s very evocative, and it’s entirely secular." The song has been played again and again, sung for soldiers far from home and covered by many different artists. But we know only know a little about its origins. Emmett thinks it was written in 1938 or ’39. Rosen speculates that it was over Christmas 1937, when Berlin was away from his family for the first time and making the movie "Alexander’s Ragtime Band."
 But the likely sentiment behind the song makes it sadder. NPR reports.

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Birds 'fled day before US tornadoes'

US scientists say tracking data showing five golden-winged warblers left their nesting site a day before a tornado outbreak suggests they "heard it coming". Geolocators showed the birds left the Appalachians and flew 700km (400 miles) south to the Gulf of Mexico. The next day the deadly April 2014 tornadoes swept across the central US.
 The Current Biology report suggests birds may sense and escape extreme events in this way.

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snow Art

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

  Share/Save/Bookmark

The Office Party

via

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Matthieu Bourel’s Surreal Collages

Bourel describes his process as finding pictures and photographs that spark inspiration.
He’s drawn to pictures that “evoke a fake history or inspire nostalgia for a period in time that never truly existed.”
“A piece often becomes about the search and desire to combine those emergent narrative symbols that seem charged with a familiar yet distant emotion,”
Bourel says.

  Share/Save/Bookmark

One Song

via
Share/Save/Bookmark

Global Outcry Against Exporting Baby Elephants

News that Zimbabwe has captured dozens of baby elephants from the wild and plans to export them overseas ignited a firestorm of alarm in conservation circles, raising new questions about the policies that govern the trade of live elephants.

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Don't you ever knock?

via

  Share/Save/Bookmark

Deck the Halls with Nobel Physicists



Tis the season to fold and cut paper snowflakes- but they don’t have to look like just any old snowflakes. Thew physics magazine Symmetry has patterns for cutting out snowflakes in the images of Nobel Prize-winning physicists Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Erwin Schrödinger (with a cat). Just download their templates, along with handy instructions.
There’s even a video that shows you how it’s done.

  Share/Save/Bookmark