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Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

How Movies Trick Your Brain Into Empathizing With Characters

3 hours 26 min ago
There’s a scene near the end of Black Swan, where Nina finally loses her grip on reality. And when people watch it, their brain activity bears some resemblance to a pattern that’s been observed in people with schizophrenia, said Talma Hendler, a neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, said at a recent event here sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

WIRED Space Photo of the Day for September 2014

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 8:51pm
Follow Space Photo of the Day on Twitter The 2013 WIRED Space Photo of the Day Gallery The 2012 WIRED Space Photo of the Day Gallery For caption information and links to high-resolution images, please use the full-screen version of this gallery. For more mind-blowing space photos, see the entire WIRED Space Photo of the […]

Absurd Creature of the Week: The 100-Foot Sea Critter That Deploys a Net of Death

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:30am
These are the siphonophores, some 180 known species of gelatinous strings that can grow to 100 feet long, making them some of the longest critters on the planet. But instead of growing as a single body like virtually every other animal, siphonophores clone themselves thousands of times over into half a dozen different types of specialized cloned bodies, all strung together to work as a team---a very deadly team at that.

Turns Out Wolves’ Yawns Are Contagious, Too

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:30am
In the yawns of wolves, scientists have found a hint of emotional depths once thought restricted to humans and our closest ancestors. Contagious yawning — the tendency to involuntarily follow suit when seeing another person yawn — is thought to be linked to empathy, drawing on some of the same cognitive mechanisms that underlie our ability to share the feelings of others. According to a new study, wolves yawn contagiously, too.

Science Graphic of the Week: Where We Should and Shouldn’t Build Roads in the Future

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:24pm
Humans are going to pave over 15 million miles of new roads in the next 35 years. This map shows where those roads should and should not go.

How Movies Synchronize the Brains of an Audience

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:30am
When people watch a movie together their brain activity is, to a remarkable degree, synchronized. It's a slightly creepy thought. It's also a testament to the captivating power of cinema, says Uri Hasson, a psychologist at Princeton University.

Scientists Turn Bad Memories Into Good Inside the Brains of Mice

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 1:00pm
Neuroscientists have devised a technique for switching the emotional association of a memory from bad to good by directly manipulating the neurons that encode it.

Fantastically Wrong: The Legend of the Homicidal Fire-Proof Salamander

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 6:30am
In the first century AD, Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder threw a salamander into a fire. He wanted to see if it could indeed not only survive the flames, but extinguish them, as Aristotle had claimed such creatures could. But the salamander didn’t … uh … make it. [HTML1] Yet that didn’t stop the legend […]

What’s Inside: The Science of Sriracha’s Fiery Deliciousness

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 6:30am
JARREN VINK CHILI Red jalapeños give rooster sauce its heat; they clock in at about 5,000 Scoville units, or around 300 parts per million of mouth-burning capsaicinoids. These molecules bind to a receptor, TRPV1, that shows up on the ends of nerves that lead to the trigeminal nerve, which conveys touch, temperature, and pain. GARLIC […]

What’s Up With That: Your Fingernails Grow Way Faster Than Your Toenails

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 2:33pm
I like to clip my nails, because I’m addicted to the rewarding little tink of the clippers. Instead of being content with a finely manicured set of man hands, I crave more tinks. Without fail, I’ll kick off my sneakers in hopes of clipping away my toe talons, but instead of tinks, all I make is a loud sigh, because my toenails […]

How Movies Manipulate Your Brain to Keep You Entertained

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 6:30am
At a recent event hosted by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists got together with film makers to discuss what both groups have learned---the scientists through painstaking experiments and analysis, and the film makers by intuition and experience---about the mechanisms of attention and perception.

Cast Your Vote in Absurd Creature of the Week’s Tournament of Absurdity!

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 3:12pm
We’re coming up on one whole year of Absurd Creature of the Week! So to celebrate, we’ve used a super-secret, super-complex algorithm to choose the 16 most absurd of the absurd—to pit them against each other in mortal combat (bracket is at the bottom of this post). Now, you will vote to decide which is […]

Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:30am
Mass and length may not be fundamental properties of nature, according to new ideas bubbling out of the multiverse.

Turns Out the U.S. Has Its Very Own Species of Ant-Zombifying Fungus

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 1:10pm
Zombie ants, the ghostly slaves of a mind-controlling fungus seen creeping around places like South America for years, have now been spotted in the United States. But don’t panic—they’ve probably been here all along, and we only just now noticed. Scientists at Penn State have for the first time shown that a fungus here in the U.S. invades […]

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Bird That Builds Nests So Huge They Pull Down Trees

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 6:30am
My father worked for over 30 years in construction, falling off of ladders and getting slivers of metal in his eye and generally bleeding profusely. He toiled like a maniac so our family could eat, all while furthering one of humanity’s most indispensable inventions: large-scale construction of shelter. From the most modest roof that my […]

How to Solve Google’s Crazy Open-Ended Interview Questions

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 6:30am
Consider the following question that has been asked at actual Google job interviews: How much does the Empire State Building weigh? Now, there is no correct answer to this question in any practical sense because no one knows the answer. Google isn’t interested in the answer, though; they’re interested in the process.

Why Volcanic Ash Is So Terrible for Airplanes

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 6:30am
The risk posed to aircraft by airborne volcanic ash is as bad as ever, but airlines are better equipped to spot and avoid trouble---and save money---than they were four years ago.

American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:36pm
ATLANTA—Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol have recovered. The two American aid workers, who since early August had been receiving treatment for Ebola at Emory University Hospital, are being released—hospital officials in Atlanta cited multiple clean blood tests for both. Standing in front of a press conference this morning, Brantly simply said “I am thrilled to be […]

Science Graphic of the Week: Inside a Lizard’s Regenerating Tail

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:40pm
Researchers created visual and DNA analysis of how anoles regenerate their tails.

Cities Are Making Spiders Grow Bigger and Multiply Faster

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 2:00pm
A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.