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Steve Esterly
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Steve Esterly

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Majority Illusion

Since you are on a social network, this applies to you.

The friendship paradox is a well-known trait of social networks, and says that, on average, your friends will have more friends than you have. In the related majority illusion, the majority of most people's friends in a network can have a particular behavior/belief/attribute, even though that attribute is rare overall in the network.

This isn't just theoretical, it clearly happens in the real world, and it can skew beliefs about the popularity of behaviors and opinions. There are some big implications for the spread of extreme views and antisocial behavior—another reason, perhaps, the internet often seems to be contributing more to misinformation than to enlightenment? Expect the worlds of politics and marketing to be doing their best to take advantage of the majority illusion.




via +Daniel Estrada
Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare.
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The paper's abstract does a better job of placing this into the context of social contagion and systematic biases:

Social behaviors are often contagious, spreading through a population as individuals imitate the decisions and choices of others. A variety of global phenomena, from innovation adoption to the emergence of social norms and political movements, arise as a result of people following a simple local rule, such as copy what others are doing. However, individuals often lack global knowledge of the behaviors of others and must estimate them from the observations of their friends' behaviors. In some cases, the structure of the underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual's local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. We trace the origins of this phenomenon, which we call "the majority illusion," to the friendship paradox in social networks. As a result of this paradox, a behavior that is globally rare may be systematically overrepresented in the local neighborhoods of many people, i.e., among their friends. Thus, the "majority illusion" may facilitate the spread of social contagions in networks and also explain why systematic biases in social perceptions, for example, of risky behavior, arise. Using synthetic and real-world networks, we explore how the "majority illusion" depends on network structure and develop a statistical model to calculate its magnitude in a network.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1506.03022
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Steve Esterly

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Fish Kick

The "new" fish kick may be the fastest swim stroke ever. It is performed completely underwater, and is similar to the dolphin kick, but with the swimmer turned sideways, and it generates huge vortices in the water that spin off to either side.

Also see http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444320704577565573909409892
I tug my black swim cap over my hair, strap on my pink goggles, and keep a focused calm, like Michael Phelps before a race. It’s…
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The deep-sea strawberry squid Histioteuthis, with one standard-size eye and one giant fluorescent eye
 
For the next 8 days, it's ‪#‎CephalopodWeek‬! To kick it off, here's a video featuring the deep-sea strawberry squid, Histioteuthis.

Scientists at MBARI recently deployed blue LED lights on ROVs Ventana and Doc Ricketts to observe fluorescence in deep-sea animals and investigate the ecological roles of light in the deep sea. When we shined blue LEDs on the strawberry squid, Histioteuthis, we were surprised by an impressive light show. This squid has one normal-sized eye, and one extraordinarily large eye, which was brightly fluorescent, indicating the presence of a blue-absorbing fluorescent pigment. The fluorescent pigment most likely aids in capturing prey by breaking their camouflage. Watch the video to learn more about fluorescence in deep-sea animals.
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Born Like Stars

This is an art piece, based on science video of a discovery: deep-sea squid brood their eggs, carrying the huge egg mass until the young hatch like stars being born.

Film by Brent Hoff
Ethereal music with what feels like lots of backwards sounds by "Colleen" (Cécile Schott) http://colleenplays.org/

Story of the research and video, captured with +MBARI's ROV Tiburon:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/science/scientists-discovery-in-the-deep-casts-some-squid-mothers-in-a-brighter-light.html

Research article:
Seibel, B. A., B. H. Robison, S. H. D. Haddock. Post-spawning egg care by a squid. Nature, 438. 929 (2005).
http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051212/full/news051212-9.html

Lead role: deep-sea squid Gonatus onyx

h/t +Michelle de Villiers

#artandscience #cephalopods #squid
An otherworldly underwater journey reveals the strangely celestial way in which a deep-sea squid gives birth
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Thank you. Can't wait to watch. In the mean time? Sharing... ;)
Thank you!
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Making sustainable choices about seafood: how do you choose, and is sustainable seafood even possible? A thorough and interesting examination from Outside.

If you don't have the time or motivation to read the entire article, at the least use +Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app or website to help inform your choices. Please.
http://www.seafoodwatch.org/
 
"The oceans are in serious trouble, creating a tough question for consumers: Should I eat wild fish, farmed fish, or no fish at all?" A guide to sustainable seafood:
The oceans are in serious trouble, creating a tough question for consumers: Should I eat wild fish, farmed fish, or no fish at all?
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+Amber Petchey - it is impossible for me to imagine a fish seller's van without remembering Peter Greenaway's visually spectacular film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. The fish truck scene is rather disturbing, however. 
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Researching what the "odorous house ant" really smells like. The winner was blue cheese and runner-up was rotten coconut, but one little girl thought the ants smelled like her doctor.
 
I Sniffed An Ant And I Liked It.
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Her doctor!!! I can relate.
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The search for extraterrestrial intelligence at the SETI Insitute
 
SETI's attempt to make contact with other signs of life — NewsWorks

Human beings have always wondered if they're alone in the Universe.

In 1960, a young astronomer named Frank Drake decided to find out. He pointed an 85-foot antenna at two distant stars and started listening for signs of life. In that moment, a new discipline was born: the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI.

The epicenter of this search is the SETI Institute, an unassuming office building in Mountain View, California—the heart of Silicon Valley.

Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research at the institute, says the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a lonely corner of science. "Worldwide, the total number of people doing this for a job, if you will, is maybe a dozen, maybe fifteen," he says. "Something like that. It's very small, terribly small."

Image credit: SETI Institute

Read more/Listen: http://buff.ly/1KinUjc
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Truly stunning degree of negligence and incompetence in US Office of Personnel Management's handling of data security for sensitive personnel records, including security clearance and background information for intelligence and military personnel.
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I guess they never had been trained or lectured on a regular basis about OPSEC. Because those who had files compromised surely did!
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This is exactly why I don't buy into the backlash of people feeling sorry for Tim Hunt. 
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Excellent points!
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Lichtenberg figures

How can anyone not want to try this? How to burn fractal Lichtenberg figures into wood.

More about these "electrical trees," formed by high-voltage discharge on a nonconductive surface (including skin, in the case of lightning strike victims):
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenberg_figure
 
What happens when you burn Lichtenberg fractal patterns into pieces of plywood using electricity? Check out this super cool tutorial!
Burn Lichtenberg fractal patterns into pieces of plywood using common household items and 2,000V of electricity.
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Backyard scientist is great!
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Another new nudibranch, plus 100+ other new marine species, from +California Academy of Sciences for World Oceans Day

View it BIG.
 
HAPPY WORLD OCEANS DAY! Academy scientists just discovered more than 100 new species in one of them—may we introduce you? calacade.my/1QimFUX
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Kittybiome

More on the Kittybiome cat microbiome project.
The science is real, while the video is adorable.
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+kristien marie - biofilms and the microbiome intersect, but are not the same. In other words, there are biofilms that are part of the microbiome (eg on teeth as dental plaque, or on the lining of the gut) but most of the microbiome is not in the form of biofilms, and biofilms exist in many places without any animate host. 
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