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FACT: Ötzi the iceman ate a brilliant primitive model of pancakes and bacon for his final brunch
By Sara Kiley Watson
The way in which we eat meals has modified lots over time. However the one factor that hasn’t modified is that should you’re dwelling in wintery climates just like the Italian Alps, having a hearty meal of carbohydrates and fatty meats can put you heading in the right direction for a tricky hike. Ötzi the iceman, who roamed round what’s now often called Italy, met his unlucky finish 5,300 years in the past when he was murdered on the icy mountaintops. His mummified corpse was discovered by hikers within the 1990s, however his abdomen was mysteriously misplaced till a few years in the past—and it seems he undoubtedly didn’t die hungry.
Inside his mummified abdomen, researchers have been capable of finding lipid-rich, virtually bacon-like mountain goat meat. Moreover, they discovered fibrous bread and charcoal that factors to a possible bread-like product cooked on a sizzling rock—kind of the earliest recognized iteration of a pancake. These undoubtedly weren’t Instagram-worthy brunch dishes, however they did the trick when it comes to prepping historic people for his or her prehistoric adventures.
FACT: Historic folks fudged the sky charts, which suggests all our horoscopes are terribly off
By Purbita Saha
Final 12 months astrology followers went wild when stories of a secret new Zodiac signal began making the rounds. The rumors obtained so out of hand that NASA needed to step in with a centering rationalization on its Tumblr account (we all know!).
The house company began by clarifying that astronomy and astrology are on no account the identical discipline and follow, then dove right into a mathematical breakdown of why a 13th signal wouldn’t actually change folks’s horoscope charts. The supposed lacking constellation, named Ophiuchus by the Greeks, was described in early Babylonian texts—however one way or the other by no means made it into the official Zodiac with Aquarius, Sagittarius, Taurus, and so forth.
The possible purpose? It’s simpler to separate the sky into 12 elements to match the months, regardless that there are numerous constellations that are available in all totally different sizes.
So sure, astrology appears to select and select what it desires out of the heavens. However in a manner, don’t all of us? The Earth is frequently shifting its axis, which suggests the Historic Greeks and Babylonians noticed the solar, moon, and stars in one other gentle than we do. Our views of the universe aren’t fixed over time, and that’s a undeniable fact that astrologists and astronomers can each get behind.
FACT: The uncanny valley makes us really feel uncomfortable round almost-human issues, however not due to historic human doppelgängers
By Rachel Feltman
I not too long ago noticed a meme going round TikTok the place folks declare that the existence of the uncanny valley—the place seeing one thing that appears virtually human makes us uncomfortable—implies we as soon as needed to be cautious of beings that regarded virtually precisely like us. I’d wish to unpack that!
In 1970, a robotics professor from the Tokyo Institute of Know-how named Masahiro Mori printed an obscure article in an obscure Japanese journal the place he hypothesized that an individual’s response to a humanlike robotic would abruptly shift from empathy to revulsion because it approached, however failed to realize, a lifelike look. Right here he coined the time period “uncanny valley.”
Researchers typically weren’t listening to the uncanny valley’s psychological, neurological, or evolutionary implications till across the flip of the 21st century, however the concept saved popping up increasingly more amongst individuals who labored with robotics—after which individuals who labored with laptop generated animation—as a result of as their work turned extra superior, it turned one thing they needed to work more durable to keep away from. (One enjoyable factor about trying again on the historical past of the uncanny valley is seeing how relative it’s—among the movies that famously sparked revulsion in viewers for trying too lifelike are actually comically unrealistic.) Analysis on the topic has boomed in recent times, however outcomes are nonetheless blended.
As mysterious because the uncanny valley phenomenon is, we do have some theories about why we would discover almost-human issues unsettling.
One risk is that this isn’t actually distinctive to one thing trying “human” in any respect, however that our brains are merely uncomfortable when it’s undecided whether or not to place one thing in a single class or one other—like not being certain whether or not to register a determine as a cartoon or as a dwelling being. Different theories maintain that we is perhaps freaked out as a result of an imperfect robotic looks like a human whose habits doesn’t fairly add up—like somebody whose facial expressions appear lower than real. A robotic or animation that appears human sufficient would possibly all of a sudden set off one thing in our mind that raises our expectations for its habits, prompting us to look out for cues that it is perhaps masking its true feelings or performing erratically.
Relatedly, it’s attainable that the extra human one thing appears, the extra triggered we’re to search for indicators of attainable sickness—as a result of the nearer one thing is to being our personal species, the extra possible we’re to have the ability to catch what it has. And associated to that is the concept that all of those emotions stem from our evolutionary must be cautious of corpses—not simply because they could carry illness, however as a result of the predator that killed them is perhaps close by.
Hearken to this week’s episode to study extra about our sophisticated relationship with ersatz humanoids—and why it most likely doesn’t boil right down to an historic alien conspiracy.
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