Technology And Culture

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Talkburst! #01 | Zen Huxtable On Music, Stan Culture, And Nsfw Anime Stuff

All right so welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a series of just dumb we buffoonery I like to call it the weave instrumentality project I hope nobody is offended by the word weeb I’ve actually heard I’ve actually had people tell me that they were offended by that um I could see why they’d be offended I.

Don’t really give a shit you know there’s a negative connotation with it for sure a lot of people were just a lot of people were just.

Like for further you call them ooh Kobe in any way friend what the fuck I don’t.

Really give a shit I’m more uh I’m more offended by the fact that.

You used the word instrumentality as if I’m.

Some sort of instrument to your grand master plan fuck you here’s my question here’s here’s the important question while we’re while we’re on the subject and this is very important who is best Eva girl and why is it Oscar oh my god yes I am whatever.

I people I nice okay okay let’s start this off then from what vantage point are you saying Oscars the best girl she just is like there’s no questions asked done deal well you have to have some sort of justification cuz I’m saying masado because she’s the fucking legal one like no way no way I’m looking at it is who can I like realistically.

Be with and who has who was the most functional and I.

Had to say Masato you know if I’m looking at it looks.

Like I’m teleported in system twenty-one years old I can’t be doing this shit with fourteen.

Year olds you know God now that you put it that way now I feel like such as now I.

Feel like such a perv no but and that’s why Masato is not even gay is not best Eva girl because she reminds me of like all of like the drum sorority girls I went to.

College way but she got a religion I was going to say she has her her life intact but she she really does not and that was the whole point of the anime but yeah I only just saw Evangelion or at least like all of it for the first time she’s got a job which it’s more than.

Like half of those girls can say not not talking shit on them you know did college girl so it’s only to be expected but.

She’s got a job so good for her you know I mean like Oscar and Ray are like pilots of Eva’s.

Paying job but it’s a job yeah and they’re respectively mentally fucked up in a literal doll so well I mean Masada’s fucked up too she didn’t speak until she was like she’s also she’s also the most functional but she’s not eight anymore she’s an adult now you know we all have weird pass oh my god we’ve all been autistic as kids we’ve all done.

That weird shit you know what I’m saying you know I used.

To I used to fucking uh I used to sleeping the same bread and Whismur brother and then like when he was sleeping I used to that I just draw these big titted anime girls just like.

Fucking huge like like if you think of war it was just like the tits were oh my god that’s the end of our podcast ladies and gentlemen thanks for being like subscribe comments do it I do not fuck around when it comes that shit so you know I had quite a foundation for being Who I am today yeah I mean you’re friends with dizzy so I just assumed like if if there was any.

Few Friends Or Many: Which Is Best?

Whether one has a small, cozy group of friends or a larger, more boisterous gaggle may depend on individual personalities and circumstances, but new research suggests when deciding which type is best, socioeconomic conditions are key.

"In the age of Facebook, many Americans seem to opt for a broad, shallow networking strategy," write Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia and Selin Kesebir of the London Business School last week in the journal Psychological Science. "Yet, cross-cultural research has shown that having many friends is not always viewed positively outside the United States." (For instance, in Ghana, they noted, an individual who claimed to have more than 50 friends was considered "naïve" and "foolish.")

The researchers suspected social and financial conditions may be at play. For instance, Americans' preference for large social networks may stem from our high mobility; the researchers cite a 2001 study showing roughly half of Americans move their residence in any five-year period. By spreading the love among many friends, we'd minimize the loss from any single friend moving away. In addition, when times are prosperous, having a large group of friends is less likely to weigh one down, since people are less likely to need as much help in good financial times, the researchers note.

"But when times aren't as flush, having more friends might incur huge costs in terms of both time and resources," the duo writes.

To look at the benefits one might receive from friendship circles under various socioeconomic conditions, the researchers created a computer model that simulated individuals who had different numbers and types of friends and the investment needed for each. Their results suggested a small social network with deep ties between pals was beneficial in less mobile societies with unstable economies. Having a broad, shallower network (weaker ties between friends) appeared advantageous in situations where friends were likely to move away, regardless of economics.

Would this pattern hold up in real life? To find out, Oishi and Kesebir recruited 247 individuals with an average age of 31 in an online survey who were asked to list the initials of one very close friend, one close friend and one distant friend. Then, they were asked to distribute 60 points, which represented their time, energy and money, among these friend types. The researchers also looked at census data to figure out how frequently people moved around and for family income in each ZIP code studied.

In areas with less mobility and relatively low income, participants were happier (as measured by three variables on subjective well-being) when they had fewer, yet closer friends compared with a broad social network with weaker ties. [7 Things That Will Make You Happy]

And those Americans in the study living in other socioeconomic conditions — high mobility and rich, low mobility and rich, and high mobility and poor — were happier if they had a broad, shallow social network than if they stuck to a few close friends.

Oishi and Kesebir argue that these two studies provide clear evidence for the role of socioeconomic factors — such as residential mobility and economic security — in determining the most adaptive networking strategy.

"As residential mobility decreases and economic recession deepens in the United States, the optimal social-networking strategy might shift from the broad but shallow to the narrow but deep, even in a nation known best for the strength of weak ties," the researchers write.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Do You Really Remember Where You Were On 9/11?

Where were you on 9/11?

Almost any American old enough to remember 2001 has an answer to that question. Classrooms, office parks, living rooms, dorm rooms — wherever you happened to be when you turned on the television or saw the smoke or got a frantic phone call — became imbued with extra meaning. Americans from New York to Fairbanks promised each other they'd never forget where they were when they heard the news.

But research suggests we do forget: not the dead or the importance of the moment, but the details surrounding the day. The emotional, seemingly vivid memory of where you were when 9/11 happened is what's known as a flashbulb memory. Once thought to be seared into the brain permanently, flashbulb memories have turned out to be fallible, just like memories for more ordinary events. [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

The difference is, flashbulb memories don't feel that way, said William Hirst, a psychologist at the New School in New York City who has studied Americans' memories of 9/11.

"People are extremely confident in the accuracy of these not-necessarily-accurate memories," Hirst said. With a nationwide project on memories of 9/11, Hirst and other flashbulb memory researchers are trying to untangle why this is. The answer may have less to do with memory and more to do with how we see ourselves as part of a community and a part of history.

The origin of the flashbulb

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 sparked the first scientific description of flashbulb memories. Harvard researchers Roger Brown and James Kulik noticed that people seemed to have particularly vivid memories of where they were when they heard news the president had been shot.

"Indeed," Brown and Kulik wrote in 1977 in the journal Cognition, "it is very like a photograph that indiscriminately preserves the scene in which each of us found himself when the flashbulb was fired."

The researchers did note that certain details disappear from flashbulb memories, like the hairstyle of the teacher who answered the phone and gasped that Kennedy was dead. Nonetheless, they concluded that something was inherently different about flashbulb memories that made them resistant to erosion, likely due to the surprising and personally relevant nature of the event.

But Brown and Kulik had their experimental volunteers respond only once to questions about how well they remembered Kennedy's assassination (as well as other touchstone events such as the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.). Later studies would follow the same people over time, asking them every few months or years to recall their memories of a particular traumatic event, including the Challenger explosion, Princess Diana's death, and eventually, 9/11.

Are 9/11 memories special?

Those studies have found that while people feel very strongly that their flashbulb memories are crystal-clear, the memories actually erode over time just like our memories of birthdays, new car purchases and other life events.

Even as the 9/11 attacks occurred, memory researchers realized they were witnessing a moment that would spawn millions of these seemingly photographic memories. Within days of the 9/11 attacks, psychologists began interviewing and surveying people across the country. On Sept. 12, 2001, Duke University researchers Jennifer Talarico and David Rubin asked 54 Duke undergraduates questions about where they'd been when they heard about the attacks. They also asked the students to provide memories for a few everyday events.

One week, six weeks or 32 weeks later, the students returned to answer the same set of questions. It turned out that the consistency of 9/11 memories was no different than that of mundane memories. In both cases, the number of consistent details about the event dropped from around 12 one day after it happened to about eight consistent details 32 weeks later, while inconsistencies rose. Nonetheless, people felt very confident in their total recall of that moment.

That makes flashbulb memories different from regular memories, Talarico, now at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, told LiveScience.

"We seem to be willing to admit that we might be forgetting something, or maybe misremembering details of other types of events," she said, but people remain unusually sure of their memories of 9/11 and similar events.

While Talarico and Rubin were querying Duke students on their memories, another group of memory researchers was putting together an ambitious project: a national memory survey on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Within about a week, memory scientists from New York to Michigan to California (now known as the 9/11 Memory Consortium) were querying people on what they remembered.

The resulting set of data contained responses from more than 3,000 people in seven cities. Following up with those same people one year and three years later, the researchers found a decline in flashbulb memory accuracy that gradually leveled off after year one. In the first year, people's memories were consistent with the initial responses only 63 percent of the time. After that, however, they only lost 4.5 percent of their accuracy per year.

"People began to tell what I would call a canonical story," said Hirst, who was one of the study researchers. "The error they made at 11 months and the error they made at 35 months was the same."

Surprisingly, Hirst said, people tend to be particularly bad at remembering their emotions from the time of the attack. It's hard to look back at an emotional event without coloring it with hindsight, he said.

People "tend to think that the way they felt about it at the time is the same way that they feel about it now," Hirst said. "But their emotions have changed, so they make errors in their memory … You put your present into the past."

Why 9/11 memories feel special

Our memories of 9/11 may feel special for a reason, as some findings suggest that the decay of flashbulb memories over the very long term is slower than for other memories, said Olivier Luminet, a psychologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium; Luminet pointed to research showing very vivid memories of the German invasion of Denmark during World War II among Danish citizens 50 years later. More research is needed regarding the accuracy of very long-term flashbulb memories, Luminet said. [10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp]

"I will not say these are completely consistent memories, but I would not go the other direction either," Luminet told LiveScience.

But studies have certainly shown that flashbulb memories are subject to contamination. In a 2004 study published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, scientists suggested to Russian study participants that their previously reported flashbulb memories of a 1999 bombing of two Moscow apartment buildings had included visions of a wounded animal. None of the 80 participants had actually reported this, but five were convinced by the suggestion, even creating false memories of bleeding cats and enraged barking dogs. In the case of 9/11, people will sometimes claim to have seen live video of the first plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Talarico said, despite the fact that such video was not broadcast until days after the attack.

So why do flashbulb memories feel so special? No one knows for sure, but researchers have a few theories. Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist at New York University, conducted brain scans of people three years after the 9/11 attacks, asking them to draw upon memories from that day as well as consequential, but nontraumatic memories from around the time of the attacks.

Surprisingly, Phelps told LiveScience, about half the participants didn't rate their memories about the day of 9/11 any differently than they did other important life events from around the same time. The half that did say their 9/11 memories were more vivid were those physically closer to the World Trade Center site when the planes hit. People near Washington Square Park, less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the attacks, said their memories were more vivid and confidence-inspiring than those about 3 miles (4.8 km) away, at the Empire State Building.

"Those people learned about it on the news," Phelps said. "They didn't see the building fall, they heard about it and then looked at the news like everybody else in the world." In contrast, she said, streets were closed for two weeks around NYU, and some areas near campus were evacuated.

The individuals with the most vivid memories also had unique brain activation patterns when dredging up the memories, Phelps and her colleagues found. The amygdala, an area involved in emotion, was more active, while the posterior parahippocampus, a brain region involved in memory for contextual detail, showed less activity, Phelps said. When something is emotional, people tend to focus on just the emotional stimulus, failing to store broader details in memory.

It's possible that when this happens, you get a few very strong memories that could enhance your confidence about where you were and what you saw, Phelps said. You might then attribute your confidence about those few details to all of your other memories about the day, mistakenly inflating your convictions.

A part of history

Of course, another reason 9/11 memories might seem special is that for Americans, 9/11 is special. Community and sharing reinforce memories and sometimes shape them, said Hirst. He's found that after Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" came out, people suddenly became much more accurate at remembering where then-President George W. Bush was when the towers were hit. Moore's movie contained a long video of Bush reading to schoolchildren in Florida, seemingly unsure of how to respond to the news of the attacks.

But the national importance of 9/11 also means that someone who didn't remember where they were when it happened would be considered odd — and more importantly, they'd consider themselves odd, Hirst said, comparing finding out about 9/11 to finding out about a parent's death.

"If someone called you and told you your mother had just died in a car accident and later on you were asked to recollect that incident, you personally would believe you would be less of a person if you didn't remember that very vividly," Hirst said. "It's almost a moral requirement."

Events such as 9/11 also inform our identities as citizens, Hirst said. The moment when a spouse or a friend called and said, "Turn on the TV," is one of those rare times that our personal memories intersect with history, he said, quoting memory researcher Ulric Neisser.

"We remember the details of a flashbulb occasion, because those details are the links between our own history and History," Neisser once wrote. "They are the place where we line up our own lives with the course of history itself and say, 'I was there.'"

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Going For Gold! 7 Olympic Secrets To Success

LONDON – All Olympians have outsized athletic talent and event-specific skills. What separates the medalists from the nonmedalists, however, may often come down to psychology, researchers have found.

In fact, some of the personality traits and habits associated with greater success at the Olympic Games may be applicable to nonathletes with more common goals, such as career achievements and health gains, Daniel Gould of Michigan State University told LiveScience. Considered one of the world's most imminent sport psychologists, Gould gave a keynote address at the British PsychologicalSociety's Annual Conference here this April.

Here are seven secrets of success gleaned from Olympic medalists.

1. Knowing how hard to push

Many Olympians, unsurprisingly, come from families that model a strong work ethic. As children, many Olympians were expected to follow through on commitments, and tremendous dedication is considered necessary to win a medal.

But the tendency to turn to hard work, when anxious to achieve, can sometime backfire. The failure of many talented Olympians has been attributed to working too hard, especially right before the competition. Such "overtraining," Gould explained, can lead to injury, poor team coordination or simply a subpar performance.

In general, when striving for any success, rest may need to be prioritized alongside preparation.

2. Optimism

Pop psychology loves to champion the benefits of optimism. And it is true that having a more optimistic personality is associated with successboth at the Olympics and in everyday life, Gould said.

But the power of optimism does not lie in seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. In fact, an optimist's initial assessment of a situation tends to be as realistic as a pessimist's, according to research by Michael Scheierand colleagues at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

Optimism's value likely lies in the motivation it creates to improve one's life, scientists think. Optimistic people, for example, are more likely to actively search for solutions to problems than pessimistic people, who may think such efforts are futile. [7 Things That Will Make You Happy]

3. Self-awareness

In order for optimism to be truly beneficial — whether for highly competitive sporting events, career ambitions or lifestyle changes — it must be balanced with self-awareness, Gould told LiveScience.

"You need a little self-doubt to keep you honest," he said.

Accurate self-awareness helps people work on faults, know in advance their greatest opportunities for both failure and success, and avoid common pitfalls, such as overtraining, losing concentration or burning out.

It also helps keep the ego in check, with the knowledge that none of us are too big to fail, Gould said.

4. Intrinsically motivated

Psychologists differentiate between sources of motivation that come from within a person — such as a natural interest — and those that come from outside, like praise and monetary rewards. The former, so-called intrinsic motivators, are more strongly correlated with success than external rewards, Gould said.

Researchers have further found that external rewards can actually undermine intrinsic motivation. This is why, when we start getting paid for our hobby, it becomes work and when that book about space travel becomes assigned reading, it no longer follows us to bed.

This can be a particular problem during the Olympic Games where the potential external rewards are very big, and very real, sources of distraction. As one Olympian put it, Gould related, "It's like I put a million dollars on the table and say you can have it, if you don't think about it."

5.  The healthy type of perfectionism

Psychologists now understand that perfectionism comes in two flavors: maladaptive and adaptive. While adaptive perfectionism is associated with greater success in many of life's arenas, including the Olympics, maladaptive perfectionismis considered a significant handicap.

Adaptive perfectionists are conscientious people with high standards for themselves and, often, others as well. But these standards do not preclude them from rolling with life's punches. They also tend to have stellar planning and organization skills — which may help them to cope with the unexpected.

Maladaptive perfectionists, on the other hand, are usually preoccupied with control, haunted by both past and future mistakes and put undue stock in meeting, or surpassing, the expectations of others. In this rather fragile mindset, people can lack the flexibility necessary to deal with life's unpredictability, whether they are trying to manage a large dinner party or win a gold medal. [7 Personality Traits You Should Change]

6. Plans to deal with distractions

"Successful performances seldom happen by chance and can easily be disrupted by distractions," Gould said, pinpointing distractionsas the biggest challenge facing Olympians.

From media and agent requests to family pressures and the enormous amount of promotional products they are given, Olympic athletes have a lot thrown at them right when they are supposed to concentrate most.

"It is like we take an 8- to 12-year-old to Disney World … and then say, 'Okay, now do your homework,'" Gould said.

Deciding, beforehand, on plans to deal with distractions, mishaps and setbacks — and then adhering to those plans — has been correlated with greater success at the games. Similar tactics would likely help anyone trying to meet a significant goal.

7. Routine

Perhaps the most important strategy for success, especially when it comes to achieving a long-term goal, is having a routine, and adhering to that routine even in the face of chaos, Gould said.

A routine can steady an athlete amidst the buzz, distractions and anxieties inherent to the games, and help them perform at their best. In fact, medalists often say they felt as if they were on "automatic" during their victories, while nonmedalists are less likely to report similar experiences, Gould said.

Routines, he pointed out, can vary dramatically between teams and personality types. Some may meditate before competing while others may crack jokes and socialize before turning on their game face. The consistency may be more important than the actual acts, Gould suggested.

Quoting another successful Olympian, Gould said, "More than anything else, athletes need to have already a routine established and they need to stick with that routine and take refuge in that routine because at the games, everything changes."

Financially Dependent Men More Likely To Cheat

Men who are financially dependent on their female partners are more likely to cheat than men who contribute equally to the couple's bank account, according to a new study.

But the relationship between male dependency and infidelity disappeared when factors like education, age and relationship satisfaction entered into the mix, suggesting that cheating is a more complex matter than who signs the checks.

The study revealed that men who depend on their wives' or girlfriends' incomes are five times more likely to cheat than men who are not dependent. Women who made much less than their husbands were less likely to stray than women who made more.

"Men and women react very differently to economic dependency," said Christin Munsch, a sociology PhD candidate at Cornell University who is scheduled to present the study today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta.

However, Munsch told LiveScience, the results shouldn't be taken to mean that a low-earning man is a cad in training; rather, she said, the findings suggest that economic disparity is just one of many factors that play a role in infidelity.

Cheating hearts

The study took data from a nationally representative survey of heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 28. Each year, the participants in the survey answered questions about their relationships, income and other life circumstances.

Munsch looked at responses from married and cohabitating couples between 2001 and 2007. To find out if people were cheating, she compared three questions: One, whether the person was still in the relationship they'd been in the previous year; two, how many sexual partners the person had had in the past year; and three, if they'd had sex with strangers in the past year. If the relationship was the same but the number of sexual partners was more than one, or if the person had hooked up with a stranger, the respondent was counted as cheating.

The method was very conservative, Munsch said, because it couldn't catch behavior in relationships lasting less than a year. If someone cheating during a six-month relationship, for example, there would be no way to tell from the data, and thus the person would not be counted.

As it turned out, cheating was rare. Only 3.8 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women admitted to infidelity. (Underreporting is a possibility, Munsch said, but no more so in this study than in other surveys of socially unacceptable behavior.) Women became more and more likely to cheat as their income increased in relation to their male partner's. Men, on the other hand, were most likely to cheat if they were economically dependent — or if they made much more money than their female partners. Men who made 25 percent more than their partners were the most faithful.

When it came to high earners, who were more likely to cheat, the findings held true even when age, education level, income, religious attendance and relationship satisfaction were taken into account. For both genders, making more money may lead to more opportunities to cheat, Munsch said. High-paying jobs may require more hours away from home or on the road, for example.

For low-earning men, though, the correlation between cheating and economic dependence vanished when the same variables were held steady. That means that one or more of the variables is affecting the relationship, Munsch said. For example, lower-earning men may be unhappier in their relationships, and that unhappiness prompts them to cheat.

"We don't really know what that causal chain looks like and why it exists," she said. "So that finding needs to be interpreted with caution."

Faithful mates

One explanation for the finding could be that low-earning men feel that their partners' high wages threaten their masculinity. In this case, the thinking goes, men shore up their ego by cheating. In contrast, low-earning women aren't fighting any cultural stereotypes and may worry about how they'll support themselves if they're caught, so they stay faithful.

"The fact that the relationships are different between economic dependency and infidelity shows that men and women's lives are still not following similar paths when it comes to relationships," said Barbara Risman, the head of the sociology department at the University of Illinois Chicago and the executive officer of the Council on Contemporary Families. "It shows that men are still uncomfortable when they're economically dependent on their wives. That's a very interesting finding." (Risman was not involved in the current study.)

But the fact that the relationship between dependency and cheating depends on so many other variables suggests another possibility, said Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Oregon and the author of the upcoming book, "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s."

"The relationship between economic dependency and infidelity seems to be concentrated in the outliers — the kind of men who may have married someone they didn't love for mercenary or other reasons, or who may be just too irresponsible or damaged in some ways to earn a decent wage or hold a job," Coontz, who was not involved in the current study, wrote in an e-mail to LiveScience.

"The take-home message for me out of this is more encouraging for women: Yes, there are guys who still take advantage. But if you are married to a guy who doeswork, shares your values and background, is close to the same age, and is a good partner, you should not worry at all if you make more than he does!" Coontz added.

Why Your Dna May Not Be Your Destiny

NEW YORK — Ten years ago, when researchers completed the first map of all the genes of human beings, the immense undertaking promised to revolutionize the field of molecular medicine. It did, but something was still missing.

By sequencing the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, scientists were able to glean new information about genes and how they are expressed. Yet there were hints that something else might be controlling which genes are turned on and off, said Jean-Pierre Issa, director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and professor of molecular biology at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"When the human genome was sequenced, some scientists were saying, 'That's the end. We're going to understand every disease. We're going to understand every behavior.'" Issa said. "And it turns out, we didn't, because the sequence of the DNA isn't enough to explain behavior. It isn't enough to explain diseases."

In the 1950s, an English developmental biologist named Conrad Waddington suggested that something was working on top of the DNA sequence to modulate gene expression.

Scientists who advanced Waddington's hypothesis began investigating whether experiences or a person's environment could trigger genetic changes. This work came to be known as epigenetics, and it suggested that human development was not completely hardwired in DNA.

"When you think of nurture and nature, what epigenetics represents is the interface between those two influences," said Frances Champagne, a behavioral scientist at Columbia University in New York.

Champagne and Issa were two of four scientists who participated in an event here Saturday (June 1) called "Destiny and DNA: Our Pliable Genome," which is part of New York's annual World Science Festival. [Watch a Replay of the World Science Festival Talk]

Epigenetic changes are biological markers on DNA that modify gene expression without altering the underlying sequence. Researchers have found that environmental factors — such as trauma, stress and even diet — can activate epigenetic changes.

Although genes are mostly hardwired at the moment an egg is fertilized by a sperm, epigenetics suggests that DNA may be more susceptible to change than was previously thought.

"Most of the program is determined; however, the program is not 100 percent accurate or efficient," Issa said. "There's a little bit of wobbliness, and that's where the environment can play a role."

Long-lasting effects

Furthermore, epigenetic traits can be passed down from generation to generation, said Randy Jirtle, a visiting professor at McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For example, a study published in 2005 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that pregnant women who witnessed the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center passed on higher levels of a stress hormone, called cortisol, to their babies.

Other studies investigated the ways abuse, famine and trauma could leave "scars" on DNA, in the form of epigenetic markers.

Jirtle has conducted research on mice to examine how the epigenome is affected by changes in nutrition. In one study, Jirtle found that mice whose mothers were fed food with fewer vitamins were more susceptible to obesity and other diseases, suggesting nutrition changes may have generational impacts.

"These were studies in mice, but there's reason to believe it happens in humans, too," Jirtle said.

Even though epigenetics is a burgeoning field of study and there are still many unknowns, the implications for medical research are enormous, Issa said. His own work focuses on how understanding epigenetics can lead to better treatments for cancer.

Issa and his colleagues found lung tissue from a lung cancer patient showed different epigenetic markers than those on healthy lung tissue. The researchers are currently investigating whether cancer patients can be treated with drugs that "reprogram" cancer cells by reconfiguring the epigenetic markers.

If the method works, reshuffling the epigenome could prolong a cancer patient's life, offer a better alternative to chemotherapy and, perhaps one day, even cure cancer, Issa said.

This emerging research represents a paradigm shift, one in which biology now needs to be viewed through the lens of both genomics and epigenetics, the scientists said.

"Genes are not strictly our destiny," Issa said. "Taking care of our epigenome may lead to longer, healthier lives."

Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on

'daily Show' Science: 7 Times Jon Stewart Got Nerdy

As Jon Stewart's tenure as host of "The Daily Show" comes to a close, with the final episode airing tonight, it's worth noting the times the satirical show served up science to its viewers.

In his 16 years as host, Stewart focused on the media and government. But he also gave scientists a platform to discuss their thoughts on topics as diverse as the emotions of chimpanzees and the number of stars in the sky.

Stewart's curiosity seemed to reflect that of his audience, and his talks with scientists never failed to spur lively conversations. Here are seven times "The Daily Show" shined its limelight on science. 

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist and science-communicator extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson visited The Daily Show many times. Stewart was such a fan that he once asked Tyson, on an episode that aired in July 2007, "Why is it when you talk about science, I get horny?" 

Tyson had come to the show to promote his program "NOVA ScienceNOW," and explained ongoing research on the bacteria called extremophiles, which are organisms with a taste for danger in the form of scorching temperatures, frigid climates, toxic air, and other intense conditions. It's possible that these organisms hitch rides on meteors and travel around in the universe, Tyson told Stewart.

The scientist also stressed the enormity of the universe, saying there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on Earth.

During Tyson's most recent appearance, in April 2015, he talked about his excitement that "there is a culture that thinks about science, and likes science." Tyson said, "We only enter the future on the intellectual capital brought to this world by the geekosphere." 

2. Week of Evolution Schmevolution

During one week in September 2005, Stewart devoted a segment each night to evolution, calling it "one of nature's most controversial topics."

At the time, the Dover Area School District in Dover, Pennsylvania, had recently voted to allow the teaching in science classes of religious ideas about the origin of life, calling it "intelligent design."

In segments called "Evolution Schmevolution," Stewart asked his audience, "Are we characters in a dubious fairy tale written thousands of years ago, in the depths of human ignorance? Or random globs of cells who got a little luckier than s— that grows on our shower tiles?"

Daily Show correspondent Ed Helms went on a "Heritage Tour," to visit various battlegrounds of the evolutionary war. To get the real story, Helms traveled to Dayton, Tennessee, to visit the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial; the Bronx Zoo, to learn how closely humans are related to chimps (they share 98.5 percent of the same genes); and Hooters, to understand how species adapt special characteristics (in Hooters' case, voluptuous breasts) to proliferate against all odds.

Eventually, the school district's decision lost its court case, with a Pennsylvania court finding that teaching religious ideas in public schools violated the separation of church and state as outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

3. Elon Musk

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, appeared on The Daily Show in April 2012. Stewart commended Musk for launching a rocket on a spaceship into orbit and returning it to Earth, saying, "This is what I know about science: The four entities that have done that are the United States, China, the Soviet Union and Elon Musk."

Musk said he had to fund his SpaceX venture with the money he made by founding and selling PayPal, because "rockets are pretty far out of the comfort zone of most venture capitalists."

When SpaceX was a younger company, it launched rockets "from a remote tropical island," Musk said, though now the company launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Musk said that one day he hopes there will be self-sustaining human civilizations on multiple planets, starting with Mars. He said multi-planetary populations would be needed to continue human existence, but also to inspire people. It's important to have things that are exciting and transcend current human problems, Musk said.  

4. Burn Noticed

Stewart's coverage of New York City's Climate March in September 2014 was especially biting. He asked, "Do we really need a march to raise awareness about global warming?" But then he quickly answered yes, saying the idea that climate change is happening is accepted everywhere but the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Stewart aired clips of politicians meeting to discuss President Obama's plan to shrink carbon dioxide output in the United States. In one video, Texas Representative Steve Stockman asked a question about the wobble of Earth's axis and its contribution to climate change, to which Stewart, pretending to jump right on Stockman's bandwagon, snarked, "What's up, scientists? Global wobbling, bitches!"

But John Holdren, senior advisor to the president on science and technology issues, explained that global wobbling occurs on timescales of 22,000; 44,000; and 100,000 years, so that wobbling imparts a only tiny effect on climate change models, which cover only 100 years. After Holdren's explanation, Stewart faked shock and side-whispered, "I didn't know we'd be talking to an actual scientist."

When Representative Larry Bucshon from Indiana asked how melting ice can raise sea level, since melting ice in a glass of water doesn't overflow the water, Stewart exasperatedly asked, "How far back to the elementary school core curriculum do we have to go?!" He then brought out a cup of water and began to patronize Bucshon with a demonstration of what happens when ice on land — "you know, the part where water isn't" — melts and enters the water. The result? A very wet desk.   

5. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall, a primatologist famous for her work with chimpanzees, appeared on The Daily Show twice, first in November of 2009 to promote her book, "Hope for Animals and Their World" (Grand Central Publishing, 2009). On that visit, Goodall chatted with Stewart about how similar chimp emotions are to human emotions. She appeared for a second time in April of 2012, as a spokesperson for Disney's documentary "Chimpanzee" (Disneynature, 2012).

In her more recent appearance, Goodall said that seeing chimps express both the bright and dark sides of human emotions made her think, "Gosh, they're really like people." Stewart commented that humans and chimps share 98 percent of their genes, and then quipped, "Although if you saw me with my shirt off, you'd say 99.9." 

6. Pope-ular Science

In June 2015, Stewart covered Pope Francis' encyclical that urged action on climate change along with the reactions of U.S. politicians to the Pope's statement. He showed a clip of Senator Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, a longtime denier of the reality of human-induced climate change, who said he doesn't consider the pope an authority on environmental issues.

Stewart also shared a quote from Rick Santorum, a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, who said, "The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we're really good at, which is theology and morality."

Stewart pointed out that scientists have an overwhelming consensus on climate change, but suggested that to best reach Republican voters, the politicians might want to sell their viewpoint as, "taking a stand for preserving traditional sea levels," because that might be more persuasive. 

7. Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, famed evolutionary biologist and atheist, came on the show in September 2013 to promote his book, "An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist" (Ecco, 2013). Stewart asked Dawkins about the possibility of an afterlife, and whether there could be "something beyond us," that would allow humans to maintain something of their consciousness after death. Dawkins said that from a scientific point of view, belief in an afterlife isn't logical.

"I believe in the scientific method, but I know that faith and science are both controlled by the same flawed mechanism, which is us," Stewart said, adding that he doesn't always trust humans.

Dawkins explained that the origin of life was a gradual process, and that the chances of it beginning were extremely improbable. He said there could be a billion planets with life, a fraction of the number of planets in space, but the habitable planets could be so spread out that they likely will never know of each other.

"This is so cool to think about," Stewart said. 

Elizabeth Goldbaum is on Twitter. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Would You Make A Good White House Chief Of Staff?

President Obama announced on Oct. 1 that the White House chief of staff position would be filled by Pete Rouse while he searches for a long-term replacement. But what exactly does the chief of staff do, and what makes a person good at this job?

As the highest-ranking member of the president's executive office, the White House chief of staff acts as a senior aide to the president, and may be his right-hand man. The chief of staff's duties vary, depending on how involved the current president wants the chief of staff to be.

However, the five traits below are always crucial for the White House chief of staff to posses:

Political judgment

A firm grasp of current political issues and policies is one of the most important traits that the White House chief of staff should possess, said Bruce Cain, professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Understanding the president's policies and stance on issues from health care reform to education is crucial. The chief of staff must be sure that he or she is always on the same page as the president, or else they risk misrepresenting the administration's agenda.

Confidence in the president

Support and belief in the president's agenda is key to being a successful chief of staff, as the position often calls for crusading to implement the president's causes and ideas, Cain said. If the chief of staff doesn't agree with the president's stance on issues, he or she may have a hard time advocating and promoting the president's ideals.


The White House chief of staff is often required to keep the president's schedule on track and manage the overwhelming flow of information that enters the oval office on a daily basis. From overlooking the hiring of White House staff to setting up meetings, the chief of staff must constantly stay on top of things, Cain said. This calls for solid organizational skills, and a knack for always being one step ahead.

People Skills

"Though not essential, people skills — interpersonal skills — are important for the chief of staff to possess," Cain said. "He deals with a lot of people, day in and day out, and he should be comfortable with doing that."

A chief of staff with poor people skills would probably not last long, he said. As an overseer of much of the White House staff, the position calls for communication, patience and knowing how to deal with and manage many people at once.


Working as the president's No. 1 helper requires being able to organize many activities and making sure that everything goes smoothly throughout the president's day.

"The chief of staff always has a lot of balls in the air, and has to juggle a lot of responsibilities," Cain told  Life's Little Mysteries.

If he were to drop one of those balls and forget to remind the president about an important appointment with another member of the executive branch, the minor slip-up could put a major dent in the political relationship, he said.

This article was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.


Cohabitation Science: Are You Ready To Move In Together?

Cohabiting before marriage may not be linked with divorce, recent research shows. But the finding raises a new question: When is the right time to move in together?

Science can't answer the question for everyone, but there are a few red flags — including your age and your motivations for moving in together — that suggest maintaining separate residences might be the way to go. Perhaps the main message is that sharing an address should be approached as carefully as tying the knot.

There are pros and cons to both marriage and cohabiting, said Stephanie Coontz, a historian at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

"It's easier to get out of a bad relationship in a hurry if you're cohabiting, but it's also easier to enter one that you have to get out of," said Coontz, who studies changes in American families and gender roles. [5 Facts About Couples Who Live Together]

Living together without rings

For years, social scientists have warned that cohabiting couples aren't as stable as married couples; of course, the types of couples who marry versus move in together might be very different, meaning that it might be personality or economic circumstance that explains the difference, not the legal institution. Nevertheless, the link between cohabiting and instability has led some groups, like the academic National Marriage Project, to advise against moving in before marriage.

Despite such warnings, cohabiting remains common. Between 2006 and 2010, about half of married women reported having lived with their partners before the wedding, according to a 2013 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 75 percent of all women under age 30 said they'd cohabited with a partner at some point.

Recent research even suggests that some cohabitation warnings may be overblown: A study by sociologist Arielle Kuperberg of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that cohabitation before marriage does not raise the risk of divorce. Rather, cohabiting couples appear more likely to divorce because they move in together at a younger age than couples who wait until marriage to share a home.

That finding leads to the first, and perhaps clearest, piece of advice for young couples in love: Give it time. Moving in (or marrying) when you're young is linked to high rates of divorce.

"When you're young, you don't really know what you want yet," Kuperberg told Live Science. "That's when people are still figuring things out."

An 18-year-old who gets married has approximately a 60 percent chance of divorcing by age 28, Kuperberg said. For those who marry at age 23, that risk drops to 30 percent, after which it stays fairly steady. There's probably no magic to the age 23, Kuperberg said. Rather, it's the age when people tend to finish college and figure out their life plans. Moving in with or marrying a partner before that time carries a larger risk of picking someone who won't fit into those plans. [6 Scientific Tips for a Successful Marriage]

Maturity and money

Taking a good, hard look at your own personal level of maturity also probably wouldn't hurt. Modern marriages require a lot more maturity than marriages in the 1950s, Coontz told Live Science. In the old days, a woman often moved from living with her parents to living with her spouse, and both the man and the woman stepped into prescribed gender roles.

Today, coupledom looks like whatever the members of the couple want it to look like. That's liberating, but it also requires communication.

"You need much more maturity and negotiation skills," Coontz said.

Highlighting the importance of maturity, University of Illinois at Chicago economist Evelyn Lehrer has found that the later a woman enters into marriage, the less likely she is to divorce — even though late marriages disproportionally include unconventional pairings, such as ones in which the couple don’t share a religion, or are far apart in age. Other studies find that these characteristics alone are risk factors for divorce, as they can lead to conflict. But marrying late in life seems to come with mature, realistic expectations about love, Lehrer told Live Science.

Lehrer's research points to another argument for taking your time to move in together or marry: money. Women who marry later have "an opportunity to invest more in their education and their careers," she said, and so do their husbands.

Regardless of age, the length of time a couple waits to move in together may also contribute to their likelihood of breaking up. Cornell University professor Sharon Sassler has been interviewing cohabiting couples and has found that working-class couples are far more likely to move in together within six months of starting to date than college-educated couples.

Sassler hasn't yet proved that these quick starts lead to more breakups, but less education is linked to a higher risk of divorce. Fast relationship trajectories could be one reason why.

Both the more- and less-educated couples referred to financial benefits when explaining their decision to move in, Sassler told Live Science. But the working-class couples were more likely to say they "needed" to move in — perhaps they'd lost their job or couldn’t make ends meet.

"If you are working one or two low-wage jobs and you are spending a lot of time with somebody, it certainly doesn't seem to make a lot of economic sense to maintain two separate apartments," Sassler said.

And baby makes three

Moving in due to necessity rather than desire may be a problem — particularly if that necessity comes in the form of an unexpected pregnancy.

One study, published in 2009 in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science by Princeton researcher Sara McLanahan, found that among low-income mothers, only 16 percent of women who married their baby's father before or after the baby's birth were still married to him by the baby's fifth birthday. And women who get pregnant and hurry to marry the father before the baby is born (in a "shotgun wedding") are more likely to divorce than women who marry after the baby's birth, according to research done by Sassler and others.

Moving in together in response to an unwanted pregnancy is similarly shaky: People who move in together after conceiving a child are three times more likely to split by their child's third birthday than people who marry after an unplanned pregnancy, according to a June 2012 paper in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

"Getting married at a young age just in response to an unintended pregnancy is not a good step if you're interested in marital stability," said Kristi Williams, an Ohio State University sociologist who studies the consequences of unwed births on women's health.

In that sense, welfare programs that encourage single moms to marry may not be effective, especially because cycles of marriage and divorce may be worse for kids than growing up in a stable, single-parent home, Williams told Live Science.

"It may end up producing worse outcomes, if those unions end in divorce," Williams said. 

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.