December 11, 2023
What happens when you take a smartphone away from a narcissist? Researchers in Romania—who published a recent study about that exact question in the Journal of Psychology—have found that individuals who exhibit signs of narcissism, which is defined by a sense of both self-aggrandizement and insecurity, are much more stressed out than their less-narcissistic peers when they don’t have their phones.
Known as “nomophobia,” an incredible portmanteau of the words “no mobile phone phobia,” the fear of being without one’s smartphone has become a common experience as we become more and more reliant upon—or addicted to—those tiny computers in our pockets, reports Futurism.
While it’s not at all uncommon to feel a sense of stress or unease when being without one’s phone, psychological researchers Alexandra Maftei and Acnana-Maria Pătrăușanu at Romania’s Alexandru Ioan Cuza University found that the more narcissistic their survey respondents seemed to be, the worse their nomophobia tended to get.
Using an online survey tool, the academics recruited 559 participants between the ages of 18 and 45 from post-secondary schools and universities in Eastern Romania and asked them questions that assessed their narcissistic traits, how stressed out they were, and how addicted to social media they were.
In turn, Maftei and Pătrăușanu found that the higher respondents scored on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory assessment they used, the more phone-addicted and nomophobic they seemed. As such, those who had greater levels of social media addiction and nomophobia also, in many cases, tended to be more stressed.
Interestingly, the younger respondents in the study tended to skew both more narcissistic and more nomophobic, which probably makes sense given that today’s young adults have spent most of their lives online and, in doing so, have had their identities shaped and mediated by social media.
While being on social media all the time is certainly a stressor of its own, the dependence that narcissistic individuals seem to, per this study and others like it, have on social media is likely a compounding factor. When you take that stressor away, it perversely makes narcissistic individuals more stressed—and further study will need to be done to figure out why, exactly, that conundrum exists.
Research contact: @futurism
December 8, 2023
Pantone, the world’s color authority, has declared that we need to be comforted. And there’s only one hue that’ll provide a sufficient level of coziness and warmth—Peach Fuzz, Pantone’s 2024 color of the year—reports The Washington Post.
Soothing our fractured world sure sounds like a tall order for a muted mix of pink and orange. But in a news release, Pantone Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman asserted: “Peach Fuzz brings belonging, inspires recalibration, and an opportunity for nurturing. Drawing comfort from PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz, we can find peace from within, impacting our wellbeing.”
The year 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the Pantone Color Institute’s “Color of the Year.” The special occasion might explain the company’s relative return to basics with a hue as classic as peach. By comparison, it introduced last year’s Viva Magenta alongside immersive AI-generated images, and for 2021, the company kind of cheated and selected two colors. Nonetheless, this year’s rollout still comes with ample branded merchandise showcasing Peach Fuzz—including carpets, cellphones, and makeup.
In recent years, Pantone has emphasized the ways in which its chosen color inspires courage and vitality, but Peach Fuzz seems to bring a different energy to the table.
“The color is one whose warm and welcoming embrace conveys a message of compassion and whose cozy sensibility brings people together and enriches the soul,” Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in the same news release announcing the shade.
While Viva Magenta seemed an on-the-nose pick for 2023, the year of Barbiecore, there isn’t as obvious of a cultural tie-in for Peach Fuzz in 2024 (although perhaps the earworm-power ballad “Peaches” from “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” got people thinking).
Trendiness, however, might be beneath good ol’ peach. Something of a double threat, the warm neutral can both stand on its own and pair well with an array of bolder colors.
But can it mend our broken spirits? We’ll report back in 2025.
Research contact: @washingtonpost
December 7, 2023
Could a simple blood test detect Alzheimer’s disease years before symptoms appear? New research from Resonant—a Utah-based biotech company that develops diagnostic tests for neurodegenerative diseases—suggests it may be possible, reports the New York Post.
Researchers said its new test achieved 100% accuracy in identifying patients with Alzheimer’s disease and individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease within five years.
In the study, a total of 50 blood plasma samples were tested. These included 25 older control individuals, 13 patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, six patients with mild cognitive impairment who later developed Alzheimer’s, and six mild cognitive impairment patients who did not develop Alzheimer’s.
The findings were published in Frontiers in Neurology on October 31.
The blood test works by detecting the presence of DNA released from the brain’s neurons—or nerve cells when they die—according to lead researcher Chad Pollard, a doctorate student and research assistant at Brigham Young University.
“All cells, to some degree, release fragments of DNA called cell-free DNA (cfDNA) into their environment,” Pollard, who is also a co-founder of Resonant, told Fox News Digital in an email.
“Under normal, healthy conditions, cfDNA from neurons is undetectable in blood circulation, but during neurodegeneration, the amount of cfDNA that is released from these cells significantly increases and can be detected in the blood.”
Beyond Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers are also actively working to apply this technology to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), noted Pollard.
View the company’s peer-reviewed research or join the waitlist for the test at its website, http://www.resonantdx.com.
Research contact: @nypost
December 6, 2023
A small bird coming in for a crash landing helped win Tara Lilly of Tara Lily Photography the title of International Wedding Photographer of the Year. The Canadian wedding photographer beat out over 300 of her peers to rise to the top of the annual competition, reports My Modern Met.
As Lily recalls, “Mikaela and Mitch held an intimate mountaintop wedding in Whistler, Canada. We took 4×4 jeeps up to an alpine meadow, home to a number of animals, including whiskey jacks. (If you’ve visited Whistler in the winter, you may have seen these small birds entertain skiers waiting in the lift line by landing on their ski poles held in the air.)
“Just as Mitch began his vows, a curious whiskey jack swooped in and landed directly on top of Mikaela’s head. Mikaela’s shock, surprise, and laughter were not enough to dissuade this bird from his perch. “I’m Snow White!” Mikaela laughed.”
For her efforts, Lily is taking home a prize pool, including a share of over $3,000 and products from award spon
Over 1,700 images were submitted to 11 categories that show the creative range of
sors. In second place, Italian photographer Carmelo Ucchino captured a couple’s romantic first dance as water cascaded from the ceiling. The dramatic black-and-white image also won the Dance Floor category.
possibilities when it comes to wedding photography. “It was an absolute joy judging so many diverse entries and the quality of imagery was off the charts,” shared judge and photographer Dee Kampe, who won last year’s contest.
“I was drawn to the winning entry for its perfection in capturing this chance encounter,” she continues. “It’s joyous, uplifting, and makes me grin from ear to ear just looking at it. There’s pure, unfiltered emotion, there’s surprise, there’s the unexpected. It encapsulates the emotions and narrative that runs through an entire wedding day in a single frame.”
This year’s contest was more successful than ever. Now in its seventh year, the International Wedding Photographer of the Year saw an increase in entries—showing that the world is back on track when it comes to celebrating these important life moments.
Research contact: @mymodernmet
December 5, 2023
The Oscar-winning actress, 88, appears in the Spring/Summer 2024 pre-collection campaign for the luxury fashion house Loewe.
Smith, who famously played Professor McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” film series and starred in “Downton Abbey,” among many other famous roles, is one of eight stars in the new campaign.Others include “Challengers” co-stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, actresses Greta Lee and Dakota Fanning, artist Rachel Jones, model Fei Fei Sun, and musician TAEYONG.
The campaign was shot by famed photographer Juergen Teller.
Smith poses with a brown shearling coat and one of the brand’s iconic Puzzle bags in one of the campaign images. In another, she’s seated on a dizzyingly colorful couch, wearing a black and white dress and holding a burgundy Paseo bag.
Research contact: @GMA
December 4, 2023
Named Quinn, age three, the cat was brought to the Humane Society of Washington County in Hagerstown, in August as a stray. She is currently the longest-term cat resident of the shelter. Her time at the shelter, however, may soon be coming to an end thanks to a viral Facebook post on Friday, November 24.
In its post, the Humane Society went out of its way to highlight all of Quinn’s quirks: “Do you want a cat who doesn’t want you? Do you crave the feeling of being judged in your own home? Do you need someone who will slap you back into reality without notice? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have the cat for you,” the shelter wrote, adding, “Surely, there’s someone out there who would appreciate her icy stare and her sudden smacks.”
Additionally, Quinn has extremely limited physical requirements. “Quinn is essentially a more lively houseplant, because all she really needs a human for is food, water, and changing her litter,” said the post. “If you adopt Quinn, you will not be her owner, because Quinn cannot be owned. She will own you, your house, your belongings and everything you hold dear.”
The shelter also informed potential adoptive families that the cat is not on the main adoption floor—and must be asked for by name. “She’s currently living in an office where she rules with an iron paw,” the shelter said.
Anyone looking to be “Quinn’s servant” should not have any small children or dogs in the house, said the Humane Society. “Quinn would challenge any dog to a fight,” said the shelter. “For the dog’s safety, it’s best she goes to a home without any canines.”
Ever since the post was published, it’s been shared hundreds of times across various social media platforms. Many comments on the original Facebook post praised both the honesty of the shelter and defended Quinn’s behavior as typical “Tortitude.”
Tortiseshell cats, or “torties,” are said to have more of an independent attitude than other cats, notes the website Cats.com. A 2016 study into cat aggression found that the “tortitude” stereotype could be true, said the same website.
“What terrific description and marketing of beautiful Quinn. I’m sure her servant is out there somewhere,” said one Facebook user.
Another defended her, saying “She’s just misunderstood. She just needs her person.”
While Quinn has not yet been adopted, “she has definitely earned quite a following,” the shelter says, noting, “Quinn has her very own fan club filled not only with cat lovers, but also people who can relate to her prickly preferences.”
Research contact: @FoxNews
December 1, 2023
On November 29, entrepreneur and bestselling author Peter Diamandis announced a new XPRIZE—a $101 million global competition for technologies that combat aging and extend health span, reports Fortune Magazine.
Diamandis, founder of the XPRIZE Foundation—which creates incentives for technological and health innovation—introduced the first competition of its scale for reducing biological age at the Global Healthspan Summit in Saudi Arabia sponsored by Hevolution, a nonprofit investing in aging
“I hope we will see breakthroughs for extended life and health span,” said Diamandis—calling for researchers, technologists, physicians, and AI experts, among others, to participate.
The multimillion-dollar competition will ask teams to test and verify therapeutics that can restore a decade of muscle, immune, and cognitive functioning for people age 65 to age 80 in one year or less. Judges will assess participants’ muscle, immune, and cognitive function before and after the therapeutic.
“The team has got to deliver a minimum of a ten-year restoration of function with a target of 20 years,” Diamandis told Fortune. “We’re talking about the potential for therapeutics to have a massive impact on humanity.” A 2021 study found that one extra year of life expectancy due to slowed aging equates to $38 trillion in economic gain.
The goal of the competition is to extend health span—the number of years people live healthy and free of disease. Experts have estimated that the health span and life span gap is about a decade or more—meaning people live the last of their lives disabled and in pain.
“Regaining muscle function is one of the key elements because it gives you mobility and the ability to navigate and enjoy life,” Diamandis said.
He adds, “The two most powerful capabilities are the universal human brain and the human immune system.”
“We’ve extended [life expectancy] over the last century from antibiotics, better sanitation, pasteurization, all kinds of things like that,” he says. As the number of people 65 and older will more than double in the next 40 years, and more people have an extra third tacked onto their later years, Diamandis feels there’s no better XPRIZE for the current moment. “I think it is science that’s going to enable us to continue to extend it.”
Research contact: @FortuneMagazine
November 30, 2023
Scientists observed flocks of Canada geese before and after a population-management cull in which about 20% of the birds were killed. In such a situation, some animals species increase “social connectivity”—mixing with many new individuals—which can increase the transmission of infectious diseases.
“They are socially conservative: They keep calm and carry on, responding to losses in the flock by [buttressing] existing ties rather than greatly expanding their social network.
They are culled in various parts of the U.K., including at the Cotswold Water Park, where this study took place.
Reducing the size of the population is a common method to reduce disease transmission. In some species, this can backfire, because individuals respond by forming multiple new social connections—which can increase the spread of disease.
In contrast, after short-term adjustments to restore their social network, this population of Canada geese were robust to the effects of culling; predominantly strengthening existing “friendships” rather than forming lots of new associations, and thus reducing the potential for an increased risk of disease transmission.
The researchers say their findings highlight the importance of understanding the social behavior of different species when planning management interventions such as culling.
The research was funded by the University of Exeter and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
The paper, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, is entitled: “Culling-induced perturbation of social networks of wild geese reinforces rather than disrupts associations among survivors.”
Research contact: @EurekAlert
November 29, 2023
The viral “uncanny valley” makeup trend is taking over TikTok, as creators try to spook their viewers with their scary good makeup skills. Follow this makeup trend to verify you are not a robot—but want to be, reports the New York Post.
“Uncanny valley” is the term used to describe the uncomfortable feeling people have when making eye contact with an android—a robot made to resemble a human.
To replicate this feeling, TikTokers are throwing things into reverse—and applying their makeup to appear like a bot.
Women are covering their faces with foundation—using concealer and highlighter to make the light appear to hit their faces in unnatural ways. They’re redrawing their mouths and eyebrows with eyeliner and mascara to make their features pop.
All of the video tutorials vary in technique—but end with similar results: Viewers are creeped out by a look that seems too perfect in some aspects and a little off in others.
And that’s the point.
TikToker Zara (@alkiiwii) recently went viral with her take on the trend—quickly amassing 14.4 million views on her most recent video tagging #uncannyvalleymakeup, which has 41.5 million views on the popular social media channel. In the video, she lip-syncs a clip from the video game Detroit: Become Human, which follows androids in the year 2038.
“I only exist thanks to the intelligence of the humans who designed me. You know, they have something I could never have […] a soul,” she mouths just a little behind the audio, while making facial expressions reminiscent of a video game character to add to the effect.
“THIS is uncanny valley,” viewer @naharahakeofficia commented.
“This gives me goosebumps,” @moonxdione replied.
Many others compared Zara’s made up look to the mother character in the famously creepy children’s movie Coraline.
The recent makeup trend comes as the world grapples with how to handle the rise of artificial intelligence and the quick expansion of the technology’s abilities, including shockingly realistic deep fakes.
The term “uncanny valley” went viral earlier this year after a collection of AI-generated images appearing to show a house party spooked viewers, who struggled to spot why the images were so eerie.
Research contact: @nypost
November 28, 2023
A poll of 2,000 U.S. adults has revealed that the top assets respondents would like to inherit one day are a house or property (65%), followed by their four-legged friends (59%), and money (58%). A little more than half (53%) would like to be passed down collectibles or a car.
Even so, the researchers learned, as many as one-third (32%) of Americans haven’t considered what happens to their assets when they die. As for the others, a similar number of respondents both have a will (45%) or are included in someone else’s estate plan (46%).
Half (51%) expect to inherit something from a loved one when they pass, and results revealed that respondents prefer valuable heirlooms to sentimental ones (44% vs 27%). When asked the most sentimental thing they’d either want or have inherited from a loved one, responses varied from “My dad’s ring,” to “my mother’s watch,” or “a coin from my father that was very important and personal to him.”
Two in five respondents admit that they’d be jealous of family members who inherited more than they did.
And it seems that the old saying “you can’t take it with you,” might have lost some appeal; respondents would rather save their money for future generations than spend it all when they’re alive (47% vs 30%).
For others, it goes much deeper. “Photographs of my family and the special moments I can go look at to remind of a simpler time and the moments of good memories.”
Research contact: @SWNS