These are the skills to learn for the future of work, according to the World Economic Forum  

According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, it’s time to start looking at skills that will stay relevant with the accelerating rate of technological change.

From Quartz at Work:

When we talk about the future of work, we often talk about job titles as a proxy for where the economy is heading. Machinists and truck drivers are out, robotics programmers and project managers are in.

But as job titles get more and more nebulous (what is it that project managers do anyway?) a new report from the World Economic Forum suggests that we ought to also look at skills.

Skills are actionable. They can guide workers toward understanding their unique value, where they are deficient, and what they want to learn. Especially as more of the workforce shifts toward freelancers, it will be skills—not job titles—that will help workers differentiate themselves.

For the 2022 skills outlook, including growing skills and declining skills, Read the whole thing …

The reverse Pinocchio effect: Your nose actually SHRINKS when you lie because its temperature drops  

While there may be ways to tell when someone is lying, a lengthening nose isn’t one of them. Quite the reverse, in fact, according to scientists at the University of Granada who investigated the so-called ‘Pinocchio effect’.


Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden boy whose nose grew when he lied, but in reality the opposite is true – for ‘real boys’ at least.

Scientists have shown that your nose actually shrinks when you tell porkies because its temperature drops.

They designed a lie detector test that tracked the temperature of people’s noses and say it picked out fibbers with 80 per cent accuracy.

The test is the ‘world’s most reliable lie detector’ – 10 per cent more accurate than the famous polygraph test, researchers claim.

Scientists at the University of Granada investigated the so-called ‘Pinocchio effect’.

When we lie, the temperature of the tip of the nose drops up to 1.2C (2.16F), while the forehead heats up up to 1.5C (2.7F).

The greater the difference in temperature between both facial regions, the more likely the person is lying.

This strange reaction is triggered by the brain power we exert when telling a lie, as well as an anxiety we’ll be found out.

‘One has to think in order to lie, which rises the temperature of the forehead,’ said study lead author Dr Emilio Gómez Milán.

‘At the same time we feel anxious, which lowers the temperature of the nose.’

The phenomenon causes your nose to shrink slightly – though the difference is imperceptible to the human eye.

For nine ways to spot a liar, Read the whole thing …

‘Oumuamua: ‘Big dumb rock’ or Alien spy ship? Scientists spar over mystery interstellar object  

“A new paper says that ‘Oumuamua’s weird trajectory is only explainable if it’s powered by alien technology. But others aren’t so sure.”

Fr0m The Daily Beast:

A little more than a year ago, on Oct. 17, 2017, an interstellar object flung itself into our solar system, bypassing Earth before heading into Jupiter’s orbit earlier this year and towards Pluto.

This object, dubbed, ‘Oumuamua didn’t follow the typical behavior of asteroids or comets, and its shape and speed defied physics—all of which raised one question:

What was it?

A new paper in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters by Avi Loeb and Shmuel Bialy at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that ‘Oumuamua might be one of two things: a new kind of interstellar object or an object of “artificial origin.”

In other words, an alien probe.

Read the whole thing …

Ian Stevenson’s case for the afterlife: Are we ‘skeptics’ really just cynics?  

“Towards the end of her own storied life, the physicist Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf—whose groundbreaking theories on surface physics earned her the prestigious Heyn Medal from the German Society for Material Sciences, surmised that Stevenson’s work had established that ‘the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science.'”

From Scientific American:

If you’re anything like me, with eyes that roll over to the back of your head whenever you hear words like “reincarnation” or “parapsychology,” if you suffer great paroxysms of despair for human intelligence whenever you catch a glimpse of that dandelion-colored cover of Heaven Is For Real or other such books, and become angry when hearing about an overly Botoxed charlatan telling a poor grieving mother how her daughter’s spirit is standing behind her, then keep reading, because you’re precisely the type of person who should be aware of the late Professor Ian Stevenson’s research on children’s memories of previous lives.

Stevenson, who died in 2007, was a psychiatrist by training—and a prominent one at that. In 1957, at the still academically tender age of 38, he’d been named Chair of psychiatry at the University of Virginia. After arriving in Charlottesville, however, his hobbyhorse in the paranormal began turning into a full-grown steed. As you can imagine, investigating apparitions and reincarnation is not something the college administrators were expecting of the head of their mental health program. But in 1968, Chester Carlson, the wealthy inventor of the Xerox copying process who’d been introduced to Stevenson’s interests in reincarnation by his spiritualist wife, dropped dead of a heart attack in a Manhattan movie theatre, leaving a million dollars to UVA on the condition it be used to fund Stevenson’s paranormal investigations. That money enabled Stevenson to devote himself full-time to studying the minds of the dead, and over the next four decades, Stevenson’s discoveries as a parapsychologist served to sway more than a few skeptics and to lead his blushing acolytes to compare him to the likes of Darwin and Galileo.

Stevenson’s main claim to fame was his meticulous studies of children’s memories of previous lives. Here’s one of thousands of cases. In Sri Lanka, a toddler one day overheard her mother mentioning the name of an obscure town (“Kataragama”) that the girl had never been to. The girl informed the mother that she drowned there when her “dumb” (mentally challenged) brother pushed her in the river, that she had a bald father named “Herath” who sold flowers in a market near the Buddhist stupa, that she lived in a house that had a glass window in the roof (a skylight), dogs in the backyard that were tied up and fed meat, that the house was next door to a big Hindu temple, outside of which people smashed coconuts on the ground. Stevenson was able to confirm that there was, indeed, a flower vendor in Kataragama who ran a stall near the Buddhist stupa whose two-year-old daughter had drowned in the river while the girl played with her mentally challenged brother. The man lived in a house where the neighbors threw meat to dogs tied up in their backyard, and it was adjacent to the main temple where devotees practiced a religious ritual of smashing coconuts on the ground. The little girl did get a few items wrong, however. For instance, the dead girl’s dad wasn’t bald (but her grandfather and uncle were) and his name wasn’t “Herath”—that was the name, rather, of the dead girl’s cousin. Otherwise, 27 of the 30 idiosyncratic, verifiable statements she made panned out. The two families never met, nor did they have any friends, coworkers, or other acquaintances in common, so if you take it all at face value, the details couldn’t have been acquired in any obvious way.
Stevenson’s magnum opus, published in 1997, was a 2,268-page, two-volume work called Reincarnation and Biology. Many of his subjects had unusual birthmarks and birth defects, such as finger deformities, underdeveloped ears, or being born without a lower leg. There were scar-like, hypopigmented birthmarks and port-wine stains, and some awfully strange-looking moles in areas where you almost never find moles, like on the soles of the feet. Reincarnation and Biology contained 225 case reports of children who remembered previous lives and who also had physical anomalies that matched those previous lives, details that could in some cases be confirmed by the dead person’s autopsy record and photos.

A Turkish boy whose face was congenitally underdeveloped on the right side said he remembered the life of a man who died from a shotgun blast at point-blank range. A Burmese girl born without her lower right leg had talked about the life of a girl run over by a train. On the back of the head of a little boy in Thailand was a small, round puckered birthmark, and at the front was a larger, irregular birthmark, resembling the entry and exit wounds of a bullet; Stevenson had already confirmed the details of the boy’s statements about the life of a man who’d been shot in the head from behind with a rifle, so that seemed to fit. And a child in India who said he remembered the life of boy who’d lost the fingers of his right hand in a fodder-chopping machine mishap was born with boneless stubs for fingers on his right hand only. This type of “unilateral brachydactyly” is so rare, Stevenson pointed out, that he couldn’t find a single medical publication of another case.
Stevenson, an expert on psychosomatic medicine, suspected strong emotions are (somehow) related to a child’s retention of past-life memories. Traumatic deaths, he thought, leave an emotional imprint. Indeed, most of the children he studied claimed that they had met a violent end previously. There was also a gap of a few years between lives; reincarnation is never immediate. And for the most part, souls seemed to stay local. That’s to say, the “previous personality” often lived in a distant village, but not quite so far away as to require a passport. Oftentimes, Stevenson observed, the child had habits and fears linked to the nature of death. Those who said they’d drowned in a previous life had an unusually intense fear of water; those who were stabbed displayed a crippling knife phobia, and so on. There were even three cases of children who’d reacted violently when they’d unexpectedly crossed paths with their own “murderers.” It’s bizarre to picture preschoolers lunging for the throats of adult strangers. Nonetheless, it made sense to Stevenson, since in his view, the children were attacking those who’d gotten away with their murders.

Interestingly, and contrary to most religious notions of reincarnation, there was zero evidence of karma. On the whole, it appeared to be a fairly mechanical soul-rebirthing process, not a moralistic one. What those mechanisms involve, exactly, is anyone’s guess—even Stevenson’s. But he didn’t see grandiose theorizing as part of his job. His job, rather, was simply to gather all the anomalous data, investigate them carefully, and rule out, using every possible method available to him, the rational explanations. And to many, he was successful at doing just that. Towards the end of her own storied life, the physicist Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf—whose groundbreaking theories on surface physics earned her the prestigious Heyn Medal from the German Society for Material Sciences, surmised that Stevenson’s work had established that “the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science.” Stevenson himself was convinced that, once the precise mechanisms underlying his observations were known, it would bring about “a conceptual revolution that will make the Copernican revolution seem trivial in comparison.” It’s hard to argue with that, assuming it ever does happen.

Read the whole thing …

The block universe theory, where time travel is possible but time passing is an illusion  

In the block universe — which is supported by Einstein’s theory of relativity — there is no separation between the past, present and future. All exist at once in a four-dimensional continuum called space-time.

The block universe theory has been validated in experiment after experiment as well as by the observations of astrophysicists, yet there are physicists — a small minority — who reject the overwhelming evidence and persist in searching for a theory of the universe more in keeping with the way they think the universe should behave rather than the way the universe actually behaves.

As highly esteemed Professor Sean Carrol — whose fields of expertise include physics, cosmology, astrophysics and general relativity — writes:

Personally, I find the eternalist block-universe view to be perfectly acceptable, so I think that these folks are working hard to tackle a problem that has already been solved. There are more than enough problems that haven’t been solved to occupy my life for the rest of its natural span of time (as it were), so I’m going to concentrate on those.

More about the block universe from ABC News (Australia):

Your birth is out there in space-time. Your death, too, is in space-time. Every moment of your life is out there, somewhere, in space-time.

So says the block universe model of our world.

According to the block universe theory, the universe is a giant block of all the things that ever happen at any time and at any place. On this view, the past, present and future all exist — and are equally real.

How can this be?

The block has four dimensions: three spatial dimensions — say length, height and width — plus a fourth temporal dimension, or time. Or let’s make it easier, by visualising the block model of our world as a three-dimensional rectangle, or cuboid.

Two of that cuboid’s dimensions (let’s say height and width) represent two of the universe’s three spatial dimensions.

The third spatial dimension in the above diagram is left out — the length of the cuboid — and replace it with time. At one end of the cuboid is the big bang. At the other is the very last moment of the universe. Maybe it’s a big crunch.

The cuboid is filled with every event that ever happens. Where these events are in the cuboid represents their location in space-time. All events, including your birth and death, and this very moment as you read these words, exist somewhere in the block.

In the block universe, time doesn’t pass
It often seems as though where we are “today” is present, and “yesterday” is past, and “tomorrow” is future.

It also seems the present moment changes too — after all, tomorrow it will seem as though tomorrow is present, and yesterday it appeared yesterday was present!

So from our perspective, it appears that time flows or passes. But in the block universe model, time doesn’t flow.

In other words, in a block universe, there is no specific present moment, and “past” and “future” moments are relative.

Think about the idea of “here”. I am here. You, while reading this, can truly say “I am here”, even though your “here” is different to mine.

On the block universe model, talk about the “present” or “now” works just like talk of “here”.

Remember last week when you said to your friend, who was late arriving for coffee, “now you’re here”; or when, long ago, Caesar said, “I am now crossing the Rubicon”?

These claims are both true. That’s because all it means to talk about the present, or now, is to talk about the place in time where you happen to be.

Since we are always located wherever we are (that’s trivially true), everyone is located in the present, just as everyone is located at the place they call “here”.

According to the block universe view, time or temporal relations of “earlier than” and “later than” exist. These relations hold regardless of where anyone is located.

So, suppose Bert the dinosaur is located earlier than Sally the dog. That relation between Bert and Sally holds, regardless of whether we are located earlier than Bert or later than Sally.

Bearing this in mind, it is possible to see how to make sense of the idea of past and future. Just as on this model “now” picks out whatever time I happen to be located at, “past” picks out any time (or events at those times) that are earlier than my location, and “future” picks out any times or events that are later than my location.

Does that mean we can travel in time?

If time is just another dimension, a lot like the spatial dimensions, does that mean we can travel in time?

The short answer is yes.

Read the whole thing …

Spiders can fly hundreds of miles using electricity  

“Scientists are finally starting to understand the centuries-old mystery of ‘ballooning.'”

From The Atlantic:

Spiders have no wings, but they can take to the air nonetheless. They’ll climb to an exposed point, raise their abdomens to the sky, extrude strands of silk, and float away. This behavior is called ballooning. It might carry spiders away from predators and competitors, or toward new lands with abundant resources. But whatever the reason for it, it’s clearly an effective means of travel. Spiders have been found two-and-a-half miles up in the air, and 1,000 miles out to sea.

It is commonly believed that ballooning works because the silk catches on the wind, dragging the spider with it. But that doesn’t entirely make sense, especially since spiders only balloon during light winds. Spiders don’t shoot silk from their abdomens, and it seems unlikely that such gentle breezes could be strong enough to yank the threads out — let alone to carry the largest species aloft, or to generate the high accelerations of arachnid takeoff. Darwin himself found the rapidity of the spiders’ flight to be “quite unaccountable” and its cause to be “inexplicable.”

But Erica Morley and Daniel Robert have an explanation. The duo, who work at the University of Bristol, has shown that spiders can sense the Earth’s electric field, and use it to launch themselves into the air.

Every day, around 40,000 thunderstorms crackle around the world, collectively turning Earth’s atmosphere into a giant electrical circuit. The upper reaches of the atmosphere have a positive charge, and the planet’s surface has a negative one. Even on sunny days with cloudless skies, the air carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every meter above the ground. In foggy or stormy conditions, that gradient might increase to tens of thousands of volts per meter.

Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air. And spiders can increase those forces by climbing onto twigs, leaves, or blades of grass. Plants, being earthed, have the same negative charge as the ground that they grow upon, but they protrude into the positively charged air. This creates substantial electric fields between the air around them and the tips of their leaves and branches — and the spiders ballooning from those tips.

Read the whole thing …

Poachers eaten by lions after sneaking onto South African game reserve to hunt rhino  

Nick Fox: “I think we had a stroke of luck here that the lions got to them before they got to the rhinos.”

From CBS News:

In a stunning instance of the animal kingdom taking karma into its own hands — or rather, paws — at least three poachers were mauled to death and then eaten by lions earlier this week after they illegally entered the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa to hunt rhinos.

“They strayed into a pride of lions — it’s a big pride so they didn’t have too much time,” Sibuya Game Reserve’s owner, Nick Fox, told AFP Thursday. “We’re not sure how many there were — there’s not much left of them.

He added, however, that the clothing strewn around the scene points to there being at least three. Authorities believe the men entered the game reserve in the early hours of Monday; they were found dismembered the following day, the news agency reports.

In Africa, there are fewer than 25,000 rhinoceros left in the wild due to a boom in demand for their horns, which are sold on the black market in Asia for their supposed medicinal qualities. In fact, in South African parks and game reserves, these majestic, tank-like creatures are under daily assault. A May 2018 “60 Minutes” report revealed that they are being slaughtered at the shocking rate of three a day at the hands of poachers like the group killed in Sibuya.

Read the whole thing …