Basics: You Share Everything With Your Bestie. Even Brain Waves.
A friend will help you move, goes an old saying, while a good friend will help you move a body. And why not? Moral qualms aside, that good friend would likely agree the victim was an intolerable jerk who had it coming and, jeez, you shouldn’t have done this but where do you keep the shovel?
New research suggests the roots of friendship roots extend even deeper than previously suspected. Scientists have found that the brains of close friends respond in remarkably similar ways as they view a series of short videos: the same ebbs and swells of attention and distraction, the same peaking of reward processing here, boredom alerts there.
“I was struck by the exceptional magnitude of similarity among friends,” said Carolyn Parkinson, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. The results “were more persuasive than I would have thought.” Dr. Parkinson and her colleagues, Thalia Wheatley and Adam M. Kleinbaum of Dartmouth College, reported their results in Nature Communications.
“I think it’s an incredibly ingenious paper,” said Nicholas Christakis, author of “Connected: The Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our World” and a biosociologist at Yale University. “It suggests that friends resemble each other not just superficially, but in the very structures of their brains.”
The findings offer tantalizing evidence for the vague sense we have that friendship is more than shared interests or checking off the right boxes on a Facebook profile. It’s about something we call good chemistry.
“Our results suggest that friends might be similar in how they pay attention to and process the world around them,” Dr. Parkinson said. “That shared processing could make people click more easily and have the sort of seamless social interaction that can feel so rewarding.”
Kevin N. Ochsner, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University who studies social networks, said the new report is “cool,” “provocative” and “raises more questions than it answers.” It could well be picking up traces of “an ineffable shared reality” between friends.
Dr. Ochsner offered his own story as evidence of the primacy of chemistry over mere biography. “My wife-to-be and I were both neuroscientists in the field, we were on dating websites, but we were never matched up,” he said.
“Then we happened to meet as colleagues and in two minutes we knew we had the kind of chemistry that breeds a relationship.”
Dr. Parkinson — who is 31, wears large horn-rimmed glasses and has the wholesome look of a young Sally Field — described herself as introverted but said, “I’ve been fortunate with my friends.”
Scientists want to know what, exactly, makes friendship so healthy and social isolation so harmful, and they’re gathering provocative, if not yet definitive, clues.
Researchers have also been intrigued by evidence of friendship among nonhuman animals, and not just in obvious candidates like primates, dolphins and elephants.
Yet when it comes to the depth and complexity of bonds, humans have no peers. Dr. Parkinson and her co-workers previously had shown that people are keenly and automatically aware of how all the players in their social sphere fit together, and the scientists wanted to know why some players in a given network are close friends and others mere nodding acquaintances.
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Inspired by the research of Uri Hassan of Princeton, they decided to explore subjects’ neural reactions to everyday, naturalistic stimuli — which these days means watching videos.
The researchers started with a defined social network: an entire class of 279 graduate students at an unnamed university widely known among neuroscientists to have been the Dartmouth School of Business.
The students, who all knew one another and in many cases lived in dorms together, were asked to fill out questionnaires. Which of their fellow students did they socialize with — share meals and go to a movie with, invite into their homes? From that survey the researchers mapped out a social network of varying degrees of connectivity: friends, friends of friends, third-degree friends, friends of Kevin Bacon.
The students were then asked to participate in a brain scanning study and 42 agreed. As an fMRI device tracked blood flow in their brains, the students watched a series of video clips of varying lengths, an experience that Dr. Parkinson likened to channel surfing with somebody else in control of the remote.
They watched astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrate how water behaves like a goopy gel in low gravity. They watched a sedately sentimental scene from a Jewish wedding between two people who happened to be gay men.
They watched the author Eric Schlosser warn of the dangers of allowing a few fast-food giants to control our food supply. They watched what my good friend Judy Gradwohl and I agreed, on reviewing the clips together later, was one of the worst music videos ever produced, about a man with an obviously fake facial deformity who is bullied at work and snubbed by his attractive female colleague but who eventually wins her heart when the bullies turn on her and he, Phony Elephant Man, steps in and beats them up.
The students watched pratfall comedy clips and an Australian mockumentary so subtle that certain viewers confessed they didn’t realize it was a spoof but liked it nonetheless.
Analyzing the scans of the students, Dr. Parkinson and her colleagues found strong concordance between blood flow patterns — a measure of neural activity — and the degree of friendship among the various participants, even after controlling for other factors that might explain similarities in neural responses, like ethnicity, religion or family income.
The researchers identified particularly revealing regions of pattern concordance among friends, notably in the nucleus accumbens, in the lower forebrain, which is key to reward processing, and in the superior parietal lobule, located toward the top and the back of the brain — roughly at the position of a man bun — where the brain decides how to allocate attention to the external environment.
Using the results, the researchers were able train a computer algorithm to predict, at a rate well above chance, the social distance between two people based on the relative similarity of their neural response patterns.
Dr. Parkinson emphasized that the study was a “first pass, a proof of concept,” and that she and her colleagues still don’t know what the neural response patterns mean: what attitudes, opinions, impulses or mental thumb-twiddling the scans may be detecting.
They plan next to try the experiment in reverse: to scan incoming students who don’t yet know one another and see whether those with the most congruent neural patterns end up becoming good friends.
Alexander Nehamas, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University and author of a meditative book, “On Friendship,” appreciated the design of the study and its use of video clips to ferret out the signature of friendship.
“The aesthetic choices we make, the things we like, the taste we have in art, plays, TV, furniture — when you put them together they are absolutely essential components of our character, an indication of who we are,” he said. We live “immersed in art.”
Not high art, not a night-at-the-opera art, but everyday art — buildings, billboards, clothing, the dishes at a restaurant, the percussive rhythms of subways on train tracks.
“Watching TV clips is much more accurate to our everyday life than the times we go to a museum,” he said, and therefore potentially more revealing of who we are and what we hope to find in a friend.
So if you happened to catch “The Cute Show: Sloths!,” about a self-proclaimed “sloth sanctuary” in Costa Rica, and if your first thought wasn’t ooh, how adorable those little smiley sloths are, but rather, sloths are not pets to be cuddled and don’t bathe the algae off their fur — haven’t you heard of mutualism? — give me a call.
April 16, 2018
Sources: New York Times
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>Raw video: Deputies called to Quality Inn in Sebring, Florida after an alligator was seen walking about; licensed trapper cornered the reptile and took it away.</p><p>An alligator was caught checking out rooms at a Quality Inn motel in Sebring, Florida, over the weekend. But officials with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office say the nearly 5-foot-long creature may have just been looking for the perfect spot to day drink.</p><p>The sheriff's office shared a 40-second video of the gator slowly making its way past a block of hotel rooms before turning a corner to head down another hall. Deputies called a licensed trapper who taped the gator's mouth shut, carried it to his truck and relocated it.</p><p>As of Monday afternoon, the video of the "partying" gator has received nearly 60,000 views and more than 1,400 shares on Facebook. Dozens of people were quick to crack jokes about the creature.</p><p> "Maybe he was just looking for the tiki bar to get a margatorita..."</p><p>"He’s getting ready for that BYOB," one user replied.</p><p>"Excuse me sir... i need to see some ID," another joked.</p><p>"Business as usual in Florida.." a local said.</p><p>Anyone who believes an alligator is posing a "threat to people, pets or property" should call FWC’s toll-free hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR, Snapp said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> The apparently loaded dice have two fives and two fours, instead of the numbers one and two. (Angela Weigand, UiB) </p><p>Cheating is as old as time itself, if the discovery of a mysterious 600-year-old dodgy dice is anything to go by.</p><p>The highly unusual wooden dice was found during excavations in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Featuring “two fives” and “two fours,” archaeologists believe that the dice was used to cheat in games.</p><p>Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) discovered the dice close to a wooden street that dates back to the 1400s in Vågsbunnen, a medieval district of Bergen.</p><p>The dice was found during an excavation in the Norwegian city of Bergen. (NIKU) </p><p>“It’s exciting to imagine this dice’s last game – was the cheater revealed?” wrote Rekkavik. “What happened to the dice? Was it perhaps thrown away by the nervous cheater eager to get rid of evidence? Or was it angrily thrown by an opponent, to where it ended up being found over 600 years later?”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
launch today at 6:32 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and you can watch the action live right here (launch coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EDT).</p><p>Equipped with four specialized cameras, the $337 million satellite will have a field of view that covers 85 percent of the sky. This broad view will allow TESS to study about 20 million stars, according to Dr. George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator and a scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p><p>What will TESS find? Ricker said not knowing is what makes the mission so exciting. “If you go out with a very sensitive instrument and look in a completely unbiased way, you find stuff that is completely unexpected,” he said. “That’s to me what’s exciting.”</p><p>Like Kepler, TESS is designed to locate exoplanets by searching for what astronomers call transits. These are periodic dips in starlight that occur when a planet’s orbit takes it in front of its host star.</p><p>“With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses,” said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “With TESS, we’re going to be able to get the masses for most of the planets and go the next step and study the composition of the atmospheres.”</p>
rotection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt put in his office has caused federal watchdogs to speak up loudly.</p><p>On Monday, the General Accountability Office sent an eight-page letter to Senate lawmakers reporting that the booth violated federal spending law that caps the amount a presidential appointee can spend on upgrading their office at $5,000 without notifying the Appropriations committees in the Senate and House beforehand.</p><p>GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong also wrote that the purchase violated the Antideficiency Act, "because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”</p><p>Pruitt's EPA officials, though, had argued that the booth served a functional purpose: To allow Pruitt to receive calls from President Donald Trump "without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed."</p><p>Armstrong's letter, however, rejected that claim that aesthetics were the only purview of the requirement of notifying Congress.</p><p>While EPA now argues there's too much energy being wasted on an investigation into the booth.</p><p>“The GAO letter ‘recognized the...need for employees to have access to a secure telephone line’ when handling sensitive information," EPA spokeswoman LIz Bowman said in a statement. "EPA is addressing GAO’s concern, with regard to Congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week.”</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>A treasure trove has been uncovered in the eastern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. The find includes Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins and jewelry. One of the rare jewels depict 'Thor's hammer.'</p><p>An incredible trove of silver treasure linked to the era of a famous Viking king has been discovered on an island in the Baltic Sea.</p><p>Archaeologists said about 100 of the silver coins are probably from the reign of Harald Gormsson, better known as "Harald Bluetooth," who lived in the 10th century and introduced Christianity to Denmark. The king, who earned his nickname on account of a dead tooth that appeared blue, is a significant historical figure who unified parts of Scandinavia.</p><p>Harald Bluetooth was one of the last Viking kings of what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.</p><p>Jewelry and coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>Bluetooth wireless technology, invented by Swedish telecom company Ericsson to connect computers and wireless devices, is named after the king.</p><p>A single silver coin was first found in January by two amateur archaeologists, one of them a 13-year-old boy, in a field near the Ruegen village of Schaprode. The state archaeology office then became involved and the entire treasure was uncovered by experts over the weekend, the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office said Monday.</p><p>"It's the biggest trove of such coins in the southeastern Baltic region," archaeologists said, in a statement.</p><p>This April 13, 2018 photo shows medieval Saxonian, Ottoman, Danish and Byzantine coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>The Ruegen silver treasure is just the latest fascinating archaeological find from the Viking era. Last year, for example, an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway. In 2016, archaeologists in Trondheim, Norway, unearthed the church where Viking King Olaf Haraldsson was first enshrined as a saint.</p><p>Also, in 2016, a tiny Viking crucifix was found in Denmark.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
. From the cosmic affairs desk, Dennis Overbye takes you on scenic tours through the Milky Way and beyond.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An image from the Very Large Telescope's SPHERE instrument showing the dusty disk around the young star IM Lupi. (H. Avenhaus et al./ESO/DARTT-S collaboration) </p><p>Diverse disks of dusty material have been spotted around nearby young stars, suggesting new planets are sprouting up around the alien stars. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An erupting solar prominence on Aug. 31, 2012, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (NASA/SDO/GSFC) </p><p>Giant plasma "tornadoes" raging across the surface of the sun don't actually spin like astronomers once thought, new research shows. </p><p>"We see tornado-like shapes in the images because of projection effects, where the line of sight information is compressed onto the plane of the sky," Labrosse said. </p><p>Instead, the new measurements using the Doppler effect add a third dimension to the data, allowing scientists to construct a more complete picture of the magnetic-field structure that supports the plasma, according to the statement. </p><p>"They are associated with the legs of solar prominences — these are beautiful concentrations of cool plasma in the very hot solar corona that can easily be seen as pink structures during total solar eclipses," Labrosse said in the statement.</p><p>"Perhaps for once, the reality is less complicated than what we see!" Brigitte Schmieder, co-author of the study and researcher from the Laboratory of Space Studies and Instrumentation in Astrophysics (LESIA) at l'Observatoire de Paris in France, added in the statement.</p><p>Their findings were presented Friday (April 6) at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference in Liverpool, England. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which will search for small planets around nearby stars. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) </p><p>TESS is designed to find planets orbiting nearby stars spread across the sky, astrophysicist and pioneering exoplanet researcher Sara Seager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Space.com. The satellite is not specifically intended to look for planets that can support life, but it can find planets orbiting in the habitable zone of small stars, said Seager, who serves as a deputy science director on TESS.</p><p>"Twenty years ago, if you told me that we were going to do this kind of spectroscopy of atmospheres of planets around other stars, I would have said you're crazy," said Latham. "Now, we're doing it."</p><p>On the other hand, scientist may overlook signs of life that is radically different from us. "It's a little bit like the drunk looking for his keys — he looks under the lamppost, because that's where he can see them," Latham said. "We look for life that is similar to our own, because we think we understand the organic chemistry involved and so we think we know how to interpret [evidence for it]."</p><p>Shortly thereafter, scientists began to get enough data to hypothesize that many of those planets might be habitable. Over the past quarter-century, science has increasingly led scientists to believe that the existence of life may not be a miracle after all, Shostak said. And he said he sees no evidence that this trend will stop.</p><p>TESS will lead the way for a wealth of discoveries and deepen our understanding of many phenomena in the cosmos. "There's technical astrophysical issues that will interest a lot of the scientists in the community," said Latham, "but I think that the question that is going to catch the attention of the educated public is this big one: Are we alone?"</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
e of life’s happy-happies, like flowers and fresh fruit. “Report: It Would Probably Be Nice Having Friends,” read a recent headline in The Onion. Ha ha! Of course it’s “kind of fun” and “pretty cool” to “have a few select people in your life to do stuff with on a regular basis.”</p><p>Most people can name at least half a dozen people they view as reasonably good friends. The only society where people don’t have any friends, according to Daniel Hruschka, an evolutionary anthropologist at Arizona State University, is found in the science fiction of C.J. Cherryh’s “Foreigner” series.</p><p>Yet researchers who explore the deep nature of friendship admit the bond can have its thorns, bruise spots and pesticide traces.</p><p>Take the new evidence that people choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain. The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood.</p><p>But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to “otherize” those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways.</p><p>The impulse can yield absurd results. One recent study from the University of Michigan had subjects stand outside on a cold winter day and read a brief story about a hiker who was described as either a “left-wing, pro-gay-rights Democrat” or a “right-wing, anti-gay-rights Republican.”</p><p>“Why must it be the case that we love our own and hate the other?” Nicholas Christakis of Yale University said. “I have struggled with this, and read and studied a tremendous amount, and I have mostly dispiriting news. It’s awful. Xenophobia and in-group bias go hand-in-hand.”</p><p>Game theory models predict it, real-life examples confirm it. “In order to band together, we need a common enemy,” Dr. Christakis said.</p><p>Fortunately, he added, no model insists that the out-group must be exterminated or otherwise eliminated from the scene. “It’s possible to treat the out-group with mild dislike or even grudging respect,” he said. “Cultivating in-group distinctiveness does not require that the other must be killed.”</p><p>Nevertheless, even the ordinary business of making friends is an exclusionary act, a judgment call, and therefore threaded with the potential for pain.</p><p>“A friendship is always a little bit of a conspiracy,” said Alexander Nehamas, a professor of philosophy at Princeton. “We two are here, they are over there, and we’re going to do our thing whether they want us to or not.”</p><p>And if they try to join us, we can say, no, sorry, that seat is taken. We’re saving it for a friend.</p><p>Who may not return the favor. Abdullah Almaatouq of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues recently showed that people are poor judges of who their friends are.</p><p>Other studies have shown similar discordances or worse, with one survey revealing that 66 percent of supposed friendships were cases of unrequited like.</p><p>The overall rates of friendship conflict did not differ between men and women, but women were more likely to clash with close friends, to express feelings of anguish over the breakup, and to be more demanding of evidence of remorse before reconciling.</p><p>Sure, love may mean never having to say you’re sorry. But friendship is a stricter taskmaster, and sorry may not be enough.</p>