Best wedding photo ever and other tidbits

Wedding tornado

I’ve been saving up a few links in my tabs, and it’s time to clear ’em out. To get started…

A Saskatchewan, Canada photographer had the opportunity of a lifetime when a tornado photobombed her shoot. The photo of the happy couple kissing is equally awesome. This couple can never, ever get divorced.

Science magazine (abstract here) has published the results of a study that found people are so uncomfortable being alone with nothing but their thoughts that they will actually subject themselves to a nasty electric shock just for the distraction. Wait, did I say people? I meant men. Only 25% of women in the study shocked themselves, but 67% of the men did. Here’s the best part:

…every participant had already received the shock before the trial. And every one had said they would pay to not experience it again. Hard cash.

“What is striking,” the investigators write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

This is amusing until you think about the people that US prisons have held in solitary confinement for weeks, months, and even years.

You have GOT to listen to this one-minute audio clip and hear the “sound illusion” for yourself. Don’t read the text first. Just listen to the clip. Here is what will happen: You will hear an artificially garbled bit of speech, which you will be utterly unable to understand. Then you will hear the actual speech. Then you’ll hear the garbles again, and this time…you’ll understand. Which is impossible, because it’s exactly the same recording. What has changed is that now your brain expects to hear certain patterns, and so it does. It’s a beautiful illustration of how our brains use previously-learned information to make sense of sensory input.

Check out this cool NASA prototype for a new exploratory rover. It’s designed to operate underwater and even cling to the bottom of ice, because the places in our solar system most likely to house any kind of life are those with liquid bodies, frozen or otherwise. Europa, here we come!

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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6 Responses to Best wedding photo ever and other tidbits

  1. Lisa Shaw says:

    That “shocking” study is so bizarre to me … I think it explains everything about why so many people are so tightly tethered to their electronic gadgets 24/7, and it’s sad. Just sitting and thinking is one of life’s greatest pleasures, for me. I can (and do, several times a year) drive 9 hours at a stretch without company, music, audio books, or any other stimulation except my own thoughts, and I actually enjoy it.

    As for the sound illusion, wow. I wish my brain could process stuff like that on the first round instead of having to wait for the interpretation. As I gradually lose my hearing (and have watched my mother adapt to losing hers over the years), I realize that hearing really is a learned activity as well as an actively participatory one — it is not ONLY perceiving sounds around us, but also correctly anticipating and interpreting them that allows us to hear. Understanding what we hear once we actually do hear it, of course, is another thing. πŸ˜‰

    • oregon expat says:

      But when you are driving, there are many distractions and stimulations. You watch the scenery, which changes constantly. You read road signs. You change lanes, slow down or stop or go faster, occasionally dodge a squirrel (or deer or tumbleweed), take breaks to get gas and pee, stop for an hour here or there to eat something — and in all of those latter events, you’re probably seeing and directly interacting with people. Distractions galore. This is not the same thing as sitting in a blank room with nothing to look at and nothing for your hands, eyes, or ears to do.

      I also enjoy spending time alone with my thoughts…when cycling, hiking, walking, or driving. But spending time in what is essentially sensory deprivation? No thanks. I have never understood how it is that some people will actually pay for that. That said, I agree that 15 minutes shouldn’t be too much of a trial, and certainly not enough to make an unpleasant electric shock sound appealing!

      • Lisa Shaw says:

        I fully agree with everything you said about the driving, which is why I don’t really mind it. Some people would regard driving for hours across Eastern Oregon with neither companionship nor music to be sensory deprivation, but we know better. πŸ˜‰

        Sitting alone in a blank room for 15 minutes with nothing to do … sounds like every trip to the doctor (or vet) I’ve ever made! True sensory deprivation might be a float tank: no light, no sound. I think that would freak me out, although more because of claustrophobia than “nothing to do.” Inside the tiny hive of my mind, there is always something to do. πŸ˜‰

  2. Mel R Scribingbard says:

    BRILLIANT Fletcher…loved them all..the audio clip was scary and mind blowing!! Our brains are remarkable things!! Men and electric shock???? Proof if proof were needed??!!! Love Mel n Suz xxx

  3. xenatuba says:

    The shock study was fascinating. The audio clip was so my life for 28 years. Radio traffic is really difficult to hear, because it often blurts out words when you’re not expecting them. My experience is that about 25-30% of all radio traffic (the two areas that I know about are police/fire radio and ATC radio) is heard by filling in what you expect to hear. This becomes clear when you lack context, have a radio transmission blurt at you, you have no comprehension of what the “blurt” was, and ask for a repeat or advise “you were garbled; say again”. I surprised my sister-in-law when she flew me a short distance in her Dad’s private plane and I could understand most of the tower traffic. It is all about context and filling in what is missing. (In the audio clip, I was able to determine the tenor of the statement but nothing else.

    • oregon expat says:

      When I was taking flying lessons, I could not understand a word on the radio until I was a few lessons in. Then it all became clear. Kind of like learning a new language…

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