Light Friday: iPhones Make You a Wimp

Plus:
Drive Your Own Armored Robot
Carbon Nanotubes Can Read Your Mind
Water, Supercooled, Becomes Another Liquid


The next time you have a few extra minutes to spare before a meeting or presentation, you might want to put your cell phone away and turn to your computer to kill time instead. A new study exposes a correlation between the size of electronic devices, posture, and behavior. Specifically, the study reveals that people who use smaller consumer devices slouch, which makes them act less assertive than those who use larger gadgets.

Researchers Maarten W. Bos and Amy J.C. Cuddy published their “iPosture” experiment findings in a Harvard Business School Working Paper. They gave 75 participants electronic devices ranging in size; subjects were handed an iPod Touch, an iPad, a MacBook Pro (a laptop), or an iMac (desktop). The subjects who played around on a smaller device were not aggressive when an experimenter who told the group to wait five minutes kept them waiting longer. Those with the larger devices were more assertive and more likely to interrupt the experimenter once time was up.

Simply put, the power-related behaviors are linked to posture. Those who used the larger gadgets adopted “expansive, open postures,” which increased their power-related behaviors. Subjects with the smaller gadgets were observed having more contractive body postures, which, in turn, made them act less assertive.

We sincerely hope you didn’t hunch over to read this.

Drive Your Own Armored Robot

What was once relegated to the realm of Japanese animated films and TV shows is now a reality. That’s right, you can purchase and drive your very own armored robot vehicle — assuming, of course, you have $1.4 million to spare.

The Kuratas is a 13-ft, diesel-powered, fully functional robot that can be piloted from inside the cockpit located in the chest cavity or through an iPhone app (yes, there’s an app for that). It even has two integrated weapon systems: A rocket launcher that inaccurately hurls plastic water bottles and a Gatling BB gun that fires when you smile.

Kogoro Kurata, a blacksmith who devised and built the Kuratas, insists that his creation has no military fucntion and was intended as an art piece. The robot debuted late last year to much fanfare and awe. According to The Verge, thousands of orders for a custom-made Kuratas have been placed via the website http://suidobashijuko.jp/, though no one has actually bought one. “It’s funny to see the panicked emails come in from people abroad, saying they thought it was a joke,” Kurata said.

Check out the video below for more details about the various features and safety instructions.

Carbon Nanotubes Can Read Your Mind

It’s bad enough that the government is reading all of our emails. But soon we’ll have to worry about the government reading our thoughts.

Scientists mapping the human mental organ as part of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative may have discovered how to read your mind, but for now we don’t have to worry about them collecting your PIN or stealing your business idea. Researchers at Duke University used carbon nanotubes (CNT) to read electrical signals sent from individual neurons. Essentially, the CNT are able to read very simple, very small signals neurons are attempting to send in response to stimuli.

The scientists fashioned the CNT into a type of harpoon, then speared individual brain slices so the hook would attach to specific neurons.  The harpoons collected the impulses these neurons attempted to pass to other neurons.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time scientists have used carbon nanotubes to record signals from individual neurons, what we call intracellular recordings, in brain slices or intact brains of vertebrates,” Bruce Donald, a professor of computer science and biochemistry at Duke University, said in a press release.

Water, Supercooled, Becomes Another Liquid

We all know that when water gets hot enough, it becomes steam. And when it gets cold enough, it becomes ice. But did you know that water can be cooled even further until it becomes a new kind of liquid altogether.

Science World Report writes that researchers, using a simulation model called Water Potential from Adaptive Force Match for Ice and Liquid (WAIL), discovered how water behaves at super-cold temperatures. At 207 Kelvin — or 370 below zero Fahrenheit — water transforms into a low-density liquid.

“The study provides strong supporting evidence of the liquid-liquid phase transition and predicted a temperature of minimum density if water can be cooled well below its normal freezing temperature,” Feng “Seymour” Wang, lead chemist from University of Arkansas, said in a statement. “Our study shows water will expand at a very low temperature even without forming ice.”

For now, the liquid-liquid phase change is only theoretical and has not been confirmed in a laboratory setting. However, the discovery has implications that could lead to advances in cryoprotection, which uses liquid nitrogen to preserve tissue so that it can be thawed without damage.

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