Women talk more than men — at least sometimes, sensor study says

July 21st, 2014

Do women talk more than men? A new study used tiny technology to investigate.

Tinier, cheaper, more capable electronics make it possible to sense , record and measure more and more kinds of things. Some sensors are built into conspicuous, please-notice-what-I’m-doing frames — Google Glass is the current great example of that. But tiny sensors can easily be placed where people won’t notice them.

Researchers at Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern had people each wear tiny sensors. (In this case, each of the people involved knew full well that the sensors were there.)…

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.

Computational gastronomy – part 1 – ‘Food Steganography’

July 21st, 2014

The Varshney twins – Dr. Kush Varshney (currently at IBM) and Professor Lav Varshney (previously at IBM) – have authored a series of papers on the theme of computational gastronomy.

Example 1 : Food Steganography with Olfactory White. (IEEE International Workshop on Statistical Signal Processing, Gold Coast, Australia, June-July 2014)Food_steganography

“Can one hide an averse food in a flavorful food so that the averse food is not perceptible? Here we take a statistical signal processing approach to show how to optimally design a food additive (either using pure flavor compounds or natural ingredients) to act as a steganographic key for this food steganography problem.”

Coming Soon : Computational gastronomy – part 2

His favorite fraud…

July 20th, 2014

This essay appeared in the September 1, 2008 issue of The Scientist (thanks to investigator Carol Morton for bringing it to our attention):

My Favorite Fraud
A paper I read more than 25 years ago taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

By Steven Wiley

…I was a member of a weekly journal club that discussed the latest papers in the field of cell signaling and growth control. All presenters were to provide an assessment of the technical rigor as well as the importance of papers. In the summer of 1982, however, we encountered a paper that was far out of the ordinary…. Thankfully, fraud this outlandish is rare in biology.

Read the whole thing in The Scientist.

Jaunty Jargon Recitation: Construal Level

July 19th, 2014

This week’s pick for a chunk of jaunty jargonian text — fun to recite aloud at posh parties and in swanky restaurants — is the abstract of a study just published in the Journal of Consumer Research:

mehtaWhen Does a Higher Construal Level Increase or Decrease Indulgence? Resolving the Myopia versus Hyperopia Puzzle,” Ravi Mehta [pictured here], Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Joan Meyers-Levy, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 41, No. 2 (August 2014), pp. 475-488.

“Existing inquiry on self-control reveals an inconsistency. The mainstream research on myopic behavior suggests that use of a high versus low construal level should lead consumers to exhibit less indulgence. However, more recent work on hyperopia implies the opposite. This article attempts to resolve this discrepancy. In particular, the level at which a consumer construes information (abstract vs. concrete), interacts with his or her self-focus, and both factors jointly determine consumer indulgence level. When the self is not salient, outcomes implied by the myopia literature ensue. But when the self is focal, the opposite outcomes anticipated by the hyperopia literature obtain.”

You might enjoy reciting it aloud now, to whomever happens to be within earshot of you at this moment.

BONUS: From two of the same three co-authors:

Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition,” R. Mehta, R. Zhu, A. Cheema, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 39, 2012, pp. 784-99

Making computers better at seeing cats. Dogs, too.

July 18th, 2014

Cats and dogs are among the many objects people are pretty good at recognizing, but computers are not. “Look, this is a cat!” and “Look, that’s a dog!” are cries you are more likely to hear from a person than from a silicon-based computer. (In truth, you are not all that likely to hear people shout those exact statements — but you are very unlikely to hear computers spontaneously ejaculate them.)

But many people, like most computers, aren’t all that great at recognizing which kinds of cats and which kinds of dogs they see….

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.