Reader’s Scigest 22-01-15



A suspected gas leak resulted in a dramatic evacuation of the US side of the International Space Station on the 14th January. At around 8.45 am GMT an alarm sounded to indicate a potential detection of ammonia gas, forcing six astronauts and cosmonauts to quickly put on oxygen masks and retreat to the neighbouring Russian segment. Toxic ammonia flows around the outside of the space station, cooling the electronics, but it was feared to have entered the interior through the water system. However, officials in NASA’s Mission Control Centre later established that it was a false alarm, thought to be caused by a faulty card in a computer-relay box; the crew were able to return to the US section after 11 hours.

Like your Likes

A new study has concluded that computers are able to determine personality better than a person’s acquaintances by analysing enough of their Facebook ‘likes’. Researchers created a computer model to predict a person’s psychological traits based on the pages which they had ‘liked’ on Facebook. By comparing this to data from the app ‘myPersonality’ which assesses users against the five major personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – they concluded that a computer was more accurate at determining someone’s personality than a friend given 70 ‘likes’, an immediate family member given 150, and a spouse given 300.

Catching Cold

Feeling cold is contagious according to research conducted by a team at the University of Sussex. They measured the hand temperature of 36 volunteers whilst they watched eight videos of actors placing their hands in water of various temperatures. When watching the actors touch cold water, the participants’ hands became slightly colder, but there was no change for warm or hot water. Lead researcher Dr Neil Harrison suggested that coldness is an ‘emotional contagion’ – a phenomenon that people tend to automatically mimic when observed. Other examples include laughing and feeling stressed. He believes that the mimicry helps us to emphasise with people around us.

 Image: SEO on flickr

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