Do women really go for ‘bad boys’? Here’s the science that settles the question


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Women, do you agree?

And there may be all sorts of other reasons why some people end up dating “bad people”. They may be repeating patterns of behaviour they’ve become used to in past relationships or they may find the world of dating stressful and end up making bad decisions. Or they may simply have bought into myths of dating and behave accordingly. But, for the most part, the evidence suggests that both women and men prefer nice partners and are turned off by jerks.

The problem with the nice-guys-finish-last stereotype, aside from going against the grain of years of scientific evidence, is that it may compromise the possibility of forming meaningful relationships. Perpetuating this myth not only creates unhelpful expectations about how we should behave, but trying to live up to the myth can sometimes damage relationships.

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The Conversation

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These Twins, One Black and One White, Will Make You Rethink Race


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Modern science confirms “that the visible differences between peoples are accidents of history”—the result of mutations, migrations, natural selection, the isolation of some populations, and interbreeding among others, writes science journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. They are not racial differences because the very concept of race—to quote DNA-sequencing pioneer Craig Venter—“has no genetic or scientific basis.”

And yet 50 years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., racial identity has reemerged as a fundamental dividing line in our world.

How Stephen Hawking Reclaimed His Voice—and Helped Others Do the Same


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His success serves as a powerful example of how people and machines can work symbiotically to unleash human potential. We can empower people across the entire range of abilities to express their creativity and engage in intellectual pursuits. While humans have always used tools and technologies to enhance their abilities, new developments in areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human-machine symbiosis can advance this goal far more effectively, more efficiently, and faster. This increases accessibility to people across the ability spectrum and geographical boundaries.

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SETHURAMAN PANCHANATHAN — Slate

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The Alzheimer’s enigma


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The cause of Alzheimer’s still remains a mystery. Are we nearer to figuring it out?

Those who have lost a relative or friend to Alzheimer’s disease often say it is as if the person dies twice – the mind first and then the body, unaware of who they are, what they are or where they are. Faced with a disease that traps people in their own degenerative brain, our inclination might be to reconstruct that disease in all its complexity in the hope of understanding it. But scientists will tell you that what you really need to do is construct a thread that will guide you out of the labyrinth.

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Michael Regnier — Mosaic

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Stephen Hawking’s advice for a fulfilling career


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“Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Last month, the American Psychological Association published an article that synthesised findings on this topic that stretch back as far as 1993. Research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found that “no matter the size of a goal – whether curing cancer or helping a colleague – having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace.”

But finding work with purpose can be hard for many.

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Bryan Lufkin — BBC

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The Hilarious (and Terrifying?) Ways Algorithms Have Outsmarted Their Creators


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AI has started surprising us. Should we be scared or excited?

As the paper notes in its discussion—and you may already be thinking—these amusing stories also reflect the potential for evolutionary algorithms or neural networks to stumble upon solutions to problems that are outside-the-box in dangerous ways. They’re a funnier version of the classic AI nightmare where computers tasked with creating peace on Earth decide the most efficient solution is to exterminate the human race.

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Eric Limer — Popular Mechanics

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New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life


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For decades, descriptions of viruses have straddled life and nonlife, a divide that usually isn’t difficult to navigate. Their hallmark characteristics, namely their small size, tiny genomes and parasitic dependence on cellular hosts for replication, set them apart from all other living things despite their animation. But that story has gotten far more puzzling — particularly since the discovery of the first giant virus in 2003, which was so large that researchers initially thought it was a bacterium.

Several families of giant viruses are now known, and some of those giants have more than 1,000 genes; one has a whopping 2,500. (By comparison, some small viruses have only four genes.)

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Jordana Cepelewicz — Quanta

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