June 7, 2012

Does This Statue Depict the Founder of Buddhism?
Based on the iconography of the stele, particularly the pipal leaves, Gérard Fussman, a professor at the Collège de France in Paris, believes the prince is Gautama Siddhartha Sakyamuni, who is said to have achieved enlightenment, become a Buddha—someone of divine wisdom and virtue—and founded the religion of Buddhism. This stele shows him at an early moment in his life, when he has yet to start his fateful journey of enlightenment. (Owen Jarus, LiveScience)

The Brains of Violent Offenders
A new brain study suggests psychopaths may lack key neural structures—literally less gray matter—involved in empathy, moral reasoning, and feelings of guilt. And that gives grounds for optimism about the potential to rehabilitate nonpsychopathic offenders, according to a British neuroscientist who studies the brains of the violent. (Michael Haederle, Pacific Standard)

Cultural Differences in Facebook Profile Pictures
Overall, psychologists Denise Park and Chih-Mao Huang found that profile photos of Americans are more likely to focus on the individual’s face, while the profiles of East Asians tend to de-emphasize the face and capture more background features. (Rick Nauert, Psych Central)

Escher-verse
The universe may have the same surreal geometry as some of art’s most mind-boggling images. That’s the upshot of a study by the world’s most famous living scientist, Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge. The finding may delight fans of Dutch artist M.C. Escher, but Hawking’s team claim that their study provides a way to square the geometric demands of string theory, a still-hypothetical “theory of everything,” with the universe we observe. (Lisa Grossman, New Scientist)

Why Women Cheat on Their Mates
One leading evolutionary hypothesis suggests that a female who mates with multiple males ensures the genetic diversity and quality of her offspring; having higher-quality offspring could theoretically give her more grandchildren later. A 17-year study, published in The American Naturalist, challenges this hypothesis. “This is one of the most careful and most robust studies to explore whether polyandry is adaptive in females,” says Tommaso Pizzari, a University of Oxford biologist who was not involved in the research. “The answer is: not really.” (Sarah Fecht, Scientific American)

Category: Field Notes

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