features

Animals Can Experience the Uncanny Valley

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In 2009, researchers at Princeton University showed macaque monkeys three images of their species: a real photograph, an unrealistic computer rendering and a detailed digital caricature.

The monkeys, which normally coo and smack their lips when they interact in real life, looked inquisitively at the photographs and renderings for extended periods of time. But when they saw the last type of image — lifelike but not quite realistic enough — they quickly averted their eyes, frightened.

The study was the first to find that an animal other than a human could experience the phenomenon known as the “uncanny valley.” Japanese robotics engineer Masahiro Mori coined the phrase more than 30 years ago, describing the revulsion we feel when something looks nearly human, but not enough to be convincing. Read more…

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The Secret Message in Abraham Lincoln’s Pocket Watch

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In the 1850s Abraham Lincoln, then a successful lawyer, purchased a fine pocket watch from George Chatterton, a jeweler in Springfield, Illinois. The mechanism itself was manufactured in Liverpool, England, but the 18-carat case was of the best quality manufactured in America.

Aside from its make, there was nothing special about this particular watch … until later on, when someone else got his hands on it.

In November 1860 Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. In January 1861, South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed by six more states before Lincoln’s inauguration. On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began with shots fired at Fort Sumter Read more…

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The Nostalgic Evolution of the Nokia Phone

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The indestructible Nokia phone is no more

Microsoft, which bought the company’s mobile division this past April, has announced it will no longer use the name for future devices. Instead, its Nokia Lumia smartphones will simply be called Microsoft Lumia moving forward.

Nokia, best known for its sturdy hardware and early innovation in the mobile market, has had a long history in the cellular spotlight. From dominating the mobile market in the late ’90s to partnering with Microsoft in 2011 for the Windows operating system, the company has seen a couple generations of ups and downs

Here are 11 signature phones from Nokia’s decades-long history Read more…

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5 Unbelievable Ocean Mysteries We Still Haven’t Solved

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Mermaids may not exist, but the ocean is still full of mysteries

Those large, beautiful bodies of water are home to an infinite number of strange creatures and bewildering phenomena. The average ocean depth is 14,000 feet deep — that leaves a lot of room for the mysterious, the mythical and everything in between.

“The ocean is 95% unexplored, unknown, unseen by human eyes,” Fred Gorell, the head of public affairs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Exploration and Research division, tells Mashable in an interview. “Every time we go off on an expedition, we see something new, or something believed to be new.” Read more…

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Your Next Psychologist May Prescribe ‘The Legend of Zelda’

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When Carly McCullar, 32, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as an adult, she wanted to improve her social and communication skills before heading into the next stage of her life.

Never having received such help before, she volunteered to participate in a unique treatment program: virtual reality. Sitting at a computer that tracked her facial expressions, the game tested her social cognition and provided feedback, McCullar played through various realistic scenarios, including a job interview, a confrontation with a loud neighbor and even dating.

The program, a collaborative effort from gaming technology experts and health researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, simulates everyday experiences and social situations that are typically difficult for those with autism or anxiety disorders. And it’s just one example in a growing trend in which video games are forms of therapy. Read more…

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The Evolution of Women’s Workwear Through the Decades

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Clothes say a lot about women’s evolving roles in the workplace. A history of 20th century office fashion in photos. Read more…

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Why You’re Crazy Addicted to ‘Hocus Pocus’

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Something wicked this way comes.

Since 1993, the Disney film Hocus Pocus has been a perennial Halloween favorite, scaring up a new batch of children every year. Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as a trio of evil witches known as the Sanderson sisters, the film is a kitschy gem. Through countless showings on TV, and soaring DVD sales (which peak every October), it has become the cult favorite scary movie for a generation of kids.

But how did a film, which flopped at the box office and got middling reviews become so beloved and financially successful? Like many cult films, it took a winding path that relied on staunch fans and invaluable TV reruns. The witchy little flick had all the right elements: big-name stars, a campy concept and a PG script that flirted with PG-13 jokes. Read more…

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14 Things Thicker Than the iPad Air 2

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Apple’s done it again

The mammoth tech company unveiled the new iPad Air 2 on Oct. 16. At just 6.1 millimeters, or 0.24 of an inch, it’s the thinnest tablet yet.

Want to put that size in perspective? In Apple’s demonstration, they laser-cut a pencil in half lengthways to illustrate iPad’s insanely small dimensions

We decided to kick that up a notch and see just how thin the new device is when compared to everyday objects. From slices of Kraft cheese to slender magazines to Big Mac burger patties, we sized up Apple’s tiny tablet

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Image: Mashable Read more…

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70% of People Worldwide Pronounce ‘GIF’ With a Hard ‘G’

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You can’t imagine how painful it was to write this headline. For those of us who are correct human beings, our brain juices boil to hear that hard “G.” And don’t throw Obama in our faces; he’s not the inventor of the GIF, after all.

Regardless of what’s right, 70% of the world pronounces it “ghif.”

Mashable partnered with Column Five to poll 30,000 people from 191 countries about how to pronounce six divisive tech terms: GIF, meme, data, Wi-Fi, Linux and cache. Aside from “GIF,” we discovered a few surprises

Since we asked respondents to share their professions, we found that people who work in computer/software/IT pronounce “meme” as “me-me” more than any other industry — shocking. Read more…

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70% of People Worldwide Pronounce ‘GIF’ With a Hard ‘G’

Gif

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You can’t imagine how painful it was to write this headline. For those of us who are correct human beings, our brain juices boil to hear that hard “G.” And don’t throw Obama in our faces; he’s not the inventor of the GIF, after all.

Regardless of what’s right, 70% of the world pronounces it “ghif.”

Mashable partnered with Column Five to poll 30,000 people from 191 countries about how to pronounce six divisive tech terms: GIF, meme, data, Wi-Fi, Linux and cache. Aside from “GIF,” we discovered a few surprises

Since we asked respondents to share their professions, we found that people who work in computer/software/IT pronounce “meme” as “me-me” more than any other industry — shocking. Read more…

More about Wifi, Features, Tech, Linux, and Meme