Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chimpanzees are insensitive to fairness

Chimpanzees Are Rational Maximizers in an Ultimatum Game in Science Magazine.
Traditional models of economic decision-making assume that people are self-interested rational maximizers. Empirical research has demonstrated, however, that people will take into account the interests of others and are sensitive to norms of cooperation and fairness. In one of the most robust tests of this finding, the ultimatum game, individuals will reject a proposed division of a monetary windfall, at a cost to themselves, if they perceive it as unfair. Here we show that in an ultimatum game, humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), are rational maximizers and are not sensitive to fairness. These results support the hypothesis that other-regarding preferences and aversion to inequitable outcomes, which play key roles in human social organization, distinguish us from our closest living relatives.

Gould's Belt

Many of the bright stars in the spectacular constellations Orion and Scorpio are a part of Gould's Belt a nearby ring of stars - the cause of which is still unknown.

Cosmic Reionization

In the Big Bang model of cosmology, early in the history of the universe it was too hot for neutral hydrogen gas, all the electrons were stripped from the nucleus (usually a proton), and the hydrogen gas filling the universe was ionized. As the universe expanded, the temperature cooled enough for neutral hydrogen, and the electrons became bound to protons. At some point stars began to form and the ultraviolet radiation the stars radiated was sufficient to ionize hydrogen gas once again - cosmic reionization. In this preprint Testing Reionization with Gamma Ray Burst Absorption Spectra the era of reionization is studied by looking for very ancient gamma ray bursts, the most energetic events known in the universe.

Communication with Gravitational Waves?

Generation and detection of gravitational waves at microwave frequencies by means of a superconducting two-body system
In engineering, it could open up the possibility of intercontinental communications by means of microwave-frequency gravitational waves directly through the interior of the Earth, which is transparent to such waves. This would eliminate the need of communications satellites, and would allow an economical means of communication with people deep underground or underwater in submarines in the oceans. Such a new direction of gravitational-wave engineering could aptly be called “gravity radio”

Chilling Account of the "Storm Worm"

Gathering 'Storm' Superworm Poses Grave Threat to PC Nets by Bruce Schneier. See also his blog: Schneier on Security for interesting information on security and privacy.