Inverse Daily: How do you pronounce beautiful?

A first impression can be so powerful that it influences whether a potential employer wants to hire you, and even how much they want to pay you, scientists reported on Monday.

While I try not to be too distracted by last night’s epic final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, let’s get you caught up on the news of the day.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, executive editor at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily for Tuesday, October 22, 2019. Let’s get into it.

This article is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day.

INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The initial reaction was more confusion than anything else.”

— Edwin Dickinson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University.

Why we love some songs more than others

Whether or not you’ve spontaneously shimmied to “Push It” or let a single tear fall to “Everybody Hurts,” you’ve undoubtedly encountered music’s ability to make you feel something. There’s no question that we care about chords. However, there is a question as to why our brains are primed to respond to songs, and why certain ones are consistently favored over the rest.

In a new study, a team of neuroscience researchers linked our brains’ need to learn to why people enjoy specific song presentations. They asked participants to listen to a selection of Western folk and classical music and rank which songs they enjoyed the most. Then they trained a statistical modeling software to note when the songs’ musical fragments, things like patterns of melody and rhythm, were “predictable” or not.

Subsequently, a particular pattern emerged. People most often enjoyed songs of “intermediate predictive complexity” — those that had some moments of uncertainty but weren’t too avant-garde.

The team hypothesizes that we respond to these sorts of songs because our brains intrinsically enjoy learning, which is a process of updating inaccurate predictions and validating accurate ones. Happy learning engages the dopaminergic reward system, which makes the whole process motivational and pleasurable. Your brain wants a song that surprises it — but it also wants a song that you feel like you’ve known all along.

Continue reading →

Go deeper:

Is Facebook trustworthy?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a briefing on Monday with reporters to answer questions about how the social media giant is preparing for the 2020 elections. He talked about how Facebook will verify candidates in all sorts of elections, from dog catcher to president of the United States, how it will combat voter suppression efforts, and how it will monitor political ads — something that has not been going well since forever. Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator from Massachusetts, notably ran a fake ad and called Facebook a “disinformation-for-profit machine” recently. Here is how Zuckerberg responded on Monday:

“I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying, and I think that people should make up their own minds about which candidates are credible and which candidates have the kind of character that they want to see in their elected official.”

Continue reading →

More stories from Zuckerberg’s briefing:

Can an artificial leaf power an airplane?

Green technologies have made strides in cars and personal tech, but when it comes to transportation giants like aviation — which alone belches 859 million tonnes of CO2 annually — the path toward progress has been slower. But new research into synthetic fuel creation is looking to change that.

The research describes a process in which an “artificial leaf” is created that uses a photosynthesis-like process to transform light into power to drive a catalytic reaction.

“Ideally, CO2 would be first captured from the atmosphere and then converted back into fuels, thereby closing the carbon cycle,” Virgil Andrei, the first author on a study into the matter, tells Inverse.

This is particularly important, they say, for ships and planes which still rely on liquid fuel infrastructures.

Keep reading →

The more you know:

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How do you pronounce “beautiful”?

When you go into a job interview, it’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it. New research on speech shows that small snippets of a person’s speech can provide enough information for another person to quickly and accurately judge their social class. Armed with this snap judgment, hiring managers are more likely to hire someone they perceive as belonging to a higher social class.

Some of the words pronounced in the study were “and,” “from,” “thought,” “beautiful,” “imagine,” “yellow,” and “the.”

The authors of this new study argue that this research calls into question the very idea of the “American Dream,” which says you can work hard to rise up in society. Since the way a person talks seems to have a significant effect on their job prospects, the researchers argue that this bias could keep people of a lower social class from being able to achieve better things. They’re optimistic, though, that better hiring practices could help companies and hiring managers overcome some of these unconscious biases.

Here’s what they found out →

More speech science:

When a car is “dessert”

Tesla’s second-generation Roadster is going to be “even better than what we’ve unveiled … in every way.” That’s according to Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s head designer, who claimed in a recent podcast episode that the upcoming supercar will surpass the vehicle demonstrated in November 2017.

Based on comments between the unveiling and now, it’s clear that the car has quietly taken on new capabilities since its unveiling. There’s a SpaceX options package, which adds several thrusters around the car to boost its performance. The battery is expected to get a slimdown, possibly to avoid the floor rising too far. Hands-on tests with the vehicle also suggest it could offer better performance than previously advertised.

What does it mean for Tesla? CEO Elon Musk has described the car as “dessert,” and analyst conversations with Inverse suggest the Roadster isn’t really seen as a critical part of the business. But as for a vehicle that delivers a decisive blow to the gas-powered supercar, the Roadster is undeniably going to turn heads.

Here’s the latest on Roadster 2.0 →

More Tesla Roadster news:

Meanwhile …

  • Musk Reads: SpaceX starts work on more Starships; the moon base faces a tough challenge; and Starlink aims for even more satellites.
  • Was that Darth Vader’s mask in the final Rise of Skywalker trailer?

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That’s it for Inverse Daily today.

If you’ve got a suggestion for how to make this newsletter better, drop me a line at nick@inverse.com. And follow me on Twitter, where I retweet the best of Inverse every day.