Inverse Daily: The meaning of life

Scientists have pinpointed the age you're most likely to find meaning in life.

All hail the Walmart self-driving car! This is Inverse Daily for December 11, 2019.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, executive editor at Inverse. Let’s get into it.

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“It came as a surprise to us that lightning actually not only creates a big bang of high energy or radiation, but also illuminates a huge portion of the ionosphere above simultaneously. We thought that was pretty cool.”

— Torsten Neubert, chief consultant at Denmark’s National Space Institute.

The fifth force in physics?

There’s a new particle on the physics block, reports Passant Rabie, and it might change the longstanding particle theory. The detection of X17 was first announced in 2015 by a team of researchers in Hungary, and they recently published a new paper that claims they have found new evidence of the elusive particle through a second experiment.

Although it is yet to be proven by other scientists, the discovery could help explain some of the mystery surrounding dark matter. The so called “missing mass” of the universe has puzzled scientists since it was first discovered in 1933, and is yet to be detected in a lab.

Dark matter makes up around 80 percent of the cosmos, and yet remains hypothetical since it does not interact with light particles. However, X17 could be the missing link, providing the answer to how particles of dark matter interact with one another.

While scientists remain skeptical about the finding, if X17 does exist then it introduces a fifth force in physics.

Keep reading →

More mind-bending dark matter stories:

The age when you find the meaning of life

At age sixty, scientists suggest that your search for meaning in life may finally come to a brief conclusion. According to interviews with 1,042 people, that’s the age at which “searching” for meaning in life hits a low and the presence of meaning in life hits a high.

Emma Betuel reports that’s the result of a paper published Tuesday in Clinical Psychiatry. Ultimately, that paper found that having a purpose in life is correlated with better physical and mental health, especially in older adults. But their findings also reveal a little about how the search for meaning changes with age: it follows a u-shaped curve.

Before the age of sixty, people tend to be actively searching for meaning (though that’s far higher in earlier age groups, like people in their 20s and 30s). Sixty tends to be that crucial point when meaning peaks, and searching dips. But after that age, searching for meaning tends to pick up again in older adults — as health or cognition declines people need to reevaluate what gives them meaning in life again.

The results suggest that the search for meaning doesn’t have to be a decades-long spirit quest. It boils down to a few key things: “coherent sense of one’s identity, authentic relationships with friends and family members, engagement in long-term goals which provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to the society, and acting with genuine altruism for the betterment of the world.”

Keep reading →

More on the meaning of life:

This story hops

This story is straight out of the plot of a ‘90s sci-fi movie: Mike Brown reports on a 3D-printed bunny that could hold the key to long-term, abundant data storage.

Researchers from ETH Zurich and Israel encoded the blueprint for a computer graphic model and stored it in some DNA molecules.

The team then 3D-printed a rabbit from the material. They were then able to take a sample from the model, decode the information and use it to create a new 3D printout. This was done over five generations with no data loss. Their experiment was documented in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The breakthrough could pave the way for a resilient, dense means of storing data for generations to come.

Read more →

More on DNA:

The danger in the Drake Passage

Early Tuesday morning, a Chilean military plane went missing mid-flight. It was en route from the southern city of Punta Arenas to a military base in Antarctica — but it doesn’t seem to have made it.

Ali Pattillo reports that the C-130 Hercules aircraft, carrying 38 people, seemingly vanished into thin air over the infamous Drake Passage, a body of water between Cape Horn in South America and the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica, the Chilean military say. The plane is presumed to have crashed in the icy, turbulent waters of the passage, also called the Sea of Hoces.

While there’s no “ideal” place to crash a plane, the Drake Passage is a particularly treacherous part of the ocean to go down.

Keep reading →

More on the Drake Passage:

The benefit of being an old narcissist

Sorry, Boomer, but contrary to the stereotype, young people today are likely no more narcissistic than any generation before them (including the Baby Boomers). That’s just one of the findings from a new analysis of how three key narcissistic traits change over a person’s lifespan and across generations.

Using data from six different studies, researchers charted how narcissism changes over time and between generations in 747 people aged 13 to 77. The three traits used to define narcissism were: Willfulness, or being full of yourself; hypersensitivity, or being overly defensive; and autonomy, or a sense of leadership and authority.

On average, negative forms of narcissism — willfulness and hypersensitivity — declined with age, while the more positive feeling of having control over your life increased as people got older.

“Oftentimes, life experiences, jobs, and relationships have a tendency to change our priorities as we age, and that’s what we think we’re seeing here,” William Chopik, study author and assistant professor at Michigan State University, says.

Keep reading →

More narcissism science:

Meanwhile …

  • The University of Phoenix is canceling $141 million in student debt and paying $50 million in cash after a federal complaint that it’s a scam operation.
  • Scientists have turned to an unusual mentor to learn how to better design the next generation of armor: marine mollusks.
  • Baby Yoda Mandalorian theory could reveal a sinister new Force power.
  • Star Wars IX rating leaks may confirm some major Palpatine plot rumors.

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