Today's a rough one for all the liars out there. The polygraph was first invented in 1921 by a Berkeley police officer named John Larson who attempted to measure blood pressure to detect lies. A protégé of Larson's, Leonarde Keeler, soon began developing his own devices, and today, in 1935, the Keeler polygraph was used for the first time to convict two suspected criminals in Portage, Wisconsin, accused of assault.
The polygraph would later come under heavy review when an investigation by Congress in 1965 found “there is no lie detector, neither man nor machine.” That has not stopped proponents from using it, however.
Our question of the week: Earth seems to be in dire straits these days. Would you live in a city on Mars? For the sake of the question, this city can look like whatever you want: aboveground, underground, domed, or terraformed. But would you make the big jump? Respond on our Google form and we'll publish our favorite answers next week!
Fossil finds — Massive magnetic fossils are a climate-crisis time machine
Magnets are incredible scientific gateways, especially for children. Their persistence in sticking to each other and repelling each other with equal gusto can be something adults eventually take for granted, although their magic is never quite dulled with age. Curious puzzles that have drawn humanity's attention in ancient Greek and Chinese civilizations, magnets aren't quite as illustrious now.
Yet magnetism is one of the most defining properties of our planet, enabling us to explain and understand phenomena, from anomalies in the human body to why Santa Claus ostensibly lives at the North Pole.
Giant, ancient magnets might just help us figure out climate change, too.
New research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals how giant magnetic fossils from 34-56 million years ago could help scientists understand periods of significant environmental change — both past and present.
What they're saying: “It's so fun to be a part of a discovery like this, something that can be used by other researchers studying magnetofossils and intervals of planetary change.” —Courtney Wagner, lead author on the study and a doctoral student from the University of Utah.
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Tiny thoughts — Scientists design “quantum brain” to revolutionize computing
They may not be falling in love (though, having someone fall in love with them is up for debate) or enjoying a bowl of strawberries and fresh cream, but the limitations of these machines are slowly crumbling. In the age of machine learning, another one has bitten the dust: the ability to learn from experience.
Typically, this kind of intelligence is achieved through a leap-frog-like system of multiple computers and machine-learning algorithms, but in a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team of physicists propose a different method. They designed a computer capable of embedding basic intelligence into its hardware — by taking advantage of atoms' quantum spins.
What they're saying: “The material adapted its reaction based on the external stimuli that it received. It learned by itself.” —Alexander Khajetoorians, professor at Radboud University.
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Coming soon ...
Were you aware of the United Arab Emirates space program? By the end of the month you will be. If all goes well, on February 9, the country's Hope Probe will be orbiting Mars, making the UAE just the fifth country to reach on the Red Planet. This will also mark the first time scientists get a chance to study the Martian climate in full, an exciting moment to understand the planet's mysterious past.
Coming soon on Inverse, a preview of the Hope Probe's mission.
Covid answers — What the new variants mean for the future of Covid-19 vaccines
Year 2 of Covid-19 has turned out to have brought some relief with it, but also growing concerns. Namely, variants.
Emerging variants of the virus — versions of SARS-COV-2 with slight genetic differences — are unwanted variables in an already precarious time. At least three are confirmed to be circulating, stemming from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. An unpublished study also suggests a variant has emerged in California.
There’s a chance the virus may evolve to evade the vaccines we have now, but that’s far from confirmed. There’s good news: Even if it does, scientists say we can tweak our existing vaccines faster than you might think.
What they're saying: “It's very flexible.” —Norbert Pardi, an assistant research professor at the University of Pennsylvania, on RNA messenger technology, to Inverse.
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r/Heartbreak — Study on Redditors reveals how you can predict a breakup
Leo Tolstoy began Anna Karenina by stating that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Bringing that opening line into modern times, we can assume the same about pretty much all relationships, be they officially married or not. And the pain of an unhappy relationship may be unforgettable.
Breakups may be a fundamental human experience, but heartbreak is never routine. The last chapter of a romantic relationship is often plagued by questions — What changed? Who changed? — and rumination. Breakups are so world-shifting, new research suggests, one might even be in the process of ending things without consciously realizing it.
In a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reveal impending breakups can be identified up to three months before they actually occur. The team identified this shift through an examination of posts created by users of Reddit’s r/BreakUps — a forum for anonymously discussing failed relationships — before and after they shared their own story.
What they're saying: “For most people in our study, it took about six months for things to get back to normal. It’s longer than you think!” —Sarah Seraj, a research assistant at the University of Texas at Austin, to Inverse.
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- Realistic relationship goals: Experts reveal what it takes for love to last
- Breakup science says you should never, ever, ever get back together
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