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Symphony of Science: "The Case for Mars"

John Boswell has done it again -- he's created another Symphony of Science music video, this time called "The Case for Mars." The video lays out the reasons why scientists think we should go to Mars, but it's made poetic by Boswell's auto-tuned symphonic electronica. Enjoy.

Featuring: Robert Zubrin, Carl Sagan, Brian Cox (looking dashing as always), and Penelope Boston.

Lyrics after the jump.

[Robert Zubrin]
Mars is the next logical step
In our space program
It's the challenge that's been staring us in the face
For the past 30 years

It has water, it has carbon,
It has a 24 hour day
It has geothermal energy
Mars is a place we can settle

[Carl Sagan]
There is a giant rift in its surface
5,000 kilometers long
There is a volcano as wide as Arizona

[Zubrin]
So there's the choice in life
One either grows or one decays
Grow or die
I think we should grow

[Sagan]
Mars is a world of wonders

[Brian Cox]
It has canyons, river valleys,
and giant ice sheets

[Sagan]
Mars is a world of wonders

[Zubrin]
It shouldn't be humans to Mars in 50 years
It should be humans to Mars in 10

We either muster the courage to go
Or we risk the possibility of stagnation and decay

We've got cosmic radiation
Zero gravity
Martian dust storms
Back contamination

But these are dragons that we can take on

[Sagan]
In our time we have sifted
The sands of Mars
Established a presence there
And fulfilled a century of dreams

[Cox]
The Mars rovers have really
Captured our imaginations
They genuinely are explorers
In the old-fashioned sense

[Zubrin]
If you put out a call
For volunteers for the first crew to Mars
They'd be lined up coast to coast

(refrain)

[Cox]
Mars is a dry frozen version of our home
Covered in red dust and sand

[Penelope Boston]
At one time
In the ancient past
Mars was very similar
To the conditions of early earth

[Zubrin]
There will always be people with new ideas
On how humans should live together

[Cox]
We now have "eyes" and "ears" on the surface

[Zubrin]
What's left after you go is
The good you've left behind
You have to believe in hope
You have to believe in the future

There are more and more people coming around to the point of view that
A positive future for humanity requires human expansion to space

(refrain)

We're at a crossroads today
We either muster the courage to go
Or we risk the possibility of stagnation and decay

(See previous videos: A Glorious Dawn, Our Place in the Cosmos, We Are All Connected, The Unbroken Thread, and The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science). Check out the Symphony of Science website for more information, free downloads, lyrics, and so on.)

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
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GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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The Surprising Link Between Language and Depression
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Skim through the poems of Sylvia Plath, the lyrics of Kurt Cobain, or posts on an internet forum dedicated to depression, and you'll probably start to see some commonalities. That's because there's a particular way that people with clinical depression communicate, whether they're speaking or writing, and psychologists believe they now understand the link between the two.

According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, there are certain "markers" in a person's parlance that may point to symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers used automated text analysis methods to comb through large quantities of posts in 63 internet forums with more than 6400 members, searching for certain words and phrases. They also noted average sentence length, grammatical patterns, and other factors.

What researchers found was that a person's use (or overuse) of first-person pronouns can provide some insight into the state of their mental health. People with clinical depression tend to use more first-person singular pronouns, such as "I" and "me," and fewer third-person pronouns, like "they," "he," or "she." As Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Reading and the head of the study, writes in a post for IFL Science:

"This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words."

What remains unclear, though, is whether people who are more focused on themselves tend to depression, or if depression turns a person's focus on themselves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people with depression also use more negative descriptors, like "lonely" and "miserable."

But, Al-Mosaiwi notes, it's hardly the most important clue when using language to assess clinical depression. Far better indicators, he says, are the presence of "absolutist words" in a person's speech or writing, such as "always," "constantly," and "completely." When overused, they tend to indicate that someone has a "black-and-white view of the world," Al-Mosaiwi says. An analysis of posts on different internet forums found that absolutist words were 50 percent more prevalent on anxiety and depression forums, and 80 percent more prevalent on suicidal ideation forums.

Researchers hope these types of classifications, supported by computerized methods, will prove more and more beneficial in a clinical setting.

[h/t IFL Science]

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