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The Very Real Sting of Rejection

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After working on his book for years, John Kennedy Toole submitted his manuscript to several publishers. Initially, editor Robert Gottlieb wanted to publish it, but he soon lost interest. The rejection hurt so much that Toole refused to look at his manuscript and he quit writing. He eventually killed himself due in part to the pain he felt from the rejection. Eleven years later, his mother managed to publish the manuscript, A Confederacy of Dunces, which won a Pulitzer Prize. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms what anyone who has ever been rejected inherently knows—social rejection hurts as much as physical pain.

Psychologists Walter Mischel and Edward Smith from Columbia University, Ethan Kross and Marc Berman from the University of Michigan, and Tor Wager from the University of Colorado, Boulder conducted 40 fMRIs on subjects who had recently experienced an unwanted romantic break-up.

As the fMRI scanned the participants’ brains looking for areas of high activity, the subjects either looked at pictures of their ex-significant others and a picture of a friend (who was about the same age and same sex) or the researchers prodded their arms with warm or cool stimuli. Looking at the images of their exes caused the participants mental anguish as extreme as the pain felt from the hot and cold jabs.

The brain acted the same whether a person felt mental or physical pain—in both cases the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), the anterior insula, and segments of the thalamus activated. The dACC regulates cognition and motor control and neurologists suspect that it plays a role in decoding brain signals and dealing with rewards. The anterior insula influences self perception, motor control, and emotional responses, activation in this area might indicate that participants were aware of the pain they felt and tried to control physical responses like breathing or blood pressure (imagine trying to steady your nerves during a scary movie). And, the thalamus relays signals to most sensory systems (except the olfactory system).

“These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection hurts,” said Kross.

“On the surface, spilling a hot cup of coffee on yourself and thinking about how rejected you feel when you look at the picture of a person that you recently experienced an unwanted break-up with may seem to elicit very different types of pain. But this research shows that they may be even more similar than initially thought.”

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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