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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

5 OF THE INTERNET’S HARDEST LOGIC PUZZLES FOR YOU TO SOLVE


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Can You Solve 5 of the Internet’s Hardest Logic Puzzles?
By Mihir Patkar,
Make Use Of, 30 August 2016.

Everybody loves a good puzzle. There’s a certain satisfaction in figuring out the answer to a difficult riddle. Plus, research shows riddles and puzzles keep your brain sharp in old age.

The internet is a repository of mind-bending puzzles. But many of these require you to have technical skills, like looking up the source code of a page for clues or altering image files. Logic should test your brain, not your computer skills.

We can’t say if these are the “hardest” puzzles online. What we can say for sure is that these five brain-teasing websites are loved by anyone who likes solving stuff.

1. NSA’s Puzzle Periodical: One Difficult New Puzzle, Every Month

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The National Security Agency has a bad rep among internet users because of its spying and infringements of privacy. Set that aside for a minute and you’ll know that some of the brightest minds work there. And every month, one of these bright minds submits a puzzle for the world to figure out.

The NSA Puzzle Periodical was started only last year, so there isn’t a large collection waiting for you. But you can still browse through logic puzzles, written precisely and exquisitely. Most importantly, it’s a new puzzle every month!

The answer is posted a few days after the question, so feel free to discuss it with others till then. There are no trick questions or cheap answers, as far as I can make out.

2. Sudoku Escargot: The Hardest Sudoku Ever

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You’re probably familiar with the numbers-oriented game of Sudoku. It’s a stress-free way to give your brain a 5-minute workout. You might already be pretty good at it. But do you think you can solve the hardest Sudoku puzzle ever made?

Mathematician Arto Inkala built an algorithm to generate challenging Sudokus, called AI Sudoku. And this is the most difficult one the bot ever created. It’s called the Escargot, and on his blog, Inkala explains why it’s the most difficult Sudoku.

Try solving it on Sudoku Wiki or print it out and take it with you. No matter how you choose to tackle this, make sure you have plenty of time. And Inkala’s blog post linked above also has 19 other super-difficult Sudokus for you to solve.

3. Blue Eyes: XKCD’s “Hardest Logic Puzzle”

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I love getting a difficult puzzle that I can slowly work on, over several days or weeks. The joy of a good riddle lies as much in the journey. If you’re patient with puzzles, then read “Blue Eyes: The Hardest Logic Puzzle in the World,” according to XKCD.

For the uninitiated, XKCD is one of the best webcomics for geeks, often talking about logic, math, and lateral thinking. Its creator shared this puzzle (which he heard from someone else) in the simplest language possible. No word play, no double meanings, or anything else.

Read the riddle, digest every information from it, and set about working it out in your head. You’ll find yourself thinking about it whenever you have some time.

4. 101 Friday Puzzles: Richard Wiseman’s 101 Brainteasers

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Noted psychologist Richard Wiseman is a bit of an internet celebrity. He is known for amazing illusions that blow your mind on his YouTube channel, he is a noted expert on magic and psychology, and he is a famed logician.

Every Friday, Wiseman shares a puzzle or riddle on his blog, challenging readers to solve it. The Friday puzzles use a combination of linear and lateral thinking, so some answers will require creative thinking.

You’ll find matchstick problems, logical riddles, and some picture-based puzzles too. There are 101 to get through, so save this page for offline reading wherever.

5. Logic Mazes: Robert Abbott’s Famous Puzzles

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Logician, programmer, and game inventor Robert Abbott has been designing games since the 1950s. Abbott pioneered the concept of “logic mazes,” and some of his best ones are available online for free.

A logic maze is a maze or a grid with some set rules. For example, the Easy Maze 1 dictates you can never turn left. So without turning left, how do you travel from the start to the finish line?

Abbott also makes interactive puzzles that are hosted on the site, so you can “play” instead them to solve. Trust me, you’re going to need that little interactivity if you want any hope of getting through these.

Can You Solve This?

You can solve any of the logic questions above, or you can try your hand at figuring out this fun puzzle.
You have 16 marbles and a balancing scale. One of the marbles is heavier or lighter than the others, while 15 are the same weight. Using the scales three times or less, identify the odd marble and whether it’s heavier or lighter.

Top image credit: Hans/Pixabay.

[Source: Make Use Of. Edited. Top image added.]

10 WAYS WE ARE BEING WATCHED, MONITORED AND SPIED ON


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10 Ways We Are Being Watched, Monitored And Spied On
By Marcus Lowth,
Listverse, 30 August 2016.

While the intent might be up for debate, the fact that our governments and businesses appear to be watching our every move isn’t. As technology increases, seemingly more and more rapidly, more data about us is stored and shared - and most of the time, we are unaware it is being collected or how it might be used.

10. Increasing CCTV Surveillance

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In 2011, there was one CCTV camera for every 32 UK citizens. By 2016, this number had increased to one for every 11, making the United Kingdom the most spied upon country in the world.

Not that the UK is alone in its surveillance of citizens. Almost all countries have security cameras in place. In 2013, the BBC ran a story about the increasing numbers of CCTV cameras being installed and put into operation across the United States, where they were being hailed as crucial in apprehending the culprits of the Boston bombing. That is why these cameras are put in place, and there are plenty of examples of them being used to good effect. There increasing numbers, however, make some people uneasy, and the line between security and the infringement on privacy is becoming grayer all the time.

9. Smart TVs

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If you have a television that is connected to the Internet, not only is it recording what you are watching and when you watch it, but there is even the possibility that someone could be literally watching you.

A lot of smart TVs have microphones and even cameras built into them. Should there be any kind of security breach on the server your set is operating on, others could spy on your actions through your set. Security breaches have been called into question, mainly due to TVs connected to servers without thorough security checks, so your data could easily be stolen, or spyware and other such programs could be sent back to your television.

8. Debit / Credit Cards

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It has long been a conspiracy theory that credit and debit cards monitor how and where we spend, and the conspiracy theory is not far wrong. The use of such cards and electronic purchases can be viewed in real time by the United States government and other intelligence agencies, for example.

The main reason this data is said to be available to such agencies is to notice unusual purchases or spending patterns, generally related to potential acts of terrorism. Perhaps what is worrying though - at least in the United States - is that a warrant is not required for the FBI to access this information. Furthermore, a non-disclosure order will be automatically issued by a judge, so whoever is watched will not be made aware of it by their bank.

7. Internet Searches And Web History

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Every time you perform a search on Google or most other search engines, that data is logged and stored - and it can be accessed by governments whenever they feel the need. In the United States, the famous PATRIOT Act is open-ended enough to encompass Internet searches and web history.

It isn’t just the United States, though. In November 2015, the UK government announced that as part of its ongoing fight against terrorism, people’s website history would be kept on record for a year by the relevant Internet providers. Key words are often used as “triggers” to warrant the government and other agencies taking a closer look at someone’s Internet history. Although the government announced safeguards would be put in place to prevent intelligence agencies and the police from abusing such information, there was considerable apprehension over the plans.

6. Smartphones

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If you have a smartphone - and most of us do - you may not realize just how smart it actually is or the amount of data it stores about your physical movements, your searches, and just about every other action. The more advanced these phones become, the more information is available for companies to use how they see fit. It is even possible on some phones to trace someone’s movements for the last year.

Every time a new app is downloaded on to your phone, chances are it stores information about you - and to access said app, you give it permission to do so. Most phone companies state that the information is kept solely on the device and is not sent to any external storage. As you might imagine, some people are little suspicious as to whether this is completely accurate.

5. Social Media

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Depending on your privacy settings, anyone can log on to your social media page and see everything you have said while online. What’s more, it is completely lawful for the government to not only monitor your social media posts but also your private messages, as they are classed as external communications - so a warrant is not needed for them to be investigated.

It isn’t just in the UK. Many countries such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia having their own variation on the UK’s approach to such communications.

4. Digital Recognition Technology

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Number plate recognition technology is used all over the world, generally to catch uninsured drivers and criminal activity on the roads. However, in 2015, a former assistant chief constable in the UK stated that police forces were potentially abusing the software, and backlash brewed among the British public. Tony Porter even went as far as to say that the amount of cameras set up to trace number plates was “one of the largest data gatherers in the world!”

Many private companies further employ facial recognition technology on their premises. This technology has been used widely by law enforcement around the world for some time with reasons ranging from being able to find a particular person in a crowd to helping to combat voter fraud and terrorism.

3. Supermarket Loyalty Programs

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Supermarkets use their customer loyalty cards and schemes to monitor our purchases, see what we are buying, and then bombard us with a plethora of offers and special deals. For online shoppers, they will ensure that when you log on to their sites, the products and offers that reflect your buying are prominently positioned for you to see first.

What might come as a surprise is how that data might be used after the supermarkets are done with it. In 2012, for example, the UK government planned to share the data the supermarkets collected in an effort to monitor shopping habits and use the information, they claimed, to combat obesity. People who were identified as buying too much unhealthy food or even too much alcohol would then be offered advice on lifestyle and healthy living.

2. Voice Recognition Software

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Although not widespread right now, voice recognition software will be rolled out over the coming years and be used to identify and store our voices. In 2012, a Russian company working in the United States under the name SpeechPro developed a system that it said can contain millions of voices. It can match a voice on a phone call to its database within seconds.

The technology is already in use in Mexico, and the United States stated that it was in talks with agencies to roll out the software across America. They also stated, however, that they would not be commenting any further on such a roll out, due to data protection laws.

1. Drones

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Although they stated the flights were completely lawful, in March 2016, the United States government admitted that it used drones to spy on American citizen for non-military purposes.

The details were only partially released, but it seemed the majority of the missions were said to be involved in search-and-rescue missions or to track wild fires and floods. Although this would seem perfectly understandable and even logical, perhaps because the FBI have admitted to using drones to spy as part of past investigations, the news made many American uneasy. An analyst at the time, Jay Stanley, also stated that due to technology moving as fast as it did, laws may need to be revised.

Top image credit: Global Voices Online/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]

INFOGRAPHIC: WHY OIL PRICES FLUCTUATE


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Why Oil Prices Fluctuate
By
Jones Oil.

Most of us greet the news that oil has fallen to US$50 a barrel with a shrug of our shoulders. It goes up, it goes down; no one dies. We fail to engage because we don’t understand what drives it either way, or how it affects us. As with all commodities, supply and demand plays a big part in its price. It peaked in 2008, but the subsequent global downturn saw it experience one of the sharpest drops in history.

Everything from war to the weather influences how much we pay for a refill at the petrol pumps. A contraction in the construction sector creates a fall in demand - and in prices, while striking workers in the oil industry can cause prices to shoot up. When the dollar dips oil becomes expensive, and political instability in oil-producing countries goes hand in hand with price volatility. We take a look at various factors that cause the price of oil to fluctuate.

Why Oil Prices Fluctuate


[Post Source: Jones Oil.]

INFOGRAPHIC: HOW OIL IS FORMED


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How Oil Is Formed
By
Jones Oil.

Those of us who imagine that striking oil means drilling into a pool of liquid riches might be surprised to learn how wrong we are. Oil is not found in underground lakes, but dispersed through rocks like a sponge. The rocks must be broken to extract the oil, which looks like mud when it is taken from the ground. Nor is it the remains of dead dinosaurs! We take a look at how oil was formed, and separate fact from fiction.

How Oil Is Formed

Infographic Sources (Link):
1.
Oil formation
2.
How crude oil was formed
3. How Are Oil/Natural Gas Formed?
4. Video: Oil and Gas Formation
5. Hubbert peak theory
6. How Fossil Fuels were Formed
7. What made oil?
8. Why So Much Oil in the Middle East?
9. OPEC share of world crude oil reserves, 2015
10. "Great Dying" Lasted 200,000 Years
11. The Slow Formation of Oil and Natural Gas Deposits
12. Fossil fuel
13. Onshore Oil and Gas in the UK
14. How are oil and gas formed?
15. How Did Oil and Gas Get Created?
16. Petroleum
17. How Oil is Formed (Environment for Kids)
18.
Oil formation (Science Learning Hub)
19. Petroleum Formation
20. The Absolute Geologic Time Scale
21. Petroleum - Oil and Natural Gas
22. How do oil, gas and coal form?
23. Abiotic Oil Formation
24. Abiotic Theory
25. The temperatures of oil and gas formation in the sub-surface
26. Oil Sands
27. What is Oil?
28. Where Fossil Fuels Come From
29. What is Heavy Oil and How is it Formed?
30. Why is oil usually found in deserts and arctic areas?
31. The Origins of Oil and Gas
32. About Oil Shale
33. How Oil Is Formed (Physics Forums)
34.
Oil
35. Oil: Background
36. Producing natural gas and mineral oil
37. How is petroleum formed?
38. Tracing Oil Reserves to Their Tiny Origins
39. Generalized Williston Basin
40. Plate tectonics
41. David Attenborough: force of nature
42. Petroleum geology (important publications)
43.
How buried water makes diamonds and oil
44. Oil shale geology
45. Light on the Top, Heavy on the Bottom: A Crude Oil Refinery Primer

[Post Source: Jones Oil.]

Monday, 29 August 2016

10 OF THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC GARDENS


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10 of the World’s Most Beautiful Public Gardens
By Miss Cellania,
Mental Floss, 29 August 2016.

Your backyard can be a wonderful retreat, but whenever you have the chance, you should visit a large, professionally curated public garden. Here are a few you might not be familiar with, but are worth a trip.

1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens - Coral Gables, Florida, USA

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Image credit: florador/Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens is an education and conservation facility showcasing tropical plants. The gardens are home to over a dozen areas highlighting different ecosystems and species, as well as a research facility and a farm; the facility also offers horticultural classes, hosts festivals, and conducts research projects in 20 countries. For the casual visitor, there are guided tours and tram tours, or you can wander freely as you like. Make sure to stop by the Silbey Victoria pool, which features Victoria cruziana and the Victoria Longwood Hybrid water lilies (pictured above). Native to South America and capable of reaching nearly 2 feet in diameter, these plants are the largest water lilies in the world.

2. Château De Villandry - Centre-Val-De-Loire, France

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Image credit: kurt_eh/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

France's Château de Villandry is a manor house with a nearly 500-year history. It was built in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, who was Minister of Finance under King François I (he knocked down most of an old fortress on the site, which dated back to the 1100s, in order to build the manor). He began cultivating the gardens, and 200 years later, the Marquis de Castellane expanded them. Château de Villandry was confiscated during the French Revolution and awarded to Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, after which it fell into ruin. In 1906, Dr. Joachim Carvallo purchased the chateau and worked to restore the gardens to their former glory. In addition to the imposing chateau, visitors can see the kitchen garden, the cross garden, the water garden, the sun garden, the maze, and the cloud room. The gardens are open every day of the year, but if you can't make it all the way to France, you can still take a virtual tour at the website.

3. Butchart Gardens - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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Image credit: WisDoc/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1904, Robert and Jenny Butchart opened a limestone quarry and cement plant on Vancouver Island. He ran the business; she was the company chemist. Over the next few decades, as areas of the quarry played out, Jenny reclaimed it as a garden. She had tons of topsoil hauled in, and dedicated different areas to garden designs from all over the world, including a Japanese and an Italian garden. Today, all that's left of the original factory is a single chimney; it's been replaced almost entirely by budding flowers and singing birds. Butchart Gardens is now owned by Robin-Lee Clarke, the Butcharts’ great-granddaughter. While opening hours vary, the world-famous gardens are open to the public year-round.

4. Powerscourt Gardens - Wicklow, Ireland

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Image credit: Peter Stevens/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Located about an hour from Dublin, the gardens of the Powerscourt Estate are home to the highest waterfall in Ireland (it's nearly 400 feet tall!). The home on the estate was originally a medieval castle, which was remodeled as a house in the 1730s and reroofed after a fire in 1974. The 47-acre estate contains an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, a sculpture garden, two golf courses, the largest pet cemetery in Ireland, and an extensive forest where you’ll find the Pepperpot Tower, which was modeled after the pepperpot used by Lord Powerscourt at mealtime.

5. Dumbarton Oaks - Washington, D.C., USA

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Image credit: Dumbarton Oaks via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss established their home and garden on 53 acres in Washington, D.C., in 1920. Twenty years later, they gifted part of their property to Harvard University, which established Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection; 27 acres went to the government to establish a public park. The facility includes the Bliss’s extensive garden - which includes a rose garden and pebble garden - for their Garden and Landscape Studies programs. The museum is closed for renovations for the rest of this year, but the public gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from March until the end of October.

6. The Master Of The Nets Garden - Suzhou, China

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Image credit: Caitriana Nicholson/Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The Garden of Master of the Nets is only 1.5 acres, but the home, pond, and garden are crammed with delicate beauty. Originally named Fisherman’s Retreat, it was once the home of Song Zongyuan, an official of the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century. However, the verdant sanctuary was actually established several hundred years earlier. It's tranquil during the day, but at night, performers stage concerts in the garden and in various rooms of the pavilion from March to November.

7. Callaway Gardens - Pine Mountain, Georgia, USA

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Image credit: rjcox/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cason and Virginia Callaway started the Georgia-based Callaway Gardens in 1952, and the family added lakes, man-made beaches, two golf courses, a large forest area, and hotels over the years. The garden features the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, a 40-acre garden with more than 3000 azalea bushes that come alive every spring. You’ll also find the Overlook Azalea Garden, the Meadowlark Garden, and the Thornhill Hydrangea Garden.

8. Keukenhof - Lisse, The Netherlands

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Image credit: -RS-/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Keukenhof Gardens is a showcase of Dutch floriculture in the spring. The word keukenhof means “kitchen garden,” because the site is where Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria gathered fruits and vegetables for Teylingen Castle in the 15th century. In 1641, Keukenhof Castle was built on the site. In 1949, a consortium of bulb importers proposed to use Keukenhof to showcase flowers, and the already-legendary garden was redesigned. Over the course of eight weeks every spring, Keukenhof displays the blooms of some 7 million bulbs, including 800 varieties of tulips. The gardens will be open in 2017 from March 23 to May 21.

9. Stourhead - Wiltshire, England

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Image credit: Michael Rollinger/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Stourhead is a 2650-acre estate that became a part of Britain’s National Trust in 1946. The estate was established by the Stourton family, who were the Barons of Stourton for 500 years. While the gardens were planted and expanded by several owners, the Arcadian design was the idea of owner Henry Hoare in 1741. He built Greek temples, an artificial lake, a Pantheon, and other classical Greek structures. The gardens are open to the public every day except Christmas.

10. Chanticleer Garden - Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA

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Image credit: JR P/Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Adolph and Christine Rosengarten built a country home in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 1913, which Christine named Chanticleer. They then bought adjoining properties for their two children when they became adults. Adolph Rosengarten, Jr. inherited both his parents’ and his sisters’ properties upon their deaths, and when he died in 1990, he left the entire estate to the enjoyment of the public, managed by the Chanticleer Foundation. The 35 acres of gardens include a 10-mile trail through various themed areas like the Pond Garden and Ruin Garden. Chanticleer is open to visitors Wednesday through Sunday from April 1 to November 1, but admission is only open until the 120-space parking lot is full, so visitors are urged to carpool.

Top image: Keukenhof Gardens. Credit: skeeze/Pixabay.

[Source: Mental Floss. Edited. Top image added.]

10 WAYS SCIENTISTS MESSED WITH CHILDREN’S MINDS


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10 Ways Scientists Messed With Children’s Minds
By Allison Gauss,
Listverse, 22 August 2016.

We often think of children as pure and untarnished - something to be protected. But when scientists see something pure and untarnished, they just see the perfect test subject. Although many of these experiments are considered cornerstones of modern psychology, they must have led a few parents to say, “You want to do what to my kid?”

10. Bobo Gets A Beating


In 1961, Albert Bandura’s landmark experiment showed that children could learn aggressive or violent behaviors simply by being exposed to them. This contradicted the prevailing view that learning required rewards or punishment.

Bandura worked with three groups of nursery school children. The first group watched an adult showing aggressive behavior toward an inflatable clown called Bobo, kicking and hitting it. The second group observed a non-aggressive adult, who did not engage with the clown. The third group wasn’t exposed to either behavior. Later, the children were left alone in a room with the inflatable doll and several other toys.

The children who had watched an adult being aggressive and violent toward Bobo were much more likely to kick, hit, and attack the clown doll. Exposure to these behaviors made children more likely to adopt them - even if the adult didn’t instruct or reward the child.

9. Who’s That Baby In The Mirror?

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In her 1972 study, Beulah Amsterdam of the University of North Carolina kicked off a series of mirror experiments to test children’s self-awareness. Researchers put a spot of rouge on the noses of children aged six months to two years, put them in front of the mirror, and had the child’s mother ask, “Who’s that?”

At 6–12 months old, the children thought they were seeing another baby and approached it. But by 20–24 months, most of the children understood they were seeing themselves and pointed to the rouge on their nose.

In the middle group (about 12–20 months old), many of the children were unsure and even avoided the image. They no longer assumed the baby in the mirror was a new friend, but they didn’t seem to quite understand that it was their own reflection.

8. The Science Behind Tickling

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Photo credit: spring.org.uk

In 1933, psychologist Clarence Leuba wanted to determine if laughter was an inborn reaction to being tickled or if children learned from social cues that laughing was the appropriate reaction. To find out, he decided that his new-born son would only be tickled during specified experimental periods.

To prevent Leuba’s own facial expressions from influencing the child, he wore an expressionless mask during all experimental tickling. Even so, Leuba’s son did reliably laugh when tickled. The experiment seemed to be a (slightly creepy) success.

One day, Leuba’s wife supposedly “ruined” the experiment with some unsanctioned tickling of their son after a bath. To collect more data, the psychologist repeated the tickling experiment on his second child, a daughter. This at least ensured that the siblings could save money in the future by splitting the cost of a therapist.

7. Making Babies See The Impossible


In 1985, Professor Renee Baillargeon of the University of Illinois devised an experiment to find out if infants understood the concept of object permanence, which means that an object continues to exist even if you don’t see it. For example, we know that the Eiffel Tower continues standing in Paris even if we aren’t currently looking at it.

Baillargeon showed infants aged 6–8 months a toy car rolling down a ramp with a portion of the car’s path hidden by a screen. Then a solid block was laid next to the track and covered by the screen. Finally, a solid block was laid across the track (blocking the car’s path) and then was obscured by the screen.

Each time, experimenters released the car onto the ramp again. However, they manipulated the final condition so that the car reappeared (even though it should have been stuck behind the hidden block lying on the track). Baillargeon found that infants consistently looked longer when shown an “impossible” event, which means that they realized something was wrong.

6. The Marshmallow Test For Success

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One of the most famous child psychology experiments is the Marshmallow Test, led by Walter Mischel in the 1960s. In the experiment, an adult presented each child (ages three to five) with a reward, such as a marshmallow, but then offered the kid a deal.

The adult explained that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while left alone in the room, he could have two marshmallows when the researcher returned. If the child couldn’t wait, he could ring a bell. Then the adult would return, and the child could eat the single treat. About 30 percent of the kids were able to wait for the adult (about 15 minutes) and earn the additional treat.

Years later, Mischel collected data on the participants and found that those who ate their treat quickly tended to have lower SAT scores and higher body mass index levels.

5. The Broken Toy Experiment

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What makes a person understand and care that their actions affect others? Grazyna Kochanska and her colleagues at the University of Iowa believe that a child’s ability to feel guilt is an important factor.

To test this hypothesis, an adult researcher showed a toy to a child and explained that it was very important to the adult. Then the child was left alone with the beloved toy, which was designed to fall apart as soon as the child engaged with it. When the adult returned and found the broken toy, researchers recorded the children’s reactions - from avoiding the adult’s eyes to covering their faces with their hands.

In the end, the researchers did let the kids off the hook. The adult returned with an intact copy, saying the toy was fixed. The most guilt-prone kids may have suffered more initially, but Kochanska observed that they had fewer behavioral problems during the following five years.

4. Little Albert’s Fear Of Fluffy Things

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Photo credit: Open Culture

In 1920, John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner taught a nine-month-old boy known as “Little Albert” to be terrified of fuzzy animals.

When they first presented Albert with a white rat, he was unafraid. But when the researchers brought the animal to Albert again, they paired it with a loud, jarring sound by hitting a steel bar with a hammer. The sound startled and scared the baby, launching him into an emotional fit.

After a few repetitions, the sight of the white rat alone caused Albert to cry and withdraw from the animal. By associating the harmless rat with an unpleasant, scary stimulus, Watson and Rayner created a fear that Albert then generalized to rabbits and other fuzzy animals.

3. Training Children To Stutter

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Photo credit: CBS News

In 1938, University of Iowa Professor Wendell Johnson, a psychologist who had stuttered from childhood, and graduate student Mary Tudor created an experiment to prove his theory that stuttering was a learned behavior, not a genetic condition.

Taking advantage of the university’s relationship with a nearby orphanage, they selected 22 children (ages 5 to 15) for their experiment. Ten children already stuttered, and 12 didn’t. The non-stutterers were split into two groups, one of which was told that their speech was fine. The other group was told by researchers that their speech was abnormal and they must fix it. Furthermore, researchers criticized this second group of children when they misspoke.

The experiment failed utterly. Of the six children in this subgroup, only two became less fluent speakers. Sadly, even though these children did not become stutterers, they did become less talkative and more self-conscious.

2. Will Your Baby Crawl Off A Cliff?


Fortunately, crawling off a cliff isn’t a common risk for a baby. But Cornell University researchers Eleanor J. Gibson and Richard D. Walk put together an experiment in 1959, just in case the situation ever came up.

The scientists wanted to find out if babies could visually perceive a drop like a cliff and if they would refuse to cross it. To safely test the infants, Gibson and Walk built what they called a “visual cliff.” They placed a thick piece of glass over a multileveled patterned base. This gave the illusion that if the infant crawled past a certain point, they would fall.

On the side of the structure that appeared to be empty space, the child’s mother called for the baby to join her. But infants as young as six months both perceived and avoided the visual cliff. It is unknown whether the mothers beckoning their children to crawl off a cliff led to trust issues among the subjects.

1. Growing Up Chimp


In 1931, Winthrop Niles Kellogg wanted to take an animal out of the wild and raise it as a human. This is how his infant son, Donald, ended up with a chimpanzee for a sister, if only for nine months.

The experimenter brought home a seven-month-old chimp named Gua when Donald was 10 months old. Both Kellogg and his wife treated Gua just like their human child and measured both of them in a wide variety of aptitudes, including attention span, problem solving, and memory.

In the beginning, Gua kept up with and sometimes even outperformed Donald. But eventually, her natural limitations prevented her from learning language and other skills. While the exact reason the experiment was ended is up to speculation, its detrimental effects on Donald were probably a factor. The child was slow to pick up new words and even imitated the barking sounds Gua made to request food.

Top image: A photograph taken during the so-called Little Albert Experiment. Credit: John B Watson/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]