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Anecdotes from the Archive

Want to Become a Sharp Dresser? Sport a Knife in Your Collar

anti-garrote collar view 1

No matter how far human society progresses, there will always be criminal acts of violence. While many of the crimes have stayed the same, methods of self-defense looked a little different one hundred and fifty-four years ago.      The 1857 issue of Scientific American featured an invention aimed at preventing strangulation, the Anti-Garrote Collar. [...]

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Guest Blog

Facing Up to Online Murder and Other Cyber Crimes

Crime scence, do not cross. (Credit: Yumi Kimura/Flickr)

A recent report from Europol’s European Cybercrime Center includes a forecast that the world’s first “online murder” will likely occur before the end of 2014. Obviously this is a frightening concept and one that a number of news outlets quickly seized upon with ominous headlines. However, there’s a far more dangerous story that underlies this [...]

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Squiggly Lines Secure Smartphones

Researchers studied the practicality of using free-form gestures for access authentication on smart phones and tablets. Image courtesy of Michael Sherman, Gradeigh Clark, Yulong Yang, Shridatt Sugrim, Arttu Modig, Janne Lindqvist, Antti Oulasvirta, and Teemu Roos; Rutgers University, Max-Planck Institute for Informatics and University of Helsinki.

To protect your financial and personal data, most mobiles come with PIN-based security, biometrics or number grids that require you to retrace a particular pattern to access your device. But is that good enough in crowded places full of spying eyes? Not necessarily, according to a team of researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey, [...]

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Colorado ‘Batman’ Shootings Eerily Similar to Others Involving a Lack of Cognitive Control

Shortly after moviegoers had settled in to watch a midnight premier of The Dark Night Rises on Friday morning, a heavily armed gunman entered the Aurora, Colo., theater through an emergency exit and opened fire. In just a few minutes the assailant shot more than 60 children and adults—killing at least a dozen—before police arrested [...]

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Sleep Violence: A Real Danger, Little Understood

Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, painting by Henry Fuseli

Last month, psychiatrists at Stanford University announced that sleepwalking is on the rise. More than 8.4 million adult Americans—3.6 percent of the population over 18—are prone to sleepwalking. That’s up from a 2 percent prevalence the same authors found a decade ago. And as the latest issue of Scientific American Mind notes, a subset of [...]

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Forensic Anthropology Gives Voice to Unidentified Remains

RALEIGH, N.C.—Bone-hunters and anthropologists typically guard their fossils as priceless specimens. I’ve learned to ask: “Is that real or a cast?” when shown a specimen. Often it’s a replica. So, I was as thrilled as a 12-year-old today when I saw two real, contemporary human skeletons and several human skulls during a tour here of [...]

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Plugged In

Further Science Adventures from North Carolina

In North Carolina, as you well know, we like our science with a side of crazy. The old Flying Burrito Brothers tune says, “The scientists say it’ll all wash away, but we don’t believe them anymore,” and we love our country music here, so we made quite a splash with the legislative nuh-unhs about sea [...]

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