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11 holiday gift ideas for the person impossible to shop for
From coffee makers and headphones to a calming weighted blanket, something here should appeal to just about anyone on your list.
There's always someone on your holiday shopping list who presents a major challenge. Oh, they aren't trying to make your life difficult. But whether it's a cousin or a sibling or even your dear old Mom, you just have a tough time finding them the right gift.
We get it. That's why we pulled together 11 very fun, yet very different gift ideas that should help you crack the code for those most head-scratching giftees. From coffee makers to headphones to even a new warm blanket, something here should appeal to just about anyone on your list. And as a bonus, if you enter the code MERRYSAVE15 at checkout, you can lop another 15 percent off your total.
Here’s something for the compulsive note-taker on your list. Just jot handwritten notes with the included Pilot FriXion pen into your Rocketbook and you can instantly upload them to the cloud using your smartphone. And when you fill up the notebook? Just pop it in the microwave to erase your notebook and start again.
From clothes and hairbrushes to glasses and even fruits and vegetables, the Sonic Soak can clean just about anything. Drop the Sonic Soak and your items in a sink or bowl of water and the Sonic Soak's ultrasonic vibrations remove dirt, oils and other contaminants from your laundry, food, jewelry, personal care items and more. It's a super-cool (and efficient) way to clean -- and it's over half off.
This state-of-the-coffee-art maker from Norway looks as good on the counter as it brews...and it brews pretty darn well! The award-winning machine offers a sleek, elegant look that puts your brewing process on full display, while delivering the perfect cup of joe every time. At under $75, this is a gift that will win the attention and love of any coffee fanatic.
AquaSonic Black Series Toothbrush & Travel Case With 8 Dupont Brush Heads - $33.99 after coupon; originally $139.99
Take your personal hygiene up a notch with a premium quality sonic toothbrush that removes more than 10 times the plague a traditional brush can reach. Including various whitening and cleaning modes, you'll see tooth stains dissolve and gum health improve. Plus, you get eight extra brush heads, all at over $100 off the regular price.
PaMu Slide Bluetooth 5.0 In-Ear Headphones with Wireless Charger - $84.99 (After coupon; originally $199)
For those constantly struggling to keep wireless earbuds in place, these earphones are ergonomically designed to remain firmly in your ear canal at all times, even when you're jogging, exercising or traveling. These buds are powered by a Qualcomm chip with Bluetooth 5.0 tech, feature up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge and produce robust sound with extra bass, and they're currently more than half off.
Screen your own films and television shows anywhere you are. The CIRQ connects wirelessly to your phone via WiFi, then projects full HD quality video on a surface up to 240 inches across. It's even got its own built-in speakers for the full movie theater experience. It's also close to $350 off with this holiday discount.
The Calm Embrace is perfect for anyone experiencing anxiety and stress, offering deep pressure stimulation that help release brain chemicals to provide soothing relief while you sleep. At over 50 percent off, this blanket is its own self-care routine that can help anyone feel calming comfort, anytime, anywhere.
Save $20 on perhaps the most advanced method around for learning to play guitar like a rock star. The high tech, lightweight, and portable Jamstik 7 combined with its powerful app delivers a training process that takes all the guesswork out of learning to play. It's only 18 inches, but it's just like playing the real thing.
With the Mighty Vibe, you can rock out to all your favorite Spotify playlists and podcasts without using your smartphone, a screen or even a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. The Mighty Vibe syncs and saves your playlists to the unit, so you can take your music anywhere and never worry about losing your signal.
When this Singer machine says heavy duty, it means heavy duty. Denim, canvas, almost any manner of tough durable fabric won't slow down this powerful sewer's 1,110 stitches per minute top speed. At nearly $200 off when bought refurbished, this is a machine capable of handling nearly any sewing project with all the added features you'd expect from a true Singer sewing machine.
This Bluetooth connected controller syncs to almost any gaming device for a true retro gaming experience. The SN30 Gamepad sports 18 hours of game life and works with everything from Windows, Android and macOS to even Steam and the Nintendo Switch. And with the added discount, it's practically priced like a stocking stuffer.
Prices are subject to change.
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Viewing art that doesn't look like anything makes your brain take extra steps to try and get it.
- A new study finds that viewing modern art causes real cognitive changes in the viewer.
- Abstract art causes to viewer to place more psychological distance between themselves and the art than with more typical works.
- Exactly how this works is not yet known
Abstract art alters your cognitive state? Kandinsky would be proud to hear it.<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="SlxuWYpH" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6729aae7d0a5a84ff0da7d8a99104a1"> <div id="botr_SlxuWYpH_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/SlxuWYpH-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/SlxuWYpH-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/SlxuWYpH-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-94-007-0753-5_2306#:~:text=Psychological%20distance%20is%20a%20cognitive,persons%2C%20events%2C%20or%20times." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Psychological distance</a> is the mental distance you place between yourself and other people, things, times, and events. We tend to view abstract notions as very distant and concrete thoughts as very close. Likewise, events that are occurring tomorrow are often more "real" to us than things happening next <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construal_level_theory" target="_blank">year</a>.</p><p>As an example of how we all use this, imagine that you've made plans to spend the day go-karting with your friends. If it is a month away, you might focus on the general details like how much fun you'll have. If it is tomorrow, your focus might be on small details like the logistics of getting there. The first event is psychologically and temporally distant, so we tend to view it abstractly; the second case is the opposite.</p><p>For this <a href="https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/abstract-art-mindset-study" target="_blank">experiment</a>, the researchers gathered 840 test subjects to test how the viewing of abstract art related to how psychologically closely or distantly they viewed it. </p><p>The test subjects were asked to view artworks defined as purely abstract, having a clearly defined object, or partly abstract with a definable object. They were then asked to imagine that they were going to decide where to place the painting on display. They could either put it in a gallery "around the corner" or "in another state." The date of the showing could either be "tomorrow" or "in a year."</p><p>The subjects were substantially more likely to choose to place the abstract works in a distant gallery in the future than to do the same with the more grounded works. This tendency to associate abstract art with faraway places or times, even after controlling for how much people liked the artwork in question, indicates that we tend to place psychological distance between ourselves and abstract art. </p><p>Study Co-Author Daphna Shohamy generalized these findings for <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/evocations-of-abstract-art/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Cosmos</a>:</p><p>"This means that art has an effect on our general cognitive state that goes beyond how much we enjoy it, to change the way we perceive events and make decisions."</p><p>This study, published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/07/29/2001772117" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, points in the same direction as previous investigations into how we interact with abstract art. One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21734876/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">2011 study</a> tracked the eye movements of people viewing representational art and those considering the work of Jackson Pollack and found that people tend to view all of an abstract work as they scour it for meaning as opposed to focusing on small details in a more representational painting. </p><p>Exactly how abstract art causes our brain to take a step back when considering it is a subject for further research.</p><p>The notion that a work of art must evoke a particular reaction from the viewer is the subject of some debate, though it is unlikely that many of the people advocating for that idea had the findings of this study in mind. While this study won't settle any debates in aesthetics or make a modern art lover out of everybody, it might lead to new understandings of how art affects the viewer and serve as a reminder of how much artwork and beauty influence the mind. </p>
A clever new study definitively measures how long it takes for quantum particles to pass through a barrier.
- Quantum particles can tunnel through seemingly impassable barriers, popping up on the other side.
- Quantum tunneling is not a new discovery, but there's a lot that's unknown about it.
- By super-cooling rubidium particles, researchers use their spinning as a magnetic timer.
When it comes to weird behavior, there's nothing quite like the quantum world. On top of that world-class head scratcher entanglement, there's also quantum tunneling — the mysterious process in which particles somehow find their way through what should be impenetrable barriers.
Exactly why or even how quantum tunneling happens is unknown: Do particles just pop over to the other side instantaneously in the same way entangled particles interact? Or do they progressively tunnel through? Previous research has been conflicting.
That quantum tunneling occurs has not been a matter of debate since it was discovered in the 1920s. When IBM famously wrote their name on a nickel substrate using 35 xenon atoms, they used a scanning tunneling microscope to see what they were doing. And tunnel diodes are fast-switching semiconductors that derive their negative resistance from quantum tunneling.
Nonetheless, "Quantum tunneling is one of the most puzzling of quantum phenomena," says Aephraim Steinberg of the Quantum Information Science Program at Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto to Live Science. Speaking with Scientific American he explains, "It's as though the particle dug a tunnel under the hill and appeared on the other."
Steinberg is a co-author of a study just published in the journal Nature that presents a series of clever experiments that allowed researchers to measure the amount of time it takes tunneling particles to find their way through a barrier. "And it is fantastic that we're now able to actually study it in this way."
Frozen rubidium atoms
Image source: Viktoriia Debopre/Shutterstock/Big Think
One of the difficulties in ascertaining the time it takes for tunneling to occur is knowing precisely when it's begun and when it's finished. The authors of the new study solved this by devising a system based on particles' precession.
Subatomic particles all have magnetic qualities, and they spin, or "precess," like a top when they encounter an external magnetic field. With this in mind, the authors of the study decided to construct a barrier with a magnetic field, causing any particles passing through it to precess as they did so. They wouldn't precess before entering the field or after, so by observing and timing the duration of the particles' precession, the researchers could definitively identify the length of time it took them to tunnel through the barrier.
To construct their barrier, the scientists cooled about 8,000 rubidium atoms to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. In this state, they form a Bose-Einstein condensate, AKA the fifth-known form of matter. When in this state, atoms slow down and can be clumped together rather than flying around independently at high speeds. (We've written before about a Bose-Einstein experiment in space.)
Using a laser, the researchers pusehd about 2,000 rubidium atoms together in a barrier about 1.3 micrometers thick, endowing it with a pseudo-magnetic field. Compared to a single rubidium atom, this is a very thick wall, comparable to a half a mile deep if you yourself were a foot thick.
With the wall prepared, a second laser nudged individual rubidium atoms toward it. Most of the atoms simply bounced off the barrier, but about 3% of them went right through as hoped. Precise measurement of their precession produced the result: It took them 0.61 milliseconds to get through.
Reactions to the study
Scientists not involved in the research find its results compelling.
"This is a beautiful experiment," according to Igor Litvinyuk of Griffith University in Australia. "Just to do it is a heroic effort." Drew Alton of Augustana University, in South Dakota tells Live Science, "The experiment is a breathtaking technical achievement."
What makes the researchers' results so exceptional is their unambiguity. Says Chad Orzel at Union College in New York, "Their experiment is ingeniously constructed to make it difficult to interpret as anything other than what they say." He calls the research, "one of the best examples you'll see of a thought experiment made real." Litvinyuk agrees: "I see no holes in this."
As for the researchers themselves, enhancements to their experimental apparatus are underway to help them learn more. "We're working on a new measurement where we make the barrier thicker," Steinberg said. In addition, there's also the interesting question of whether or not that 0.61-millisecond trip occurs at a steady rate: "It will be very interesting to see if the atoms' speed is constant or not."
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