Every day Document has an agenda: news from the under read corners of the world, and the web, that might not end up crossing your path. Discoveries, curiosities, essential cultural dispatches—with this information, go forth.



The World

Polar regions are experiencing spring before anywhere else.

In two weeks, the sun will cross the celestial equator south to north, marking the first day of spring. But astrological traditions aside, the metrological start of spring was actually on the first of the month. But neither is the same as it feeling like spring, and it turns out some places in the world are experiencing it far sooner than others. A paper published in Nature, the science journal, has revealed that thanks to warming weathers, the polar regions in both north and south, have been experiencing spring earlier and earlier—another sign that climate change is having an irreversible impact on our earth.

“Earlier onset of spring events such as green-up and flowering in plants, migratory arrival in birds, calling and spawning in amphibians, and emergence in insects have been reported in the primary literature and several major syntheses of ecological responses to observed warming over the past two decades.”


The Mind

Holding hands can ease a partner’s pain.

Holding a lover’s hand when they’re in pain isn’t just the culturally done thing—it’s a sign of comforting and caring for someone. But now scientists have discovered it can actually reduce their level of discomfort. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Haifa discovered that when one partner is in pain and the other reaches out to hold their hand, not only do their breathing and heart rate synchronize, but their brain wave patterns couple-up too. The more the brain’s sync, the less the pain is felt.

“We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder. “This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch.”


The Future

Entering the era of the $1 billion painting.

The chief executive of the art database Artprice, Thierry Ehrmann’s premonition is that we’re about to witness a spending spree by some of the world’s top museums. In a report called Annual Report on the Global Art Market, Thierry predicts that for the first time in history, museums will soon dictate the art market, as opposed to the “whim” of multi-billionaires, as institutions battle to attract gallery goers. The Times has profiled the art world eccentric and why he thinks we’re on the brink of a significant change in the art market.

“Mr Ehrmann, an eccentric internet millionaire who has turned his house near Lyons into a ‘shrine to chaos’ complete with a swimming pool of fake blood, claims that ‘the real motor of the art market’s growth is unquestionably the museum industry.’”



Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian kitchenware range launches.

In 2016, the Italian luxury fashion brand unveiled a new partnership with Smeg, by launching an exclusive range of 100 fridges. Snapped up by the food and fashion elites, now Dolce & Gabbana and the luxury white goods maker have teamed up again for a smaller kitchen appliances—toasters, citrus juicers, coffee machines, kettles, blenders, stand mixers, and slow juicer. Called ‘Sicily is my love’, the range is decorated with reflective interpretations of Sicilian folklore.

“A truly Made in Italy project where experts from the worlds of high fashion and design meet and merge to create unique domestic appliances that uncover an Italian story. Food, the typical products of Southern Italy and their recipes of traditional dishes are the pulling force to which heart and soul will always return, and notwithstanding the two companies’ affiliation to different creative sectors, they are bound by strong values of Made in Italy brand that results in passion, and profound creativity.”



Image manipulation is the next big threat to AI.

As more and more things become reliant on image recognition software, scientists are funneling their efforts into understanding how these perceptions happen and if they could ever outsmart a human brain—and it turns out they can. Adversarial examples are when hackers purposefully make machine learning models believe they’re seeing one thing, when in fact they’re actually seeing something else. A distorted image, printed on a simple piece of paper can be shown to a machine and cause them to read it as another object. In a world where driverless cars and security software is becoming heavily reliant on image recognition, this new form of image manipulation could be the next big threat to automation.

“When we think about the study of AI safety, we usually think about some of the most difficult problems in that field—how can we ensure that sophisticated reinforcement learning agents that are significantly more intelligent than human beings behave in ways that their designers intended? Adversarial examples show us that even simple modern algorithms, for both supervised and reinforcement learning, can already behave in surprising ways that we do not intend.”



The words we use to describe suicide have an impact on our view of it.

The Germans are notoriously diverse when it comes to having several words for the one thing, but now researchers at the Communication Science and Media Research at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have discovered that what word we used to describe the act of suicide has an impact on the way we frame the actual concept. In German, three terms are used to denote suicide: Suizid, Selbstmord (‘self-murder’) and Freitod (‘free death’). The three words were tested on subjects through a series of news reports and revealed that what word we use totally frames the way we perceive the act. In addition, the results provided the first indications that the three terms actually trigger different associations in readers’ minds. The study was carried out by Dr. Florian Arendt, who said:

“Our study underlines the fact that the media could play a major role in the prevention of suicides. Journalists should take care to choose the least ‘loaded’ term. However, careful choice of words is “only one of the measures which empirical research has shown can reduce the incidence of suicide.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines for news coverage of suicides. In the English language, for example, the WHO-recommendation is not to refer to suicide as “successful” or as a ““failed attempt” because these terms may elicit problematic associative meanings, implying that death is a desirable outcome. Instead, it is recommended to write “died by suicide.”