Scientific American: How the Brain Keeps Tabs on Two Tasks at Once.
”A new study, however, illustrates how the brain can simultaneously keep track of two separate goals, even while it is busy performing a task related to one of the aims, hinting that the mind might be better at multitasking than previously thought.” It is still my theory that attention deficit disorders are brains set up for multitasking, but we don’t have the knowledge of how to train them for optimal performance. I had a close friend who was very ADD; I gave him two tasks to do (one with his hands, one in talking to me) and he would converse clear as a bell, doing both tasks well. Give him one thing to do, such as just conversing, he would be very difficult to follow. It was like his brain needed the overload that mine would balk at. Like I said, just an amateur theory of mine, based on observation of a single subject.
Vimeo: Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8.
Now there’s what you call thrust.
New Scientist: Health worries over antibacterial soap additive.
”One recent study showed that triclosan lowers levels of thyroid hormones in rats, while a 2008 report found that it boosts the effects of oestrogen and testosterone.” Every time they come out with a new study like this, I just turn on the hot water, grab the Ivory, and wash my hands of the whole mess.
NPR: Meteor Turns Night Into Day In Midwest.
“Check out what happened over eastern Iowa last night.” The video’s quite impressive.
Guardian.UK: Airports closed as volcanic ash drifts toward UK.
Thanks to volcanic ash from Iceland’s erupting volcano, airports are shut down in the UK. Here’s why it’s bad to get ash in your jet engines, as if you really need to have it explained. I think anyone can imagine why the stuff would be instant seizure for moving parts.
Science Daily: Blinded by jealousy?
“It has long been known that the emotions involved in social relationships affect mental and physical health, but now it appears that social emotions can literally affect what we see.” I should think it would hold true for men as well. Anger makes us blind.
BBC News: Low solar activity link to cold UK winters.
”They identified a link between fewer sunspots and atmospheric conditions that ‘block’ warm, westerly winds reaching Europe during winter months. But they added that the phenomenon only affected a limited region and would not alter the overall global warming trend.” Yet the sunspot cycles have been, for the most part, much higher than before and during the turn of the last century. I still think sunspot cycles have great influence over the Earth that simply hasn’t been discursively tested for yet. That doesn’t mean I doubt global warming, however. I think we obviously have an impact. I just think there are more input factors than we generally believe.
New Scientist: People pick up pepper virus.
Peppers, with contagion? That’d shut down New Mexico (home of green chile).
Yahoo News: NASA still struggling with stuck valve in space.
“For now, the space station is being cooled properly. But the valve needs to be opened in the coming days — or the entire nitrogen unit replaced in a spacewalk. Otherwise, half of the station’s electronics may have to be turned off.” The Apollo 13 date just passed ... spooky.
Discovery: Handling Money Could Bring Pain Relief.
“In a series of experiments, people who counted money felt less pain when their hands were dipped into scalding water. The soothing power of cash also helped them shrug off the emotional pain of social exclusion.” So, those with chronic pain should be cashiers?!
NY Times: Why Cilantro Tastes Like Soap, for Some.
NY Times: Health Care Workers Should Know Better.
When those who should be ‘true believers’ don’t believe, medicine’s got a problem.
CNN: Archaeologists discover a Roman-era mummy.
Discover Magazine: Wrong way planets screw up our perfectly good theories.
“But for some of these planets just discovered, it’s all backwards! The redshifted side gets blocked first, and then the blueshifted side. That means the planet is going around the star the wrong way. The press release about this discovery has a nice video which makes this a bit more clear.” Yah, you think you’re so smart.
Discover Magazine: Amnesiacs show that emotions linger long after memories fade.
“Erasing a painful memory may not erase the emotional stings that accompanied them. In fact, it might make things worse, which has ramifications for treatments aimed at selectively erasing fearful memories in, say, people with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
NPR: Space Anniversaries Galore: Gagarin, Shuttle And Apollo 13.
I’ll never forget the tension of Apollo 13. I was in fifth grade, Mr Long’s class at John Witherspoon. Harrowing. Nobody thought they’d make it. There was this grey pall of depression over everything as the drama played out. I had the honor to meet Jim Lovell at one of the a/v gigs we produced back in the 90’s (we hired him as an inspirational speaker). He’s everything he seems. Affable, calm, cool, collected ... a great sense of comic timing. If you ever have a chance to hear him, make the time. Ask him about the ‘top hat’ multimillion dollar space toilet.
Gizmodo: A rare look Into the Space Shuttle’s engines.
Miller McCune: Home Library Key to Academic Success.
“After examining statistics from 27 nations, a group of researchers found the presence of book-lined shelves in the home — and the intellectual environment those volumes reflect — gives children an enormous advantage in school.” My room as a child, for years, was in the ‘family library’, a whole wall of shelves behind my head as I slept. Fond memory.
nearfield.org: Designing with film.
Slate: Doubts about the social plague stir in the human superorganism.
“Scientists contend that everything from obesity to happiness to loneliness can be ‘socially contagious’ — meaning that if your friend gets fat, gets happy or grows lonely, you are at increased risk of doing the same.” I seem to recall weblogging being called ‘a plague’.
NY Times: Indian Tribes Go in Search of Their Lost Languages.
“Of the more than 300 indigenous languages spoken in the United States, only 175 remain, according to the Indigenous Language Institute. This nonprofit group estimates that without restoration efforts, no more than 20 will still be spoken in 2050.” Sadly, gibberish is doing quite well on the streets and on the internet ...
Scientific American: Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: “Don’t stop believin
So, it wasn’t me ... it was my neurocognitive system just doing what it does best.
Guardian.UK Hugo awards 2010: the shortlist.
“As usual, this lack of coverage says more about the mainstream press than the books in question. Why Jonathan Safran Foer’s decision to eat no meat or Ian McEwan’s discovery that global warming may not be to the universal benefit of mankind should merit so many more column inches than these intriguing books is a question I can’t answer ...” Sci Fi ain’t the draw it was, seemingly. I remember champing at the bit for the next Niven, Asimov or Clarke.
BBC News: Five-a-day has little impact on cancer, study finds.
“The international team of researchers estimates only around 2.5% of cancers could be averted by increasing intake. But experts stress eating fruit and vegetables is still key to good health.” Obesity is more the cancer concern now.
NY Times: Scientists Discover Heavy New Element.
“For the moment, the discovery will be known as ununseptium, a very unwhimsical, latinate placeholder that refers to the element’s atomic number, 117.” And there may be more to find. Cool!