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Unstrange Phenomena

31 March 2009

Video: Do you think like a psychopath??

Usually I'm pretty adept at test-taking. Getting the wrong answer on this test was a good thing! Whew! The correct answer would never have occured to me - ever...

Definitely the down side of studying how the brain works!

Watch the video about testing for if a person thinks like a psychopath. It's basically a story line, a question and then wait for the answer. Short video, BIG message!

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30 March 2009

Astronomy: Eclipse gallery at SpaceWeather.com

From Indonesia

From spaceweather.com comes a partial eclipse in India of combined photos to create this dizzying mind bender!

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29 March 2009


THANK YOU to everyone who is subscribing via feed, email and reading this blog! As I scour the web for reputable resources to bring you accurate news and wonders, awesome photos, just sit back and enjoy the read.

I've been spending a lot of time researching interesting blogs for the blog roll list and will be reviewing them in further detail along the way beyond just listing them.

THANK YOU for spending time at my place!

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28 March 2009

Astronomy: Watch NASA's launch in streaming video

NASA image

From Denny: Tom's Astronomy Blog is dedicated only to astronomy and is well ranked; be sure to check it out!

From: Tom's Astronomy Blog

STS-119 Landing (Discovery)

Current Status (1st opportunity): Go

De-orbit Burn: 12:33 EDT

Landing Time: Saturday (28 Mar 09), 13:39 EDT

Primary Landing Site: KSC

Second Attempt if necessary: 15:14 EDT @ KSC


Here are a couple of links to streaming video from NASA-TV for those who either don’t get it on satellite/cable or can’t otherwise watch.

They will have lauch video too. A link is provided on the right of this page for the future.

Note: Likely best viewed with broadband.


Real Media

Windows Media Player

NASA TV from United Space Alliance using Real Media.

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27 March 2009

Astronomy: New Effective Technique to Better Measure Asteroids

Tired of hearing about all those asteroid near-misses almost hitting our beloved planet Earth? Everyone on the planet is affected by scientists' new development!

photo of our main asteroid belt called Barbara from ESO.org

From Denny:

Apologies for getting this post out late this morning. Yesterday Louisiana had flooding rain and then lightning all afternoon and night. The internet was so slow yesterday was only able to pre-load a few blogs. Oh, that I could have the fun of blogging in real time but such is life on the Gulf Coast in the hurricane zone! Usually, I'm successful enough to at least get one post per blog scheduled a day...

On to astronomy news that relates to every person on the planet:

Lately, we are often hearing on the global news that an asteroid just barely missed colliding into planet Earth. Now for the good news! A team of scientists from France and Italy figured out how to increase the number of asteroids measured by a factor of several hundred. For some time traditional measuring techniques have prevented us from measuring asteroids too small or too far away to predict what might affect us.

The new technique is so powerful it has been likened to measuring an asteroid the size of a tennis ball from 1,000 kilometers away. The new technique is called interferometry.

Until now, the method of direct imaging, with adaptive optics, only allowed for measuring the 100 largest asteroids of the main belt called Barbara. With the other technique called radar measurements it is limited to those near-misses you keep hearing about: “asteroid near-miss to planet Earth” and scaring the hell out of everyone!

This new and powerful interferometric technique now combines the light from two or more telescopes. They have since applied this new technique to the main asteroid belt to discover it has unusual properties and shape never before seen.

For the infinitesimal astronomy and gadget details only science and astronomy buffs salivate over please click on the title link.

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26 March 2009

Brain: Relationship of Thinning of Brain's Cortex Linked to Depression

"Images of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, as viewed from the side. The colors represent the differences in cortical thickness between the high-risk group, which has a family history of depression, and the low-risk group, which has no known risk. Blue and purple represent the thinning of the cortex, with purple regions having the greatest thinning. Green areas show no significant differences between the two groups."

From Denny: If you missed it yesterday, like I did because of scheduled Blogger outages and general slow down of the internet in the Hurricane Katrina zone, here's a disturbing study. Fortunately, the study was only done on 131 people, hardly a large sampling of the population.

I'm always wary of studies these days as often they are done on too small a group for too short a time and the biggest pet peeve: often paid for by drug companies with the most to gain if researchers give them the results they desire.

It would appear the scientists have drawn no hard conclusions yet - just found some startling data. They have a long way to go before they can apply this new data across the board in the general population that determines "x" number of people will be predicted to suffer from depression. It is an interesting finding though, one worthy of a lot more serious study if only to help those already suffering from depression.

Here are a few excerpts. For the full article at the New York Times click on the title link.

"Scientists who have been following families with a history of depression have found structural differences in family members’ brains — specifically, a significant thinning of the right cortex, the brain’s outermost surface. The thinning may be a trait or a marker of vulnerability to depression, the researchers suggested.

The scientists’ brain imaging study found the thinning in descendants of depressed parents and grandparents, whether or not the individuals themselves had ever suffered a depressive episode or an anxiety disorder, researchers said...

The cerebral cortex is the region of the brain centrally involved in reasoning, planning and mood, and thinning of the cortex may affect an individual’s ability to pay attention to and interpret social and emotional cues, scientists suggested.

'If you have thinning in this portion of the brain, it interferes with the processing of emotional stimuli,' Dr. Peterson said. 'We think that’s what makes them vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression — it essentially isolates them in an emotional world.'

While thinning in the right hemisphere was not associated with actual depression, additional thinning in the same region of the left hemisphere was, and 'seems to tip you over from having a vulnerability to depression to actually developing symptoms,' Dr. Peterson said."

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25 March 2009

Ecology: Our Planets Disappearing Drinking Water

Our Planets Disappearing Drinking Water:

"Scarce Drinking Water

Do you take your drinking water for granted? Water companies deliver it daily. It's inexpensive and readily available - but for how long?"

I found some awesome photos to place in this ecology article! Lots of eye candy paired with the science information. :)

By Denny Lyon

Photo by Yogi @ flickr, beautiful Canada

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24 March 2009

Physics: Spooky Physics

Photo by mikeleary83 @ flickr

Spooky Physics: "Entangled particle research has largely been ignored and left unexplored by science because it shows a variance in the very theories of physics that we depend on in many fields of study. Einstein coined the term “spooky physics” in regard to entanglement because it defied his theories and though he knew it to exist he did not choose to understand it or to focus on that aspect of physics.

Some scientist believe entangled particles to be the basis of our memories or conscious mind. Some romantics believe it to be basis for 'soul mates.' What ever the relationship, it is a fascinating theory that will start to reveal itself more and more as we shift towards 'new age' thinking; a connectedness of the mind and mindful thinking."

By focus on living @ HubPages

From Denny: Fascinating subject! I'm always bemused at how scientists keep trying to redefine the spiritual as something else. It is engaging to watch the vocabulary dance as they rename and deconstruct a huge subject with infinite layers. So now the connectedness of spirituality is called "entangled particle physics."

This new vocabulary does suggest another article I read about how humanity is moving toward right brain dominance and away from left brain control. The right brain handles linking of many concepts and can synthesize disparate elements into an innovative new situation or object like art.

Maybe scientists are beginning to use their right brain thinking more to help understand many layered concepts that defy the plodding attitude of the left brain. It seems the science community is in a transition of sorts. Where it leads is still a mystery. I like a good mystery! The journey is the most fun part of all.

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23 March 2009

Brain: 20 Things You Didn't Know About... Genius

"The Nobel Prizes were announced. How did the winners get so darn smart?

1 The latest winners of the Nobel Prize—the big kahuna of genius awards—will be announced this month. Were you nominated? To find out, you’ll have to either win or wait 50 years, which is how long the Nobel committee keeps secret the list of also-rans.

2 Nyah, nyah. William Shockley, who won the 1956 Nobel in physics for inventing the transistor, was excluded as a child from a long-term study of genius because his I.Q. score wasn’t high enough.

3 History repeated itself in 1968 when Luis Alvarez won a Nobel for his work on elementary particles. He had been excluded from the same research program as Shockley. Who set up that study, anyway?

4 The genius study was created in 1928 by Louis Terman at Stanford University, who pioneered the use of I.Q. tests to identify geniuses, defined by him as those with an I.Q. greater than 140.

5 None of the children (known as “Termites”) in the study has won a Nobel.

6 Still smart, though: Termite Jess Oppenheimer invented the TelePrompTer, and Norris Bradbury headed the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

7 Many 19th- and 20th-century creative geniuses acquired a reputation for promiscuity. Examples include Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein, and Bertrand Russell.

8 One theory suggests that male geniuses are unusually endowed with enthusiasm for risk taking, which is notoriously testosterone-linked.

9 In 1981 Shockley and eugen­icist Robert Klark Graham cofounded the Repository for Germinal Choice in Southern California, a sperm bank dedicated to selling the seed of Nobel Prize winners and other men with a high I.Q.

10 Graham died in 1997. The Repository for Germinal Choice closed in 1999.

11 Being a genius is no guarantee of financial security. A recent study at the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research showed that baby boomers with average and low I.Q.s were just as good at saving money as those with high I.Q.s.

12 Albert Einstein is said to have lost most of his Nobel money in bad investments. Anyone can do that.

13 Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, identified what is now called Asperger’s syn­drome: a form of autism marked by intense absorption in a very narrow range of special interests.

14 Asperger believed that there is a link between mathematical and scientific genius and his syndrome, claiming that “for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential.”

15 Sometimes stereotypes are accurate. Norbert Weiner, who invented the field of cybernetics, was the prototype of the absent-minded genius.

16 Once, Weiner forgot he’d driven to a conference, took the bus home, and then reported his car stolen when he didn’t see it in his driveway.

17 In the 1990s Bell Labs found that its most valued and productive electrical engineers were not those endowed with genius but those who excelled in rapport, empathy, cooperation, persuasion, and the ability to build consensus.

18 Too much partying? In 2007 researchers at Kyoto University pitted chimpanzees against college students in three memory-based intelligence tests. The highest- scoring chimp beat all the students in the first test, tied with a few in the second test, and reigned again in the third.

19 Try pitting him against the chimp. Alex, a gray parrot who died last September at age 31, has been widely billed as the smartest bird ever. Alex could identify 50 objects, seven colors and shapes, and quantities of up to six.

20 You, too, can be a genius (maybe). Scientists at the Uni­versity of Sydney and Mac­quarie University in Austra­lia say intelligence can be boosted, at least in the short term, by a daily dose of 5 mg of creatine, a compound found in muscle tissue."

By Rebecca Coffey @ DiscoverMagazine.com

From Denny: To learn more - as much of the article has links for further info - click on the title link.

22 March 2009

Brain: Sensation versus Perception - Visual Illusions

Sensation versus Perception - Visual Illusions -

"We are not aware of objects themselves but of neural signals about them that are transmitted through our nerves. Perception is a dynamic cognitive process of interpreting information.

It is also learned and is an interpretative process which is subject to influence of other psycho-physiological processes such as emotion, motivation and culture."

By rumelphones @ HubPages

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21 March 2009

Brain: In One Ear and Out the Other

From Denny: It turns out our brain's short-term memory can usually only handle between 5 to 9 data chunks at a time before clearing the cache. It doesn't help any that our brains love pattern and predictable patterns at that. We like to organize new information and our perception into patterns. That's why music is so easy to remember.

Take into account that a really good joke relies upon subverting the predictable pattern recognition we expect. Jokes love shouting the unexpected to our brains, like a magician utilizing misdirection, starting on one path and then suddenly jerking us on to another path.

"Robert Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, 'What makes a joke successful are the same properties that can make it difficult to remember.'"

We can remember the cliched jokes like the mother-in-law ones. Why? They have predictable patterns!

An additional reason we can't easily recall that stellar joke:

"Daniel L. Schacter, a professor of psychology at Harvard, there is a big difference between verbatim recall of all the details of an event and gist recall of its general meaning. Jokes tend to live or die because of the details of nuance, precision and timing."


"By all accounts, my grandfather Nathan had the comic ambitions of a Jack Benny but the comic gifts of a John Kerry. Undeterred, he always kept a few blank index cards in his pocket, so that if he happened to hear a good joke, he’d have someplace to write it down.

Like many people, I can never remember a joke. I hear or read something hilarious, I laugh loudly enough to embarrass everybody else in the library, and then I instantly forget everything about it — everything except the fact, always popular around the dinner table, that 'I heard a great joke today, but now I can’t remember what it was.'

For researchers who study memory, the ease with which people forget jokes is one of those quirks, those little skids on the neuronal banana peel, that end up revealing a surprising amount about the underlying architecture of memory.

And there are plenty of other similarly illuminating examples of memory’s whimsy and bad taste — like why you may forget your spouse’s birthday but will go to your deathbed remembering every word of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song. And why you must chop a string of data like a phone number into manageable and predictable chunks to remember it and will fall to pieces if you are in Britain and hear a number read out as “double-four, double-three.” And why your efforts to fill in a sudden memory lapse by asking your companions, “Hey, what was the name of that actor who starred in the movie we saw on Friday?” may well fail, because (what useless friends!) now they’ve all forgotten, too.

Welcome to the human brain, your three-pound throne of wisdom with the whoopee cushion on the seat."

By Natalie Angier @ New York Times

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20 March 2009

Brain: Natasha Richardson's Injury: Could a Helmet Have Helped?

"There is, for the moment, much more speculation than information surrounding actress Natasha Richardson's severe, and perhaps fatal, ski injury. Part of the confusion is the very nature of her accident — an improbable injury, little more than a head bump on a bunny slope, that has left an otherwise healthy 45-year-old woman fighting for her life. It has also left onlookers wondering not just what happened to Richardson, but whether a helmet could have prevented it.

The details of Richardson's accident are sketchy, but what is known sounds benign — at first. She was taking a lesson on a beginner slope at the Mont Tremblant ski resort north of Montreal, with an instructor but without a helmet. She fell at the end of the lesson and struck her head, but was alert and conversational afterward and did not complain of any ill effects. An hour later, in her hotel room, she developed a severe headache. Within hours, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in critical condition.

Richardson's family and doctors have released no information regarding her condition. But whatever her prognosis, it appears that Richardson was the victim of an unfortunate collision of biology and physics — a collision that is becoming scarily common in the worlds of athletics and organized sports.

The human body is a sturdy one, but only up to a point, able to withstand collisions of about 15 m.p.h., which is about as fast as an average person can run. The skull is designed to be especially rugged — the permanent home and helmet for the brain — but even it can't take a much more serious hit. The problem is that over the centuries, we've developed all manner of ways to exceed a mere 15 m.p.h. creep."

By Jeffrey Kluger @ Time.com

From Denny: A 15 mph collision is all our skulls can withstand??? No wonder car accidents are so debilitating!

Sadly, Natasha passed away yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, especially her young children, and friends who will miss her.

To read the rest of the article (that was written a couple of days ago) click on the title link.

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19 March 2009

Brain: Brain Scanners Know Where You've Been

"The brain's center of memory and navigation, once considered too disorganized to decode, may soon be unlocked. Using a brain scanner, researchers were able to determine the location of people standing in a virtual room from the activity in their brains.

"We could read their spatial memories, so to speak," said study co-author Eleanor Maguire, a University College, London, cognitive neuroscientist. "There must be a structure to how this is coded in the neurons. Otherwise we couldn't have predicted this."

Maguire's team focused on the hippocampus, a region of the forebrain responsible for processing spatial relationships and short-term memories. As people move, hippocampal activation helps them know where they are. In Alzheimer's patients, disorientation and memory loss go hand in hand...

Maguire's study, published Thursday in Current Biology, challenges that notion. And though it's far too soon to pull memories directly from a brain, the findings suggest future avenues of research on Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

"How these millions of hippocampal neurons work is a fundamental question in neuroscience," said Maguire. "We still don't know how the hippocampal neural code is organized to support memory and activation."

The researchers used an fMRI machine to measure hippocampal blood flow in four subjects who navigated a room in virtual reality. They focused on groups of neurons identified by Maguire in an earlier study of London taxi drivers, whose hippocampi were hyperdeveloped by years of mental navigation through the city's mazelike streets.

After analyzing activation patterns and correlating them with a record of test subjects' movements, Maguire's team found that patterns could actually be used to predict location."

By Brandon Keim

From Denny: Pretty wild stuff! While they are still a long way from fully understanding the complete process of laying down memory or even how memory deteriorates, this small study is an intriguing first step.

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18 March 2009

Astronomy: A New Push to Turn Off the Lights in 2009

"Astronomers are fed up. One fifth of the world's population cannot see the Milky Way because street lamps and building lights are too bright. So scientists are mounting a new campaign, called Dark Skies Awareness, aiming to reduce light pollution as part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

"Reducing the number of lights on at night could help conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health," astronomer Malcolm Smith of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile wrote in a commentary Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Smith points out that billions of dollars of light is needlessly shined into the sky each year. Beyond the waste of money and energy, this light is blocking people's view of the heavens.

"Without a direct view of the stars, mankind is cut off from most of the universe, deprived of any direct sense of its huge scale and our tiny place within it," Smith wrote.

Plus, lights confuse and harm wildlife. For example, millions of birds in North America die every year because their migration patterns are disrupted by errant light. And baby sea turtles hatched in the sand often mistakenly head toward cities, instead of the sea, because they are lured by artificial lights.

Preliminary research even suggests that light at night is harmful to human health, potentially reducing the normal production of melatonin in our bodies, which suppresses cell division in cancerous tissue."

By Clara Moskowitz

From Denny: Like a lot of people I'm all for conserving energy and not wasting it needlessly. When we vacationed in Greece a few years back we were astonished at how many stars we could see in the sky with the naked eye. Talk about feel cheated when we got back home to America and suburbia! I've often wondered if turning out the city lights could boost our ability to see the skies in more detail.

What I didn't know is how excessive light during the night hours may be the reason for the increase in cancer this generation. That's a sobering thought! Even if it is only part of the problem it is significant to consider changing.

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17 March 2009

MRI Lie Detection to Get First Day in Court

"Defense attorneys are for the first time submitting a next-generation lie-detection test as evidence in court.

In an upcoming juvenile-sex-abuse case in San Diego, the defense is hoping to get an MRI scan, which shows activity levels based on oxygen levels in the brain, admitted to prove the abuse didn't happen.

The technology is used widely in brain research, but hasn't been fully tested as a lie-detection method. To be admitted into court, any technique has to be "generally accepted" within the scientific community...

Laboratory studies using fMRI, which measures blood-oxygen levels in the brain, have suggested that when someone lies, the brain sends more blood to the ventrolateral area of the prefrontal cortex.

In a very small number of studies, researchers have identified lying in study subjects with accuracy ranging from 76 percent to over 90 percent (.pdf). But some scientists and lawyers like Greely doubt that those results will prove replicable outside the lab setting, and others say it just isn't ready yet."

From Denny: We are forever chasing after ways to detect deceit. Just think Wall Street would have never taken us to the cleaners... but I digress. According to this interesting article this MRI version of the lie detector test could be vulnerable to a host of things:

"Ed Vul, an fMRI researcher at the Kanwisher Lab at MIT, said that it was simply too easy for a suspect to make fMRI data of any type unusable.

"I don't think it can be either reliable or practical. It is very easy to corrupt fMRI data," Vul said. "The biggest difficulty is that it's very easy to make fMRI data unusable by moving a little, holding your breath, or even thinking about a bunch of random stuff."

A trained defendant might even be able to introduce bias into the fMRI data. In comparison with traditional lie-detection methods, fMRI appears more susceptible to gaming."

By Alexis Madrigal

New Funny Fad

Offbeat News from EnvironmentalGraffiti.com:

Russian ice bungee jumping! What will they think of next? These folks have been cooped up inside the house too long this winter...:)

16 March 2009

Brain: How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci

Cover of "How to Think Like Leonardo da V...Cover via Amazon

"In this post, I present a summary of the mind-expanding bestseller How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, along with some thoughts about Leonardo and the book.

Leonardo is not only probably the greatest genius ever: he’s the one that most fully embodies the ‘Renaissance Man‘ ideal. Pursuing that ideal means being focused not on excelling on a single knowledge domain, but on having a holistic view of excellence in life. It means much more than just intellectual achievement, it means full realization of human potential in every aspect.

In How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, author Michael Gelb does a superb job of capturing the essence of Leonardo’s genius and laying it out in a practical framework for self-improvement. Here are the 7 key areas that shaped Leonardo’s genius and which you can use as a framework for your own self-improvement..."

By Luciano Passuello

From Denny: One of the key areas of Da Vinci's steps for self-improvement that contributed easily to creative problem-solving is "Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty." This is where I think many experts fall down on the job. It's also why so many of their pronouncements come off sounding childish and off-kilter at times be it from the science, medical or academic communities.

The past eight years of fundamentalism affecting our politics, religion and educational communities has caused a reversal back to simplistic concrete thinking. Concrete thinking doesn't allow for ambiguity, the large grey zone between black and white that takes into account a myriad of things - like shifting time lines affected by our perceptions and resulting decisions.

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15 March 2009

The Joy Makers: Feel the Love

Photo by -Gep- @ flickr

The Joy Makers: Feel the Love:

"Improv group brings joy to surprised thousands

Stop here for free joy, hugs, love and a happiness high that will last for days!"

by Denny Lyon

From Denny: If ever there was an exercise in right-brain teaching launched upon unsuspecting thousands of people, these videos collected in this article demonstrate it! Check it out AND laugh a lot at the same time. This is your go-to article when you have a lousy day with 9 videos in it to lift your spirits.

Bad News for Teachers: Research Says Doodling Boosts Concentration

Various doodles drawn during an afternoon math...Image via Wikipedia

"Doodling isn’t the distraction it’s commonly thought to be, researchers say–in fact, it aids concentration, and memory. A new study suggests that doodling takes up just enough attention to keep the brain from wandering further afield, explains lead researcher Jackie Andrade.

'If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream. Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poor performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task' [BBC News], Andrade says."

From Denny: As a class "A" doodler I now hearby feel vindicated. These days it's called mind mapping. :) Seriously, it does make sense for people to doodle because of one thing: the brain thinks in pictures!

What's fun about doodling is that the images are symbols of detailed meanings specific to that one person. You have your own encrypted code! You have to know the person well in order to hack their internal computer.

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14 March 2009

Celebrate Pi Day!

Photo by d3 Dan @ flickr

From: piday.org

"Pi, Greek letter ( ), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535... Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th.

The Number Pi

Pi represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter (its width) and its circumference (the distance around the circle).

Learn About Pi

With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Pi is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. The symbol for pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737."

From Denny: Go to the site for funny pi comments and the like. What will they think of next?

A Limitation Of The Scientific Method

Pierre and Marie Curie in the laboratory. Prio...Image via Wikipedia

Madame Curie in her laboratory prior to 1907.

"The Scientific method (from wikipedia)

"Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

I often hear from scientists and wanna-be scientists (like me) that the scientific method is the only way possible forward in understanding the universe. Logical reasoning and the scientific method have their place in the scheme of things. But to say that they are primarily responsible for all progress is putting the cart before the horse. In the definition above, formulation of a hypothesis is taken as a part of the scientific method. However, this formulation is often mysterious, and no one can really explain how a "productive" hypothesis is arrived at. Most of the times logic and reasoning have nothing to do with it.

The anonymous Indian genius that conceived zero, Kepler, Newton, Kekulé, Marie Curie and Einstein all have one thing in common: they created a paradigm shift in our understanding of nature. The paradigm shift was not in the proof they offered but the hypothesis itself. While proof is important, it is secondary to the hypothesis. I doubt if anyone of these giants have explained how they came up with the hypotheses. Given a "productive" and viable hypothesis, someone can and will come up with a proof eventually just as Fermat's last theorem demonstrated.

The modern scientists spend their lifetimes perfecting the scientific method. But they probably do not spend enough time understanding how the hypotheses are made. It is assumed that a good scientist "knows" how to arrive at one. There is no process, no class (that I know of) and no "formal" guidelines to come up with a good hypothesis. No good hypothesis no significant progress. That's a limitation of the scientific method..."

From Denny: Very interesting post as he raised good questions in regard to how the spiritual component enters into and influences the rational sphere for problem-solving. What is even better is the quality of comments and arguments he received from both the "smug and arrogant" to the "understanding and differing" crowds. Check it out for yourself.

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13 March 2009

A Whole New Mind

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands.” - A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

"This starts and sets the tone for the thought-provoking best-seller A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink. In an easy-to-read way, Dan outlines the changes that are underway, as well as how to develop ourselves in order to thrive in this new era.

Half-a-Mind Is Not Enough

A Whole New Mind is based extensively on the classic left/right brain metaphor — and I must say it’s a very useful one in making the point of the book.

In the last few decades, most of the thriving professionals were those who excelled in “left-brain thinking” — information processing, sequential thinking, analysis, logic, organization, numeric ability and attention to detail.

Lately, however, information is getting easier and easier to acquire. Knowledge that was once locked behind hard-to-earn degrees is becoming widely and cheaply available. In this new world, a great deal of the information processing we performed can now be cheaply automated or assigned to high-qualified professionals overseas — for a fraction of the cost.

Although “left brain skills” continue to be useful, they’re not enough anymore. The rules of the game are changing."

By Luciano Passuello

From Denny: Well, I guess the right-brained ones finally win! Yay! When I was a kid I was called stupid because I liked to take disparate elements be they people or situations or objects and synthesize them into a new meaning. These days folks like me are being hailed as brilliant! Gee, maybe the world finally caught up to the minority? This isn't rocket science, folks. It's fun doing right-brained things!

Photo by Hammer51012 @ flickr

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12 March 2009

Top 3 Reasons to Improve Your Vocabulary

"Developing a great vocabulary is one of the most overlooked ways to improve our lives. It is often believed that learning many words is only useful for writers and speakers, but the truth is that everyone benefits from it, both personally and professionally."

By Luciano Passuello

From Denny: The reality is that learning new words exposes us to new concepts and shades of meaning locked inside those concepts. All this breaks us out of our current style of thinking, adding a new layer or even expanding our view so much that it radically changes our belief system.

11 March 2009

Feedburner Glitch

Now I know why my feed counts have been going up and down wildly. Turns out Feedburner keeps deactivating them: on all 7 blogs! So, apologies, if you have found this maddening; join the club. Guess it's taking Google and Feedburner longer to merge and work out the gremlins than they are telling the public, oh, well... Meanwhile, rest assured I will be now manually monitoring these feeds twice a day to keep them activiated. Thank you for your patience everyone!

Don't you just love this photo of an ass? Such a good fit when things go wrong because that's how you feel and look to others! Might as well have some fun with screw-ups, right! ;)

Thanks go to the folks over at flickr who place their photos in the Creative Commons area for online writers and bloggers like me, much appreciated! They can be so funny.

Photo by gidibao @ flickr

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Brainy guy, better sperm?

Sperm album coverImage via Wikipedia

“A group of researchers has issued a study finding that higher IQ men have better sperm. So, smarter guys tend to have higher quality sperm, they found. But the reality is, there is no intellectual push-up a man can do to give himself better— that is, more fit or more aggressive sperm.”

From Denny: OK, I could make some wise-cracks here but will behave myself for the time being. Short informative article about research that gives geeks, nerds and other brainy folks hope: Smarter people finally get the last laugh!

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10 March 2009

10 Sure-Fire Strategies to Improve Your Vocabulary

"There are several proven benefits in improving your vocabulary, but how should we go about learning new words in the most effective way? By using the following ten vocabulary-building strategies, you are guaranteed to develop a strong vocabulary and keep improving it every day."

By Luciano Passuello

09 March 2009

Just what does a Trillion $ Dollars LOOK like???

OK, this is so very cool. A guy was curious about what a trillion dollars looks like so he decides to use Google Sketchup to find out.

He takes you through the process and wow! My husband walked in about then and said, "I wish I had a trillion dollars about now!" Well, yeah! Take a look; you will enjoy.

What a trillion dollars looks like.

Photo by Simon Davison @ flickr

Some guesses as to how the Mozart effort might work

"One of my best friends in college played music incessantly—whether he was studying, writing papers, completing organic chemistry problem sets, or swilling down cheap beer, whatever he did was accompanied by a nonstop 1980s synth-pop beat. This apparently did him no harm, because after graduating at the top of his class, he went on to get a PhD and a law degree, with full scholarships paying for both.

"I could never study with him because the music always broke my concentration. I preferred to study to the gentle background noise of the campus coffee shop. There was one exception to this rule: when I was writing a paper, I would always play Mozart's Piano Concerto #23. Perhaps it was just superstition, but I really believed it helped me concentrate. Even playing a Mozart symphony did not produce the same effect for me—only the piano music worked.

A few years after I graduated from college, the research of Rauscher et al. appeared to back up my superstition—listening to Mozart's piano music actually raised spatial IQ scores."

By Dave Munger

From Denny: Everyone's brain is hard-wired differently. I've always loved Mozart as well as other kinds of music. My own take is that the mental complexity of Mozart - and some other music - combined with how it engages a person emotionally creates a bridge of union in the brain, therefore making it easier to complete tasks well by blocking access to chaotic random interferences in the immediate environment.

For instance, many people find it annoying when their thoughts are interrupted by a sudden staccato burst of conversation coming into their work environment. I always figured it was because it was random and in irregular timing it was distracting to the brain, therefore annoying to the emotions. Music is timed with a regular beat, engaging the emotions so the brain functions better.

"That's my story and I'm sticking to it!" :)

Photo by pfly @ flickr (Scriabin's musical score)

08 March 2009

Sunk Cost Bias: How It Hinders Your Life and 4 Ways to Overcome It

"The sunk cost bias is a thinking trap that not only slows down personal improvement efforts, but one which can make people literally waste their whole lives on — something I’ve seen happening with disturbing regularity. The good news is that, like most thinking traps, the biggest step you can take to overcome it is by simply becoming aware of it."

By Luciano Passuello
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