For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. As he told one friend, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.” Elaborating, he added, “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration…. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.” Thus, his famous statement that, for creative work in science, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.
But how, then, did art differ from science for Einstein? Surprisingly, it wasn’t the content of an idea, or its subject, that determined whether something was art or science, but how the idea was expressed. “If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, then it is science. If it is communicated through forms whose constructions are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively, then it is art”. Einstein himself worked intuitively and expressed himself logically. That’s why he said that great scientists were also artists.
Einstein first described his intuitive thought processes at a physics conference in Kyoto in 1922, when he indicated that he used images to solve his problems and found words later. Einstein explicated this bold idea at length to one scholar of creativity in 1959, telling Max Wertheimer that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings, and even musical architectures. Einstein’s autobiographical notes reflect the same thought: “I have no doubt that our thinking goes on for the most part without the use of symbols, and, furthermore, largely unconsciously”. Elsewhere he wrote even more baldly that “no scientist thinks in equations”.
Anyone in science education reading this?!
Einstein only employed words or other symbols (presumably mathematical) — in what he explicitly called a secondary translation step — after he was able to solve his problems through the formal manipulation of internally imagined images, feelings, and architectures. “I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards,” he wrote.
Einstein expanded on this theme in a letter to fellow mathematician Jacques Hadamard, writing that “the words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined…. The above mentioned elements are, in my case of visual and some of a muscular type…. Conventional words or other signs [presumably mathematical ones] have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the associative play already referred to is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will”.
In other interviews, he attributed his scientific insight and intuition mainly to music. “If I were not a physicist,” he once said, “I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…. I get most joy in life out of music”. His son, Hans, amplified what Einstein meant by recounting that “whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties”. After playing piano, his sister Maja said, he would get up saying, “There, now I’ve got it”. Something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.
No historian of science seems to have taken these musical and intuitional comments of Einstein seriously, but we think there is something very important to be gleaned from his personal testimony. What did Einstein mean when he told Wertheimer that he often thought in terms of musical architectures? We can’t know for certain at this far remove, and Wertheimer never asked, but the engineer-composer Robert Mueller investigated further.
According to Mueller, Einstein’s friend Alexander Mozskowski says “that Einstein recognized an unexplainable connection between music and his science, and notes that his [Einstein’s] mentor Ernst Mach had indicated that music and the aural experience were the organ to describe space”. Music also embodies time. Could music have therefore provided Einstein with a connection between time and space through its combination of architectonic, or structural, nature combined with its spatial and temporal aspects? Mueller has conjectured that the physicist’s “disposition to architectonic logics of abstraction was formulated by Einstein’s early musical experiences, and even enlarged by a constant struggle for musical experiences which helped him build a rich mental perceptual fabric of space and time in which to perform his scientific theorizing”.
These speculations about music, space and time in Einstein’s imaginative thinking certainly fit with something the physicist told the great pioneer of musical education, Shinichi Suzuki: “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception”. They also fit with the manner in which Einstein expressed his greatest praise for a fellow scientist. Neils Bohr’s work on the structure of the atom, Einstein said, was “the highest form of musicality in the realm of thought”.
Wow! Anyone looking for connections between music, mathematics, and physics? How about intuition and reason? Einstein shows us how it all connects. But what do our students typically get, especially in high school and college? They get math without music. They get science without images, feelings and intuition. They get knowledge without imagination. Not only does intuition go undeveloped, many math and science teachers do not give credit to answers (even though they may be correct) that are not explicated by detailed logic. What these teachers appear not to understand is that translating intuitive insights into words or mathematical symbols is a secondary process that can - and should be — be taught just as explicitly as translating from one language and another.
So much for Einstein’s admission that he often had a feeling he was right without being able to explain it. So much for experiencing space-time through music. So much for working out ideas in images and feelings and musical architectures for which there are no words or symbols. So much for sitting down at the piano and letting the music show the way.
No wonder so many of our students don’t like math and science: what is there to imagine and feel? Where is the art in their learning?
Black holes come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 10 times the mass of the sun to a billion times as massive. But new research shows that black holes of completely different masses, ages and locations can produce jets of ionized gas that behave similarly.
Image: This illustration shows a black hole emitting jets of fast-moving plasma above and below it, as matter swirls around in an orbiting disk. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
“As scientists, we are always seeking universal principles,” Rodrigo Nemmen, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told SPACE.com.
Nemmen and his colleagues studied a wide variety of black holes in an attempt to compare how efficiently their jets emitted light. “I was very surprised,” Nemmen said of the results.
Discovering similarities between ancient supermassive black holes in the center of distant galaxies and baby black holes born as stars collapse should help scientists gain a firmer understanding of these jets.
Black holes are well known for their ability to pull matter into them. But not all material near a black hole finds itself lost. Some bits of matter just outside the point of no return (called the event horizon) are accelerated away at near-light speeds, creating jets of particles shooting out above and below the black holes.
“I like to call black holes ‘cosmic LHCs,’ or very powerful particle accelerators,” Nemmen said, referring to the Large Hadron Collider, an underground machine in Switzerland that speeds protons to 99.9999991 percent the speed of light.
When matter is spun away from a black hole in the form of a jet, most of its energy goes into its motion, but some of it is changed into light in the form of gamma-rays. Nemmen and his team studied findings on 293 previously observed black holes and calculated how efficiently the jets converted energy to light. They found that the rate scaled across the range of black holes.
“This was one of the surprises of this work, that this efficiency of conversion of the energy into light is essentially the same for black holes with very different masses, very different ages and completely different environments,” Nemmen said.
Black holes are powerful beasts, interesting in and of themselves. But by accelerating ionized gas, they also have the potential to change their environment. Heating up space, they could affect the production of new stars, thereby influencing the galaxy they live in.
“These jets might be powerful agents of creating changes in the host galaxy,” Nemmen said.
Scientists still don’t have a strong understanding of how these violent particle outflows form. But the fact that the energy efficiency of the jets scales across black holes may help theorists better understand how something that pulls in most particles could shoot away others, and how the outflow of energy may affect surrounding space.
The findings were published online today (Dec. 13) in the journal Science.
A total penumbral eclipse is a lunar eclipse occurs when the moon becomes completely immersed in the penumbral cone of the Earth without touching the umbra.
The umbra, penumbra and antumbra are the names given to three distinct parts of a shadow, created by any light source. For a point source only the umbra is cast.
Common Physics Misconceptions
Isn’t it time that we stop teaching our kids that the Earth is flat? Sure, we can’t exactly jump into special relativity in 8th grade science classes, but surely we can bring physics education into the 20th, or maybe 21st century?
NASA scientists took time on Wednesday (Nov. 28) to soothe 2012 doomsday fears, warning against the dark side of Mayan apocalypse rumors — frightened children and suicidal teens who truly fear the world may come to an end Dec. 21.
Image: Artist’s conception of the rogue planet Nibiru, or Planet X. Credit: gilderm | sxc.hu
These fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. On the 21st, the date of the winter solstice, a calendar cycle called the 13th b’ak’tun comes to an end. Although Maya scholars agree that the ancient Maya would not have seen this day as apocalyptic, rumors have spread that a cosmic event may end life on Earth on that day.
Thus NASA’s involvement. The space agency maintains a 2012 information page debunking popular Mayan apocalypse rumors, such as the idea that a rogue planet will hit Earth on Dec. 21, killing everyone. (In fact, astronomers are quite good at detecting near-Earth objects, and any wandering planet scheduled to collide with Earth in three weeks would be the brightest object in the sky behind the sun and moon by now.)
“There is no true issue here,” David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event today (Nov. 28). “This is just a manufactured fantasy.”
Unfortunately, Morrison said, the fantasy has real-life consequences. As one of NASA’s prominent speakers on 2012 doomsday myths, Morrison said, he receives many emails and letters from worried citizens, particularly young people. Some say they can’t eat, or are too worried to sleep, Morrison said. Others say they’re suicidal.
“While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned,” he said.
Not every 2012 apocalypse believer thinks the world will end on Dec. 21. Some, inspired by New Age philosophies, expect a day of universal peace and spiritual transformation. But it’s impressionable kids who have NASA officials worried.
“I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumors on the Internet to frighten children,” Morrison said.
Myths and misconceptions
NASA scientists took questions via social media in the hour-long video chat, debunking doomsday myths from the rogue planet Nibiru to the danger of killer solar flares.
In fact, said NASA heliophysicist Lika Guhathakurta, it’s true that the sun is currently in an active phase of its cycle, meaning electromagnetic energy has picked up. Large solar flares can impact electronics and navigation systems on Earth, but satellites monitoring the sun give plenty of warning and allow officials to compensate for the extra electromagnetic activity when it hits our atmosphere. What’s more, Guhathakurta said, this particular solar maximum is the “wimpiest” in some time — scientists have no reason to expect solar storms beyond what our planet has weathered in the past.
Nor are any near-Earth objects, planetary or otherwise, threatening to slam into our planet on Dec. 21, said Don Yeomans, a planetary scientist who tracks near-Earth objects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The only close asteroid approach on the horizon is forecast to occur on Feb. 13, 2013, when an asteroid will pass within 4.5 Earth radii to our planet (for perspective, Earth’s radius is 3,963 miles, or 6,378 kilometers). The asteroid is not going to hit Earth, Yeomans said.
Other rumors — that the Earth’s magnetic field will suddenly reverse or that the planet will travel almost 30,000 light-years and fall into the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy — were also dismissed. (A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles, or 10 trillion km.)
One popular rumor that the planet will undergo a complete blackout from Dec. 23 to 25 earned a “What?” and blank looks from the panel of scientists.
Ultimately, concerns about Earth’s fate would be better focused on slow-acting problems such as climate change rather than some sort of cosmic catastrophe, said Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College in California.
Mitzi Adams, a heliophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, agreed.
“The greatest threat to Earth in 2012, at the end of this year and in the future, is just from the human race itself,” Adams said.
“The home planet of an emerging technical civilization, struggling to avoid self-destruction. The Earth travels some 2 and a half million kilometers every day around the Sun; eight times faster than that around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy; and, perhaps, twice faster still as the Milky Way falls toward the Virgo cluster of galaxies. We have always been space travelers.” — Carl Sagan
Image by the Russian Federal Space Agency
AW LOOK IT’S ASIA :D
Side note: I referenced this article in the past post ‘Brain Programming: Science of Real Self-Mind Control’. But I wanted to flesh the article out into its details for everyone to read up on here in case they were too lazy to go to the actual article and look at the points they brought. So here’s the list in full details on its own post. Because I think anyone who’s passionately involved with any show, movies, media, radio (as they all operate similarly) needs to see this.
The average American watches more than four hours of television per day (five times the amount dedicated to socialization!). It makes sense that it would change us, the same as doing anything for four hours a day changes you. Yet, it’s surprisingly hard to get people to accept this. But the science is pretty much overwhelming. Enough television rewires your brain in a bunch of unexpected ways. For instance …
#6. It Changes You, Even if You’re Too Young to Know What You’re Watching
It’s easy to assume that impressionable children can be affected by TV shows, but what about toddlers? They aren’t even aware of what’s going on around them. Besides, they don’t do a whole lot besides chew on furniture and inflate their diapers, so it’s not like they could be doing something better with their time.
Scientists tracked more than 1,000 29-month-old babies and their television habits and the effects of excess TV were downright startling — even after researchers accounted for all the other factors that would explain differences in behavior. The more television a child watched as a toddler, the more likely it was that he’d be fat, bullied, bad at math, inactive and prone to misbehavior in the classroom.
Again, that’s not a result of watching violent TV shows or anything else that would encourage them to do bad things. Not that a 3-year-old would be able to absorb those lessons anyway.
Nope, it’s just the act of watching television. And again, it’s not just that the type of parent who plants a kid in front of a TV all day probably also runs a bad household — the results hold up even if you account for all other factors in the kids’ upbringing.
And the research holds up around the world. A New Zealand study found that more hours of television viewed as a toddler led to a higher probability of dropping out of school later in life. In a stunning display of initiative, France has even banned shows from having children younger than 3 as their target audience, because French adults are the only ones allowed to have their intelligences insulted.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s get this one out of the way…
#5. Yes, TV Lowers Your Attention Span
Since television — especially children’s TV — is lightning-fast and loaded with stimuli, it isn’t outlandish to think that a person’s brain might become adjusted to that pace over time. When a teacher cannot supplement his or her lectures with dinosaurs and explosions, a child’s television-altered attention span may be so deprived that the child cannot stay focused.
But most of us who don’t buy into “the modern world is destroying the children!” alarmism have trouble believing that too much TV can actually rewire your attention span in any significant way.
But an Iowa State University study sure enough found that students who stare at a screen for more than two hours per day are twice as likely to be diagnosed with attention problems, which is awesome when you consider that the average amount of time a child spends watching television and playing video games is 4.26 hours a day.
The study followed 1,323 children in grades three through five and 210 college students. The results make it fairly hard to argue that television doesn’t literally change the way the human brain functions, with enough exposure. But even stranger, other studies have shown (just like with the example above) that the amount of television watched as an infant can affect attention habits later in life.
So again, if you want your kids to be able to pay attention to anything for longer than 38 seconds, you need to move into a hotel and wheel the television out onto the balcony like Craig T. Nelson in Poltergeist.
#4. It Alters Your Dreams
Television can change your dreams, and not just by making you wish you could master time travel to become an advertising executive in the 60s.
According to science, television can alter your actual dreams, the kind that happen while you’re asleep. Research has found that some people have monochrome dreams (that is, they dream in black and white), and it’s apparently all their televisions’ fault.
In a study of 50 people, half under 25 and the rest over 55, the subjects filled out a questionnaire related to the color of their dreams, their contentedness with their marriages and the colors of their televisions in their formative childhood years. Then the subjects were asked to keep a dream diary. Researchers found that while hardly any of the younger people dreamed in black and white (around four percent), a quarter of the older-than-55 group did. That is, the people who grew up with black and white televisions.
Scientists attribute this to hours of exposure to black and white images during the subjects’ formative years, but there is no way to know if the actual dreams were in black and white, or if the subjects just remember them as such due to years of visual training by their TV sets.
#3. It Deceptively Cures Loneliness
You might know people who get so wrapped up in a show that they forgo social interaction until they’ve caught up to the latest episode. The rest of us are probably waiting for the day when they realize they need actual friends for fun and emotional support, but that day may never come. Scientists have found that television, specifically the pseudo-relationships formed with TV characters, can drive away feelings of loneliness and rejection.
Using a combination of four studies, scientists have shown that television shows can instill a sense of belonging in people with low self-esteem who have been rejected by friends or family. This is called the social surrogacy hypothesis, which figures that in order to fill the emotional void of social deprivation, a person will establish relationships with fictional characters (as teenagers, many of us had a similar type of relationship with late-night Cinemax).
One study showed that subjects who were experiencing feelings of loneliness felt better after turning on their favorite television programs. Another had subjects writing essays about either their favorite shows or some other random subject as a control. The subjects who wrote about their favorite shows used fewer words expressing loneliness than the control group.
Scientists are not sure whether establishing relationships with television characters suppresses a need for human interaction or actually fulfills that need, but they generally advise against dumping all human contact in favor of the cast of Carnivale.
#2. It Makes it Likelier to Fall into Obesity
Obesity is sort of like a merit badge for watching too much television as far as most of us are concerned, so it shouldn’t be surprising to find a scientific correlation between watching less TV and burning more calories. But scientists have found that people who watch less television burn more calories each day than their television-bound counterparts without necessarily engaging in any extra physical activity — the mere act of using your brain instead of numbing it with hours of Burn Notice is enough.
University of Vermont researchers set up a six-week study involving 36 subjects who ranged from overweight to obese. The subjects watched, on average, five hours of television per day. Scientists cut the television consumption of 20 of the subjects by attaching time-tracking devices to their TVs that would turn them off once the maximum time of use for the week had been reached (these monitoring devices, and the armbands attached to the subjects to track their weekly activity, were presumably set to explode if tampered with). Scientists found that the subjects with limited television time burned an average of 120 more calories per day than those in the control group without doing so much as a single jumping jack.
Instead, the factors behind the extra calorie-burning were the mundane tasks done instead of watching television, such as reading, playing board games or doing simple household chores. Snacking didn’t actually decrease with fewer television hours, either. The participants just switched to more mentally rigorous activities that required more energy to perform.
#1. It Makes You Violent
The average 18-year-old has seen 200,000 violent actions committed on television over the course of his life, including 40,000 murders.
The cold-blooded killer segment of our audience will probably notice that’s an excellent violent action-to-death ratio, about five to one. We assume that many of those murders weren’t particularly desensitizing and gruesome affairs, probably mostly involving a hero thoughtlessly mowing down an army of clumsy masked goons.
But regardless of the severity, the violence we view on television actually does have an influence on our behavior. A study that followed the television viewing habits of 700 children over the course of 17 years found that (again, after ruling out factors like poverty and neglect) more hours of television translated to more violent acts. Scientists found that 22.5 percent of children who watched one to three hours of television per day committed aggressive actions such as threats, assaults, and fights in subsequent years. If the children watched more than four hours per day, the percentage rose to 28.8 percent.
In contrast, only 5.7 percent of kids who watched less than one hour per day would go on to commit aggressive actions against others.
Now, to be clear, violence in television isn’t nearly as large an influence on future violent behavior as is living in an abusive home (or, say, having an obligation to avenge your family after your corrupt uncle usurped the throne), but it is seemingly enough to make otherwise complacent children into burgeoning thugs.
This example, as with many of the previous ones in this article, will no doubt yield many of you (and some in our comment section) to say, “But I watched the shit out of television when I was a kid, and I turned out fine!” That is no doubt true, and by the way, it conflicts in no way with any of these studies. They’re not saying TV ruins 100 percent of the kids it touches. Just that you’re more likely to have problems if you watch a ton of TV.
The Cycloid [red] is generated by tracing a point on a rolling circle. This animation shows a curious symmetry between the Cycloid and itself shifted. The traced lines are always crossing at right angles to the top cycloid and are tangent to the bottom. [The Cycloid is its own evolute] [code] [more]
— In 2006 the organization responsible for classifying celestial bodies, the International Astronomical Union, decided that a new class of objects was needed. The solar system’s erratic ninth planet, Pluto, was assigned to the new “dwarf planet” category along with four other bodies, all tinier than Earth’s moon. Some astronomers expect there may be as many as 50 dwarf planets in the solar system.
— Eris, the largest dwarf planet, is only slightly bigger than Pluto, at 1,445 miles in diameter (2,326 km). Discovered in 2003, Eris orbits at an average distance of 68 AU (that is, 68 times the Earth’s distance from the sun) and takes 561.4 Earth years to circle the sun. Eris has the orbit that is most highly inclined of all the dwarf planets, tilted nearly 47 degrees from the plane of the planets’ orbits. A day on Eris takes 25.9 hours. Eris has one moon, Dysnomia.
— Pluto, discovered in 1930, orbits the sun at an average of 39.5 times the Earth’s distance. Its diameter is 1,430 miles (2,302 km). Pluto takes 247.9 Earth years to orbit the sun, and its day is 6.39 times as long as Earth’s. Pluto has five known moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra and two that were recently discovered and have not yet been named.
— Haumea was discovered in 2003. This dwarf planet has an extremely elongated shape, with its longest dimension being about 1,218 miles long (1,960 km). Haumea rotates very rapidly and has the shortest day of all the dwarf planets, only 3.9 hours. Orbiting 43.1 times farther from the sun than Earth does, Haumea takes nearly 282 Earth years to complete one orbit. Haumea has two moons, Hi’iaka and Namaka.
— Makemake, discovered in 2005, has no known moons. Makemake orbits at 45.3 times Earth’s distance and takes more than 305 years to complete a circuit of the sun. Its day is 22.5 hours. Makemake’s average diameter is 882 miles (1,420 km).
— Ceres, first spotted by astronomers in 1801, was first called a planet and later an asteroid. In 2006 it was reclassified as a dwarf planet. Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to Earth, orbiting at only 2.8 times Earth’s distance from the sun. Its year takes 4.6 Earth years and its day is 9.1 hours. Ceres has no known moons.
A cosmic grain of sand left the long and colorful trail across this all-sky view. Its grazing impact with planet Earth’s atmosphere began at 71 kilometers per second.
With the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon, the scene was captured on the night of November 17 from the astronomically popular high plateau at Champ du Feu in Alsace, France. Of course, the earthgrazer meteor belongs to this month’s Leonid meteor shower, produced as our fair planet annually sweeps through dust from the tail of periodic Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
The shower’s radiant point in the constellation Leo is very close to the eastern horizon, near the start of the trail at the lower left. Bright planet Jupiter is also easy to spot, immersed in a faint band of Zodiacal light just below and right of center. The image is part of a dramatic time-lapse video (vimeo here) that began only 7 minutes before the long leonid crossed the sky.
1. Al Farabi (872-950 A.D.) writes that:
"perfect human being (al insan al kamil) is the one who has obtained theoretical virtue—thus completing his intellectual knowledge—and has acquired practical moral virtues—thus becoming perfect in his moral behavior." (Note: The first is learned from and through philosophy and religion, while the second is acquired through constant practice in a moral society.)
2. Al-Mawardi (972-1058 A.D.) writes in “Al Hakam Al Sultaniyah”:
“There are seven conditions of eligibility for supreme leadership: first justice of probity with all its attributes; second, knowledge conducive to the exercise of independent judgment in crises or decision making; third, sound hearing, vision and speech so that perception could serve as a correct basis for action; fourth, physical fitness and freedom from handicaps to movement or agility of action; fifth, prudence that ensures wise handling of the subjects and able maintenance of their interests; sixth, dauntless courage in defence of the homeland and repulsion of enemies; and seventh, notable Qurayshite descent.”
3. Al Ghazali (1057-1111 A.D.) writes in “The Nasiha” that:
"A ruler must have good conduct; be openly accessible; given to high degree of trust and honesty; incorruptible; and capable of using and hiring the best deputies in the event the leader needs able help."
5. Ibn Tamiyya (1263-1328 A.D.) writes in “The Al Siyasah Al Shariah,” that:
"A ruler must be chosen based on competence and integrity, barring the existence of both qualities, the leader must be selected based on competence first, to ensure the existence of government; for without a government all else can fall into anarchy——-which is a condition worse than having an unjust ruler. However, the power of the state is not absolute; it is merely an amanah, or, trust."
What is nine plus six, plus eight? You may not realise it, but you already know the answer. It seems that we unconsciously perform more complicated feats of reasoning than previously thought – including reading and basic mathematics. The discovery raises questions about the necessity of consciousness for abstract thought, and supports the idea that maths might not be an exclusively human trait.
Previous studies have shown that we can subliminally process single words and numbers. To identify whether we can unconsciously perform more complicated processing, Ran Hassin at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and his colleagues used a technique called continuous flash suppression.
The technique works by presenting a volunteer’s left eye with a stimulus – a mathematical sum, say – for a short period of time, while bombarding the right eye with rapidly changing colourful shapes. The volunteer’s awareness is dominated by what the right eye sees, so they remain unconscious of what is presented to the left eye.
In the team’s first experiment, a three-part calculation was flashed to the left eye. This was immediately followed by one number being presented to both eyes, which the volunteer had to say as fast as possible. When the number was the same as the answer to the sum, people were quicker to announce it, suggesting that they had subconsciously worked out the answer, and primed themselves with that number.
In the second experiment, participants were subliminally shown a sensible or nonsensical sentence such as “I drank the coffee” or “I ironed the coffee”. The sentences were presented to the left eye until the people highlighted that they had become aware of any of the words in the sentence. People noticed words in sentences that didn’t make sense more quickly than in those that did, which suggests that the sentences had been unconsciously processed.
“You’re integrating information from lots of different places,” says Hassin. “People thought you needed consciousness for this.”
“This study provides convincing evidence that people can perform complex rule-based operations unconsciously,” says François Ric at the University of Bordeaux, France. “This could change the way we think about how our brains work and what reason is.”
Since arithmetic and reading might work at a level below conscious awareness, the study adds support to the idea that such reasoning may not be a uniquely human trait. “This is consistent with the idea of there being a continuum between animal and human reasoning,” says Ric.
Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1211645109
The brain’s ability to continue learning and making new connections even after our child-like stages and into old age.
Side note: This is just a bit of info I’ve been meaning to leave on here for myself. I often think that in terms of artificial intelligence in robots and understanding our own brains, we ought to implement more research and funding into neuroplasticity and ways we can alter it or reset it for those who may desperately need to literally rework the way they think due to some psychological problems. It may be helpful in the study of robots because I would imagine that a simulated version of neuroplasticity would allow for our robots to have a learning brain. So that when new tasks it never uploaded arise, it can still be taught no matter its conditions. Imagine the good we can do for people with severe brain damage or memory problems if we can somehow rearrange or edit the erroneous data and connections within their brains.
(from neural - pertaining to the nerves and/or brain and plastic - moldable or changeable in structure) refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury. Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how - and in which ways - the brain changes throughout life.
Neuroplasticity occurs on a variety of levels, ranging from cellular changes due to learning, to large-scale changes involved in cortical remapping in response to injury. The role of neuroplasticity is widely recognized in healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage. During most of the 20th century, the general consensus among neuroscientists was that brain structure is relatively immutable after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by findings revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood.
Hubel and Wiesel had demonstrated that ocular dominance columns in the lowest neocortical visual area, V1, were largely immutable after the critical period in development. Critical periods also were studied with respect to language; the resulting data suggested that sensory pathways were fixed after the critical period. However, studies determined that environmental changes could alter behavior and cognition by modifying connections between existing neurons and via neurogenesis in the hippocampus and other parts of the brain, including the cerebellum.
Decades of research have now shown that substantial changes occur in the lowest neocortical processing areas, and that these changes can profoundly alter the pattern of neuronal activation in response to experience. Neuroscientific research indicates that experience can actually change both the brain’s physical structure (anatomy) and functional organization (physiology). Neuroscientists are currently engaged in a reconciliation of critical period studies demonstrating the immutability of the brain after development with the more recent research showing how the brain can, and does, change.
Here’s an additional quote from one of my favorite neuroplasticity enthusiasts:
We have plasticity but our neocortex has a limited capacity, it’s made up of pattern recognisers - I estimate about 300 million of them. People say we only use 10 percent of our brains, actually we use all of it. It’s just not organised that well. The reason that people, as they get older, have more difficulty learning things compared to a child, is that a child has all this virgin neocortex, all these pattern recognisers that can be filled up with information.
A newborn has twice as many connections as an adult, so it’s been pruned to reflect the knowledge that the person has gained. We have already filled it up with information; there is a process where we can learn new things but we actually have to abandon these patterns. There’s lot of redundancy, so we can give up some of the redundancy and still remember something, but that’s why memories fade. We do have plasticity but it’s a skill to essentially do “garbage collection” on your neocortex to get rid of patterns that are really no longer of use. — ‘Ray Kurzweil on Adjusting to Change & Neuroscience’
In short, it’s never too late to learn and you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
‘The Girl Who Just Wants To Learn’ Opens Her Eyes of the Day: Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani education activist shot by the Taliban last week on her way home from school, is awake and walking, according to her doctors in the U.K.:Malala is now well enough… she is happy… she’s communicating very freely, she’s writing.
However, she’s “not out of the woods” yet.She is still showing some signs of infection, which is probably related to the bullet track. [There is] some infection in the bullet track, which is our key source of concern.
Doctors estimate she will need a few weeks to rehabilitate further, then part of her skull will need to be reconstructed.
Pakistan is a beautiful country that often bleeds with the most horrible news. Yesterday was no exception, as word spread that Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl and well-known advocate for female education, had been shot in the head and neck on her way home from school. No one was surprised who was behind the vicious attack on the ninth-grader. The Pakistani Taliban quickly took responsibility, claiming she was guilty of “promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas.” According to another girl injured in the attack, Taliban gunmen stopped their school bus. A militant asked which girl was Malala, and then opened fire.
Even in a place that has experienced no shortage of violence, like the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan where Yousafzai lives, yesterday’s attack was met with disbelief. The young Pakistani activist made a name for herself when she began blogging about life under the Taliban for BBC Urdu at age 11. The Pakistan government awarded her its first National Youth Peace Prize last year. After the attack, Yousafzai was airlifted to a hospital in Peshawar. As of Wednesday morning, surgeons had removed the bullet from her head and she was listed in stable condition. If she does indeed recover, Taliban militants promise they will try to kill her again.
Of course they do. A teenage girl speaking out for girls’ education is just about the most terrifying thing in the world for the Taliban. She is not some Western NGO activist who just parachuted into Pashtun country to hand out ESL textbooks. She is far more dangerous than that: a local, living advocate of progress, education, and enlightenment. If people like Yousafzia were to multiply, the Taliban would have no future.
It’s not just the symbolism of a young girl challenging their retrograde Islamist vision that should frighten them. The substance of her ideas is lethal, too. Studies suggest that educating girls is about the closest thing we have to a silver-bullet solution for countries suffering from poverty, instability, and general inequity—or, in other words, the very conditions that allow a group like the Taliban to thrive. The social returns from girls’ education in these places are astounding and consistently include higher household income, improved child nutrition, smaller family size, a more active civil society, and better local services. The benefits can be political as well. One survey of 100 countries found that educating girls encouraged a more participatory society, and hence made these places more receptive to democratic reform. And countries that become wealthier, safer, more stable, and civically active don’t offer much of a future for the medieval Islamist throwbacks who set out yesterday to kill Yousafzai. So we shouldn’t be surprised that she topped their target list. For the Taliban, an outspoken, freethinking 14-year-old girl is the beginning of the end.