Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Warning I'm not listeningYes, I just quoted Jackie Chan from Rush Hour 2.  Hey, that is the thought that popped into my brain while I was reading this article. What can I say?

I just can’t get over how cool the brain is. It seems like every day science learns a dozen marvelous new things about how our brains work.

“We know that real verbal communications requires both a speaker and a listener (often they go back and forth, but not always). This involves both the production of speech, AND the perception and comprehension of what someone else is saying to you. The question is, HOW does that happen?” Read Full Story…

via Conversations really DO take two. | Neurotic Physiology.

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A step towards solving the worlds water crisis?

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Fresh Drinking WaterAs a person who has spent most of my life living in the desert, the availability of drinking water is ever-present as a way of life. With dwindling fresh water supplies around the world, I am glad to see some progress is being made in the field of desalination.  If a few more smart people put their minds on the problem, it could be solved in no time.

“Today’s desalination plants are unlikely to solve our looming water crisis, however. That’s because they have their own unquenchable thirst- for energy. It’s needed to drive reverse osmosis (RO), the process in which salty water is forced at high pressure through a membrane that lets water molecules through but blocks the salt. But now a number of researchers and start-up companies think they have a more energy-efficient alternative, and it works by turning RO desalination on its head.” Read Full Story

via Add salt as required: the recipe for fresh water – tech – 18 August 2010 – New Scientist.

Phil Plait’s Don’t Be A Dick talk at TAM8 Now Online

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

About a month ago, Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) gave a talk at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 that stirred quite a reaction among some folks in the “skeptical movement”, both positive and negative.

Although I was not at TAM8, I did read, what I believe to be an accurate account of his speech, online. Many were inspired by his words, as was I, even mentioning them in a couple of my own posts such as this one and this one.  It’s wonderful to finally be able to hear the speech from the man himself.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

via Phil Plait’s Don’t Be A Dick talk at TAM8 Now Online.

A moment of zen

August 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

No spoilers, just watch it.

Brainless slime mould makes decisions like humans | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine

August 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Another example of “We are all connected” is demonstrated elegantly by tiny single-celled, amoeba-like creatures that don’t even have a brain.

“Physarum spends most of its life as a large mat called a ‘plasmodium’, which is a single cell that contains many nuclei. The plasmodium searches for food by moving along like an amoeba and sending out a network of tendrils. Its search patterns are very sophisticated for a brainless organism. A Japanese group found that if they placed the mould among food sources arranged like Tokyo’s urban centres, it created a network that closely resembled Tokyo’s actual railway system. The slimy network was optimised to transport nutrients to the main plasmodium.”

“But how does Physarum make decisions at all without a brain?  The answer is deceptively simple – it does so by committee. Every plasmodium is basically a big sac of fluid, where each part rhythmically contracts and expands, pushing the fluid inside back-and-forth. The rate of the contractions depends on what neighbouring parts of the sac are doing, and by the local environment. They happen faster when the plasmodium touches something attractive like food, and they slow down when repellent things like sunlight are nearby.” Read the full story

via Brainless slime mould makes decisions like humans | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine.

Internet overload

August 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have been spending far too much time on the internet the past few months. Between twitter, RSS and my blog, I spend almost no time with my husband anymore. I miss him. He is my favorite person in the world and frankly, my reason for living.

Worst of all I realized this morning that I have spiraled into a deep depression.  Depression is nothing new for me. I am Bi-polar. However, for the last few years, I have been in a “place in my life” where my depressions were simply a chemical imbalance in my brain. I felt the all the symptoms of depression, but because I was otherwise happy with my life, they were just like any other symptoms I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

This morning however I realized I wasn’t happy anymore.  Nothing fundamental has changed in my life. All that has changed is my “online” life. Like most people I follow people with similar interests to my own. I wanted to learn, share ideas, understand what was going on in my head.

I followed scientists, and skeptics which let to atheists. Eventually my circle grew to include “spoonies”. In the beginning I was very careful to only follow people who were positive, or at the very least not outright negative. That did not last long.

I am now spending hours(yes hours, partially blind) every day reading through hundreds posts and articles of people bitching and moaning about how terrible the world is, just to find a few good tidbits of information. And looking back at my own posts, I have started doing it too. I don’t want to be that person. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I am not saying people’s problems are not important. They are very real issues and they should be discussed. The internet is the right forum to discus them.  The problem is mine. I should not be reading them.  Fuck, I was yelling at the news on TV last night. I need to make some serious changes to my internet habits starting today.

I suppose this post is for the few people who actually follow me on a regular basis. I am not leaving the internet. I am not giving up my blog or twitter. I will simply be scaling things back.

May peace and joy be with you.

PJ

Standard Model Animation

August 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

A quirky, and slightly sexist, but fun explanation of the standard model.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Standard Model, posted with vodpod

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