of interest this week: 7 February 2016

Earth from the Moon - Illustration

Here’s a brief selection of some of the online material that caught my attention this week. What articles, essays, or reports taught you something new or caused you to reflect this week?

  • Think you can read minds? The University of Washington may prove you right
    By Lulu Chang

    ”We were trying to understand, first, how the human brain perceives objects in the temporal lobe, and second, how one could use a computer to extract and predict what someone is seeing in real time,” explained (Rajesh) Rao to the UW NewsBeat. “Clinically, you could think of our result as a proof of concept toward building a communication mechanism for patients who are paralyzed or have had a stroke and are completely locked-in,” he said.

    You’ve gotta love a neuroscience story that begins, “Psychics have gotten a bad rap lately.”

  • Did ancient Egypt suffer from climate change?
    By Thomas Page

    Within 200 years of the Queen Mother’s death, the Nile no longer flooded and drought consumed the kingdom.

    “(This) contributed to the disintegration of the era of the pyramid builders,” (Professor Miroslav) Barta explains. “Without reasonable floods, there were no reasonable harvests and therefore very bad taxes; without appropriate taxes there were no sufficient means to finance the state apparatus and maintain the ideology and integrity of the state.”
    The find is both a historical echo and a warning, suggests the project leader.

  • Is technology causing us to ‘evolve’ into a new SPECIES? Expert believes super humans called Homo optimus will talk to machines and be ‘digitally immortal’ by 2050
    By Sarah Griffiths

    The headline pretty much says it all. When I saw this story, I thought immediately of Robert J. Sawyer.

  • Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut who walked on moon, dies at 85
    By Todd Leopold, CNN

    “Looking at Earth from space and seeing it was a planet in isolation … that was an experience of ecstasy, realizing that every molecule in our bodies is a system of matter created from a star hanging in space,” Mitchell told the UK Telegraph in 2014. “The experience I had was called Samadhi in the ancient Sanskrit, a feeling of overwhelming joy at seeing the Earth from that perspective.”

    Depending on your personal interests, you may know Edgar Mitchell as an Apollo astronaut or as the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS)—or, if you’re like me, maybe both. My immediate reaction to this news was the optimistic consideration that now Mitchell may have the answers to his questions.

  • 4 reasons to let yourself be angry
    By Maria Molfino

    Anger needs an outlet or it builds up like pressure in a pressure cooker. For women who think they are too angry, I want to press them about it: Is it that you are too angry or not letting yourself express your anger? When anger doesn’t express, it turns inwards and burns like a motherfucker. In my experience, repressed anger takes the form of self-shaming and blaming; a delicious feast for the inner critic.

    This is something I continue to struggle with. I was raised to be nice, to not attract attention to myself, and to swallow not only my anger but any other “negative” feelings I might be having. Although not central to the article, I like the idea of channeling an inner “dark goddess” as a means of finding balance.

  • Henry VIII: ‘brain injury caused by jousting to blame for erratic behaviour and possible impotence’
    By Emma Mason

    According to a team of US researchers led by Dr Arash Salardini, behavioural neurologist and co-director of the Yale Memory Clinic, the Tudor monarch may have suffered repeated traumatic brain injuries similar to those experienced by American Football players. This, researchers claim, would explain Henry’s explosive anger, headaches, insomnia, memory problems, inability to control impulses, and even impotence.

    History, science, and a tie-in to football all in one place.

    Actually, I’ve continued to wonder about the residual impact to my health of head trauma from 1989. I haven’t had issues with explosive anger, impulse-control, or impotence like Henry Tudor apparently did, but headaches have certainly been an issue.

Creative Commons photo: Earth from the Moon – Illustration by DonkeyHotey.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral.

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