Mental Miracles You Don’t Know About

first_img(Visited 40 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Your brain and eyes do things that scientists didn’t discover till recently.Retina recycling: How would you design a system that could cast off its spent parts without ceasing operation, and without changing its shape? Your photoreceptor cells have to do that every day. The process, called disc shedding, is described by PhysOrg in “A first glimpse at disc shedding in the human eye.” Here’s another system you should be glad you don’t have to consciously maintain.Photoreceptors are conic or cylindrical structures that capture and convert light into an electrical response. The light, itself, is toxic as it leads to photo-oxidative compounds that would kill the cells if left to accumulate. To remain healthy, the cells must discard the membranes that contain the toxic compounds and then renew those that were lost. The difficulty lies in the fact that the cells have to maintain a constant length as they undergo this dynamic process each day. They cannot add too many renewing bits in the assembly process that the cell becomes too big, or too few that it becomes too small to work correctly.“Shedding must be offset by renewal,” said Omer P. Kocaoglu, a biomedical engineer at Indiana University and the first author on the paper. “Dysfunction at any stage or loss in synchronization—such as loss of diurnal rhythm—can lead to photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) dystrophy, and ultimately blindness.”Memory optimization: The brain’s memory is a vast but limited resource. In “How the brain makes new memories while preserving the old,” Science Daily says that neurologists at Columbia University invented a mathematical model to explain how you can continue learning new things for a lifetime but still remember things in high fidelity from your childhood. Is there an answer to the “how” question? Not exactly; “The model that we have developed finally explains why the biology and chemistry underlying memory are so complex — and how this complexity drives the brain’s ability to remember,” they boast, only to confess further down that the mathematical model collapses when realistic limits are placed on each synapse’s dial-up strength. The brain’s memory is not like computer memory. It’s not like a collection of static bins that are either empty or occupied, risking a disk-full situation down the road. Instead, the brain’s storage units—thought to reside in synapses—communicate with each other in complex ways. “Once we added the communication between components to our model, the storage capacity increased by an enormous factor, becoming far more representative of what is achieved inside the living brain.”Exactly how the synapses communicate and what they share remains to be discovered, but computer designers could sure learn something by mimicking the brain. PhysOrg says that computer makers are stuck in a rut. They are increasingly “turning to the brain to reboot computing,” inspired by the astonishing capabilities of the three-pound mass inside their own skulls that never stops learning.Stitching the left brain to the right brain: Many have heard that the two hemispheres of the brain have different functions. They are joined by the corpus callosum, a tightly-knit bundle of fibroblasts, nerve axons and other non-neural cells. Without this bridge, the hemispheres cannot communicate. Though this is not usually fatal, it leads to various disorders of development. Science Daily reports that scientists have fingered astroglia (previously thought to be unimportant brain cells) as the sewing machines for the corpus callosum. “Astroglia zip the two halves of the brain together,” the headline reads. These “main support cells of the brain” guide the fibroblasts into place. They “weave themselves between the right and left lobes, and form the bridge for axons to grow across the gap.”Automatic puzzle solver: Enjoy puzzles? The title of a paper in Nature‘s open-access journal Scientific Reports is sure to lure the curious: “How Humans Solve Complex Problems: The Case of the Knapsack Problem.” The knapsack problem is “a discrete optimisation problem commonly encountered at all levels of cognition, from attention gating to intellectual discovery.” Computers have a hard time solving it, and so do people. But some solve it without knowing they did. OK, here’s what it is. Think of deciding what to put into and take out of a knapsack before leaving on a hike. You want to take what you need without weighing yourself down.The knapsack problem (KP) is a combinatorial optimisation problem with the goal of finding, in a set of items of given values and weights, the subset of items with the highest total value, subject to a total weight constraint. It is a member of the complexity class non-deterministic polynomial-time (NP) hard. For those problems, there are no known efficient solution algorithms, that is, algorithms whose computational time only grows as a polynomial of the size of the problem’s instances. This feature obtains despite the fact that one can compute relatively fast whether a given candidate solution reaches a certain value level.Two Australian scientists explain that the KP “permeates the lives of humans” at many levels, such as deciding what stimulus to focus on, how to budget your time with a list of things to do, all the way up to managing a company’s portfolio for greatest ROI for shareholders. “It has also been argued that the KP reflects an important aspect of innovation and intellectual discovery,” as revealed by patent applications for combining technologies in novel ways. Animals, too, confront situations where they have to budget resources to obtain food or other needs. A cheetah can’t run all day; which prey animal should it target?Obviously, people differ in their ability to solve this problem. Factors like complexity of the problem, effort required, motivation, skill at arithmetic, memory, ability to concentrate and mental health will affect scoring. Some people seem to have innately better tacit knowledge, the inexplicable insight to sense the best strategy.The authors sought to identify what about the brain helps solve the KP. What they found is that humans generally solve the problem, but not like computers programmed for optimization. Some subjects, for instance, will continue to waste energy on a complex problem beyond the point of diminishing returns. “Across participants, we found little overlap in the knapsacks that they visited,” they conclude. “This implies … that there does not seem to be a ‘representative heuristic’ which captures the essence of all participants’ strategies.” This result appears to support the view that human beings are individuals, not products of a blind programming process of natural selection that all act alike. Maybe that’s why the authors didn’t mention evolution in the paper.Earth is the brain’s habitat: Experiments with rodents show that the expected amount of radiation on a long voyage to Mars would likely damage astronauts’ brains. Astrobiology Magazine says, “Mars-bound astronauts face chronic dementia risk from galactic cosmic ray exposure.” Star Trekkies take note:“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two-to-three-year round trip to Mars,” said the professor of radiation oncology in UCI’s School of Medicine. “The space environment poses unique hazards to astronauts. Exposure to these particles can lead to a range of potential central nervous system complications that can occur during and persist long after actual space travel – such as various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making. Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life.”Indeed, the astronauts may lose the ability to return to Earth. That’s sorry news for fans of last year’s movie hit, The Martian. Outer space is a shooting gallery of solar particles and cosmic rays. A soul may imagine itself exploring the universe, but the human brain, as a physical organ in a physical body, needs a suitable habitat. That habitat may be limited to the surface of a particular blue planet orbiting a particular star.We must surely stand in awe of the equipment bequeathed to us. So much of our day is focused on things occupying our conscious attention, which is amazing enough. But to learn about all these automatic, subconscious processes that support our minds and memories should make us gasp with astonishment. What treasures inhabit our skulls! It should make us grieve when a brain is damaged or destroyed, whether by accident or intention. It should make us nourish and cherish our gifts, and treat others with the utmost respect.  No one, not even the disabled or faithless, is to be despised like a piece of trash. We are all made in the image of God. We honor God by respecting the crown of His creation.last_img read more

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Video: Must watch Tedx Talks of inspiring South African women

first_imgMelissa JavanAmo NgoepeAmo Ngoepe learned the true meaning of the African proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – as she traversed the continent over 64 days.Speaking at a Tedx event hosted in Soweto Ngoepe shared stories from her adventure as she travelled from South Africa to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.She challenged herself to use nothing but public transport during her journey. For her, it was the best way to learn about each country. It opened her eyes to the warm heart of Africa. Trusting strangers, she learnt, allowed her experience adventures she would never have had otherwise.Watch Ngoepe share her extraordinary story:Dr Kopano Matlwa MabasoDr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso and her partner, Dr Chrystelle Wedi, dream of setting up ultrasound clinics in rural Africa. Their Ona-Matoko-Lako (See Your Baby) project, winner of an Aspen Ideas Award, gives women an opportunity to ‘see their baby’ through free ultrasonography. Her Tedx Talk covered the challenges of bringing antenatal healthcare to communities without water, sanitation, electricity or healthcare.Watch how Mabaso learned to look for light in a dark situation:Deshun DeyselDeysel was the first Black African woman to climb to the peak of Everest. Today, as a motivational speaker, she helps people understand that the size of the challenge facing you does not matter. What does matter is the desire to overcome that challenge. Her Peak Performance Toolkit addresses things like the importance of aspiration, self-mastery, competence and your environment. These areas play a role in your journey to success.Watch and learn from Deysel on how goals can become achievable:Botlhale TshetloTshetlo bought flowers for men she did not know. She paid for a stranger’s car to be washed. She encouraged her daughter to donate her own clothing to an under- privileged child. In challenging herself with 38 random acts of kindness, Tshetlo learned about herself and how to connect with the world around her.Watch Tshetlo talk about her experience:Molly BlankWe should not allow our circumstances to dictate how we lead our lives. This simple lesson is what American filmmaker Molly Blank hoped to teach with her documentary project Schools that Work. She has made South Africa her home. Blank visited 19 schools [for her project] that despite being in disadvantaged communities, students, teachers and parents strived to rise above the challenges and defy stereotypes.Watch scenes out of Molly Black’s video series, and listen to her reasons for undertaking this project:Thulani NdzotyanaWhat would South Africa 2044 be with Thuli Ndzotyana as president? This was the question Ndzotyana tried to answer during her Tedx Talk. The Alexander High School student believes her generation needs to find their own voice to help create the future they see for themselves. As president, she believes, her generation would look past colour. “It will be a South Africa of acceptance, not tolerance. The problem [now] is we continue to rank our differences.”Watch Ndzotyana talk about how she sees South Africa:Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using SouthAfrica.info materiallast_img read more

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16 days agoAC Milan director Maldini welcomes Pioli appointment

first_imgAC Milan director Maldini welcomes Pioli appointmentby Carlos Volcano16 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveAC Milan director Paolo Maldini has welcomed the appointment of new coach Stefano Pioli.Pioli arrives to replace Marco Giampaolo.”Pioli isn’t a gamble,” said Maldini.“We want to be leading lights this season, we don’t want to write this season off.“I thank Giampaolo for his professionalism. Three months ago, we were here talking about him, but this was a considered and shared choice.“If we go back in time, he was the right choice for a young team, but it just didn’t work. I defended Giampaolo because that was the right thing to do.“We have 31 games in front of us. We can still turn things around this season. We don’t want to still be waiting to become competitive in 10 years’ time.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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4 days agoPearce tribute to Liverpool veteran Milner

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Pearce tribute to Liverpool veteran Milnerby Paul Vegas4 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveEngland great Stuart Pearce has paid tribute to Liverpool veteran James Milner.Pearce managed Milner when he was in charge of England U21’s from 2007-2013.He told talkSPORT: “Three words that I would [use to] describe him: resilient, professional and relentless. I think that sums Milly up.”He covers 12, 13 kilometres a game, so I think somewhere in the midfield three [is his position]. But if you asked him to play anywhere, he’d go on the pitch and play anywhere for you. Sensational professional.” last_img

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Nearly 50 people fall sick on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

first_imgBALTIMORE – Nearly 50 people have fallen sick on a cruise ship that departed from Baltimore last week.Royal Caribbean Cruises spokesman Owen Torres told The Baltimore Sun 46 cases of gastrointestinal illness were reported aboard the Grandeur of the Seas ship.The 2,900-passenger cruise left Baltimore on Jan. 2 for a nine-day trip with stops in South Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas. It was scheduled to set sail back to Baltimore on Thursday, but now won’t until Saturday because of a mechanical error.Torres said the cause of the illness is unknown. The ship’s doctors have treated those affected by the illness with over-the-counter medication. Torres said no new illnesses had been reported as of Thursday morning.Last month, about 500 passengers on two separate Royal Caribbean cruises also fell sick.___This story has been corrected to show the reason for the ship’s delayed return was mechanical error, not the sickness.___Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.comlast_img read more

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Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the

first_imgTORONTO – Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week:Trans Mountain troublesB.C. Premier John Horgan’s government may file a long-promised court reference this week to clarify questions around provincial authority over Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.’s Trans Mountain pipeline and other such inter-jurisdictional megaprojects. The company is caught in the middle of a political feud among Alberta, B.C. and the federal government over the $7.4-billion project.Steady as she goesBank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins appear at a Commons finance committee to discuss the central bank’s monetary policy report on Monday. The central bank stuck with its benchmark interest rate of 1.25 per cent last week as it continued along a careful process of determining the appropriate juncture for its next hike.Tims travailsRestaurant Brands International Inc. discusses first-quarter results on Tuesday. Shares for the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons have fallen to their lowest point since February 2017 amid a growing spat between the company and a group of restive Tims franchisees over a range of issues including cost-cutting measures and a $700-million plan to renovate restaurants.DisloyaltyLoyalty rewards company Aimia Inc. releases first-quarter results after markets close on Thursday. An activist investor says it plans to vote against the re-election of the company’s board of director nominees later this month over the company’s poor performance and plummeting share price, citing Aimia’s loss of its agreement with Air Canada and the sale of the British program Nectar to retailer Sainsbury.Green light for Keystone XL?Pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. holds its annual meeting on Friday. A research analyst recently told The Canadian Press that U.S. President Trump’s vocal support for the energy industry company’s Keystone XL pipeline should help it avoid the political pitfalls that sunk Energy East and Northern Gateway.last_img read more

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Talks continue to break impasse over pipeline construction in northern BC

first_imgCompanies in this story: (TSX:TRP)The Canadian Press SMITHERS, B.C. — A meeting is underway between RCMP and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation over the details of a tentative agreement that would allow Coastal GasLink the access it needs to a pipeline work site in northern British Columbia.On Thursday, hereditary chiefs told residents and supporters of the Unist’ot’en healing camp that the deal would see members observe a court injunction by allowing the company’s workers and contractors access to the area, so long as the RCMP agree to leave the camp intact.They are expected to discuss whether the camp can retain a gate at the site, which residents say is vital to their safety.The RCMP arrested 14 people on Monday and dismantled a nearby checkpoint erected by members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who say the company does not have authority to work there without consent from the nation’s hereditary clan chiefs.TransCanada Corp. says it has signed benefit sharing agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the natural gas pipeline route.The Coastal GasLink pipeline would run though the Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40 billion export terminal in Kitimat, B.C.The interim injunction is meant to prevent anyone from impeding the company’s work until the defendants, which include members of the Unist’ot’en camp, file a response.Representatives from Coastal GasLink, including president Rick Gateman, waited outside to join the meeting today.last_img read more

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Goutam Deb asks TMC workers to oust communal forces

first_imgBalurghat: In a scathing attack against the BJP, Trinamool’s South Dinajpur unit observer Goutam Deb said on Sunday that the target of Trinamool Congress is to defeat the communal forces and capture all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.Deb slammed the BJP at a party conference here on Sunday afternoon. “The BJP will not win a single seat in our state. The target of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is to win all Lok Sabha seats in Bengal. It is our goal to unite people while to the contrary the BJP’s motto is to divide people. People will not support them. There is no place of communal disharmony here. People are staying here in peace but sometimes the peace is disturbed by the supporters of the saffron party,” he said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaDeb asked local Trinamool leaders and workers to keep their eyes open so that they don’t fall prey to the tactics of the BJP. “The BJP is trying to create a political unrest in Bengal before the upcoming elections. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have targeted Bengal as they know they will not retain power unless they win a substantial number of seats here. BJP’s days in the Centre are numbered,” he said. Deb said in the last 2014 LS polls, Trinamool candidate and popular theatre personality Arpita Ghosh captured Balurghat seat by defeating the RSP with more than one lakh votes. He said the BJP had secured the third place in the Lok Sabha election. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”Mamata Banerjee has again selected Ghosh for Balurghat as she had done a great job as an MP. Her task has not ended yet,” he said. Outgoing Trinamool MP Arpita Ghosh, district president Biplab Mitra, MLAs Bachchu Hansda and Toraf Hussein Mondal, party leaders Sankar Chakraborty, Satyen Roy along with thousands of party activists were present in the conference. Addressing a press conference, Biplab Mitra said: “We will try our best so that we can retain the Balurghat seat. It is true that BJP has targeted the seat but their intention will not be successful.” Arpita Ghosh urged the TMC workers to stress on campaigning to achieve the dream of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of winning of all 42 LS seats.last_img read more

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Merkel injured skiing cancels meetings

first_imgGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel was injured in a fall while cross-country skiing in Switzerland over the winter holidays and has cancelled meetings in the next three weeks, her spokesman said Monday.Steffen Seibert told reporters that Merkel had suffered a fractured pelvis and must lie down as much as possible. She will work from home during this period.last_img

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