Caring For The Introvert

Wednesday, 01 June 2016 16:06 Written by
Caring For The Introvert

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves conversations about their ideas or feelings, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but often seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? If so, do you redouble your efforts to draw him out? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (see the abundant references below).

Obama Strategy Against Killer Asteroids

Saturday, 07 January 2017 14:52 Written by
Obama Strategy Against Killer Asteroids

In a newly released strategy, the United States has proposed an increased global effort to locate 300,000 or so Earth-impact risks and prepare for potential future meteor collisions that could destroy cities, civilization, or all life as we know it. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are defined as asteroids or comets that come near our planet’s orbit. A newly published White House document entitled ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’ details how low-probability, high consequence impacts pose a “significant and complex challenge”.

Cataloging and tracking these things is no small task. As of December 2016, we know for sure of some 15,342 NEOs between 1 meter and 32 kilometers in diameter. The current estimate is that there are about a thousand out there larger than a kilometer wide, and about 13,000 that are more than 140 meters across – real killers, each with their own speed, direction and orbits through the galaxy. After two decades of searching, only about 28 percent of the estimated total number of NEOs bigger than 140 meters across have been found and tracked. That's far short of the 90 percent that US Congress directed NASA to get a handle on by 2020, and it leaves a global blind spot of more than 9,000 potential extinction-level threats that we could potentially do something about if we gave ourselves enough warning.

Awe Shapes Views of Science

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 11:22 Written by
Awe Shapes Views of Science

In general, we feel awe when in the presence of something that is so big, beautiful, powerful or complex that it is hard to wrap our heads around (e.g. gazing at the stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe, witnessing the destructive force of a natural disaster). We feel it when we are struck dumb by the presence of the mysterious, magical, wondrous or beautiful and its experience drives us to seek explanations. Something has not only defied our expectations about how the world works, but it has made us want to understand, explain and find meaning in what has happened.

Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

Saturday, 24 December 2016 12:01 Written by
Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

Most of us have experienced this creeping sense of being overwhelmed: the feeling not merely that our lives are full of activity – that can be exhilarating – but that time is slipping out of our control. The quest for increased personal productivity – for making the best possible use of your limited time – is a dominant motif of our age. And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. It’s understandable that we respond to the ratcheting demands of modern life by trying to make ourselves more efficient. But what if all this efficiency just makes things worse?

Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 04:08 Written by
Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

A liver hormone called FGF21 may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study.  This raises the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. The new study, by researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, for the first time highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it.

President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:17 Written by
President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

A large enough solar flare could knock out electrical grids we have come to rely on for day-to-day life. On 13 October 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order aimed at preparing the nation's infrastructure for "extreme space weather events" that could potentially be powerful enough to wreak havoc on essential electrical grids.

Doctor Can Stop Heart Attacks

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:57 Written by
Doctor Can Stop Heart Attacks

When Dr. Harry Selker was working as a cardiologist in the 1970s, clot-busting drugs were showing great promise against heart attacks. One medical treatment Selker is researching is a cocktail of glucose, insulin and potassium, known by its chemical initials GIK. More than 50 years ago, studies with baboons and rabbits indicated that GIK appeared to actually prevent heart attacks. The simple concoction protected heart muscles against damage. Selker says: "So it was very encouraging. It was extraordinary, really."

Astronomers Find 1000+ New Planets

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:00 Written by
Astronomers Find 1000+ New Planets

This week astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope announced that the planet-hunting spacecraft had increased its catalogue by an additional 1,284 worlds. This is the greatest number of planets ever announced at one time. A paper summarizing the findings appears in The Astrophysical Journal. The total exoplanet tally now stands at about 3,200, and Kepler has found 2,235 of them, NASA officials said.

Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:04 Written by
Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ. Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter. “Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:35 Written by
Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

One of the most iconic musicians in music history, Prince's extensive career grew out of the music scene of his native Minneapolis, where he lived his entire life. His 1978 debut album For You and self-titled second LP, released in October 1979, kicked off an incredibly prolific run of albums that included 1999, Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Sign O The Times and Batman, among others, throughout the 1980s at a clip of nearly one per year, evolving with each release.  Rest in Peace - 21 April 2016

Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 22:43 Written by
Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Canada’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to decriminalise and regulate recreational marijuana in spring 2017, according to the health minister, Jane Philpott. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, promised during last year’s election campaign that his government would legalise recreational marijuana, following the US states of Washington and Colorado, but the time frame has been unclear.

Philpott, speaking on Wednesday at a special session of the UN general assembly in New York on drug problems around the world, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and will keep criminals from profiting from its sale.

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