Tag Archives: science

Skull vibrations, baby

A moment of nerdery that is also close to home: scientists have a theory about why we don’t recognise or like hearing our recorded voices played back.

The answer is interesting (and my title is a spoiler alert) but it’s also something I struggle with. I find it so hard to listen back to my speeches or interviews, but I know it’s one of the best ways to improve and to learn what you do well too.

So, grit your teeth, listen back to yourself and learn to be a better public speaker. And if it sounds like a hot mess, it’s probably all in your head.

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Things that Make no sense

I feel like this could be a theme for 2016: #thingsthatmakenosense .

Early contenders from this week so far, which could also be filed under “Wow, that escalated quickly”:

  • B.O.B. really seems to believe that the earth is flat. Like, for reals, you guys. Twitter told him. B.O.B repelled all takers. Even renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson told him. Then B.O.B released a diss track about him and Tyson’s eponymous nephew issued a reply. I actually like B.O.B. but I’m going to have to file his music under “guilty pleasures” along with Blurred Lines on the grounds of sheer ignorance. Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.
  • How Google paid the UK approx £130 million in back taxes and is going to pay Italy roughly the same amount even though the Italian operation is less than a tenth of the size of the UK one. Part of me is quite pleased that Osborne’s attempt to gain political capital by touting this “deal” has rebounded spectacularly
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The power of touch

Why do we say that somebody or something “rubs me up the wrong way”? How is that statement so evocative, so easy to understand?

We all know touch is important, but NPR did a fascinating interview with a neuroscientist about why touch is vital for our survival – and why some touch can irritate you, while others can soothe. (apparently, there is an ideal speed, people).

A few things I found very interesting: “Touch is so central to our humanity that it’s hard to even imagine [life without] it. For example, if a child is born blind, they can grow up and have a completely full and normal life. They will be cognitively normal, psychiatrically normal and not have profound problems — the same if a child is born deaf. However, if a child is born into a situation, like a Kurd in Romanian orphanages in the 1980s and ’90s, where social touch is deprived because there are not enough caregivers around, then that child will develop terrible psychiatric problems, attachment disorders, mood disorders, and also physical problems — problems with the digestive system and immune system, higher incidences of diabetes. And, amazingly, these problems are not just problems of childhood, but persist throughout life.”

And on the link between depression and pain: “…emotional pain centers are richly interconnected with regions of our brain having to do with cognition and anxiety and anticipation. So this is why many people who suffer from chronic pain can get partial relief from anti-anxiety medication. It’s not that the anti-anxiety medication directly affects pain-perception — what it does is it breaks this horrible positive feedback loop between anxiety and chronic pain. So if you have chronic pain, then you become anxious about, “When is it going to stop? When is it going to recur?” And that anxiety seems to trigger more chronic pain. If you can interrupt that … then often times that can bring at least partial pain relief.”

As Diana Ross sang, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand….”

 

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Woman by Natalie Angier

womanI’m only in chapter 1, but Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier is tickling all my funny bones. Her tone is poetic, irreverent, teasing, exultant, cheeky, provocative – and utterly hilarious. She makes science so much fun. I think I’m going to love this. If you enjoy the witty style of feminist sites like The Hairpin, I heartedly recommend this book.

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