My Favorite Bit this week was about how scientists and inventors peak in their late 40s and early 50s and “tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers.” One example is Dr. John Goodenough who in 1980, at the age of 57, was one of the inventors of the lithium-ion battery that powers many home electronics today; however, Dr. Goodenough was not content to rest on his laurels and in 2017, at the age of 94, worked with another team that filed a patent for “a new kind of battery that, if it works as promised, would be so cheap, lightweight and safe that it would revolutionize electric cars and kill off petroleum-fueled vehicles.”
Other Scientists have also been creating new technology that could significantly reduce the amount of electricity needed for electronics by mimicking the way that neurons transfer information across synapses in our brains. Artificial intelligence continues to exponentially accelerate scientific research with the discovery of 6,000 new species of inovirus (compared to the 100 species that had been identified before that study).
At the intersection of science and Philosophy neuroscientists studying psilocybin may have discovered an important function of the Default Mode Network (DMN), which “‘gives coherence to cognition’ by connecting different regions of the brain, and is considered the ‘orchestrator of the self’.” They found that when study participants tested psilocybin their brains formed connections between different cortical regions; the study’s authors posit that this alternative network gives rise to feelings of “a strong sense of interconnectedness” reported by some participants and that, therefore, the DMN is responsible for “the feeling we each have that we’re individuals, a feeling that manifests very strongly as reality.” Philosopher Daniel Dennett pushes back against those who argue that “neuroscience implies we don’t have free will” presenting the thought experiment of a nefarious neurosurgeon who lies about a implanting a chip that controls your every move.
A Princeton sociologist investigated the growing cultural, economic, and Political divide between rural Americans and their urban and suburban counterparts; he found that rural Americans’ biggest concern is the “moral decline” of the country which is “really just a cover for much deeper fears about race and demographic changes.” Recognizing the differences between rural Americans and the rest of the country can also help to better tailor gun regulations to local conditions. During the Spanish Civil War anarchist revolutionaries controlled large portions of Catalonia including up to 75% of the economic activity in Barcelona for 10 months before being defeated by Franco’s forces.
Finishing off your week in review is a Hodgepodge of articles that take a look at why kids should be able to move around in class (it helps them with their concentration amongst other benefits), the health benefits of squatting, why one futurist thinks that reading less can help you be more informed, studies that look into how our perception of time changes with age, and a photo collection of Sudan’s Nubian pyramids.
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Have a great rest of your week!