Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing

Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing (Public Radio International)

“Neuroscience… has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards ‘non-linear’ reading — a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page. 

‘They call it a bi-literate brain,’ Zoromodi says. ‘The problem is that many of us have adapted to reading online just too well. And if you don’t use the deep reading part of your brain, you lose the deep reading part of your brain.’

So what’s deep reading? It’s the concentrated kind we do when we want to ‘immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document,’ Zoromodi says. And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer. ‘Dense text that we really want to understand requires deep reading, and on the internet we don’t do that.’

To keep the deep reading part of the brain alive and kicking, Zomorodi says that researchers like Wolf recommend setting aside some time each day to deep read on paper.”

Fascinating. I definitely think my attention span has been affected by how much reading I do online. It’s harder for me to focus on a book for long periods of time. It’s one of the reasons why I love my basic Kindle, because it doesn’t allow me to check my e-mail, or get distracted by anything else on the internet. It’s just for reading.

 

Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic

Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Whether it’s measles or pertussis, the local children statistically at the greatest risk for infection aren’t, as one might imagine, the least privileged — far from it. An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A. The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise. They express their noncompliance by submitting a form known as a personal belief exemption (PBE) instead of paperwork documenting a completed shot schedule.

It’s no secret that anti-vaccine sentiments run high on the Westside. But the data reveals a community where ambiguous fears about the perceived threat of immunization have in fact caused a very real threat. This is a hard topic to discuss, especially here in Hollywood. It hinges on parental choices that directly impact your own children and other parents’ kids, too — a dinner-party land mine to be avoided at all costs. Few parents would speak to THR on the record about their decisions for fear of the backlash.

Yet this silence has turned the issue into a time bomb. At a time in which America is consumed with Ebola fears, a very real and preventable health crisis could explode in our backyard. With a whooping cough outbreak growing even faster than the swelling non-vaccination rate, questions of responsibility, both personal and collective, deserve urgent answers.”

Really well-researched, thought-provoking read. This is not mean-spirited anti-vaxxer propaganda, which I the article I started reading before I got to this one. I do support vaccinating children, but I don’t support vilifying people that don’t. We have to have a rational conversation about this, because people standing on either sides of a fence yelling at each other isn’t helping anyone, and it’s only making parents dig in further.

Why do we have blood types?

Why do we have blood types?

“Why do 40 per cent of Caucasians have type A blood, while only 27 per cent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do? To get some answers, I went to the experts – to haematologists, geneticists, evolutionary biologists, virologists and nutrition scientists.

In 1900 the Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner first discovered blood types, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in 1930. Since then scientists have developed ever more powerful tools for probing the biology of blood types. They’ve found some intriguing clues about them – tracing their deep ancestry, for example, and detecting influences of blood types on our health. And yet I found that in many ways blood types remain strangely mysterious. Scientists have yet to come up with a good explanation for their very existence.”

Super fascinating stuff. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

“It’s been more than 50 years since the Colorado River regularly reached the sea. But this spring, the U.S. and Mexico let the water storm through its natural delta for a grand experiment in ecological restoration. As the dam gates opened, a small band of river rats caught a once-in-a-lifetime ride.”

The story of the Colorado River is about as American as it gets; history, adventure, and politics all play a role. This is a tale of rebirth, but the ending isn’t exactly happily ever after. It’s happily for a little while, at least.

Can We Build in a Brighter Shade of Green? [Sept 2010]

Can We Build in a Brighter Shade of Green? [Sept 2010]

“A so-called passive home like the one the Landaus are now building is so purposefully designed and built — from its orientation toward the sun and superthick insulation to its algorithmic design and virtually unbroken air envelope — that it requires minimal heating, even in chilly New England. Contrary to some naysayers’ concerns, the Landaus’ timber-frame home will be neither stuffy nor, at 2,000 square feet, oppressively small.

It has been a good deal more expensive to build, however, than the average home. That might partly explain why the passive-building standard is only now getting off the ground in the United States — despite years of data suggesting that America’s drafty building methods account for as much as 40 percent of its primary energy use, 70 percent of its electricity consumption and nearly 40 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions.

Energy Star and LEED aim for efficiency improvements of at least 15 percent over conventional construction — and both programs can earn a variety of tax credits and other incentives. The passive-home standard, perhaps because it’s unfamiliar to many officials who create efficiency stimulus programs, is eligible for few direct government subsidies, despite the fact that homes using it can be up to 80 percent more energy-efficient, over all, than standard new houses and consume just 10 percent of the heating and cooling energy.

Add photovoltaic solar panels or other energy harvesting systems, and passive homes can quickly become zero-energy-use homes — or even power generators that can feed electricity back to the grid.”

For more about passive houses, including graphics, check out Passive House Alliance US. Since this article is almost 4 years old, I wanted to do some research to see if more people were building these homes in the United States. There were only 13 homes at the time of the article’s publication; now, according to Passive House Institute US, there are at least 116. In Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, a 150 unit project is currently under construction, and once completed, will be the largest passive structure in the United States.

Since passive building started in Europe, they are naturally way ahead of the United States on projects. According to this article, “some 25,000 certified passive structures — from schools and commercial buildings to homes and apartment houses — have already been built in Europe.” In Germany, there are plans to build a hospital.

Wow.

PERCY JULIAN: Google Doodle salutes pioneering chemist

PERCY JULIAN: Google Doodle salutes pioneering chemist as a man utterly in his elements

Time and again and again and again, Percy Julian — the grandson of slaves and the father of Julian Laboratories Inc. — used his brilliance and perseverance and innovation in science to overcome obstacles raised before him only because of the color of his skin.

Julian’s work with alkaloids and steroids  would transform medical care, as he used such natural substances as soy protein and the calabar bean to help create and improve treatments for glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis. His findings and products would also contribute to the development of medical birth control and ways to suppress the immune system — so crucial to organ transplants.

To understand the path of Percy Julian is to comprehend not only the Jim Crow South of his lifetime, but also the Academic/Industrial Prejudice Most Everywhere in his era.

I really respect Google Doodle for going out of its way to highlight important women and people of color in our history. Reading about Percy Julian gave me chills, because he truly overcame every possible disadvantage to become someone people still admire. Just an amazing man.

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

“Most adults do not have memories of their lives for the first 3 to 3 1/2 years,” says Patricia Bauer, a professor of psychology at Emory University.

Scientists have known about childhood amnesia for more than a century. But it’s only in the past decade that they have begun to figure out when childhood memories start to fade, which early memories are most likely to survive, and how we create a complete autobiography without direct memories of our earliest years.

Pretty fascinating stuff.