So say you command a ship in Star Fleet and you shoot photon torpedoes in a battle and they don’t hit the other ship, aren’t they still governed by Newton’s laws of physics? Don’t they just keep beaming through space until they finally hit something and most likely destroy it? Why do we never hear about this kind of collateral damage?
The easy answer is that it’s called ‘space’ for a reason … It’s a very empty place, and the probability of randomly firing in any direction and hitting something is near zero, especially when ‘nearby’ is defined in distances measured in light years. http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/astronomy-terms/question221.htm
We rely on our visual system more heavily than previously thought in determining the causality of events. A team of researchers has shown that, in making judgments about causality, we don’t always need to use cognitive reasoning. In some cases, our visual brain—the brain areas that process what the eyes sense—can make these judgments rapidly and automatically.
The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.
“Our study reveals that causality can be computed at an early level in the visual system,” said Martin Rolfs, who conducted much of the research as a post-doctoral fellow in NYU’s Department of Psychology. “This finding ends a long-standing debate over how some visual events are processed: we show that our eyes can quickly make assessments about cause-and-effect—without the help of our cognitive systems.”
Rolfs is currently a research group leader at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience and the Department of Psychology of Berlin’s Humboldt University. The study’s other co-authors were Michael Dambacher, post-doctoral researcher at the universities of Potsdam and Konstanz, and Patrick Cavanagh, professor at Université Paris Descartes.
We frequently make rapid judgments of causality (“The ball knocked the glass off the table”), animacy (“Look out, that thing is alive!”), or intention (“He meant to help her”). These judgments are complex enough that many believe that substantial cognitive reasoning is required—we need our brains to tell us what our eyes have seen. However, some judgments are so rapid and effortless that they “feel” perceptual – we can make them using only our visual systems, with no thinking required.
It is not yet clear which judgments require significant cognitive processing and which may be mediated solely by our visual system. In the Current Biology study, the researchers investigated one of these—causality judgments—in an effort to better understand the division of labor between visual and cognitive processes.
When public schools are judged by how much art and music they have, by how many science experiments their students perform, by how much time they leave for recess and play, and by how much food they grow rather than how many tests they administer, then I will be confident that we are preparing our students for a future where they will be creative participants and makers of history rather than obedient drones for the ruling economic elite.
My colleague from Hybrid Pedagogy, Jesse Stommel recently had a discussion on Twitter about how those people who do value critical pedagogy are often the same ones who are marginalized, silenced, and ultimately pushed out of higher education. Personally, I’m not sure how much longer I can live with the cognitive dissonance, knowing at once that I am not doing my best for my students but also that I am acting in a system that won’t allow me to do what’s best for my students.
Perhaps, this is why we rarely receive any training in pedagogy during graduate school; the cognitive dissonance might dissuade too many of us from continuing much sooner.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/college-ready-writing/sustainable-teaching-fail#ixzz2H71h6K7R
Inside Higher Ed
In 1971, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan introduced a model of measuring prosperity not by GDP but through Gross National Happiness (GNH), a system of governance based on four pillars: equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment, and promotion of good governance. In 2009, the GNH model began to be integrated into the education system through the Green Schools for Green Bhutan initiative.Schools in Bhutan are being encouraged to put the principles of GNH at the heart of education in an effort to make learning more relevant, thoughtful and aligned with sustainable practices. The government has introduced a GNH-based national curriculum, and Unicef Bhutan has funded a training programme for headteachers to help schools implement the scheme at classroom level.The Jigme Losel primary school in the capital, Thimphu, is considered a model of the green schools mindset. The school has introduced practical programmes, including basic agricultural skills, to teach the more than 800 pupils about conservation. Each class has its own tree to care for, and there is a communal vegetable patch and flower garden for the children to manage. The school runs a sustainable food programme feeding low-income students and their families.Children are taught about conserving natural resources, climate change and the dangers of deforestation and pollution. ‘Most of our country is mountainous, but here in the city I think the children can feel disconnected,’ headteacher Choki Dukpa says. ‘Environmental protection is enshrined in our constitution, but young children have to learn why it is important to protect the environment and how the country’s future prosperity depends on its conservation’. [photo]
To anthropologists of the future, however, the gym boom may look as much like a sinister cult as a commercial triumph. Gym-going, after all, has all the basic lineaments of a religion. Its adherents are motivated by feelings of guilt, and the urge to atone for fleshly sins. Many visit their places of worship with a fanatical regularity: a third of LA Fitness members, for instance, go virtually every day. Once there, believers are led by sacerdotal instructors, who either goad them into mass ecstasy during aerobics classes, or preside over the confessional tête-à-tête of personal training. Each devotee has his own rituals, though most rely on the principles of self-mortification and delayed gratification. The extremist cult of body-building, whose Mecca is Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, has become a mass movement.
Via The Economist
I fear one day I’ll meet God, he’ll sneeze and I won’t know what to say.
Sent in response to my boss’s “Merry Christmas” email
I work online teaching new faculty to teach online for a public college in a part of the Midwest with deep Bible Belt roots. My boss sent a “Merry Christmas” email to all of our online faculty who are scattered across the country, and even a few outside the country. This was my response.
Your cheerful holiday wishes — while undoubtedly well-intentioned — ignore the diversity among our online faculty. I know from personal experience teaching nearly 200 new online faculty at our college that our faculty come from a variety of cultures and perspectives. I have taught many Christians, but I have also taught Jews and Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians, Wiccans, humanists, and atheists. While my courses are secular, the people who take these courses are encouraged to be open about themselves to create a genuine human presence in an online setting, and in that process they often reveal part of their cultural background, sometimes including their religious or spiritual affiliations. I am inspired by this, reminded that one of the wonderful things about online education is that it opens us all up to a much wider world of experience than we might otherwise encounter in our everyday lives. This is a valuable thing for us as educators and for students at our college. I am sometimes concerned that the college and its leadership have a blind spot with regard to diversity that prevents them from recognizing its inherent value in education. That’s what crosses my mind when I see holiday wishes expressed that invoke mainstream traditions without also being fully inclusive. At a public college like ours, and especially in an online program such as ours that has a broad reach beyond the immediate geographical and cultural region, it is my hope that we can recognize and encourage diversity through greater sensitivity to the full spectrum of human experience that our faculty represents.
Sincerely wishing you and your family a joyful holiday season.
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience.
We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.
Poem by Diane Ackerman
from I Praise My Destroyer.
© Vintage Books.
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.
The Illusion of Separation
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space,” wrote Einstein in 1950. “He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of consciousness.” It’s a brilliant and fascinating perspective, and science tells us that it’s true. Our eyes inform us that there is a definite boundary between us and the world around us, and so we perceive ourselves as entities separate to the wider universe—as individuals just making our home in this vast place. But when we take a step back, we can see that we’re molecular machines built from a specific arrangements of atoms—atoms that existed before we were born and will continue to exist after we die. They were recycled from the dust of dead stars, and we’re only their temporary custodians. Fundamentally, each of us is just a tiny individual expression of an enormous singular entity—so we are the universe perceiving and studying itself. The idea that the individual and the universe are inseparable is a humbling, counter-intuitive and ultimately awe-inspiring idea—there’s a mad kind of beauty in knowing that we do not live in the universe, but rather we are the universe. As Feynman wrote: “I…a universe of atoms…an atom in the universe.”
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
New Orleans cellist and banjo player Leyla McCalla is setting Langston Hughes’s poetry to song, blending it with Haitian folk music and original compositions – absolutely amazing. Best thing since Langston Hughes’s little-known vintage children’s book about jazz.