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Tag Archives: brain

198. Bee-brained

You make decisions. How good you are at doing so is irrelevant, what matters is that you make them. You make them in the same way as a bee. But how is that?

Decision making is a, decidedly complex process but it is vital. Also the actual process is near identical for anything with a decent brain. Decision making works like a debate. Neurons which zip around the brain collecting information and forming plans. Then neurons form groups and you ‘think.’ If you have ever been in two minds when making a decision, that is because it is exactly what happens.

Neurons find those sharing the same idea and send positive affirming signals. Which is nice of them. Then they find those who disagree with them and send inhibiting signals. The equivalent of you trying to win an argument by telling the opposition to shut up. As time passes the numbers supporting each decision vary, heading towards a single answer. When a large enough consensus of opinion is reached then hooray! You have just made a decision.

As was previously mentioned this is a technique that we use because it works, in fact every creature with a complex brain uses it. Bees do not have complex brains, they are fuzzy little colourful balls that fly into flowers and build hexagons; yet they use the same technique. No bee is smart enough to use the technique, so they use many bees, and form a hive mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Articles, Trivia

 

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186. The Melted Caterpillar

by GollyGForce

For over a century scientists have been observing caterpillars engaging in strange migrations. This condition affects many different species of caterpillar, but the virus specialising in the Gypsy Moth caterpillar has a few extra surprises.

These normally nocturnal creatures would starts venturing out in broad daylight, leaving their normal grazing and reaching up into the open canopy. The change was not a choice, it was forced by an invader. The caterpillars were sick, and a virus was in control.

One single gene has been isolated in the virus which is thought to be the ‘caterpillar control,’ it deactivates the caterpillar’s will to moult, sending the caterpillar on a constant feeding cycle. Making one very hungry caterpillar.

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Articles

 

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184. Deadly Dough

In San Diego the sun beat down mercilessly on every available surface, metalĀ  singed fingers and waves of air rose off of the tarmac. Outside of a small shop there was a car parked, from inside came a muffled bang, no-one outside noticed. The figure inside the car reached up cautiously to the back of its skull then collapsed limply.

Over time the people passing in and out of the shop noticed the slumped figure with her eyes closed and windows rolled up. The figure was one Lisa Burnett, a 23 year-old blonde-haired figure who was now by some contrivance of circumstance inert in the front of a rapidly heating car. Eventually one person who had been in the shop for over an hour became concerned and carefully approached the car.

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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Articles

 

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176. Walking Corpse Syndrome

Not a sufferer of Walking Corpse Syndrome

Also known as Cotard’s Syndrome, this rare mental condition has a very bizarre way of changing one’s outlook. It is usually a side-effect of a previous mental illness but occasionally the result of head trauma. What it actually does is make the sufferer believe that they are dead, non-existent or in even rarer cases, immortal.

They simply are convinced that they are in essence, a walking corpse, or ghost. Some conclude, just because it is hot when they gain consciousness, that they have died and gone to hell, even though life goes on normally around them.

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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167. Kryptos – The Unsolvable Sculpture

Kryptos is a sculpture outside of the CIA headquarters in Virginia, America. It consists of four copper panels each of which is covered in code. Letters which spell out nonsense, until you figure out the encryption. Each of the four panels is encrypted in a different way. Since its installation in 1990 three of the four panels have been decoded. Part remains unsolved after these 20 years despite the efforts put in by the employees of the CIA and thousands of cryptanalysts. This fourth and final panel of Kryptos is now one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world.

The sculpture was a $250,000 piece by Jim Sanborn. Around the CIA site he placed many other, smaller but similar copper panels with messages in morse code engraved in their surfaces; for Kryptos another level was required. A message was created, split into four panels then each encoded with the help of the chief of the CIA Cryptographic Center. Each panel using a more complex combination of complex ciphers.

The fourth panel has remained elusive for a reason. It is greatly more complex than the others, to solve it, you both need to find the keys for it, what ciphers were used, and you also need to use the answers from the previous three panels as well. Without the first three answers perfect, the fourth remains impossible.

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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Articles

 

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143. The Pain of the Painless

Congenital insensitivity to pain(CIP), an extremely rare condition in which a person can touch, feel heat and perceive moment. It just happens that they cannot feel pain, it is genetic. It seems like a blessing on paper, ‘No pain! Huzzah, now I can drink really hot Tea and look cool.‘ Ignore that false logic; it is a disability and make no mistake, it is a serious one.

Pain is when your body and the world collaborate to perform basic psychology – negative reinforcement. Something happens, you feel pain, pain is bad so you don’t do thing again. It is this logic and defence system that teaches us not to poke at our eyes or put our hands into fire. Without the nervous system warning them, those with the condition struggle. Even with the most attentive mindset the number of small cuts and bruises amassed is extraordinary. The oddest part of the condition for many outsiders is not the more rapid accumulation of damage, it’s the fact that unless they look at it, the injury will go on unnoticed. One child suffering from the condition, Gabby Gingras, broke her jaw at age 2 and it went unnoticed until it became infected 6 weeks later. The consequence was 6 weeks on an IV drip.

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139. Brainpower

The brain uses electricity, but how much? When measured in terms of Watts the human brain expends 20W of power. That is not much.

In fact you would need 5 human brains together to provide the same energy as an average laptop. So yes, brains are not a brilliant source of power. Back to batteries – for now. On the bright side though, a single human brain expends the same energy used by 18 mobile phones.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Trivia

 

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