What if you could see inside someone’s mind? It’s not possible to know exactly what another person is thinking, but neuroscientists from UCSD and UCSF are on their way. They created a “glass brain”: software that shows a person’s brain reacting to stimuli in real time. The implications for virtual reality and digital communication are tremendous, according to Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life, who has been collaborating with the neuroscientists.
“We’re trying to identify which critical factors can most help people feel like they’re face to face,” says Rosedale, whose new company, High Fidelity, is currently working on a next generation virtual world.
How to Remember Anything (runtime ~20 minutes)
For those who have never seen it: a totally useful Ted Talk by science journalist Joshua Foer (who is also the founder of the absolutely awesome Atlas Obscura). He talks about covering the U.S. Memory Championships where he learned how humans can train their brains to remember a lot in a little bit of time. But more importantly, he talks about why we ought to strengthen our memory in an age when one can outsource the storage of most information to the web.
Related: Last year, Clive Thompson published a fascinating book about how technology is changing the way we think (mostly for the better). Maria Popova reviewed it on Brain Pickings, covering some of his most important observations, namely: the difference in transparency between traditional public storehouses of information (i.e.: the public library) and modern storehouses (i.e.: the web). And in this context, we wrote a bit about the perils of algorithmic curation.
Scientists have grown the first mini human brains in a laboratory and say their success could lead to new levels of understanding about the way brains develop and what goes wrong in disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
“It didn’t matter if their significant other was an excellent hostess or intelligent, men were more likely to feel subconsciously worse about themselves when their female partner succeeded than when she failed, according to the study published online in the APA Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. However, women’s self-esteem was not affected by their male partners’ successes or failures, according to the research, which looked at heterosexual Americans and Dutch.”
“In one case, the subject travelled to New York, demanding to see the ‘director’ of the film of his life, and wishing to check whether the World Trade Centre had been destroyed in reality or merely in the movie that was being assembled for his benefit. In another, a journalist who had been hospitalised during a manic episode became convinced that the medical scenario was fake and that he would be awarded a prize for covering the story once the truth was revealed. Another subject was actually working on a reality TV series but came to believe that his fellow crew members were secretly filming him, and was constantly expecting the This-Is-Your-Life moment when the cameras would flip and reveal that he was the true star of the show.”
John Nelson is known for building extremely complex visualizations of weather patterns. But his latest creation is a simple animated GIF of 15 frames from NASA’s cloudless satellite photography collection. It’s essentially a year in the life of Earth.
Here, he shares why the visual is so haunting to him personally and to us collectively. We felt that his thoughts were simply too earnest to abridge.
HOW MARS GOT ITS GROOVES BACK Dubbed linear gullies, these long grooves appear on the sides of some sandy slopes during Martian spring. They have nearly constant widths, extend for as long as two kilometers, and have raised banks along their sides. Unlike most water flows, they do not appear to have areas of dried debris at the downhill end. A leading hypothesis — actually being tested here on Earth — is that these linear gullies are caused by chunks of dry ice breaking off and sliding down hills while sublimating into gas, eventually completely evaporating into thin air. Or, there are aliens. Aliens on Mars. And these are the tracks of their peers. (Photo: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona) via NASA APOD)
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported on Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.