Planet Rationalist

March 27, 2015

Kurzweil AI

Why carbon-nanotube fibers make ideal implantable brain electrodes

Pairs of carbon nanotube fibers have been tested for potential use as implantable electrodes to treat patients with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. The fibers invented at Rice University proved to be far better than the metallic wires now used to stimulate neurons in the brain. (credit: the Pasquali Lab)

Rice University scientists have found that the carbon nanotube fibers they developed for aerospace are superior to metal and plain-carbon electrodes for deep brain stimulation for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and for brain-machine interfaces to neural circuits in the brain.

The individual nanotubes measure only a few nanometers across, but when millions are bundled in a process called wet spinning, they become thread-like fibers about a quarter the width of a human hair.

Strong as metal but soft as silk and highly conductive

“We developed these fibers as high-strength, high-conductivity materials” for aerospace applications, where strength, weight and conductivity are paramount, said co-developer Matteo Pasquali, a chemist and chemical engineer.

“Yet, once we had them in our hand, we realized that they ...

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 01:55 Instapaperify

Cal Newport » Blog

Isaac Asimov’s Advice for Being Creative (Hint: Don’t Brainstorm)


Asimov’s Lost Essay

In the late 1950’s, Arthur Obermayer worked for Allied Research Associates, a cold war-era science lab. During this period, his employer received a grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency to “elicit the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system.”

Obermayer was a longtime friend of the famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Figuring that Asimov might know a thing or two about creativity, he brought him into the project.

The result was an essay, penned by Asimov, on the topic of creative breakthroughs. Oberymayer recently brought this essay to the attention of the MIT Technology Review magazine, which reprinted it in full.

The piece contains several original notions, but what caught my attention was its take on where creative ideas come from.

The Creativity of One

Every since ad man Alex Osborn introduced the brainstorming technique in the early 1940’s, creativity has been sold as a collaborative process. This is a big part of the reason, for example, why Facebook is creating the world’s ...

by Study Hacks at Fri, 27 Mar 2015 01:01 Instapaperify

March 26, 2015

Bayesian Investor Blog

Dietary Zinc/Copper Ratio

I’ve recently noticed that dietary zinc/copper ratios may be important (e.g. may influence Alzheimer’s), and that my diet has had ratio which is too low (mine got down below 3 last year, when it should be more like 8 or 10).

The main contributors to lowering the ratio are chocolate, macadamias, and almonds. Each of those seems like a healthy food in moderation (i.e. as many nuts as I’d be willing to shell manually). But I often overeat them.

Animal products are about the only practical way to improve the ratio. Despite the stereotype of a paleo diet consisting of mostly animals, I’ve been getting most of my calories from foods that are fairly similar to what hunter-gatherers eat, while eating a below-average amount of animal products. Since that diet gave me more than the RDA for all nutrients except vitamin D, it seemed unimportant to eat more animals.

Oysters have by far the best zinc/calorie ratio. I find that adding oyster sauce to a stir fry ...

by Peter at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:50 Instapaperify - Program Feed

Dr. Julie Holland

Dr. Julie Holland
Women are overworked and exhausted. As they struggle to keep up with work, family, and today's frenetic pace, they find themselves anxious, frazzled, depressed, and burned out. Worse, women blame themselves for how bad they feel, thinking they should be able to handle it all. But as psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland makes clear in Moody Bitches: The Truth about the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing, the Sex You're Not Having, and What's Really Making You Crazy, women were never meant to be even tempered. They are designed by nature to be dynamic, cyclical, and, yes, moody. Moody Bitches is Holland's call to understand and work with, not against, women's moodiness. Women evolved this way for good reasons; their hormonal changes are the basis for a flexibility that allows them to be responsive to their environment. Being moody is a woman's natural source of power. Yet, women learn from childhood to apologize for their tears, to suppress their anger, and to fear being ...

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:26 Instapaperify

You Are Not So Smart

YANSS 046 – Laser Eyes and Reptilian False Flags

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.02.37 PM


The Topics: Just-So Stories and Conspiracy Theories

The Guest: Steven Novella

The Episode: DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.52.44 PM

This episode is sponsored by Wealthfront, the automated investment
service that makes it easy to invest your money the right way. Visit this link to to get your first $10,000 managed for free.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

In this inbetweenisode you will hear an excerpt from a lecture I gave at DragonCon2014 all about superseded scientific theories, post-hoc rationalization, just-so stories, laser eyes, goose trees, spanking and more.

Steven NovellaAfter that segment, you’ll hear a rebroadcast of an interview from episode 016 with Steven Novella who is a leader in the skeptic community, host of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, and an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He blogs at Neurologica, Skepticblog, andScience-Based Medicine. Listen as he explains why we love conspiracy theories, how they flourish, how they harm, and ...

by David McRaney at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:14 Instapaperify

Life by Experimentation

Music and Neuroscience Destroy Everything You Believe About Time

I'm sharing how I use skillhacks to learn music. Check out the whole series here, or learn more about skillhacking!

Last week, I began using the guitar-teaching game Rocksmith as I prepared to write my review of it. Pretty early on, I noticed something strange: no matter how hard I focused on the little notes moving towards the line, the game was counting them as “misses.”


What was going on? Was the game broken? Was I muting a string? Was my sense of rhythm really THAT bad?


It turned out, the answer had to do with how humans perceive time and disturbing questions like “when does reality happen?”



Don’t Trust your Eyes

The situation got even weirder: on the second day of using the game, I had a lot of apps open so Rocksmith started lagging. The notes seemed to bounce and stutter around the screen. Guess what happened?


I scored my highest score yet.


This led me to develop a theory: my eyes were lying to me. When the game lagged, I ...

by Zane Claes at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:36 Instapaperify

Psych Your Mind

Gender Imbalance in Discussions of Best Research Practices

Over the last couple of weeks there have been some really excellent blog posts about gender representation in discussions of best research practices. The first was a shared Email correspondence between Simine Vazire and Lee Jussim. The second was a report of gender imbalance in discussions of best research practices by Alison Ledgerwood, Elizabeth Haines, and Kate Ratliff. Before then (May 2014), Sanjay Srivastava wrote about a probable diversity problem in the best practices debate. Go read these posts! I'll be here when you return.

Read More->

by Michael Kraus at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:06 Instapaperify

The GiveWell Blog »

Investigating neglected goals in scientific research

A major goal of the Open Philanthropy Project is to explore the topic of scientific research funding, starting with life sciences.This post discusses the process we’ve used so far, including some of the challenges we’ve faced and changes we’ve made in our investigation methods:

  • We first discuss some of the general challenges of finding good giving opportunities in this space.
  • We then introduce the concept of scientific research “gaps” – areas that the existing system doesn’t put enough investment into, leaving potential philanthropic opportunities. One type of gap, which we call a “neglected goal,” has been the focus of many of our efforts so far.
  • We discuss our process so far for investigating neglected goals, and our plans for the future. Future posts will discuss other types of potential gaps that we think could be very important, but would find more difficult to investigate: gaps in high-risk early-stage research and gaps in “translational” research that sits between academic and industry work.

Some challenges of investigating scientific research funding
There are several ...

by Holden at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:55 Instapaperify

Sentient Developments

This New Infrared Telescope Could Help Us Detect Dyson Spheres

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence just got a big boost, thanks to the introduction of a powerful new infrared telescope. In addition to scanning for pulses of infrared light, astronomers will use device to search for alien megastructures, such as Dyson Spheres.

Read the entire article at io9.

by George at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:50 Instapaperify

Marginal Revolution: Science

Derek Lowe on CRISPR, from the comments

Derek writes:

As a scientist in the biopharma world, I can tell you this this does indeed seem very close to being done in humans, and that there is a very high (but still not perfect) chance of success. CRISPR/Cas9 is the real deal, and there are others competing for its spot as well (such as zinc-finger TALEN technology, whose discoverers have just called for a similar moratorium on human germ-line work). There’s no need to whisper about possible Nobel Prizes in this area – the only difficulty for the Nobel committees will be figuring out how to divide the credit and who exactly to recognize.

The first human applications would surely be the obvious single-mutation genetic diseases. In most cases, this would be done best as germ-line work, followed by in vitro fertilization. The children born after such a process would, of course, pass their altered/repaired DNA to their own offspring, and it’s this possibility that has people worried, in case we get it wrong, or in case we start messing ...

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:21 Instapaperify

Andrew Gelman

Chris Rock (3) vs. Thomas Hobbes; Wood advances

In yesterday‘s contest, there’s no doubt in my mind that Levi-Strauss would give a better and more interesting talk than Wood, whose lecture would presumably feature non-sequiturs, solecisms, continuity violations, and the like.

But the funniest comment was from Jonathan:

Ed Wood on Forecasting:

“We are all interested in the future for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” Plan 9 From Outer Space: The Original Uncensored And Uncut Screenplay

Ed Wood on Bayesian vs. Frequentist:

“One is always considered *mad* if one discovers something that others cannot grasp!” Bride of the monster

These quotes are great! I still don’t see Wood getting into the Final Four, but he earned this one, dammit.

And now we have a struggle of two worthy opponents.

Hobbes got past Larry David in round 1, he destroyed Leo Tolstoy in round 2, and now he’s up against another comedian. Does the Leviathan have it in him to advance to the next round, and, from there, likely to ...

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:00 Instapaperify

zen habits

Leave Yourself Wanting More

By Leo Babauta

I think most of us have a tendency to do as much as we possibly can. But doing less might be better.

When we go to a great restaurant, we want to try all the dishes, eat as much of the delicious food as we can. And we leave overstuffed, sometimes painfully so, and our waistlines expand.

When I go for a run, often I’ll want to run as far or as hard as I can … and then I’m exhausted, and less likely to want to run tomorrow.

When we go on a trip to a new country, we want to see everything, do as much as possible, and that leaves us exhausted.

When we work or read online, we go from one task to the next, continuously, quitting only when we’re spent, well past what might be healthy for us.

How can we counter the tendency to want to do as much as possible?

Leave yourself wanting more.

The other day I went out for a run, and ...

by zenhabits at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:23 Instapaperify


NeuroLogica Blog

Fox News, the NFL, and Concussion Denial

I have been a fan of professional football since my college days (go Pats) but I also recognize that it is a brutal sport prone to injuries. In recent years awareness of the true neurological risk of concussions, especially repeated concussions, has been increasingly coming to light. This may cause some cognitive dissonance among fans, players, and anyone involved with the NFL, including broadcasters.

Recently Fox News published and article in which Dylan Gwinn writes:

Don’t look now, but concussions have become the new global warming: a debate where “consensus” trumps evidence, and heroes and villains are determined by their stances on an issue where the science is bogus at worst and murky at best.

This is classic FUD – fear, uncertainty, and doubt, the primary tactic of those who find reality not to their liking in some particular aspect.

Gwinn creates the classic false dichotomy between consensus and evidence. What if the consensus is based upon scientific evidence, and in fact the consensus of experts is the best way for non-experts to understand what ...

by Steven Novella at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:08 Instapaperify


Talking tomorrow evening at American University

Tomorrow I’m running down to D.C. after recording my Slate podcast. I’ll be giving an evening talk to the math and statistics folks (and the general public) at American University on Weapons of Math Destruction. So basically the nerdy low-down on what I’m writing about in my book. Here’s the poster (for live links, go here):



Maybe I’ll see you there!

by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:44 Instapaperify

Science-Based Medicine

Should the FDA crack down on homeopathic “remedies”?

In the category of potentially dangerous complementary or alternative medicine, I can think of few products worse than ones claimed to relieve asthma, yet don’t actually contain any medicine. Yet these products exist and are widely sold. Just over a year ago I described what might be the most irresponsible homeopathic treatment ever: A homeopathic asthma spray. If there was ever a complementary or alternative product that could cause serious harm, this is it:


Photo Credit Ryan Meylon


Among the different treatments and remedies that are considered “alternative” medicine, homeopathy is the most implausible of all. Homeopathy is an elaborate placebo system, where the “remedies” lack any actual medicine. Based on the idea that “like cures like” (which is sympathetic magic, not science), proponents of homeopathy believe that any substance can be an effective remedy if it’s diluted enough: cancer, boar testicles, crude oil, oxygen, and skim milk are all homeopathic “remedies”. (I think Berlin Wall may be my favorite, though vacuum cleaner dust is a runner-up). The dilution in the case of ...

by Scott Gavura at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00 Instapaperify


The Right Way to Disagree With Your Boss

By Suck UK

By Suck UK

Disagreeing with your boss is awkward, but expressing that divergent viewpoint is important in your professional growth as well as the forward progress of your company. Social scientist Joseph Grenny shares with Harvard Business Review how to express disagreement with your superior without coming across as a jackass:

Discuss intent before content. When the boss gets defensive, it’s… because she believes your dissent is a threat to her goals. Defenses are far less often provoked by actual content than they are by perceived intent. You can be far more candid about your view if you frame it in the context of a mutual purpose that the boss already cares about. If you fail to do this, the boss may believe your disagreement signals a lack of commitment to her interests.

Show respect before dissent. Most of us assume that if you want to be respectful, you have to dilute your disagreement, and if you want to be honest, you’re going to have to hurt some feelings. But this is a ...

by Allison Stadd at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00 Instapaperify

Uploads by The RSA

Boosting the living standards of the self-employed HD

Benedict Dellot introduces our new report: Boosting the living standards of the self-employed.
From: The RSA
Views: 198
20 ratings
Time: 02:23 More in Education

by The RSA at Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:32 Instapaperify

March 25, 2015

Oscillatory Thoughts

Moving to our new home!

After many long years here on Blogger, I've finally pulled the trigger and I'm moving over to WordPress on my new lab website!

You can find the new blog at:

You can also subscribe to blog updates using the RSS feed at:

And here's our first post!

by Bradley Voytek at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:51 Instapaperify - Program Feed

Orion Health: Values and Behaviors Workshop

Orion Health: Values and Behaviors Workshop
Orion Health, makers of award-winning health specific software, develops modern and creative solutions for healthcare organizations across the globe. Find out about Orion's best practices for working with implementers, following industry standards, and innovating collaborative care.
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 09:00:00 -0700
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, Orion Health Headquarters, Orion Health
Program and discussion:

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:34 Instapaperify


Perils of Pandora, Part III: Can Avatar be 'fixed?'

Following on my earlier analyses of James Cameron's Avatar, please let me reiterate that I actually quite like the film!  What's not to like about such a feast for the eye that's also packed with terrific action, and that tries so hard for goodness?  Well, as I have shown, it is that last part where Mr. Cameron inadvertently fails, delivering instead a blow to our confidence that we can become better people. That we can make a better civilization,

And here we ponder... 

== Is there a way out? ==

In fact, I believe Avatar's moral flaws could be fixed with only minimal alterations! Maybe five minutes worth of footage, added to a "director's cut," might alleviate many of the problems outlined in my earlier postings Part I: Why Avatar (Tragically) Fails to Make us Better and Part II: How James Cameron can set things right. 

Just five minutes.

Shall I give it a try?
Picture the beginning, as a crippled Jake Sully arrives at the human mining colony exploiting riches from ...

by David Brin at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:06 Instapaperify

Perils of Pandora (Part I) -- why Avatar (tragically) fails to make us any better

Well it seems we're all going back to Planet Pandora. And why not? With the proclamation of a coming sequel to the blockbuster sci-fi epic Avatar -- no, make that three sequels -- the near-universal response from one and all has been "Sure! Just tell me much money to bring and where to stand in line!" 

Even the recent announcement of a one year production delay hasn't dampened the ardor and anticipation.

James Cameron's epic was the most important science fiction film of the first decade of the 21st Century, least of all because it proved that animation tools have matured enough to portray almost any story. For example, the vivid animal characters in Life of Pi. Or else -- perhaps someday soon -- dolphins piloting starships? 

(An aside: I liked Christopher Nolan's Interstellar even more, in part because it contained more for my inner adult... a theme that I'll develop here.)

But of course, Avatar was about much more than special effects. Director-producer James Cameron often conveys fascinating messages. He wants to entertain ...

by David Brin at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:04 Instapaperify

Perils of Pandora, Part II: how James Cameron might still set things right

Last time, I went on a bit, describing some logical faults in a motion picture that -- in fact -- I deeply admire. After all, criticism can be well-intended. And clearly, James Cameron intended his epic film -- Avatar -- to be much more than just an orgy of visual delights. He meant both to provoke discussion and to teach some valuable lessons about our modern, self-critical, technological and grudgingly-progressive society. His intentions were good...

...and (I am forced to assert, alas) the lessons were utterly blown.

But we'll get back to Avatar in a moment.  First, let's step back and study the trap that snared this brilliant director. And clearly, it's not his fault. Because this snare catches almost everyone.

== Civilization (automatically) has to suck! ==

Let's make this even more general. Most Hollywood films (and nearly all dramatic novels) share one central tenet: society doesn't work.

It seems an almost-biblical injunction.

“Thou shalt never show democratic-western civilization functioning well. Especially, its institutions must never be of any help solving the protagonist’s problems ...

by David Brin at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:03 Instapaperify

Uploads by The RSA

RSA Replay - Does Your Mind Mean Business?

We rely on our minds for everything we do, but how many of us really understand how to get the best from them to work effectively and sustainably? Employers are talking more and more about...
From: The RSA
Views: 666
20 ratings
Time: 01:00:52 More in Education

by The RSA at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:20 Instapaperify

Sentient Developments

We Should Be Able To Detect Spaceships Moving Near The Speed Of Light

A pair of engineers say it's possible to detect the signatures of spacecraft traveling at relativistic speeds, and we can do so using current technologies. The trouble is, their new analysis also suggests that moving through space at ludicrous speed is more hazardous than previously thought.

Read more at io9.

by George at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:44 Instapaperify

The 9 Weirdest Implications Of The Many Worlds Interpretation

According to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics, we live in an infinite web of alternate timelines. It's a serious claim that carries some rather serious scientific, philosophical, and existential baggage. And here are the nine weirdest possible implications.

Read the entire post at io9.

by George at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:39 Instapaperify

Mind Hacks

How is the brain relevant in mental disorder?

The Psychologist has a fascinating article on how neuroscience fits in to our understanding of mental illness and what practical benefit brain science has – in lieu of the fact that it currently doesn’t really help us a great deal in the clinic.

It is full of useful ways of thinking about how neuroscience fits into our view of mental distress.

The following is a really crucial section, that talks about the difference between proximal (closer) and distal (more distant) causes.

In essence, rather than talking about causes we’re probably better off talking about causal pathways – chains of events that can lead to a problem – which can include common elements but different people can arrive at the same difficulty in different ways.

A useful notion is to consider different types of causes of symptoms lying on a spectrum, the extremes of which I will term ‘proximal’ and ‘distal’. Proximal causes are directly related to the mechanisms driving symptoms, and are useful targets for treatment; they are often identified through basic science research. For example ...

by vaughanbell at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:59 Instapaperify

Scott H Young

Why is it So Hard to Create Permanent Habits?

Motivation works well in the short-term. If you set a new goal, you can probably summon up the motivation to pursue it earnestly for a week or two. If the goal is tremendously important, that motivation may even carry you uninterrupted for a month.

But motivation wanes. If your goal takes more than a month or two, you’re going to need more than just motivation. You’re going to need habits.

Habit-building methods are great because they translate that short-term motivation into something more durable. If you invest in consistent routines, with triggers, rewards and punishments, you can stabilize that motivation into systematic output.

The Gospel of Changing Habits

This transition from motivated bursts to stable habits is often so powerful that people who’ve never tried it before become proselytizing converts.

My friend recently got into setting habits. He went from struggling to go to the gym regularly to managing dozens of habits with intricately engineered systems.

I know many bloggers that built their initial audiences on habit forming. Part of that is ...

by Scott Young at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:01 Instapaperify

Andrew Gelman

Claude Levi-Strauss (4) vs. Ed Wood (3); Cervantes wins

For yesterday we have a tough call, having to decide between two much-loved philosophical writers, as Jonathan put it in comments:

Camus on ramdomness; how make a model when there is no signal — only noise.
Cervantes on making the world fit the model through self-delusion.

Two fascinating statistics lectures with the same underlying theme — modelmaking as a chimera: “a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination.”

And, as Zbicyclist writes:

Both are oddly relevant at a time when Ebola threatens and when wind power is making a comeback.

Z almost won it with this comment:

Cervantes would be chivalrous and prompt. Camus would need to take a cigarette break every 5 minutes, that or he’d set off the sprinkler system.

But we’ve already used the cigarette thing, also it’s not so clear that chivalry is a good attribute in a seminar talk.

I’ll go with this quote supplied by Matt:

“The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part ...

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:00 Instapaperify


Bulletproof Shopping Guide and Checklist: Find Bulletproof Foods Near You

Want to reap all the benefits of the Bulletproof Diet? It’s about more than just eating the foods on the green end of the spectrum; it’s about eating the highest quality versions of those foods, which sometimes can be hard to find. Ideally, the foods you eat will be local, organic, grass-fed, and raw, and […]

The post Bulletproof Shopping Guide and Checklist: Find Bulletproof Foods Near You appeared first on Bulletproof.

by Dave Asprey at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:00 Instapaperify


Science-Based Medicine

What Is Brain Death?

Of course, any story illustrating the issues surrounding brain death is going to be a sad and tragic tale. In December of 2013, Jahi McMath suffered bleeding complications following a tonsillectomy and tissue removal for sleep apnea. This resulted in a cardiac arrest with an apparent prolonged period of lack of blood flow to the brain. While her heart function was brought back, Jahi suffered severe brain anoxia (damage due to lack of oxygen) and was declared brain dead on December 12, 2013.

Jahi’s tragic story is not over, however, because her family refused to accept the diagnosis of brain death. They took legal action to keep the hospital from pulling life support, and eventually worked out a compromise where the family was able to remove Jahi to their own care. At present Jahi is apparently being cared for in an apartment in New Jersey, on a ventilator and fed through a feeding tube.

There is often some confusion as to what brain death actually is. The term is unfortunately often used to refer ...

by Steven Novella at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:21 Instapaperify


I felt warm and relaxed

When I was a kid, being the child of nerd atheists, I spent more time watching Star Trek, Animal House, and Monty Python than in church.

Scratch that, I spent no time at all in church, and quite a bit of time at sci-fi conventions, where my father was a sci-fi book dealer. In fact it was a yearly ritual to carry a bunch of boxes of books to the car to tote them to Boskone, where we’d have a table in the big book room.

Sometimes I’d be in charge of selling, at least once I was old enough to make change. When I wasn’t on duty I’d wander around the room and wish I had enough money to buy sparkly purple crystals from weird women wearing scarves.

Sometimes I’d even read the books, out of boredom. They weren’t my thing, and I didn’t know why back then, but now I think I do.

Most of the time, the set-up seemed along these lines: some extremely macho ...

by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:36 Instapaperify


Assign People to the Tasks They Love (Not Just the Ones They’re Good At)


By Morgan Gaynin Inc.

Professor of Business Psychology Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic knows that creativity can be further developed by pairing it with an activity that the individual is truly passionate about. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Chamorro-Premuzic explains:

One of the most effective methods for enhancing creative performance is to increase individuals’ motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation (their task-related enjoyment, interest, and involvement). Ever since Teresa Amabile first emphasized this idea, meta-analytic studies have confirmed the intuitive idea that assigning people to projects they love unleashes their creative potential. In contrast, extrinsic rewards, such as financial incentives, tend to inhibit people’s creativity.

The next time you work on a collaborative project, be sure to find collaborators that are genuinely engaged in the venture as their creative contributions will be more elevated. If you can’t choose who you work with, than at least delegate people to tasks they truly enjoy. Not only will this prevent complaining, but you will receive more original work. As psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung said, “The creative mind plays ...

by Stephanie Kaptein at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:00 Instapaperify


How to Use Your Temptations to Build Better Habits

Building habits is like training a dog—you want to reward yourself for a job well done. But there's nothing that says you have to enjoy that reward after your "good behavior". Another technique, called "Temptation bundling," lets you enjoy your reward while you build that habit, and it can be a very powerful tool.


by Herbert Lui at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:00 Instapaperify

Doctor Stu's Science Blog

Three parent babies: it’s not what you think

Most of us came into this world through a moment of passion between our father and mother. Not so for everyone. In the world today there are 200,000 people who were not conceived in the conventional way – but in a Petri dish. For the past 35 years, IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and similar ‘test … Continue reading

by Stuart Farrimond at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:50 Instapaperify

Sentient Developments

Why A Moratorium On Heritable Genetic Modification Is A Bad Idea

A group of geneticists has called for a moratorium on research into modifying heritable human DNA — a practice that could lead to so-called "designer babies." But as scientists consider this drastic proposal, they should also recognize the potential benefits this technology could afford – and the risks of an outright ban.

Read the entire article at io9.

by George at Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:21 Instapaperify

Marginal Revolution: Science

The CRISPR revolution seems to be here, is this the coming of eugenics?

You will find a Qanta primer here.  Here is an excerpt:

In the same month, separate teams of scientists at Harvard University and the Broad Institute reported similar success with the gene-editing tool. A scientific stampede commenced, and in just the past two years, researchers have performed hundreds of experiments on CRISPR. Their results hint that the technique may fundamentally change both medicine and agriculture.

Some scientists have repaired defective DNA in mice, for example, curing them of genetic disorders. Plant scientists have used CRISPR to edit genes in crops, raising hopes that they can engineer a better food supply. Some researchers are trying to rewrite the genomes of elephants, with the ultimate goal of re-creating a woolly mammoth. Writing last year in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, Motoko Araki and Tetsuya Ishii of Hokkaido University in Japan predicted that doctors will be able to use CRISPR to alter the genes of human embryos “in the immediate future.”

Thanks to the speed of CRISPR research, the accolades have come quickly. Last year MIT Technology ...

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 04:48 Instapaperify

Kurzweil AI

Optogenetics without the genetics

Funtionalized heated gold nanoparticles are not washed away, allowing them to serve a neural stimulators (credit: Joa˜ o L. Carvalho-de-Souza/Neuron)

A method of using light to activate or suppress neurons without requiring genetic modification (as in optogenetics) has been developed by scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The new technique, described in the journal Neuron, uses targeted, heated gold nanoparticles. The researchers says it’s a significant technological advance with potential advantages over current optogenetic methods, including possible use in the development of therapeutics for diseases such as macular degeneration.

“This is effectively optogenetics without genetics,” said study senior author Francisco Bezanilla, PhD, Lillian Eichelberger Cannon Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago. “Many optogenetic experimental designs can now be applied to completely normal tissues or animals, greatly extending the scope of these research tools and possibly allowing for new therapies involving neuronal photostimulation.”

How it works

Optogenetics, the use of light to control neural activity, is a powerful technique with widespread use ...

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:43 Instapaperify

Neuroscientists pinpoint cell type in the brain that controls body clock

Suprachiasmatic nucleus controls sleep-wake cycles (credit: National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

UT Southwestern Medical Center neuroscientists have identified key cells in the brain that control 24-hour circadian rhythms (sleep and wake cycles) as well as functions such as hormone production, metabolism, and blood pressure.

The discovery may lead to future treatments for jet lag and other sleep disorders and even for neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as metabolism issues and psychiatric disorders such as depression.

It’s been known since 2001 that circadian rhythms are generated within a specific area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny region located in the hypothalamus. But that region contains about 20,000 neurons that secrete more than 100 identified neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, cytokines, and growth factors, so researchers have not been able to pinpoint which neurons control circadian rhythms.

Neuromedin S: master controller of circadian rhythms

Now UT Southwestern neuroscientists report in the journal Neuron that they have found “a group of SCN neurons that express a neuropeptide called neuromedin S ...

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 02:15 Instapaperify