Human mind – automated ?

Driving home after a visit with a relative, you suddenly realize you have no specific memory of how you got there. Well, you’ve taken that trip so many times, you tell yourself, that you could just about do in your sleep. Tying a shoe later, you reflect again on how often you accomplish things while your conscious mind is barely paying attention. Of course, you’re not wrong. We all have those moments.

At around three pounds, the gelatinlike tissue in your skull accounts for only a couple of percent of your total body mass, but it consumes a lot of energy—some 20 percent of the calories you eat every day. Conscious thought is “expensive” in energy terms. Is it any wonder the brain tends to shift its more costly processing tasks toward becoming more automated, “cheaper” routines?

That thought struck me during one of our weekly editorial meetings some months ago while we were discussing story ideas. How much of our lives is actually decided for us by our brain without our active awareness, I wondered? Naturally, when I asked that question out loud, longtime Scientific American senior editor Gary Stix was only too happy to explore the answer. The outcome is the cover story by Yale University psychologist John A. Bargh, “How Unconscious Thought and Perception Affect Our Every Waking Moment.

Bargh explains how decision making about such tasks as voting, making purchases or even planning vacations often occurs without our giving things much conscious thought. In matters small and large, we routinely arrive at automatic judgments, our behaviors shaped by embedded attitudes. Put another way, awareness about our relative lack of awareness gives us a new appreciation for how profoundly our unconscious mind steers our lives.

Two other articles take a look below the surface, from different perspectives. “Superpowerful X-ray Laser Boils Atoms in Molecules, Nanosystems and Solids and Explodes Proteins, All in the Name of Science,” by physicists Nora Berrah and Philip H. Bucksbaum, describes a microscope of unprecedented power, which can create exotic forms of matter found nowhere else in the universe. The x-ray laser, powered by the world’s longest linear accelerator, subjects atoms, molecules and solids to high-intensity x-ray pulses. The resulting exotic states of matter last only a few femtoseconds—but nonetheless give us useful glimpses of an extreme environment that has no parallels on earth.

In “Life under the Microscope: Stunning Photographs from the BioScapes Competition,” by Scientific American associate editor Ferris Jabr, we take a microscopic look at the surprisingly intricate minuscule creatures that inhabit our planet, as well as the tiniest features of larger organisms. The photography reveals startling details, from the internal symmetry of a lily bud to a dinosaur bone that has transformed into sparkling crystal. We hope you will enjoy using some of your conscious mind’s bandwidth to contemplate the many wonders brought to light by the process of science.

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Gokul Jegarakshagan

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Biggest Structure

Biggest Structure.

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Biggest Structure

Astronomers have discovered a huge formation of 73 quasars representing the largest structure yet observed in the universe.

The quasar group is very distant, and therefore existed when the universe was much younger than it is now. A quasar is a very energetic black-hole-powered galactic nucleus. Quasars first appeared in the very early universe, soon after the Big Bang. The light from a quasar is so intense that it can be visible from across the universe.

A remarkable thing about the new discovery is that the structure is larger than cosmological theory says is possible. [Blueprint of the Universe (Video Show)]

The currently accepted Cosmological Principle, based on the work of Albert Einstein, suggests that the largest structures we should be able to find would be about 370 megaparsecs across (more than 1.2 billion light-years). The newly found quasar group is 1,200 megaparsecs across, a distance that would take four billion years to cross at the speed of light.

The largest structures that we know that are close to Earth are super clusters of galaxies surrounding vast voids in space. The Sloan Great Wall is the largest such structure and is at the top end of the size limit set by the Cosmological Principle.

from: http://www.space.com/19227-biggest-structure-universe-explained-infographic.html

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Nature of Time

Nature of Time

Jegarakshagan Gokul, time, i do not have time..

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Early learning

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Early experiences not only shape adult lives, but they might also protect against future cognitive problems resulting from brain damage, according to neurobiologists studying the mental abilities of rats with brain lesions. Typically, these lesions impair a rat’s ability to focus and filter out distractions. But scientists now have evidence that an early behavioral intervention could prevent this effect.

Researchers at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, and New York University have demonstrated how just teaching young rats to focus on relevant cues could protect against cognitive decline related to their brain injuries. The finding appears August 22 in Neuron

“We never imagined you could do something for these animals that could essentially compensate for a major developmental defect,” says neuroscientist Daniel Weinberger at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins University. Weinberger, who is unaffiliated with the study, calls this work a totally novel approach and discovery.

In a healthy brain, cognitive control allows an individual to devote resources toward a specific object and tune in to only the correct cues. This is what, for example, allows you to pay attention when your boss is talking to you despite the appearance of five new e-mails in your inbox and a ringing telephone. This control deteriorates, however, as a consequence of certain brain injuries and in certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

For this study, researchers induced a brain injury in rats by injecting seven-day old pups with neuron-killing acid. Specifically, they targeted a region of the brain called the ventral hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region implicated in memory; it also neighbors the brain’s cognitive command center, the prefrontal cortex. Rats that receive this injection possess normal cognitive functioning in their youth and adolescence, but as they enter adulthood, they show sharp cognitive and behavioral changes. These changes occur because as the brain continues to develop, the injury’s damage is amplified …

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=head-start-early-learning-cognitive

 

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iphone 5

A remarkably slim design that still makes room for a larger display and a faster chip. Ultrafast wireless that doesn’t sacrifice battery life. And all-new headphones designed to sound great and fit comfortably. So much went into this iPhone. So you could get even more out of it.

– from: http://www.apple.com

Jegarakshagan Gokul

Gokul Jegarakshagan

 

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Early study

Early experiences not only shape adult lives, but they might also protect against future cognitive problems resulting from brain damage, according to neurobiologists studying the mental abilities of rats with brain lesions. Typically, these lesions impair a rat’s ability to focus and filter out distractions. But scientists now have evidence that an early behavioral intervention could prevent this effect.

Researchers at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, and New York University have demonstrated how just teaching young rats to focus on relevant cues could protect against cognitive decline related to their brain injuries.

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