In every culture that anthropologists have ever studied, people tell stories.
Families most frequently tell stories around the time of vacations, family reunions, (sadly) funerals, Thanksgiving and, of course, the family-oriented winter holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Stories are told about times past, times present and even times yet to be. These stories mix real people and places with imaginary people and places. For instance, there was never anyone called Sherlock Holmes, but the town he lived in – London – is real. The street he lived on – Baker Street – is also real. But there is no 221B – his house number in the story. So, why do we tell these stories?
Bright stars top Christmas trees in Christian homes around much of the world. The faithful sing about the “Star of Wonder” that guided the wise men to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. They’re commemorating the Star of Bethlehem described by the Evangelist Matthew in the New Testament. Is the star’s biblical description a pious fiction, or does it contain some astronomical truth?
Big data is big news these days. But most organisations just end up hoarding vast reams of data, leaving them with a massive repository of unstructured – or “dark” – data that is of little use to anyone. Given the potential benefits of big data, it’s crucial that we find better ways to gather, store and analyse data in order to make the most of it.
Giving feedback is unquestionably one of the most challenging tasks for any leader, as it can be painful to both the giver and receiver. It is nonetheless invaluable: Research has shown that employees recognize the importance of feedback – whether positive or negative – to their career development.
Many even welcome it, provided it’s given well. One study of nearly a thousand employees both in the U.S. and abroad found that 92 percent believed that negative feedback is effective at improving performance – “if delivered appropriately.”
Most of us considered microbes little more than nasty germs before science recently began turning our view of the microbial world on its head. A “microbe” is a bacterium and any other organism too small to see with the naked eye. After decades of trying to sanitize them out of our lives, the human microbiome – the communities of microbes living on and in us – is now all the rage. And yet, some insist that we can’t really call microbes “good.” That’s nonsense.
The recent finding that telling lies induces changes in the brain has stimulated a number of misrepresentations that may wreak more harm on our understanding than the lies on which they report. CNN’s headline runs, “Lying May Be Your Brain’s Fault, Honestly,” and PBS reports, “Telling a Lie Makes Way for the Brain to Keep Lying.” These stories are based on a study from University College London using a brain imaging technique called functional MRI. The authors report that as subjects tell lies, activation of the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with emotion and decision making, actually decreases, suggesting that subjects may become desensitized to lying, thereby paving the way for further dishonesty.
While 2016 may have been disappointing to some, there still remains quite a few reminders of why we should never doubt humanity's endless potential for good. Perhaps its one of our species most enduring factors when faced with tasks which may seem impossible at first.
Peter Kogler, an internationally renowned Austrian artist who lives and works in Vienna, has hypnotized the world with his latest psychedelic installations at the ING Art Center in Brussels.
Using paint and projections, he makes simple galleries, lobbies and transit centers look distorted, warped and twisted. Born in Innsbruck in 1959 and living in Vienna, Peter is one of the pioneers of the computer-generated art. He has been creating art for more than 30 years and still manages to surprise the viewers.
Seeing is believing, but it's definitely more entertaining to re-create the experience first hand with the right tools.
The Instagram.com/PhysicsFun compiles many of the most interesting toys available for purchase and are wonderful instruments to study the laws of our universe and lighten up the mood of any science lover.