New genetic theory might pave way to understanding human intelligence – Tim Radford  Monday 21 December 2015 11.27 EST


The researchers found that genes that influenced the intelligence and ability of healthy people were the same ones that impaired cognitive ability and caused epilepsy when mutated. Photograph: Science Picture Co./Corbis

New genetic theory might pave way to understanding human intelligenceScientists from Imperial College believe that intelligence may be influenced by two networks of genes, possibly controlled by a master regulatory system

British scientists believe they have made a huge step forward in the understanding of the mechanisms of human intelligence. That genetic inheritance must play some part has never been disputed. Despite occasional claims later dismissed, no-one has yet produced a single gene that controls intelligence.

But Michael Johnson of Imperial College London, a consultant neurologist and colleagues report in Nature Neuroscience that they may have discovered a very different answer: two networks of genes, perhaps controlled by some master regulatory system, lie behind the human gift for lateral thinking, mental arithmetic, pub quizzes, strategic planning, cryptic crosswords and the ability to laugh at limericks.

Source: New genetic theory might pave way to understanding human intelligence | Science | The Guardian

VICE News Wants To Hear From You About Climate Change – Vice News Published on Nov 13, 2015


Ninety-seven percent of qualified scientists say that the earth is getting hotter and human activity is to blame. Data shows that the global mean temperature is now 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. If humanity continues this course, we can expect more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, rising seas, and an unprecedented impact on humanity.

World leaders will be meeting in Paris later this month to try to come up with a international climate agreement. While the overwhelming majority of the world’s economies have laid out plans to cut their carbon emissions, they’re still short of the goal the United Nations has set for holding the line on global warming.

Ahead of the conference, VICE News wants to hear your thoughts on climate change.
-What do you think should be done to address climate change?
-What changes can individuals make to make a difference? How do you think individual actions can make a difference?
-What message do you want to send to world leaders?

Send us a Skype video message with your thoughts. Here’s how: http://bit.ly/1Nvt08k

9/11 Ceremony in New York City Marks 14th Anniversary of Attacks – By SOPHIA HOLLANDER And JOSEPH DE AVILA Updated Sept. 11, 2015 11:26 a.m. ET


Victims’ families observe moments of silence, read names of lives lost People read the names of victims of the 2001 attacks at the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., at sunrise Friday as the One World Trade Center tower stands in the background. Mitch Ellicott, center, with sons Zachary, left, and Benjamin, remember a family member lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Ellicotts were among those who gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City on Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the attacks. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House on the anniversary of the attacks. Gerard Chipura, a captain with the Fire Department of New York, takes a moment to remember his brother who was killed in the 2001 attacks. A family member of a victim attends the ceremony at the 9/11 memorial on Friday. A flag is placed along the South Pool of the World Trade Center site before the anniversary ceremony. A moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the time the first plane struck the North Tower. Gary Mascitis, 14, remembers his uncle during the ceremony. Family members of the victims read the names of 2,983 people killed in the 2001 attacks and the 1993 bombing. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, right, lays a wreath at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial in Washington on Friday. The Pentagon memorial has 184 individual benches to commemorate the 59 passengers and crew members who died on American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 people killed in the Pentagon during the attack. A visitor pauses on the observation deck of the Flight 93 National Memorial visitor center in Pennsylvania on Friday. The memorial, honoring the 40 passengers and crew who died when their hijacked airliner crashed in a field, officially opened Thursday. Former New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani, left, and Michael Bloomberg, center, stand with current Mayor Bill de Blasio during the ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush takes part in ceremonies to remember the victims of the 2001 attacks in Londonderry, N.H., on Friday. Elena Lazar, second from left, who lost her son Eugene Gabriel Lazar in the 2001 attacks, is comforted by Siu Chong, her son’s girlfriend at the time of his death, at the World Trade Center memorial. A member of the New York Fire Department salutes at the Wall of Remembrance, a bronze memorial for firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks on the side of the Engine Co. 10 and Ladder Co. 10 firehouse near the World Trade Center site. People read the names of victims of the 2001 attacks at the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., at sunrise Friday as the One World Trade Center tower stands in the background. Mitch Ellicott, center, with sons Zachary, left, and Benjamin, remember a family member lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Ellicotts were among those who gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City on Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the attacks.

People read the names of victims of the 2001 attacks at the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., at sunrise Friday as the One World Trade Center tower stands in the background. Mitch Ellicott, center, with sons Zachary, left, and Benjamin, remember a family member lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Ellicotts were among those who gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City on Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the attacks.

People read the names of victims of the 2001 attacks at the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., at sunrise Friday as the One World Trade Center tower stands in the background. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Mitch Ellicott, center, with sons Zachary, left, and Benjamin, remember a family member lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Ellicotts were among those who gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at …

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House on the anniversary of the attacks. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Gerard Chipura, a captain with the Fire Department of New York, takes a moment to remember his brother who was killed in the 2001 attacks. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A family member of a victim attends the ceremony at the 9/11 memorial on Friday. Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

A flag is placed along the South Pool of the World Trade Center site before the anniversary ceremony. A moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the time the first plane struck the North Tower. Bryan R. Smith/Associated Press

Gary Mascitis, 14, remembers his uncle during the ceremony. Family members of the victims read the names of 2,983 people killed in the 2001 attacks and the 1993 bombing. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, right, lays a wreath at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial in Washington on Friday. The Pentagon memorial has 184 individual benches to commemorate the 59 passengers and crew members who died on American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 people killed in the Pentagon during the attack. Gary Cameron/Reuters

A visitor pauses on the observation deck of the Flight 93 National Memorial visitor center in Pennsylvania on Friday. The memorial, honoring the 40 passengers and crew who died when their hijacked airliner crashed in a field, officially opened Thursday. Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

 

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/9-11-ceremony-in-new-york-city-marks-14th-anniversary-of-attacks-1441965600

To Stop Procrastinating, Start by Understanding the Emotions Involved – By Shirley S. Wang Updated Aug. 31, 2015 11:44 p.m. ET


Time management goes only so far; the emotional reasons for delay must also be addressed

Chronic procrastination is an emotional strategy for dealing with stress, researchers say, and it can lead to difficulties in relationships, jobs, finances and health.

Chronic procrastination is an emotional strategy for dealing with stress, researchers say, and it can lead to difficulties in relationships, jobs, finances and health. Illustration: Yao Xiao

Putting off a work or school assignment in order to play videogames or water the plants might seem like nothing more serious than poor time-management.

But researchers say chronic procrastination is an emotional strategy for dealing with stress, and it can lead to significant issues in relationships, jobs, finances and health.

In August, researchers from Stockholm University published one of the first randomized controlled trials on the treatment of procrastination. It found a therapy delivered online can significantly reduce procrastination.

Psychologists also are studying other ways people might be able to reduce procrastination, such as better emotion-regulation strategies and visions of the future self.

Scientists define procrastination as the voluntary delay of an action despite foreseeable negative future consequences. It is opting for short-term pleasure or mood at the cost of the long-term. Perhaps we didn’t finish preparing a presentation on the weekend because we had house guests. That is just intentional delay based on a rational decision, says Timothy Pychyl (pronounced pitch-el), a psychology professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, who has published extensively on the topic.

The essence of procrastination is “we’re giving in to feel good,” Dr. Pychyl says. “Procrastination is, ‘I know I should be doing it, I want to, it gets under my skin [when I don’t].’ ”

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/to-stop-procrastinating-start-by-understanding-whats-really-going-on-1441043167?mod=trending_now_1

Teach the World – By Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann August 20, 2015


Why the UN Sustainable Development Goals Should Focus on Education

In September the United Nations will finalize a new package of development goals that will guide the efforts of its member states to improve living conditions around the world. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are long on ambition—they intend to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030—but short on substance. Most importantly, the SDGs’ approach to education is insufficient.

Expanding quality education is the only feasible way to generate long-term economic growth, which is why a strong and coherent emphasis on education is central to the success of the global development agenda. Unfortunately, the current SDG goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education” is too vague and provides no guidance for measuring increases in cognitive skill levels. The global development community can do better.

COUNT WHAT COUNTS

A growing body of research has emphasized the importance of cognitive skills, or knowledge capital, in driving economic growth. Over time, the knowledge capital of the nation improves as better-educated youth enter the labor force. A more skilled workforce leads to increased economic growth.

Recognizing the importance of education, the prior Millennium Development Goals included a target of reaching universal primary schooling by 2015. Although developing countries did, in fact, substantially expand access to schooling over the past two decades, many have still not translated increased education into economic well-being. The reason is that too many countries focused on increasing the number of children attending school rather than on educational outcomes.

Article continues:

France train shooting: Americans overpower gunman on Paris express – Angelique Chrisafis in Paris Saturday 22 August 2015 06.30 EDT


Police investigate incident near Arras, France, in which three US citizens – two of them soldiers – prevented attack by suspect reportedly armed with AK-47

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at Aug 22, 2015 5.07

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve praises the brave actions of two train passengers who reportedly helped overpower the gunman – link to video

A heavily armed gunman has opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris before being overpowered by three US citizens, two of whom were soldiers.

Two people were injured in the attack, including one of the Americans, who was admitted to hospital with serious injuries to his hand that needed surgery.

Barack Obama described the men as heroic following the attack on Friday.

Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman after the attack on the train.

Pinterest Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman after the attack on the train. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A British passenger, Chris Norman, helped the Americans tie up the suspect, and French anti-terrorist police are now questioning him. He was arrested after the train made an emergency stop at Arras, near the French-Belgian border.

The suspect’s motive was not immediately known, but French prosecutors said counter-terrorism investigators were launching an inquiry. According to early briefings, the gunman, 26, was known to French intelligence services and was Moroccan or of Moroccan origin.

Belgian prosecutors said on Saturday they had formally opened an anti-terrorism investigation. “We have opened an inquiry as the suspect boarded the train in Brussels,” Eric van der Sypt, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said.

The shooting happened just before 6pm in the last carriage of the train, which was carrying 554 passengers. The man had several weapons in his luggage, including a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and razor blades.

Two of the Americans were in the military, their travelling companion and childhood friend Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, said.

The one injured was named as air force serviceman Spencer Stone from Sacramento, California. The other was Alek Skarlatos, of Roseburg, Oregon.

“We heard a gunshot and we heard glass breaking behind us and saw a train employee sprint past us down the aisle,” Sadler said. The trio then saw a gunman entering the carriage with an automatic rifle, he added.

“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells: ‘Spencer, go!’ and Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.”

 

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/21/amsterdam-paris-train-gunman-france

Regime Change for Humanitarian Aid – By Michael Barnett and Peter Walker July/August 2015 Issue


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at Jul 31, 2015 1.56

The global humanitarian system, already under considerable strain, will soon be tested as never before. In 2013, the gap between the funds available for humanitarian aid and estimated global needs reached $4.5 billion, leaving at least one-third of the demand unmet. The gap seems certain to widen, as key donors cut their contributions and humanitarian disasters grow more frequent and severe. Complex humanitarian emergencies, such as the war in Syria, have shown just how poorly the world is prepared to respond to human suffering on a large scale, despite considerable practice. The international community’s response to last year’s outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, for example, was slow off the mark and then stumbled, leaving everyone worried about future public health emergencies. Meanwhile, climate change has increased the destructive force of natural disasters, which fuel violence and put tremendous pressure on governments and aid agencies alike. And rapid urbanization, coupled with massive migration to coasts, has amplified the toll of such crises.

Small wonder, then, that the humanitarian community consistently falls short of expectations—both those of outside observers and its own. To some extent, that is due to factors beyond its control. Humanitarians confront problems that offer no easy solutions. They must contend with powerful funders who would rather make feel-good pledges than actually pay up, with donors who expect relief work to serve their own interests above those of local populations, and with disasters that leave first responders as exposed to the dangers they are responding to as the victims themselves. Complex crises of the kind roiling Syria often require aid workers to plead with warlords, rebels, and guerilla groups for the privilege of helping the vulnerable, only to be denied entry or forced at gunpoint to pay a heavy surcharge.

Article continues:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-06-16/regime-change-humanitarian-aid

Want to enjoy the deep, mystical sleep of our ancestors? Turn your lights off at dusk.


A bird rests in a tree at dusk near the Beaverdam Creek Reservoir in Loudoun County, Va.  (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

What if you could meditate like a Tibetan lama with no instruction whatsoever — and without having to subscribe to any religious beliefs?

People hear a question like that and, unless they are particularly gullible, they assume they’re about to be scammed. But in this case there is nothing to buy — no tapes, no app, no religious agenda that gets sprung on you at the last moment when you’re feeling vulnerable and spiritually open. No hidden fees.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a catch. You have to be willing to revert to a Paleolithic pattern of sleep — and that means turning off your electric lights at dusk and leaving them off until dawn. Do that, and in about three week’s time, beginning around six hours after sunset each evening, you will find yourself experiencing a period of serene wakefulness that was once a nightly meditation retreat for all Homo sapiens on Earth. It’s a guarantee. It’s encoded in your genes.

[You’re missing out on your experiences. A meditation expert explains how to live in the moment.]

During the mid-1990s, sleep researcher Thomas Wehr conducted a National Institutes of Health experiment that he later called an exercise in “archaeology, or human paleobiology.” Wehr wanted to find out if modern humans still carried within them the rhythms for a prehistoric mode of sleep. Did prehistoric humans sleep more? Did they sleep differently — or perhaps better?

Wehr’s logic was simple: Aided by the stimulating effects of all kinds of artificial lighting (everything from laptop screens to the bright lights of big cities), modern humans had compressed their sleep nights, like their work days, into convenient eight-hour blocks. And yet, given that light-assisted wakefulness was a relatively new invention, wasn’t it possible that human beings still carried in their DNA the remnants of a more primordial pattern of sleep?

The results were staggering. For one month, beginning at dusk and ending at dawn, Wehr’s subjects were removed from every possible form of artificial light. During the first three weeks, they slept as usual, only for about an hour longer. (After all, he reasoned, like most Americans, they were probably sleep deprived.) But at week four a dramatic change occurred. The participants slept the same number of hours as before, but now their sleep was divided in two. They began each night with about four hours of deep sleep, woke for two hours of quiet rest, then slept for another four.

During the gap between their “first” and “second” sleep, Wehr’s subjects were neither awake nor fully asleep. Rather, they experienced a condition they had never known before — a state of consciousness all its own. Later Wehr would compare it to what advanced practitioners experience in meditation — what you might call “mindfulness” today. But there weren’t any mindfulness practitioners in his study. They were simply ordinary people who, removed for one month from artificial lighting, found their nights broken in two.

[Dalai Lama’s translator: How being kind to yourself is good for the world]

While trying to account for the peace and serenity that his subjects reported feeling during their hours of “quiet rest,” Wehr discovered that prolactin (the hormone that rises in nursing mothers when their milk lets down) reached elevated levels in their bodies shortly after dusk, remaining at twice its normal waking level throughout the full length of the night. Prolactin creates a feeling of security, quietness and peace. And it is intimately, and biologically, tied to the dark.

Even during their hours of quiet rest, the prolactin levels in Wehr’s subjects remained steady. Normally, if you wake in the night, those levels will go down — even if you don’t turn on the lights. But if you turn the lights off at dusk and keep them off, giving your body the full spectrum of the night to work from, that richer, deeper darkness will fashion an experience so different from your normal daylight consciousness it is almost a mystical state.

“This is a state not terribly familiar to modern sleepers,” Wehr lamented when the study was done and he had begun to wrap his mind around the enormity of a discovery that turned modern consciousness on its head. “Perhaps what those who meditate today are seeking is a state that our ancestors would have considered their birthright, a nightly occurrence.”

Discovering Wehr’s study in the late ’90s was a major revelation for me. Not only had I been waking up to the dark at 2 a.m. for most of my life, I had also been a Zen Buddhist monk and a meditation teacher. But I’d long since become impatient with Buddhism and had given up teaching it in the end. I always felt there was something more basic than religion at the bottom of it all. Something simpler. More universal. More rooted in the Earth and its primal rhythms — like the rising and setting of the sun.

Wehr’s study sent ripples through half-a-dozen different disciplines. Sleep specialists began to wonder if the modern insomnia epidemic was anything of the kind. Historians doubled down on forgotten journals and parish records to verify that prior to the industrial revolution “divided sleep” was not the exception but the rule. And I turned to ancient legends and scriptures to find that much, if not most, of what the world called myth and spiritual wisdom had been conceived of in the middle of the night.

David hung a harp above his bed so that when the night wind blew across its strings it would wake him to sing the Psalms. Jesus rose to pray on a hillside in the hours before dawn. Muhammad slept for half of the night, rose to pray for a third of the night, and then slept for the remaining sixth. Even the Buddha meditated at night. According to the sutras, he became an “Awakened One” between the hours of the ox and the tiger — in other words, between 2 and 4 a.m.

None of which tells me I ought to pray or meditate or “be religious,” but rather that once, long ago, before our billion-watt culture got the best of us, there was an hour in the middle of the night where peace was there for the having — not as the result of assiduous practice over many years of spiritual practice but as a nightly blessing that nobody had to work for. It’s still there. It always has been. Finding it again is as simple — or as difficult — as turning out the lights.

Clark Strand is the author of “Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age,” published in April by Spiegel & Grau. To learn more, visit www.clarkstrand.com.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Does that object ‘spark joy’? The life-changing Japanese art of decluttering. 

Why the U.S. rating on the World Happiness Report is so low — and how we can change it

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/19/want-to-experience-the-deep-mystical-sleep-of-our-ancestors-turn-your-lights-off-at-dusk/?tid=sm_fb

He dropped his wallet and an amputee picked it up. They followed him and saw him buy things at the mall. – Posted by: Viral 4 RealDate: May 2015


They say that the opportunity makes the thief. This means that even if you do not have the sole intention of stealing, if the ‘item’ presents itself to you, and you know that there will be no consequences—you tend to take it. Yes it is true for most people, but there are still those who remain honest and prefer to return the things which are not theirs.

In this social experiment, a man drops his wallet or purpose to see which people would return his wallet. He then decided to do something else, and left his wallet on the pavement. An amputee passed by and picked up the wallet. The man was looking around and saw that nobody claimed ownership. He then made a call before going to the mall.

The owner followed the man to see what he would do with the wallet. To his surprise, the man bought a bag and a pair of shoes!  They followed him still, and the man was walking for 2 hours. The owner felt something familiar about where they were going, and when he found out why, I felt bad for the amputee!

http://viral4real.com/2015/05/09/he-dropped-his-wallet-and-an-amputee-picked-it-up-they-followed-him-and-saw-him-buy-things-at-the-mall/