Essential Life Skill #4: Making Connections
This is the basis of what we call creativity: not a deus ex machina scrawling on a tabula rasa, but the mind’s constant search for interesting new ways of grouping the data we’re constantly taking in.
Pattern recognition is one of the things human brains are exceptionally good at. In childhood, we learn to group things in the physical world by size, shape, color, number, and so on. But by adolescence we’re able to make abstract connections between things and ideas that are extremely dissimilar. This is the basis of what we call creativity: not a deus ex machina scrawling on a tabula rasa, but the mind’s constant search for novel combinations – for interesting new ways of grouping the data we’re constantly taking in.
For this reason, some of the most promising work being done in the field of artificial intelligence is based on pattern-recognition models that build up from simple to more complex. Still, no machine has (yet) come close to replicating humans’ amazing connection-making power - the power that enables us to do extraordinary things like building machines that attempt to replicate our own intelligence, or inventing the soufflé.
While connection-making builds upon the grouping and matching games we play as children, there is no known limit to our ability to deepen this skill in adulthood. According to Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making and president of the Families and Work Institute, logic puzzles, challenging mystery novels, even the daily challenges we face at work can build our cognitive flexibility – the ability to recombine the familiar in innovative ways. This kind of cognitive flexibility has obvious advantages in our lives and careers, as it enables us to find solutions to problems that leave others stumped. In a world where the problems are only becoming more complex, good problem-solvers will always be in high demand.
Video: Essential Life Skill #4: Making Connections, with Ellen Galinsky (free preview: full video available with subscription to Big Think Mentor
In a fast-changing world, only our higher-order thinking skills can keep us aware, engaged, and growing. In The Seven Essential Life Skills, her workshop for Big Think Mentor, Mind in the Making author Ellen Galinsky teaches lessons learned over decades of psychological research into how humans learn throughout the lifespan. The seven essential skills she teaches here, and demonstrates with stunning video footage of classic psychological experiments, are invaluable tools for adapting to, learning from, and thriving within a world in rapid flux.
The seven essential life skills you’ll hone in this workshop are:
Focus and Self-Control
Taking on Challenges
Self-Directed, Engaged Learning
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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