Mind Memes for March 5: Connecting Rat Brains, Bringing Back the Dead and Other Crazy Ideas

1. Every Big Idea Was First A Crazy Idea


Fred Guterl, executive editor of Scientific American, does a nice job of highlighting some of the crazy ideas presented at this year's TED conference, such as this one from Google's Google’s Vint Cerf:

New technologies that make it possible for people to interact with machines by gestures, facial expressions, eye movements and brain activity may also make the minds of intelligent animals accessible. 

Read more about this idea, as well as bringing back the dead and uploading our thoughts using fMRI scanners here

2. Collective Rat Intelligence

Vint Cerf's idea has already arrived. Rats can now share information on the Internet, thanks to the work of Duke neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, who linked the brains of two rats (see the rat brain-computer interface in the image above). Nicoleleis's research is aimed at creating a full exoskeleton that a paralyzed person could operate with brain signals. He gained considerable media attention in 2003 when he enabled monkeys to control a robot arm with their thoughts. 

Read Nicoleleis's recent findings in Scientific Reports here

3. Do You Think You Know The Real Story on Income Inequality in America?

How do you think income is distributed in America? How do you think it should be distributed? How is income actually distributed? If you are like 92 percent of Americans, there is an unbelievable gap between your perception, your beliefs, and the reality. Watch the video below. 

4.Morning Star at Saturn: Cassini Sights Venus

"Every so often, our cameras on Cassini digitally record, either intentionally or incidentally, other celestial bodies besides those found around Saturn," the planetary scientist Carolyn C. Porco wrote to us in an email. "Today, the Cassini Imaging Team is releasing a pair of images that did just that." 

"Despite a thoroughly hellish environment that would melt lead," Porco notes that "Venus is considered a twin of our planet because of their similar sizes, masses, rocky compositions and close orbits."

To see both images in high res, click here.

5. Inside the Quest for the Great White Whale of Modern Science: the Higgs boson

A special edition of today's Science Times is devoted to the scientists behind the discovery of the Higgs Boson, what Times writer Dennis Overbye describes as this generation’s "rendezvous with scientific destiny." Here's a glimpse into the physicists' lives:

In their down time, they proposed marriage and made rap videos in the tunnels where subatomic particles collided. They ate, slept and partied, threw snowballs and worried that an unguarded smile in the cafeteria or a glance at a friend’s laptop could bias a half-billion-dollar experiment or give away cosmic secrets.

Read more here

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
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Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
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Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
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Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
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