Got a smartphone? Take part in the Great Brain Experiment
Simon Oxenham covers the best and the worst from the world of psychology and neuroscience. Formerly writing with the pseudonym "Neurobonkers", Simon has a history of debunking dodgy scientific research and tearing apart questionable science journalism in an irreverent style. Simon has written and blogged for publishers including: The Psychologist, Nature, Scientific American and The Guardian. His work has been praised in the New York Times and The Guardian and described in Pearson's Textbook of Psychology as "excoriating reviews of bad science/studies”.
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There has been much chatter recently about the new found potential of "big data". Google NGram for example, tracks usage of words in books and Google Flu Trends does what it says on the tin. The vast quantities of data that are now available enable new possibilities for experimenting with data in a way that would have been inconceivable a decade ago. Only this week a study has been published which demonstrates the potential of web search data to signal previously unknown side effects of medications.
A new project that will be officially announced on Monday aims to collect a previously unprecedented amount of data on the way we think and feel through an application that is being made available for smart phones and tablets. The researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL aim to shed new light on "our understanding of memory, impulsivity, how we take risks, and how well the mind's eye can see". The researchers hope to draw in huge numbers of participants by "gamifying" their study - offering it in the format of an app consisting of four games - one on memory, one to test impulsiveness, one to look at happiness and one to examine the phenomenon of "brain blink" - the difficulty we have seeing an image that is flashed in quick succession after another image.
The Great Brain Experiment app has just become available for free on the iPhone and
it will soon also be available on Android. The app is being released as part of wonder: art and science, a month long series of events being put on by the Wellcome Trust at the Barbican in London - so if you are able to get to London in the next month it's well worth checking out the programme, I'll certainly be stopping by!
Image Credit: Wellcome Trust
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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