Sanity and Solace in the Written Word

Big Think had the pleasure of sitting down with Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D. this morning. Dr. Jamison is, first and foremost, Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, but she's also a MacArthur Fellow, a brilliant writer and a manic depressive. That last identity was the subject of Dr. Jamison's first memoir, An Unquiet Mind, in which she charted the course—from first mania, to suicide attempt, to medication—of her manic depression. Her most recent book, Nothing Was the Same, picks up where An Unquiet Mind left off, but is ultimately a story about the loss of Jamison's husband, Dr. Richard Wyatt, to cancer.

Having read Jamison's books, I was in awe of her professional accomplishments, but I was most moved by her ability and willingness to speak openly about such personal experiences. When I asked how she felt about such candor, Dr. Jamison made it clear that it had not been easy to open up, especially given her upbringing in a WASP family that worked hard and kept personal matters quiet. Ultimately, however, the importance of being open about her illness—for the sake of other manic depressives, their friends and family, and the medical community at large—became apparent. After losing her husband to cancer, a similar instinct to share her experience, and to eulogize her husband of 20 years, spurred Jamison to write Nothing Was the Same.

Jamison talks about both books, recovering from the loss of a loved one, and misconceptions about suicide in her forthcoming Big Think interview.

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

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.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • 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.
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