What Is Memory, Anyway?
"A few snapshots." According to novelist Tim O'Brien, that's all our minds retain of our childhoods, adulthoods, and even the people we've loved most deeply. "And that's memory? Little remnant of a lifetime, that's what's left to us?" O'Brien isn't the only one fascinated and baffled by the phenomenon we call remembering. His meditations on aging and loss—along with a moving recollection from his tour of duty in Vietnam—kick off Big Think's newest series, "The Mystery of Memory."
Exploring that mystery from both the objective and subjective angles, the series presents three noted experts in the evolving science of memory, as well as three writers whose unusual experiences with memory demonstrate just how much science has yet to explain. In the former camp are Columbia neurobiologist Ottavio Arancio, whose research into a once-ignored protein may reveal how memories are formed—and lost; Gary Small, Director of the UCLA Center on Aging, who explains why the modern habit of multitasking may be weakening our memories; and Marcelo Magnasco, mathematical physicist at The Rockefeller University, who describes the difficulties artificial memory researchers have in understanding how our memories are organized.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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