Punk rock turtle who can breathe for 72 hours underwater

Mary River Turtle the punk rock turtle
Photo by Chris Van Wyk

The Mary River Turtle not only has specialized glands that allow it to breathe underwater for 72 hours, it also sports a punk rock algae-infused mohawk.

Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia.

“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.

Rock on!

(h/t Mashable)

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A prescription for live gigs could add a decade to your life

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gif via @nickelodeon

Attending a gig every two weeks may add a decade to your life. That’s according to a study done by O2 and behavioral science expert Patrick Egen.

The study reveals that 20 minutes of seeing live music results in a “21% increase in feelings of wellbeing.” This is higher than both yoga and dog-walking which are also known to uplift mood.

 “Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and wellbeing – with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key. Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.”

Live music as medicine

Unfortunately, listening to tunes by yourself doesn’t have the same effect. The live music experience produces a higher score on happiness in the areas of self-worth, social nature, and stimulation. As a result, venue goers are more productive and have higher self-esteem.

Placebo or prescription, it sounds like music is jam-packed full of healthy vitamins.

RIP Stephen Hawking: ‘Quiet people have the loudest minds’

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©Santi Visalli/Getty

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Stephen Hawking was a visionary physicist who explored the universe and explained black holes. His 1988 release of A Brief History of Time remains one of the greatest selling science books of all-time.

But was perhaps best known for his remarkable endurance. Doctors gave him two years to live in 1963 after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease which crippled him. He lost his voice in 1985, only to come back to write and talk via an Intel-powered speaking device. “Quiet people have the loudest minds,” he proclaimed.

Stephen Hawking lived to a remarkable 75 years old, born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death and dying today on Einstein’s birthday. The University of Cambridge celebrated his life with an inspirational montage with a Hawking voiceover.

“People who boast about their IQ are losers”

The cosmos queued him up to be a genius, but also a lifelong comedian. “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny,” Hawking told The New York Times in 2004 interview. He also said that “people who boast about their IQ are losers.”

Fortunately, he left his work for all of us. Just last year he released his 1966 PhD thesis titled ‘Properties of expanding universes’ to the public because he wanted to “inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet.”

Read the obituary in The Guardian.

Hawking graduated from Oxford (1962), the year before he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (© Rex/Shutterstock)

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The tale behind the term ‘horsepower’ 🐎

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gif by Paul Windle

The terms ‘horsepower’ and ‘10,000 steps’ were both marketing gimmicks.

In the 1770s, James Watt wanted to demonstrate that his steam engine invention was more powerful than the work of multiple horses. By watching horses circle a London brewery mill, he calculated that one horse could push 33,000 pounds one foot in a minute. He proved that his one steam engine could not only replicate a horse’s power but that mechanical speed could also improve production rates.

Watt substituted horses, formerly called “living machines” by replacing them with the Watt Steam Engine. After that, a horses’ primary functionality became transport. Even “as late as 1900′, more than 11,000 Bostonians earned their living driving horses.”

The “10,000 step meter” 👣

Meanwhile, watchmaker Yamasa Tokei created a pedometer in 1965 which he called Manpo-Kei. The words in Japanese translate to “10,000 step meter.” Tokei ran ads that encourage “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”

While the 10,000 steps a day campaign was entirely arbitrary, it revolutionized the fitness world just as the steam engine transformed engineering and powered the Industrial Revolution. Both the horsepower and 10,000 steps cases are good examples of smart marketing, using the power of a metaphor to explain new technology.

The even bigger question remains though is that what happens when humans no longer have to use their feet, hands, or even their brains? As Matthew Wills writes in ‘Why We Still Use “Horsepower”, the future of working with machines is probably brighter than we think:

Humans now worry about replacement by machines, but horses have already experienced this and for them it may well have been a good thing.


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I spend hours each day digging the web for interesting gems and remixing them here. If you enjoy reading wellsbaum.blog, please consider becoming a patron or making a donation. You can also contribute as little as $1 below with just a couple clicks. Thank you.

Make a one-time donation

Contributing to the blog would help me immensely. For every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$1.00

The simple technique that boosts your short and long-term memory

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Want to remember more of what you read? Give your brain a 10-15 minute rest. No phones, no distractions, just pure boredom, a quiet room and dimmed lights.

Why do we need to reduce interference?

It takes longer for new information to encode and simply consuming more or squandering time on social media will make it even hard to remember.

When we let the mind wander, the brain works backward and connects the dots, cementing those memories that were previously unlinked.

So stop chasing extra stimulation and let your brain rest in its own presence. Your memory will thank you for it.

Read An effortless way to improve your memory

Neanderthals were great hunters but poor artists

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An early human painting of a lion from the Chauvet Cave in Southern France

Neanderthals were great hunters but poor artists.

According to a study done by professor Richard Coss, their inability to draw could’ve been due to the fact that they didn’t have to plan as hard as Homo Sapiens to hunt down prey in their native Eurasia.

Homo Sapiens, on the other hand, chased hard to get game in the open grasslands of Africa. They developed superior hand-eye coordination as a result of drawing out their prey on cave walls. Such artistry not only made them better visualizers and hunters, it also helped them develop smarter brains.

Survival of the fittest

Historian and author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari also argued that while Neanderthals might have had larger brains than and an even superior tools to fellow Homo Sapiens, they lacked communication and shared stories, concepts that emerged from rounder skulls.

Tomorrow’s World: Children in 1966 predict what the world will be like in the year 2000

Well-spoken, cynical, and eerily accurate, in 1966 these kids predicted what life would be like in the year 2000.

Their predictions include:

  • The rise of robots and job loss due to automation
  • The threat of nuclear war
  • Globalization and the destruction of cultures (note: they couldn’t have foreseen the backlash)
  • Population and overcrowding
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Sea level rise. Warns one child: “The oceans will wise and cover England.”

Little did they know the internet would further complicate things.

It’s your turn. What will life be like in the year 2050?

‘Grab a leash and take your thoughts for a walk.’

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Said Henry David Thoreau, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”

Walking boosts creativity.

If you ever get stuck in a creative rut, science shows that you should go for a stroll to get your endorphins moving.

As learning scientist Marily Oppezzo notes in her TED presentation below, walking generates twice the ideas. Even if you walk and then sit, your mind will continue to generate novelty.

But you can’t just walk forever, nor should you run. You should discuss your ideas out loud; the good ones will stick around. If you really want to remember everything discussed, record the thinking session on your phone.

So, how do you walk and brainstorm?

Says Oppezzo:

  1. Pick a problem/topic for brainstorm
  2. Walk at a comfortable pace WHILE you are brainstorming
  3. Generate as many ideas a you can
  4. Speak and record your ideas
  5. Cap your time

The chair-based lifestyle is not only killing us, but it’s also stifling good ideas. Go for a walk to freshen up your pattern of thinking.

The Population Bomb

In 1968, Doctor Paul Ehrlich warned the world of its excessive population with his book entitled The Population Bomb.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” he wrote, “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”

His trip to an overcrowded Delhi in 1966 seemed to convince him that there wasn’t enough food to go around to support humanity.

Thankfully, Dr. Ehrlich’s warnings never panned out. Instead, his book sparked a debate about “the potential consequences of overpopulation: famine, pollution, social and ecological collapse.” Out came some viable solutions.

While population has more than doubled since The Population Boom came out, agricultural innovation has been able to sustain the boom. Today, one in ten people are starving as opposed to one in four.

However, Ehrlich and other researchers predict that the environmental damage from overproduction remains to be seen. Undermining the ecosystem could still wipe us all out. Other researchers are more optimistic, believing that human ingenuity will come to the rescue.

We shape Earth. It shapes us.

26167560_942735665901482_315657857674587099_nWe shape the Earth, and it shapes us.

For all the pieces interact, transforming into a cohesive thought.

The trees grow in cities, the oceans meet at the cape.

All the pieces interact, enveloped by the space inside.

The weather is fickle, cyclical, everything too much for a remix, itching for evolution.

To get closer to the texture of stimuli, gentle in our convictions, cushioned from other things.

In nature’s ludicrous rhythm, we trust.

Upgrade your human operating system

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via giphy

There is no doubt that the mind changes as it ages. You’ll be a different person in your 20s, 30s, and so on.

For some, brain deterioration is genetic. While you can’t medicate mental problems away, you can upgrade your internal software by widening your perception and controlling your emotions to so-called triggers.


The human brain is plastic

Strengthening the operating system protects against the destructive forces of sensory stimulants that try to undermine chemical synchronicity. Knowing that you can gauge your reactions to uncertainty while strengthening the bonds between neurons and synaptic connections helps alleviate anxiety’s thinking problem.

Babies are born platform agnostic; it’s mostly the environment that shapes their internal compass as they grow into adults. Health, philosophy, and social behaviors produce an entire ecosystem of choices where balancing the right springs and gears to maintain the human clock is the key, per say.

Forgetting is just as important as remembering

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via giphy

Can you imagine if you remembered everything?

If you tried to remember everything, your brain would never have enough space to learn new skills and ideas. It would also make you go insane. Even Einstein often forgot people’s names.

Thankfully, the mind works like a dishwasher. It retains information deemed relevant for later use and discards the rest.

Forgetfulness optimizes for better decision-making. Says professor Blake Richards, “It’s important the brain forgets irrelevant details and focuses on what will help make decisions.”

In the era of 24/7 distraction of digital data, a mild memory is more vital than ever. The imagination is more important anyway. World Memory Champion Kevin Horsley put it best in his book Unlimited Memory : “The greatest secret of a powerful memory is to bring information to life with your endless imagination.”

The race to save coffee

“Coffee is the common man’s gold…”

— Sheik Abd-al-Kabir ‘In praise of coffee’ (1587)

We take coffee for granted.

Judging by the ubiquity of Starbucks stores, you’d think that coffee was abundant. But the coffee we like to drink, the fruity-tasting coffee arabica, is projected to decline given the dual pressures of climate change which reduces suitable land to grow coffee and the ever-growing human demand for a “cup of joe.”


So how do we grow more coffee?

We breed new varieties. Right now, there are over 3,000 distinct varieties of watermelon and only 36 breeds of coffee. Organizations like World Coffee Research have begun a version of plant sex (i.e., swapping pollen) to bloom a new type of arabica coffee that can resist drought and high temperatures. Through a process called molecular breeding (non-GMO), the team will spend a decade screening baby plants trying to nail down the right formula of seeds it can distribute to the world’s farmers.