Think of humans ‘as a little fish out of water’

There’s more than one theory of evolution, most notably Darwinian natural selection. But according to LSU biology professor Prosanta Chakrabarty, we’re still evolving.

We’re not the goal of evolution. Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life — connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors.

From pond scum to fish to humans

From fish to amphibians to reptiles to primates with big brains, every living thing today is the product of four billion years of evolution. The shared ancestry may appear linear (e.g. monkeys > chimpanzees > humans) but single cell organisms are still evolving to this day.

Meanwhile, ‘primitive’ bacteria and plants will be the ones that survive us all.

Earth stripped of water

Life as we know it can survive without sunlight and oxygen: witness the creatures that populate the sulfurous vicinity of submarine hydrothermal vents. Life as we know it cannot live without water, and where there is water, there is almost always life.“I discovered living creatures in rain, which had stood but a few days in a new tub,” Antonie van Leeuwenhoek observed in 1675 after peering through his invention, a new and better microscope. A grown man like Pablo Valencia can last three weeks without food; without water, at most several days.

Read Watermarks: Diving into the fathoms to find life’s fluency

Dozing off into the brief unconscious 😴

When the sleepy participants’ eyes closed in “microsleep,” a.k.a. dozing, the researchers saw reduced activity in the thalamus, the part of the brain responsible for relaying sensory and motor signals to other parts of the brain. The thalamus is also responsible for regulating sleep (and the same effect was found in the scans of rested participants) so this part isn’t very surprising.

But more surprisingly, the researchers saw increased activity in the parts of the brain associated with sensory processing, which could account for the vivid images that seem to spring up when you first drop off to sleep. The researchers also observed more activity in the frontal parietal lobe, responsible for helping you pay attention, likely as a result of the brain’s attempt (and failure) to obey the “stay awake” command.

Read Parts Of Your Brain Go Berzerk On Microsleep

The father of neuroscience was also an amazing artist

The father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, drew masterful sketches of the brain.

He was an artist trapped in a laboratory.

But where the Renaissance master goes sensual, macro, and dynamic, the Spaniard zeros in, mapping the miraculously microscopic using new methods of staining slide tissues that isolated single cells under the microscope. In this way, Cajal drew the newly visible synaptic networks of the brain and discovered a breakthrough that proved that neurons are in touch without touching. These results changed neuroscience. His work is still widely used as a teaching device.

Read Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Deserves a Place Next to Michelangelo and Leonardo As a Draftsman

The effect of expectation

The placebo creates a ceremony of expectation. It builds off novelty and reinvigorates confidence in the possibility of recovery.

We all fall victim to the soft mental implantation of a placebo, the oldest medicine in the world. One simple belief kickstarts a chemical revolution. But in reality, the answer just needed to be poked from dormancy.

Reawakened, the inner narrative thrives on hedonic editing.

We certify the belief in our internal storage. Over time, it gains credibility and records the transaction on the human block chain of the genetic code. Truth happens to the idea

If at first, we expect, then we can succeed. It is faith that moves mountains.

In fingerprints we trust

Your fingerprints are uniquely yours. No two people have the same friction ridges, not even twins. Writes The Paris Review:

“Scientists describe the basic patterns of fingerprints in terms of arches, whorls, and loops. (Seventy percent of a fingerprint is made up of loops.) Closer features include dots, lakes, islands, spurs, crossings, and bifurcations. It is true that every print is unique to every finger, even for identical twins, who share the same genetic code.”

Before the fingerprint became a forensic science, its original purpose was economic. Thumbs acted as a stamp of approval.

“Thumb marks were used as personal seals to close business in Babylonia, and, in 1303, a Persian vizier recounted the use of fingerprints as signatures during the Qin and Han Dynasties, noting, “Experience has shown that no two individuals have fingers precisely alike.” The Chinese had realized that before anyone: a Qin dynasty document from the third-century B.C.E, titled “The Volume of Crime Scene Investigation—Burglary,” pointed up fingerprints as a means of evincing whodunnit.”

Even more interesting is how fingerprints form, made permanent by Week 19 of pregnancy. “Fingerprints are formed by friction from touching the walls of our mother’s womb. Sometimes they are called “chanced impressions.””

Technically, your fingerprints or eyeballs could your access key to anything. You don’t need the phone to act as your digital keys or wallet. Logging into a smartphone with a thumb, the mobile device merely serves as an interlocutor for checking out at places like Starbucks or the bank.

“Wallets and keys might get lost for good if we can pay for cappuccinos and power up cars with our eyeballs or fingers. In the early aughts, when we were increasingly imagining a future where people moved through the world—for better or worse—without anonymity, those people were chipped. But who needs computer chips when you’ve got fingerprints? “The future of biometrics has never been better,” said Becker. “Biometrics have gone mainstream—now people have expectations and habits. People are checking into every Delta Sky Club in the country with biometrics.””

The grooves within your fingerprints can also predict your future.

“The patterns on our fingers do seem to correspond to the lobes of our brains. Some researchers are hailing fingerprints as blueprints. “Fingerprints are the mirrors to our inborn talents and potentials, knacks and likings,” write the authors of one recent paper, who believe people may be able to use their fingerprints to unlock their best selves.”

Fascinating.

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity ☕💤

person holding pink ceramic mug

Like most people, my brain starts to fizzle out between 2 and 3pm. According to science, this isn’t due to a lunch hangover but rather a part of our circadian rhythm.

To preempt the inevitable afternoon slothfulness, author Dan Pink proposes to take a nappuccino. He recommends that before you take your 20-minute nap (science shows that more than 20 minutes can make you feel drowsier), you should drink a cup of coffee.

Writes Pink in his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:

The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.

The pre-nap caffeination will give you an extra boost when you wake up. Your brain will be sharper and more focused. You’ll also receive all the benefits of a nap: lower blood pressure and a stronger heart.

You can read more about the nappuccino productivity hack here.

Tesla’s American experience

He left Thomas Edison’s lab. He relinquished his Alternating Current (AC) royalties to Westinghouse to prevent the company from going bankrupt.

Motivated by wonder and awe, he exploited his imagination to foresee the wireless networking and cell phones we have today. “Why can’t we photograph thought?” he once asked.

Tesla was an artist working with dreams and visions but “his medium was electricity.”

'If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.' — Nikola Tesla Click To Tweet

Six months after his death, the US Supreme Court gave the patents for Marconi’s invention of the radio to Tesla: “Telsa, not Marconi, invented radio.”

Tesla was a magician who combined science with science fiction.

Learning to move

When will machines have human agility?

That’s what the film studio Universal Everything tries to answer in their captivating videos pairing a dancer and a copycat robot mimicking his moves.

Set in a spacious, well-worn dance studio, a dancer teaches a series of robots how to move. As the robots’ abilities develop from shaky mimicry to composed mastery, a physical dialogue emerges between man and machine – mimicking, balancing, challenging, competing, outmanoeuvring.

Can the robot keep up with the dancer? At what point does the robot outperform the dancer? Would a robot ever perform just for pleasure? Does giving a machine a name give it a soul?

These human-machine interactions from Universal Everything are inspired by the Hype Cycle trend graphs produced by Gartner Research, a valiant attempt to predict future expectations and disillusionments as new technologies come to market.

Based on recent research done by UK company Deep Mind, AI is showing flashes of a brain-like GPS system.

Even more, you’ll be able to buy some of the Boston Dynamics robots next year.

‘Dreaming is like a psychological thermostat’ 🛌

Dreaming is like a psychological thermostat

Your brain works like a dishwasher when you sleep, cleaning out the dirty information and tidying up the important stuff.

But the mind also creates a theater inside your head. Dreams emerge from unrestricted consciousness. They remind us that the rational imagination can be soo sober.

Writes Emil Cioran in The Temptation to Exist: ‘Anyone can escape into sleep, we are all geniuses when we dream, the butcher’s the poet’s equal there.’