Thursday, March 29, 2012

Workplace and Schools Favor Extroverts

Introverts make up a third to a half the population, yet our schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts. This point is driven home with impact in “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, where author Susan Cain says: “And we're living with a value system that I call the New Groupthink, where we believe that all creativity and productivity comes from an oddly gregarious place.”

“Picture the typical classroom,” she writes on “When I was a kid, we sat in rows of desks, and we did most of our work autonomously. But nowadays many students sit in "pods" of desks with four or five students facing each other, and they work on countless group projects ~ even in subjects like math and creative writing.

“Kids who prefer to work by themselves don't fit, and research by educational psychology professor Charles Meisgeier found that the majority of teachers believe the ideal student is an extrovert ~ even though introverts tend to get higher grades, according to psychologist Adrian Furnham,” she continues.

“The same thing happens at work. Many of us now work in offices without walls, with no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers,” Cain writes. “And introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though the latest research by the management professor Adam Grant at Wharton shows that introverted leaders often deliver better results. They're better at letting proactive employees run with their creative ideas, while extroverts can unwittingly put their own stamp on things and not realize that other people's ideas aren't being heard.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reality Mirroring Sci-Fi More and More

From NPR:
When Hollywood imagines the future, from Logan's Run to Avatar, it tends to picture living spaces as sterile and characterless, without any cultural clues to the person who lives there. No record library, no DVDs, no Hemingway on bookshelves ... often no bookshelves.  
And here we are, catching up to that vision of the future. Sales of physical books dropped 30 percent last year, while e-book sales more than doubled. Sales of DVDs fell during that same period, while online streaming rose. And in 2011, for the first time, digital music downloads overtook sales of CDs. It's as if we're deciding en masse that when it comes to the arts and entertainment, we can do without the actual object that is the object of our affection. Who needs real-world clutter in an age when everything streams?  
In short: "Welcome," as Morpheus put it in The Matrix, "to the desert of the real."  
In that film, as you'll recall, people interact in a reassuringly cluttered but virtual reality. Actual reality is barren. No stuff at all. Nothing physical to establish that one person is different from another. It's a horror story in which humanity has abandoned all of what makes us human. This fear of losing ourselves as we lose our stuff — is it just a product of our experiences with technology? Well, if you look at science fiction from the past few decades, you'd certainly think so.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Scientists Watch Antimatter Transform

Section of neutrino observatory under Mount Kamioka.

Researchers for the first time have observed electron antineutrinos turning into other types of particles ~ a phenomenon occurring more frequently than earlier thought.

A type of antimatter ~ which can annihilate matter on contact ~ electron antineutrinos are partner particles with electron neutrinos. (Other forms of neutrinos are muon and tau, each with its antimatter counterpart.)

According to
For years, all neutrinos were thought to weigh nothing at all, but recently scientists discovered they do have some mass, though it's less than one-millionth that of an electron. This mass, in fact, enables an especially bizarre habit neutrinos have of changing from one type to another, a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations.  
"This is a new type of neutrino oscillation, and it is surprisingly large," Yifang Wang of China's Institute of High Energy Physics, the co-spokesperson and Chinese project manager of the Daya Bay experiment, said in a statement. 
"Our precise measurement will complete the understanding of the neutrino oscillation and pave the way for the future understanding of matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe."
The finding offers the hope of helping answer one of the universe's most baffling questions: Why is everything made of matter, and not antimatter?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reports of Strange Sounds from the Sky

There appears to be an upsurge recently in reports of strange sounds coming from the skies ~ sometimes a low rumble, other times a whine, thump or a melody. Because the nature of the sounds vary so much, researchers are having difficulties pinpointing their origins.
According to Discovery News:
There are a few things to keep in mind about these strange, ambient sounds; for one thing, there is virtually no place on the planet where noise pollution is not a problem. We live in a constant sea of background noise, most of it unnoticed until we start paying attention to all the sounds and focusing on them. 
Sources of indoor sounds are nearly endless, from faintly ticking clocks to air-conditioning to bubbling aerators in fish tanks. Outside the problem is far worse, with noise generated by countless sources including traffic; airplanes (seen and unseen); radios; lawnmowers and snowblowers; trains; highways; and high-tension lines. 
Then there are the many industrial sources of noise and vibrations, including power plants and any factories with large machines such as auto assembly plants and printing presses.
For example, a flood of reports concerning a rumbling midnight sound in Malaysia eventually was determined to be caused by machinery tests a palm-oil company was performing each night.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Multi-verse Linked to Perceptions of Time

How we perceive time has much to do with our ability ~ or inability, as the case may be ~ to perceive parallel universes. And the key to whole mystery might be time travel, according to Andrew Cleland and other quantum physicists at the University of California.

According to Fox News:
What does it all mean? Let's say you're in Oklahoma visiting your aunt. But in another universe, where your atomic particles just can't keep up, you're actually at home watching "The Simpsons." That may sound far-fetched, but it's based on real science. 
"When you observe something in one state, one theory is it split the universe into two parts," Cleland told, trying to explain how there can be multiple universes and we can see only one of them.  
The multi-verse theory says the entire universe "freezes" during observation, and we see only one reality. You see a soccer ball flying through the air, but maybe in a second universe the ball has dropped already. Or you were looking the other way. Or they don't even play soccer over there.
Sean Carroll, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a popular author, accepts the scientific basis for the multi-verse ~ even if it cannot be proven.  "Unless you can imagine some super-advanced alien civilization that has figured this out, we aren't affected by the possible existence of other universes," Carroll told Fox News. But he does think "someone could devise a machine that lets one universe communicate with another."