Category Archives: randomness
Check out this week’s Diagnosis column in the Times Magazine, enjoy the suspense before reading on.
I absolutely remember myself – and most of my friends – having that lightheaded, dizzy feeling upon standing up. Since everyone experienced it and it went away in seconds, no one ever worried about it, but nor was it ever explained. And I never noticed that it pretty much went away post-adolescence (then again, in my teaching life I rarely sit down for long periods of time). So interesting to have both an explanation and to realize that in extreme cases, it could actually be quite scary, as it was for the patient in this column. And the fact that it happens after a growth spurt makes so much sense…
This is a flickr meme that I found through Nancy. The pictures are not mine, but represent my favorite results for searches for (1) my name (2) my favorite food (3) my high school (4) my favorite color (5) my celeb crush (6) my favorite drink (7) my dream vacaction (8) my favorite dessert (9) what I want to be when I grow up (10) what I love most in life (11) one word to describe me (12) my flickr handle.
For notes, photo credits, and rules, click on the mosaic and it will take you to flickr.
Basically, scientists implanted sensors over 100 neurons in the monkeys’ motor cortex, then programmed a computerized arm to respond to different firing patterns. The monkeys were trained using biofeedback, but in a matter of days could control the arm on their own, and even used it in ways that they were not trained to, for example, licking the robot finger when some food stuck to it. Cool.
That said, yet more evidence that biological body-brain systems are still better:
After several days, the monkeys needed no help. They sat stationary in a chair, repeatedly manipulating the arm with their brain to reach out and grab grapes, marshmallows and other nuggets dangled in front of them. The snacks reached the mouths about two-thirds of the time — an impressive rate, compared with earlier work.
(Then again, if you took a youngster just learning to use his or her hands to feed him/herself, it would probably take more than a couple of days to reach this level of accuracy… I wonder if the monkeys will continue to improve their accuracy rate as time goes on?)
I am still waiting to be able to control children with my thoughts……
now draw a capital letter E on your forehead. Go ahead, raise your hand to your head and draw it.
Did you draw it facing me (so I could read it), or facing you (so the little guy in your head could read it)?
If you read this week’s New Yorker, you know why I’m asking… there was a little piece about researchers who believe that the direction you draw your E reveals something about whether you are, at that moment, a perspective-taking kind of person (who would draw an E for others to read) or thinking from your own perspective primarily (the inward-facing E). They hypothesized that people with more power would draw the inward-facing E, and people with less power would be more likely to take others’ perspective and draw the outward-facing E. They primed people to feel powerful by having them write about a time they were completely dominant over someone else, then primed others to feel less powerful by having them write about being completely submissive to someone else, and sure enough, the first group was much more likely to draw the inward-facing E.
The journalist writing about it asked a lot of famous, powerful people at the Time 100 (most influential) banquet, and all but one drew outward-facing E’s. But a banquet is a pretty other-oriented event, don’t you think? Also, they were allowed to draw on post-it notes placed on their foreheads, and I think paper implies a reader and has a more clear front and back directionality than a forehead does (if that makes any sense). So that’s my take on that. Interestingly, the SNL ladies were the only ones who refused to participate… who knows why, but I would have thought that comedians would be interested in every odd facet of human behavior – isn’t that their fuel?
Part of the reason I’m so interested in this question, even though I’m not convinced that it’s a good way to measure how powerful someone feels or how much they take another’s perspective, is that I had the strongest reaction: of course I’d draw the outward-facing E. I can’t even imagine the other ones. And I figured everyone else would feel the same way. But when I started asking colleagues and friends, the first three I asked all drew inward-facing Es!
To me, my outward-facing E is a sign of the importance of communication and relationships for me… what’s the point of drawing a letter that no one can read? my subconscious thinks. We are who we are through the web of connections extending out from us, through the people we affect, help, inspire… well, that’s how I often feel, anyway.
What was your E? What’s your take on this?