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In the News 22.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 22.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 22.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Gal Meets Glam
In the News 22.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Bike That Saved My Life

Two years ago, in January, my husband and I walked into a foreclosed house on a tree-lined street in Bedford-Stuyvesant that no one had lived in for 22 years.

“I could really see us having kids here,” he whispered into my ear as we tiptoed over the detritus of squatters and failed contractors.

For the first three years of our marriage we had been living in a series of rentals, but we dreamed of owning, and this was a whole house. A long-neglected brownstone in need of a ton of work, yes, but a house nonetheless.

We went to housing court in Downtown Brooklyn and bid before a judge. By March we had closed. It wasn’t habitable, so we kept living in our Crown Heights rental as we figured out how to do the work, which was tied up by expired permits and mind-numbing construction bureaucracy.

The construction started to take a toll on the marriage. Then, one morning in June, my husband woke up, looked and me and said, “I don’t think I want kids.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times


Radical Dimensions

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Writing away at my desk, I reach my hand up to turn on a lamp, and down to open a drawer to take out a pen. Extending my arm forward, I brush my fingers against a small, strange figurine given to me by my sister as a good-luck charm, while reaching behind I can pat the black cat snuggling into my back. Right leads to the research notes for my article, left to my pile of ‘must-do’ items (bills and correspondence). Up, down, forward, back, right, left: I pilot myself in a personal cosmos of three-dimensional space, the axes of this world invisibly pressed upon me by the rectilinear structure of my office, defined, like most Western architecture, by three conjoining right angles.

Our architecture, our education and our dictionaries tell us that space is three-dimensional. The OED defines it as ‘a continuous area or expanse which is free, available or unoccupied … The dimensions of height, depth and width, within which all things exist and move.’ In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant argued that three-dimensional Euclidean space is an a priori necessity and, saturated as we are now in computer-generated imagery and video games, we are constantly subjected to representations of a seemingly axiomatic Cartesian grid. From the perspective of the 21st century, this seems almost self-evident.

Yet the notion that we inhabit a space with any mathematical structure is a radical innovation of Western culture, necessitating an overthrow of long-held beliefs about the nature of reality. Although the birth of modern science is often discussed as a transition to a mechanistic account of nature, arguably more important – and certainly more enduring – is the transformation it entrained in our conception of space as a geometrical construct.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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Antonio Damasio Tells Us

Why Pain Is Necessary

Following Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio may be the neuroscientist whose popular books have done the most to inform readers about the biological machinery in our heads, how it generates thoughts and emotions, creates a self to cling to, and a sense of transcendence to escape by. But since he published Descartes’ Error in 1994, Damasio has been concerned that a central thesis in his books, that brains don’t define us, has been muted by research that states how much they do. To Damasio’s dismay, the view of the human brain as a computer, the command center of the body, has become lodged in popular culture.

In his new book, The Strange Order of Things, Damasio, a professor of neuroscience and the director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, mounts his boldest argument yet for the egalitarian role of the brain. In “Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings,” another article in this chapter of Nautilus, drawn from his new book, Damasio tells us “mind and brain influence the body proper just as much as the body proper can influence the brain and the mind. They are merely two aspects of the very same being.”

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus


Escape From The Rock

December in Chicago and there’s some loon pretending to drown in the Sheraton Towers Hotel pool. It’s an indoor pool, but still. This guy is floating in there in a white T-shirt and jeans, upright, with his head lolled back and his eyes closed, sneakers just grazing the bottom. An inflatable plaid life vest barely holds his face out of the water. Later, he grabs for a floating cushion, but that slips out of his hands and he sinks up to his forehead reaching for it.

This man’s name is Bayard Richard, and you shouldn’t worry about him. He swam backstroke for the University of Wisconsin, and could make it to the edge of the pool and climb out whenever he wants. Richard is thirty years old and works at Popular Mechanics in the promotions department. Mostly he comes up with ideas to get companies interested in buying ads—mailers, meetings, stuff like that. It’s a great job: He makes about $5,000 a year, and the office, on East Ontario Street, has a coffee cart and two secretaries. Besides, if you offer yourself up to help the editors execute some scheme like testing life jackets in a hotel swimming pool, you get paid a dollar. Richard climbs out of the pool to try another device. He’s testing them one at a time—a vest, a second vest, a belt, a floating jacket, that useless cushion. Each time, the outdoors editor pushes Richard into the pool and watches to see how he comes up. Richard plays it up for the camera, closing his eyes, holding his breath for a second or two, flopping back, playing dead.

Read the rest of this article at: Popular Mechanics

How to Survive 75 Hours Alone in the Ocean


In February 2006, Robert Hewitt was scuba diving near Mana Island, off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Hewitt was an experienced navy diving instructor with 20 years in the service, and he told his dive buddy that he would swim back to shore himself. Instead, when he next surfaced, he had been pulled several hundred meters away by a strong current. The dive boat had moved on, and Hewitt was left alone, the tide pushing him farther and farther from shore.

In a recent issue of the journal Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, a team of researchers led by physiologist Heather Massey of the University of Portsmouth in the UK take a closer look at what happened next: Hewitt’s progressive deterioration over the next four days and three nights, how he survived, and what took place after his eventual rescue. It’s an interesting glimpse at a branch of extreme physiology that most of us hope we’ll never encounter.

(Massey’s interest isn’t purely theoretical. She’s currently training to swim across the English Channel, which will require prolonged immersion in cool water. She also took home a gold medal from the World Ice Swimming Championships last year, in temperatures just a few degrees above freezing, and helped British open-water swimmers prepare for the Rio Olympics.)

The most pressing challenge facing Hewitt was the water temperature of 61 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 17 degrees Celsius), well below body temperature. According to physiological models, when water is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), the median survival time is between 4.8 and 7.7 hours. Amazingly, Hewitt spent the next 75 hours in the water, drifting back and forth over a distance of nearly 40 miles before he was spotted by Navy diving friends and rescued.

In general, immersion in cold water produces a four-stage response. First is the “cold shock response” that triggers “an inspiratory gasp, uncontrollable hyperventilation, hypertension, and increased cardiac workload.” If you’re not ready for it, this shock response can cause you to inhale water and drown and can set off heart arrhythmias. Hewitt had two key defenses against the cold shock: a five-millimeter custom-fit wetsuit and habituation from more than 1,000 previous dives, which eventually blunts the initial shock response.

Read the rest of this article at: Outside

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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