Kaku tells a good story.
My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.
You do something all day long, don’t you? Everyone does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put sixteen good hours, and it is certain that you have been doing something all that time. The only difference is that you do a great many things and I do one. If you took the time in question and applied it in one direction, you would succeed. Success is sure to follows such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have one thing to stick to, letting all else go.
Thomas Edison on productivity.
This post from Psyblog is a list of psychological observations to do with memory. Some observations reveal unintuitive patterns in memory, like this one:
If you want to learn to play tennis, is it better to spend one week learning to serve, the next week the forehand, the week after the backhand, and so on? Or should you mix it all up with serves, forehands and backhands every day?
It turns out that for long-term retention, memories are more easily recalled if learning is mixed up. This is just as true for both motor learning, like tennis, as it is for declarative memory, like what’s the capital of Venezuela (to save you googling: it’s Caracas).
The trouble is that learning like this is worse to start off with. If you practice your serve then quickly switch to the forehand, you ‘forget’ how to serve. So you feel things are going worse than if you just practice your serve over-and-over again. But, in the long-run this kind of mix-and-match learning works best.
One explanation for why this works is called the ‘reloading hypothesis’. Each time we switch tasks we have to ‘reload’ the memory. This process of reloading strengthens the learning.
That does make sense, actually. I recall noticing on one occasion that it was quite effective to learn a language whilst doing another task (i.e. returning to the language exercise regularly).
Here’s a BBC documentary about the human cell and its relationship over billions of years with the virus cell.
It takes a nice, broad perspective and presents the story with impressive visuals. Quite impressed as I am, I didn’t like the incredibly tedious camera work for the in-between segments, and the drone of David Tennant’s narration throughout the entire film. You can’t have it all.
Update: Pity the video has been taken down. It was called Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell.
Mind-boggling image research allows us to create time and site specific portraits of city architecture and make comparisons. Very impressive! via ScienceDump
Stonethwaite Beck, Smithymire Island, Borrowdale, Cumbria. 1/07/2005
Here’s a video in which Knowles explains his process. (Via Myrvatje.)
Started thinking about making an underwater sound installation and found that this video serves as a nice introduction to the understanding of sound’s behaviour in water.
I can barely remember yesterday.
By Andreas Dober (via designsquish).
W. B. Yeats, When you are old:
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes once had, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.
Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s film Sátántangó has a running time of over seven hours. Thankfully that’s not the only remarkable thing about it.
“Get rid of the judgement, get rid of the ‘I am hurt,’ you are rid of the hurt itself.” “Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you. Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature. From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return.” “How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life!” “Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also” .
Seneca the Younger
“That which Fortune has not given, she cannot take away.” “Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes.”
The wikipedia page for Stoicism has some nice quotes to illustrate the philosophy. Those above are just a selection of ones I like most.
Addendum: Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is online.
Embedding disabled, view on youtube.
The person who dredged up this old BBC documentary and took the trouble of uploading it to youtube in 6 parts is presumably an example of someone upon whose life Proust made an impression. Proustian sentence unintended.
The volume of the videos is pretty low, so this article on how to boost youtube video volume beyond the maximum may come in handy.
Multi-projection film Berlin Horse (1970) was based entirely on a novel but simple idea of a repeating, subtly changing film loop. The soundtrack created by Brian Eno was also implemented using a tape loop
Above is an interview with the filmmaker Malcoln Le Grice from 2008. Youtube link.
Here’s a video I made almost a month ago but didn’t reveal because I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. Looking at it again, I like it enough.
Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXXIII
No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow and this shall ever be;
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.
Ten years ago, while experimenting with rats, [Joseph] Ledoux made a discovery that changed the way neuroscientists view memory […].
In that experiment, Ledoux conditioned rats to fear a bell by ringing it in time with an electric shock until the rats froze in fear at the mere sound of the bell. Then, at the moment when the fear memory was being recalled, he injected the rats with anisomycin, a drug that stops the construction of new neural connections. Remarkably, the next time he rang the bell the rats no longer froze in fear. The memory, it seemed, had vanished. Poof!
Ledoux concluded that the neural connections in which memories are stored have to be rebuilt each time a memory is recalled. And during rebuilding—or reconsolidation, as he termed it—memories can be altered or even erased. Neuroscientists now believe that reconsolidation functions to update memories with new information—something of an unsettling idea, suggesting that our memories are only as accurate as the last time they were remembered.