Are you in a rut? Is it time to take life into your own hands? Are you ready take a time out to find yourself, and start over?
Are you 25?
It may be your quarter-life crisis knocking, say psychologists studying the phenomenon of 25–35-year-olds having a come-to-Jesus about where they’re going in life after having barely left the starting gates. Read More
The simulated eagle has finally landed, and today, two men have walked upon the red sands of fake Mars. This jaunt along a sandpit in Moscow, the latest episode in the Mars500 project designed to test human endurance, gives the cosmonauts a respite from their past eight months of windowless confinement.
As the BBC reports:
“We have made great progress today,” commented Vitaly Davydov, the deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, who was watching a video feed of the two men. “All systems have been working normally.”
Organized by Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems and the European Space Agency, the Mars500 project seeks to better understand how humans would endure the psychological and physical effects of the isolation and confinement necessary for a real mission to Mars. The ‘500’ in Mars500 indicates the mission’s time frame–the organizers estimated that it would takes 250 days to travel to Mars, and then allotted 30 days for surface exploration before a 240-day return trip. (Technically, the project’s name should be Mars520.)
There might just be some truth to the notion that excessive indulgence in the “interweb” makes people a tad–just a wee bit–cuckoo.
Research being conducted by the Clalit Health Maintenance Organization, Israel’s largest HMO, points to a possible connection between unrestricted Internet use and the occurrence of psychotic episodes.
According to the Israeli paper Haaretz, researchers presented three cases of individuals who experienced psychotic episodes in the wake of intensive, prolonged Web surfing that included the development of a close online relationship with another person. All the three subjects were women between the ages of 30 and 50 with no significant psychiatric history. Two of them had no previous history of mental problems, although one had been treated for anxiety in the past.
Each of the three ladies had experienced an unsatisfactory intimate relationship in the past, and developed a dependent relationship with a man over the Internet without ever meeting him face-to-face.
As Haaretz explains:
The subjects’ psychoses included a total disconnection from reality, and in the case of one of the women also involved tactile hallucinations; she imagined that she could feel the man with whom she was having a “virtual relationship” touching her.
My high school physical education teacher had a nickname for everyone. (Mine was “Little One” because I was the runt of the class. Better than “Chicken Bones,” as one scrawny boy was dubbed.) It didn’t bother me, but according to research recently published in Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, I dodged a bullet–or maybe the dodgeball.
Billy Strean, a professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says “a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be determined by either a good or a bad experience, based on the personal characteristics of the coach or instructor. For example, negative experiences may come from a teacher who has low energy, is unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students.”
Consider this post to be your daily reminder to check your social network privacy settings–too much transparency could cost you your insurance benefits, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Nathalie Blanchard, a Granby resident, says she’s suffering from severe depression that has made it impossible for her to work full-time for the past 18-months.
She says her sick leave payments were cut after insurance giant Manulife obtained profile pictures on Facebook showing her at bars, whooping it up during her birthday and on a beach holiday.
Blanchard, who lives in Quebec province, said her doctor told her to go have some fun, but apparently her insurer thought she was having too much to be depressed. According to another CBC article, the moments of revelry didn’t cure her condition:
“In the moment I’m happy, but before and after I have the same problems” as before, she said.
She’s taking them to court, in what should be an interesting case to test social media’s reach into the real world. The case suggests a host of other difficult questions: Can insurance companies raise your premiums if they see a picture of you smoking a cigarette on the internet? Will the court decide you can make a medical diagnosis from a Facebook picture? What about a weekend’s worth of happy tweets?
Another take home lesson, kids, is that should you make headlines, for whatever dubious reason, your Facebook pics will also be on the news. However in this case, Blanchard offered up her photos to get her story to the media. ABC News has a short video interview with Blanchard on their site.
Discoblog: Desperate For Facebook Friends? Buy Some!
Discoblog: Computer Program Can “Out” Gay Facebook Users
Reality Base: Charged With a Crime? Better Check Your Facebook Pictures
Given the recent death of best-selling author and sci-fi pioneer Michael Crichton, we thought it was the perfect time to reflect on some of his most innovative and fascinating ideas…that just happened to have come true.
5. Talking Gorillas: Congo (1980) was more than just another notch into the decent-book-cum-awful-movie belt. It also highlighted what was once a novel concept: that apes could use human language to communicate. Cute little Amy, with her sign language glove (which appeared in the movie but not the book), was loosely based on Koko the gorilla, whose actual linguistic abilities continue to be debated.
Since then, there’s been Kanzi, a bonobo who “apparently has learned more than 3,000 spoken English words and can produce (by means of lexigrams) novel English sentences and comprehend English sentences he has never heard before.” Granted, those who doubted before remain unconvinced.
4. Self-Replicating Robots: In Prey (2002), Crichton created a world of self-replicating nanorobots with rudimentary intelligence and predatory instincts, who spend several hundred pages running amok and causing all sorts of mayhem.
Today, researchers have developed robots that can physically self assemble, and even produce copies of themselves. Granted, getting to that next stage—manufacturing more of themselves from raw materials—is substantially harder.
3. Superbugs from Space: Crichton’s debut novel, The Andromeda Strain (1969), terrified readers with the ultimate biohazard: a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that infects human blood and mutates like wildfire to defy containment.
Lucky for us, the chances of the next pandemic hurling in from space are slim to none. But the book brought the concept of bio-safety levels to far more advanced heights. As for the next great bug, not only have we created antibiotic-resistant superbugs here on Earth, we’ve also discovered that some strains become more virulent when sent into space. (Though fear not: They become far less deadly once they’ve made the journey home.)
In the category of “conclusions we can’t believe needed to be reached,” Australian researchers who studied 299 women over eight years—including during their pregnancies—found that they were no mentally worse for wear after bearing children. Neither pregnancy nor motherhood had any detrimental effect on each mother’s cognitive capacity, said Helen Christensen, director of the Center for Mental Health Research at Australian National University.
Christensen says previous studies may have linked cognitive deficits to pregnancy because they were comparing pregnant women with other non-pregnant women. In this study, they were able to compare a woman’s mental capacity to herself, by measuring it before, during, and after her pregnancy.
The researchers did find, however, that the mothers were slightly less well-educated than women of the same age who didn’t have children (the study followed a total of 2,500 women’s lives in detail). Future studies will reveal whether this small difference, attributed to an interruption in education, will give mothers a long-term disadvantage—although there is indication that delaying motherhood increases earnings.
There’s more than driving-versus-walking or sitting-versus-standing that has North Americans getting fatter than ever. A study by Canadian researchers suggests that we’re also more likely to stuff our faces after a longer period of mental exertion.
The scientists studied 14 women doing three activities: sitting peacefully; reading and responding to a text; and taking a strenuous exam on a computer. After each exercise, the subjects were allowed to eat whatever they wanted from a buffet, not knowing that this was the true object of the study. The researchers say that the women ate many more calories—between 23 and 30 percent more—after the difficult test than they did after the more relaxing activities.
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re being watched…by millions of people? No? Thank goodness—you probably don’t have Truman Show delusion.
This affliction, wherein people feel that they’re being monitored by cameras and they’re surrounded by actors, is no joke, psychologist Joel Gold told the New York Times. This delusion, named for the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey, isn’t the only strange mental condition to emerge alongside the technological developments of the last decade. There’s also Internet delusion, in which people feel that rather than reality TV cameras following them, the Internet is somehow tracking all the mundane details of their lives.
We’ve heard a lot about “cutters” and other people who feel compulsions to hurt themselves. But there’s an extra, extreme level above that: Body Integrity Identity Disorder.
BIID‘s somewhat cryptic name belies a strange affliction—its sufferers feel that their normal bodies are wrong, and that they were born to be paraplegic or handicapped. The compulsion is so strong that some with the disorder try—and succeed—at amputating their own limbs. Newsweek mentions one who, after many failed attempts to lose his left hand, cut it off with a power tool and then lied to his family that he lost it in an accident. Another man froze off his own leg.