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Tom Eigelsbach
Works at Hangouts/Skype Math Tutor and Science/Sci-fi Geek.
Attended Vulcan Academy of Science
Lives in Washington, DC, USA
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Tom Eigelsbach

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In a provocative new paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a team led by Dr. Ezequiel Morsella at San Francisco State University came to a startling conclusion: consciousness is no more than a passive machine running one simple algorithm — to serve up what’s already been decided, and take credit for the decision.
Think your deliberate, guiding, conscious thoughts are in charge of your actions? Think again. In a provocative new paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a team led by Dr. Ezequiel... read more
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Good question. That's where things get tricky. Or simple. It depends on who you are and at what level of development or conditioning you are at. No one is the same but the "rules" apply equally. How strong is your conditioning or inner "cop"?
How averse or afraid of consequences? A lot of this can be simplified linguistically to old concepts of the reptilian brain or primal instincts. Yadda yada yada.
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The goal of the hitchhiking trip was to see how humans would interact with HitchBOT. And apparently the answer was “not well.” HitchBOT has been around the world, including trips across the entirety of Canada and Germany without major incident. But America is clearly a hard land for our robot brothers and sisters, where in Philadelphia, HitchBOT was brutally destroyed, his head decapitated and his arms ripped off. Someday, you can be sure that the robots will rise up against the human savages and avenge this sadistic crime. "Just wait until humans try to hitch a ride in Google AI self-driving cars," commented an android who did not wish to be identified.
When hitchBOT the hitchhiking robot started his journey in Boston two weeks ago he wanted to see the entire country. Unfortunately, he never made it out of the Northeast. The researchers who built hitchBOT announced today that they need to stop the experiment because hitchBOT was vandalized in Philadelphia.
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This is why I only create blood thirsty robots. 
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Researchers from Rutgers University asked men and women who'd recently been dumped, yet were still "intensely in love," to get inside an MRI machine and look at photos of their ex. 

While that was the worst kind of torture you could put someone through who's dealing with a breakup, it provided some fascinating insight into the neuroscience of being dumped. The scans showed that their brain activity was very similar to that of an addict going through cocaine withdrawals. Falling in love is like becoming hooked on drugs - when you're smitten with someone, it activates the 'reward' neurons in your brain, and this triggers the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine. But the thing about dopamine is that it always leaves your brain wanting more, which explains that new-love feeling of obsession where you literally can't be without the other person (you hang up first, no, you hang up first). 

Our brains eventually fall into a more stable pattern when we're in a relationship, but they still expect to get their dopamine boost from being around your loved one. And when that person suddenly gets ripped away from you, it leaves your brain scrambling for its next hit. The result is very similar to that obsessive new-love phase, but gone terribly wrong.

The brain’s reward systems are still expecting their romantic ‘fix’, but they’re not getting the responses they expect. And like someone in the depths of a drug addiction, they turn up the volume in an effort to get you to respond. Because the reward system is one of the most primal regions of our brain, it also happens to bypass our conscious 'filter', just like the feeling of being hungry or thirsty, which is why we end up doing such crazy stuff to boost our dopamine. Binge-eating works temporarily; so does staring at photos of your ex: but at the end of the day, your brain is going to need to rewire itself to get over it. 

On the plus side, scientists have also found that your brain is hard-wired to move on. And according to research published earlier this year, that takes on average three months. 

Source: http://www.sciencealert.com/this-is-what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-get-your-heart-broken
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The ABCs  of Science? U of Edinburgh Astrobiology Professor Charles S. Cockell​ has developed a periodic table that combines Astrophysics​, Biology​, and Chemistry​.

Source: http://astrobiology.com/2015/07/the-astrobiological-periodic-table.html
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Interesting to watch the religions evolve and spread in this animation.

Judaism expands and contracts a bit, and then Christianity starts and it's all over Europe (with the Roman Empire). In India, Buddhism takes over part of the country, and then gets pretty much completely pushed out the northeast and into Tibet and the rest of Asia, where it spreads. Hinduism regains all of India again, yet never spreads beyond it -- indeed the name 'Hinduism' means literally the folks on the eastern side of the Indus river. Islam spreads the quickest, and like wildfire, sweeps over the huge northern part of Africa. Christianity very slowly devours all of sub-Saharan Africa, dividing the continent cleanly between the two. It's like watching various colonies of bacteria take over a Petri dish.
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"Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach."

Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge, and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, littered with rotting fish. Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.

"What you have there is basically raw sewage," said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the tests. "It's all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it's going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here," he said, referring to the U.S. Holy Shit! Literally!

Rio's historic sewage problem spiraled over the past decades as the population exploded, with many of the metropolitan area's 12 million residents settling in the vast hillside slums that ring the bay. Waste flows into more than 50 streams that empty into the once-crystalline Guanabara Bay. An eye-watering stench emanates from much of the bay and its palm-lined beaches, which were popular swimming spots as late as the 1970s but are now perpetually off-limits for swimmers.

Nearly 1,400 athletes will be canoeing and rowing on the brackish waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. Besides swimmers, athletes in sailing, canoeing and to a lesser degree rowing often get drenched when competing, and breathe in mist as well. Viruses can enter the body through the mouth, eyes, any orifice, or even a small cut. The concentrations of the viruses in all tests were roughly equivalent to that seen in raw sewage — even at one of the least-polluted areas tested, the Copacabana beach, where marathon and triathlon swimming will take place and where many of the expected 350,000 foreign tourists may take a dip.

The raw sewage has led to "endemic" public health woes among Brazilians, primarily infectious diarrhea in children. By adolescence, people in Rio have been so exposed to the viruses they build up antibodies. But foreign athletes and tourists won't have that protection. An estimated 60% of Brazilian adults have been exposed to hepatitis A, said Terra, the Rio hepatologist. Doctors urge foreigners heading to Rio, whether athletes or tourists, to be vaccinated against hepatitis A. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends travelers to Brazil get vaccinated for typhoid.

#microbiology   #olympics  
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an Associated…
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Tom Eigelsbach

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Genuine public intellectuals are an endangered species these days, and may indeed have become extinct with the recent death of Christopher Hitchens, who appears posthumously in the film as one of many amused and bemused witnesses to the Vidal-Buckley feud.

Equal parts brash entertainment and cultural alarm bell, Best of Enemies bowls along smartly, with clips from the tapes spiced with intelligently snarky asides from friends and adversaries of the two men, and spliced with archival footage of the tumultuous times they addressed. Trailing badly in the ratings, ABC went out on a limb and paired up two pundits from opposite ends of the political spectrum, who could speak to the swelling conflicts of race, class and gender at home, and American imperialism abroad, without reducing them to pap.

As living-room wars go, theirs was without parallel. On the face of it the two men were as irreconcilably different as they could be. Buckley was a devout Catholic traditionalist who founded the modern conservative movement and palled around with Ronald Reagan. Vidal was an acclaimed writer of historical novels, a liberal and a champion of sexual freedom whose satirical novel, Myra Breckinridge, was made into a magnificently terrible movie with Raquel Welch as a trans-gendered siren who visits mayhem on Hollywood.

Watching the two men square off, though, it seems likely that their intense competition escalated less from their differences than from what they shared. Both came from gilded families. Both spoke in complete, gold-plated paragraphs; both were given to apocalyptic pronouncements. Today they'd be avid Tweeters, but Buckley and Vidal also shared an erudite sense of history, a breadth of vision and the sense of a common culture that's all but lost in today's single-issue wars. Each in his way was a libertarian maverick unable to fit neatly into his party of affiliation. Both had tried and failed to win public office — only to succeed brilliantly in the brashly populist medium that gave them their bully pulpit.

"We gave them their money's worth tonight," whispered Vidal to a visibly shaken Buckley after eviscerating him in the war of words that brought their mutual antipathy to a head. It wasn't just a show: as every witness in the film agrees, the two men — de facto sibling rivals — genuinely loathed one another.

Text from: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/31/426884948/in-1968-the-best-of-enemies-faced-off-in-a-brutal-televised-feud
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I long for "Genuine public intellectuals" who are not afraid to "[speak] in complete, gold-plated paragraphs". Despite Twitter and TV sound bites, there has to be a place for deep and well-informed debate. (Granted, I do have access to venues like the Social Europe Journal)
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A team from the London-based Open Space Agency (OSA) has produced the Ultrascope, a downloadable telescope design that can be generated by a 3D printer, be controlled by simple robotics, and captures images using the camera on a smartphone. OSA’s James Parr says the group wanted to show that it was possible to create an open source design that people could build cheaply at home and use to do scientifically valuable observations. The phones on the Ultrascope automatically upload images to the cloud and Parr hopes users will build up a library of shared images online. The OSA team will launch a model with a 9-centimeter mirror at the San Diego Maker Faire in California in October. But a later, 30-centimeter model should be capable of astronomical tasks such as characterizing potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.  “We want to create a community and do projects that are useful,” Parr says.
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Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will 'spoil' it. Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development.

Studies show that responding to a baby's needs (not letting a baby "cry it out") has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy. The United States has been on a downward trajectory on all of these care characteristics.
Social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children, according to an interdisciplinary body of research.
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Most of the practices mentioned were considered old fashioned and out of date when I was having and raising babies 30 years ago. I doubt they can still be referred to as "modern parenting".
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The definition of "Blue Moon" has evolved slowly to the modern "2nd full moon in a month" formulation. But what sky-watchers usually see is the same old grayish-white – unless a volcanic eruption filters the Sun’s reflected light. Science@NASA explains. 
The definition of "Blue Moon" has evolved slowly to the modern "2nd full moon in a month" formulation. But what sky-watchers usually see is the same old grayish-white – unless a volcanic eruption filters the Sun’s reflected light. Science@NASA explains. Full Moon: Why Does It Happen? How Does It Affect Us?
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✔ Certified Skeptic, Gamer, Philosopher, Sci-fi/Science Geek, Math Tutor
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"It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man." 
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This is the best Indian restaurant I've ever been to. It's also the best buffet of any cuisine I know of in the DC-Baltimore area, as long as you love Indian cuisine. The serve a buffet 7 days a week at a cost of $11 or $13 on weekends. Their weekend buffets are the best, however. I had three insanely wonderful dishes last time I was at the Curry Leaf for lunch on a Saturday. An okra dish that was out of this world. Same with the eggplant dish. And an outstanding cauliflower dish. Any of those three I'd consider batter than any dish at any Indian restaurant I've ever eaten at, and they had them all. They also had meat dishes, but I don't eat meat. And a dessert that was different from the usual India desserts, but it was delicious. My one problem was I had to pull myself away when I was full, because it was so good I just wanted to eat more. And on top of that, you are allowed to bring your own beer or wine with you and there is no 'corking' fee. So while this is above average what I usually want to pay for lunch, what you save from bringing your own bottle of wine to share makes up for it, as a $10 bottle of wine will usually cost you $30 or more in a restaurant. Hence, I'll bring along some of my favorite craft beer or a good bottle of wine to share, making this both my go-to place for special occasions with friends as well as my current favorite restaurant.
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Public - 6 months ago
reviewed 6 months ago
This is a great place to eat, given a couple of qualifications. It's got some really wonderful dishes that make it worthwhile. Most of the stuff they serve is mediocre and not very good, but as it's a buffet, if you know what the few really good ones are, that makes no difference, and you'll get a fantastic deal. You can take what you don't eat home, or get an extra plateful to go, or just get food to go for only $4 a pound ($6 for meat/fish). That's a great deal, and I usually get a plateful of stir-fry veggies to take home for another meal. Also, even the mediocre food is a plus if you bring finicky friends or finicky kids: they have plenty of junk food (pizza, french fries, fried chicken nuggets), plus plenty of stuff for vegans and vegetarians, plus lots of normal chinese dishes from lo mein to beef & broccoli, Everybody will like something here. The Hibachi stir fry is fantastic: you pick your own selection of veggies (and/or meats and eggs), and they have a good selection including snow peas and fresh mushrooms, and they'll cook it in front of you, and add whatever sauces you want or lots of garlic if you wish. Worth it if this is all you get. The sushi is good. Mostly California roll kinds of sushi, maybe a dozen varieties, with a couple of them vegan and several with cooked rather than raw fish. More than worth it just for the sushi alone. The salad bar is way above average, better than any of the ones you see in the supermarket for $5 or $6 a pound, with more variety, except this is all you can eat or only $4 a pound to take home, so that's worth it if you only eat salad, or bring along friends on a diet who just want to eat salad. Just order water. Soft drinks are expensive, though it's an all you can drink deal, but seriously, why the extra calories of sugar water to fill you when there's all the good food that comes with the package plan. I just get water and add lemon slices. Or maybe I'll order hot tea if I'm in the mood, but that's extra too. And I skip the desserts. There are tons of them, none that interesting, but usually at least two varieties of chocolate cake, which will make kids happy. And there are a few other really top-notch dishes, such as the string beans (always just perfectly crispy and not overcooked) or the small clams in the shell which is delicious, or the spinach and cheese dish which they hilariously always misspell as "Spanish Cheese." The rest of the stuff is mostly mediocre, but just sample and find the few really good dishes they serve, and ignore the rest, and you'll love the place. As for bad reviews and complaints about the service, all the waitress does is bring you water and take your used plates. It's a *buffet,* folks! On a rare occasion at peak hours you have to wait a minute or two in line because you pay at the start a one-price fits all, which is an amazing price, btw: $7.00 including tax with the dollar off value-pak monthly coupon in the mail, or $10.00 including tax with the coupon for $1.50 off after 3:30 for dinner or all Sunday. But if you go Sunday afternoon expect a big line to get in -- but that's because half the poor folks in that part of the county take their families there after church! They are doing a huge service to offer all this good food with tons of salad and veggies that poor families can afford instead of a greasy bucket of fried chicken at a fast food restaurant. It's the best cheap after-church family buffet in town. So it gets five stars from me. No, it's not the place to impress your date with, but it is a great place to go alone, or with a big family or group of friends where everyone will find something they like, or to get a great carry out stir fry.
• • •
Public - 6 months ago
reviewed 6 months ago
2 reviews
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