Thursday, September 18, 2014

Always A Reason For Celebration

Do you know what today is? Yes, today is a day to celebrate! 
Why? Well look at all of these “reasons” we’ve found.

Air Force Birthday
Chiropractic Founders Day
Hug A Greeting Card Writer Day
National Ceiling Fan Day
National Cheeseburger Day
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
National Respect Day
World Water Monitoring Day

Who needs more of a reason to appreciate your ceiling fan, with a cheeseburger in hand? Burgers at my place! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gadgets We Miss..RIP

It started with an article about Dreamcast turning 15 years old this week.  Yeah, 15.  Feel old yet?

Do you remember how excited these, now outdated, gadget made you?  Take a look at a few of our favorite gadgets that now R.I.P.  (That P being for pieces)

If it was major you hit me on my pager.  It was so awesome. And all the secret codes you and your friends shared?! Classic.

07734 Hello
121 I need to talk to you
123 I miss you
14 Hi

Did you sit by the radio for HOURS waiting for your favorite song to come on so you could record it.  Maybe even make a special "mix tape" <<  old school playlist >>  for that special someone?  Still, to this day, nothing beats a mix tape.
Now, this next one might ruffle a few feathers.  I know there are a FEW Blackberry loyalists out there, but still using choosing to use a Blackberry's operating system is just crazy talk!  Android phones and the iPhone 4S offer so many compelling new features. We're calling it.  Outdated.  

What are some of your favorite outdated gadgets?  We'd love to take a trip down memory lane with you!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good Times

With the recent passing of Robin Williams I really wanted to take a moment and remember all the moments he made us laugh! So what are some of your favorite movies or moments?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dragon's Blood Tree

The dragon's blood tree (Dracaena draco) has a thick, red resin that makes the plant appear to be bleeding when it is cut. These subtropical plants form huge umbrella-like canopies and can grow for hundreds of years, but they are currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUNC due to the trademark resin being used in traditional medicine, violin staining, and even for embalming the dead.

How incredibly interesting. 

Do We Really Only Use 10% Of Our Brain?

I still need to go see this movie! 
As the new film Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman is set to be released in the cinemas this week, I feel I should attempt to dispel the unfounded premise of the film – that we only use 10% of our brains. Let me state that there is no scientific evidence that supports this statement, it is simply a myth.
The concept behind the film is that through the administration of a new cognitive enhancing drug, our female lead character, Lucy, becomes able to harness powerful mental capabilities and enhanced physical abilities. These include telekinesis, mental time travel and being able to absorb information instantaneously. Viewed as such, the human brain should be essentially capable of these feats, we just fail to push our capacity. So if we can unlock the “unused” 90% of the brain we too could be geniuses with super powers?

The beginnings of the myth
The 10% myth may have begun in the early 1900’s when the neurosurgeon Karl Lashley removed portions of the brains of rats who were trained to navigate around a maze. He found that he could damage areas of the cerebral cortex and the rats were still able to perform the task correctly, as well as behave normally. The greater the area of damage, the more impaired the rats were at the task. However, these deficits could be recovered through additional maze training and time.
Lashley proposed the principle of “equipotentiality”, meaning that different areas of the brain can carry out the same functions. He added to this the principle of “mass action” – in which the brain acts as a whole in many types of learning.
Function and dysfunction of the brain
But we know now that the brain is not a uniform structure. A small stroke can be devastating. Depending on the area damaged, different brain functions are disrupted. For instance injury to the motor cortex can lead to paralysis on one side of the body, damage to a small region of the frontal lobe known as Broca’s area results in being unable to speak. Although there is some recovery of certain functions over time due to plasticity, where alternative areas of the brain can compensate for the damaged regions, recovery is rarely complete.
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease target distinct brain regions. Memory deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease are due to deterioration of the hippocampus, and motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s Disease by loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra. There is no recovery of function in these diseases, as the damage spreads no compensatory mechanisms step in.
We understand now that different brain areas function both separately and together to allow us to coordinate complex tasks. So at any moment we could be using 10% or 100% of our brain, depending on what we are doing.
To carry out actions as mundane as buying a coffee we have to use higher cognitive or executive functions to decide what we want, speech to communicate our choice, advanced cognitive processes to calculate the cost and fine motor skills to hand over the money. So many separate brain areas must work together to co-ordinate behavior. Damage to a small region can cause massive disruption to the functional networks required.
The hungry brain
Our brains are much more complex than Lashley’s lab rats. The average human brain comprises of only 2% of our body mass, but uses 20% of our energy, much more than expected for our relative brain size. The cerebrum performs cognitive functions, the cerebellum controls motor coordination and the brainstem maintains essential unconscious functions such as breathing. Our brains are relatively large when compared to other animals, we wouldn’t have evolved such an energy hungry and large brain unless we required it.
The majority of the energy consumed by the brain powers millions of neurons communicating with each other through electrical nerve impulses. This forms a control network that connects functionally distinct regions. If we did really only use 10% of our brain it wouldn’t make sense to have such a large amount of energy powering an idle 90%.
We probably understand less than 10% of how the brain functions
Neuroscientists are still trying to understand how the brain functions. Currently, a major focus of research is into the role of different types of cells in the brain. In the brain only 10% of the cells are neurons; the other 90% are glial cells or astrocytes. These cells appear to be important in connecting neurons together, but recent research indicates they may be even more functionally important, particularly in forming memories.
Scientists are still trying to unlock the secrets of the brain. We do not yet understand what parts of the brain interact together to generate consciousness, or how our brain functions as a whole to control complex behaviors.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Used Cigarette Butts Could Be Used To Store Energy

Around the world, as many as 5.6 trillion cigarette butts are thrown into the environment every year -- that’s 766,571 metric tons of waste. Now researchers are putting that waste to good use: They've converted cigarette butts into a material they hope to use as a coating for the electrodes of super-capacitors -- electrochemical components for storing huge amounts of energy. 
If successfully integrated, the material could help power machines ranging from phones and computers to EVs and wind turbines. The work was published in Nanotechnology this week. 
Super-capacitors store energy via electrical charges rather than chemical reactions, the way batteries do, Gizmodo explains, which means they can charge and discharge much faster. But they’re huge, which prevents them from being used in small gadgets. Scientists are always looking for ways to make better super-capacitors, and they like to work with carbon because of its low cost, high electrical conductivity, and long-term stability. 
“Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society,” Jongheop Yi from Seoul National University says in a news release. 
Cigarette filters are made of synthetic cellulose acetate fibers. After collecting filters from Marlboro Light Gold, Bohem Cigar Mojito, and the One Orange cigarettes, Yi and colleagues transformed the toxic and non-biodegradable fibers into a carbon-based material using a one-step burning technique called pyrolysis. Burning the fibers in the presence of nitrogen results in a carbon-based material filled with tiny pores. These pores make it a better super-capacitive material by increasing the surface area. A combination of different pore sizes further ensures that the material can have high energy densities.
The team attached the carbon-based material to an electrode and tested it in a three-electrode system to see how well the material could adsorb electrons (charge) and then release them (discharge). The material, they found, stored a higher amount of electrical energy than commercially available carbon, grapheme, and carbon nanotubes. 
Image: Ken Hawkins via Flickr CC BY 2.0