The essential key for writing is to write regularly — like it or not — great ideas come often by writing; releasing the subconscious — waiting for inspiration and ideas will not work, but it does help to have a notebook with you all the time for sudden brainstorms or inspiration.
Prof. Robert Marc Friedman, University of Oslo
I like this quote a lot, and it is true. I often come up with my ideas when I’m sitting down and working on older projects that I’m unsure about – and often the new idea turns out much better than what I was working on initially. I would love to carry a notebook around for sudden brainstorms, but I’d probably lose it. I’m thinking of physically attaching one to my person (it exists!). Our phones are walking notebooks, but unlike paper, it’s too easy to get distracted and never revisit ideas I store in my notes app.
The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made female billionaire, and the massive fraud that collapsed the company.
I love watching documentaries, and during the pandemic, I whizzed through a whole bunch of them! I was happy to find one based on Elizabeth Holmes and her ill-fated company, Theranos. I also read a book written by one of journalists who helped to break the story (Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou). I still find it fascinating how many people were drawn into this web Elizabeth Holmes spun, especially given the calibre of people she managed to convince to invest in Theranos and work for it.
To give some background information, Theranos was a health technology company that made headlines when they developed a device called Edison which could supposedly perform a lot of blood tests quickly – the hook? The device only needed a pinprick of blood. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, it turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Not only was Theranos faking its results, but its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was charged with several counts of fraud.
Every year I make the same resolution – to read more. A few years ago I resolved to read 52 books in one year. It didn’t work. Being a so-called millennial, I remember the time when there was no social media. The internet was around, but you needed a dial-up modem and it took fifteen minutes to load one page. I had no choice but to read and that’s what I did.
I read many books as a child. My understanding of the world and the people in it came from books. My ability to write both fiction and non-fiction is down to reading. Yet, I struggle to sit down and read books today. Occasionally, I’ll find a book that hits the right note and it feels like the world falls away. I get sucked into another universe and I feel good. And then the book ends, forcing me to keep on starting new ones to try and achieve the same high – similar to what happens when you finish binge-watching a show.
I have now started reading more nonfiction books. With nonfiction, there is rarely a hook or climax. It’s just reading about the topic of interest. They’re not always easy reads, but since when was reading supposed to be easy? Reading is fun, but it’s also a valuable learning tool that benefits us in many different ways. From today, I’m looking at reading as a task and not a pastime.
On that note, here are five ways that reading is good for us and our brains!
1. You Learn From It
A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
It’s no surprise that more children turned to books during the national lockdowns imposed as part of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we were all faced with more free time than usual. There are so many hours we can spend binging TV shows. For children, in particular, having more time to read was highly beneficial. Not just for educational purposes, but because they renewed their enjoyment in reading in a world where everything is becoming increasingly web-based.
Many of us learn what we know today from books, and reading will always be a good learning tool. Reading can improve our vocabulary. An extensive range of vocabulary is linked to higher levels of intelligence. That person you know who always uses big words? They probably read a lot! Children who read a lot may become smarter later on in life. I’d say that’s a good reason to read. Not to be outdone, reading can also increase brain strength. It’s like a power-up for our brains. Reading can improve memory function and slow down the natural decline as we age.
It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson
According to an editorial in Nature (dated 10 Jan 2022), it is time for us to come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay.
Given the amount of pandemic fatigue there is at the moment, many people have already come to terms with it. However, as Nature states, this doesn’t mean that we should stop taking precautions to reduce transmission. With Omicron emerging as a serious threat to moving on from the virus, experts are stressing the need to continue wearing masks and social distancing.
It’s also worth noting that the virus will continue to mutate and we will see more variants, but thanks to the ongoing research, scientists will be better equipped to handle them.
So, it might be presumptuous to say that this (vaccines, wearing masks, jumping three feet into the air if someone coughs nearby) is our new normal, but it’s our normal right now.
In the previous part, I spoke about food insecurity and how it impacts the lives of many around the world. In this part, we’ll be learning what food insecurity is, and what measures are being taken to combat it and the last impact it has on society.
Food security is made up of four different components. This includes:
What happens when there is a lack of food security?
The lack of food security comes with expensive drawbacks, and it may be cheaper to avoid food insecurity than to reverse it. Currently, most governments have been unable to come up with workable solutions. This leaves a hole that is filled by third sector organisations, some of which are not very secure themselves.
Food banks have become more common and they are plugging gaps in society. However, they are not a sustainable alternative to the real issue at hand – people are finding it increasingly difficult to survive in a world that keeps on evolving and growing, leaving those who can’t afford necessities behind. Continue reading “The impact of food poverty on society | part 2”→
Not the James Bond we know as Agent 007, but rather the inspiration behind the character. James Bond was an American ornithologist. Ornithology is the study of the behavior, ecology and environment of birds. James Bond traveled to as many as 100 different countries in pursuit of his knowledge on birds, eventually publishing a book called Birds of the West Indies. This book was seen by James Bond creator and author, Ian Fleming, who was a keen birdwatcher himself – and the rest as they say is history.
Here at Purplexed Science, we always try to provide references and sources for any claims or information, but with a wide range of information available thanks to the internet, it can be hard to know what to trust.
For example, our first Did You Know? post was about human stomach being able to dissolve razor blades. We discovered this fact via a basic Google search, and it appeared on several ‘science facts’ posts, but there was no citation to the original paper or any kind of research on the vast majority of these posts.
If you are a student or working in the industry, it can be incredibly frustrating to search for information only to be let down when it doesn’t measure up to an acceptable standard.
Luckily, Compound Interest published this infographic (initially in 2014, updated in 2015) detailing a ‘rough guide’ to spotting bad science that is still very much relevant today.
The most important sign is the first – it’s very easy to spot a headline and not read further. It’s something most of us do every day, but when it comes to science – it’s never just about a headline.
According to a study carried out by researchers from the Department of Surgery, Meridia Huron and Hillcrest Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio, razor blades can be dissolved by the acid in your stomach if you (hopefully accidentally) ingest one.
They placed several razor blades and other metal objects in gastric juice and found that after 24 hours, the razor blade size had reduced by 63%!
This was an important development in terms of what actions physicians can take when facing a patient who has ingested similar objects.
The mind is not isolated from the world it lives in.
While writing one of my last posts, ‘The Effect of Coronavirus on Mental Health‘ – I wondered how things would improve. Before the pandemic began, many of us were already struggling. We were already dealing with poor mental health – the virus just put it in a vacuum. Life seemingly ground to a halt, pushing mental health issues to the forefront.
There has been an increase in mental health awareness, with governments and organisations providing guides and online support – but it feels temporary. With the focus on returning to normal as soon as possible, it’s easy to feel like the help won’t be available when that happens.
The above quote is from an article in Nature by Rochelle Burgess titled: ‘COVID-19 mental-health responses neglect social realities‘. It discusses how the spotlight on mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Burgess argues that these measures don’t take into account what people’s lives were like before and what’s been the main factor in their condition.