How your body language can change your life.

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

 

JK Rowling was revealed as the true author behind the Robert Galbraith novels

How long JK Rowling wanted to keep her crime writer pseudonym a secret, we will never know. The Harry Potter author released her first Robert Galbraith novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, in April 2013 under the guise of a very British sounding man who was said to have previously served in the army. But her nom-de-plume was uncovered three months later after an indiscreet tweet divulging the true identity of Galbraith was sent by “@JudeCallegari”, a family friend of Christopher Gossage, a partner at Rowling’s solicitors.

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Within days Galbraith’s one-legged protagonist Detective Cormoran Stike became one of the best known characters in contemporary crime writing. The book by the “debut novelist” shot from 4,709th position in the Amazon sales chart to number one. Public demand was so high that Rowling’s publisher Little, Brown was forced to order 140,000 extra copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling, which had shifted just 1,500 in its first three months. To date, the novel has sold 1 million copies, with Galbraith’s 2014 follow-up The Silkworm catching up on 500,000.

Despite the surge in sales – which Rowling donated to The Soldier’s Charity – the author was “disappointed” by her leaked identity, later taking Gossage and Callegari to court. “A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know,” she said in a statement at the time.

But what motivated one of Britain’s best-selling authors to write under a pseudonym? Speculation suggested it was due to the mixed reviews she received for The Casual Vacancy, the first adult novel she had written since the Harry Potter series, which was released seven months before The Cuckoo’s Calling. The author later explained she was “yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback”.

Rowling was so keen to keep up the appearance of Robert Galbraith that she sent a manuscript of The Cuckoo’s Calling to every major publisher, despite having already agreed a deal with Little, Brown. Orion was one of the few publishing houses honest enough to admit it had turned it down. “It was certainly well written – but it didn’t stand out,” said Kate Mills, the company’s publishing director.

Like The Casual Vacancy, the Robert Galbraith novels have distinguished Rowling as a master of plot, pacing and characterisation. She will not be remembered among the literary greats, but as the most addictively compelling writer of a generation. Fans hoping for more in the Cormoran Strike series should not be disappointed. Rowling has said she would like to write more Galbraith novels, but for now she has the forthcoming Harry Potter West End show and the film release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to contend with. For those desperate for their next fix of the crime saga, Cormoran Strike will at least live on in a BBC adaptation of Galbraith’s novels, which is likely to air next year.

Source: Independent Culture

 

 

5 Amazing Things Your Brain Does While You Sleep

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, an activity as cru
cial to our health and well-being as eating. But exactly why we need sleep hasn’t always been clear. We know that sleep makes us feel more energized and improves our mood, but what’s really happening in the brain and body when we’re at rest?

Research has identified a number of reasons that sleep is critical to our health. When we’re sleeping, the brain is anything but inactive. In fact, during sleep, neurons in the brain fire nearly as much as they do during waking hours — so it should come as no surprise that what happens during our resting hours is extremely important to a number brain and cognitive functions.

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Here are five incredible things your brain does while you’re asleep — and good reason to get some shuteye tonight:

 

Makes decisions.

The brain can process information and prepare for actions during sleep, effectively making decisions while unconscious, new research has found.

A recent study published in the journal Current Biology found that the brain processes complex stimuli during sleep, and uses this information to make decisions while awake. The researchers asked participants to categorize spoken words that were separated into different categories — words referring to animals or objects; and real words vs. fake words — and asked to indicate the category of the word they heard by pressing right or left buttons. When the task become automatic, the subjects were asked to continue but also told that they could fall asleep (they were lying in a dark room). When the subjects were asleep, the researchers began introducing new words from the same categories. Brain monitoring devices showed that even when the subjects were sleeping, their brains continued to prepare the motor function to create right and left responses based on the meaning of the words they heard.

When the participants woke up, however, they had no recollection of the words they heard.

“Not only did they process complex information while being completely asleep, but they did it unconsciously,” researchers Thomas Andrillon and Sid Kouider write in the Washington Post. “Our work sheds new light about the brain’s ability to process information while asleep but also while being unconscious.”

 

Creates and consolidates memories.

While you’re asleep, the brain is busy forming new memories, consolidating older ones, and linking more recent with earlier memories, during both REM and non-REM sleep. Lack of rest could have a significant affect the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory creation and consolidation.

For this reason, sleep plays a very important role in learning — it helps us to cement the new information we’re taking in for better later recall.

“We’ve learned that sleep before learning helps prepare your brain for initial formation of memories,” Dr. Matthew Walker, a University of California, Berkeley sleep researcher, tells the National Institutes of Health. “And then, sleep after learning is essential to help save and cement that new information into the architecture of the brain, meaning that you’re less likely to forget it.”

Think twice before pulling an all-nighter to study for your next exam: If you don’t sleep, your ability to learn new information could drop by up to 40 percent, Walker estimates.

 

Makes creative connections.

Sleep can be a powerful creativity-booster, as the mind in an unconscious resting state can make surprising new connections that it perhaps wouldn’t have made in a waking state.

A 2007 University of California at Berkeley study found that sleep can foster “remote associates,” or unusual connections, in the brain — which could lead to a major “a-ha” moment upon waking. Upon waking from sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to make connections between seemingly distantly related ideas.

 

Clears out toxins.

A series of 2013 studies found that an important function of sleep may be to give the brain a chance to do a little housekeeping.

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that during sleep, the brains of mice clear out damaging molecules associated with
. The space between brain cells actually increased while the mice were unconscious, allowing the brain to flush out the toxic molecules that built up during waking hours.

“We need sleep,” Dr. Nedergaard, the study’s lead researcher, told the National Institutes of Health. “It cleans up the brain.”

If we’re not getting enough sleep, our brains don’t have adequate time to clear out toxins, which could potentially have the effect of accelerating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

 

Learns and remembers how to perform physical tasks.

The brain stores information into long-term memory through something known as sleep spindles, short bursts of brain waves at strong frequencies that occur during REM sleep.

This process can be particularly helpful for storing information related to motor tasks, like driving, swinging a tennis racquet or practicing a new dance move, so that these tasks become automatic. What happens during REM sleep is that the brain transfers short-term memories stored in the motor cortex to the temporal lobe, where they become long-term memories.

“Practice during sleep is essential for later performance,” James B. Maas, a sleep scientist at Cornell University, told the American Psychological Association. “If you want to improve your golf game, sleep longer.”

 

Source: Huffington Post

Why do earthquakes happen?

how-do-earthquakes-occur_6b0dd277-575a-4f41-b6f8-7e739152d8af.jpgEarthquakes are usually caused when rock underground suddenly breaks along a fault. This sudden release of energy causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake. When two blocks of rock or two plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little. They don’t just slide smoothly; the rocks catch on each other. The rocks are still pushing against each other, but not moving. After a while, the rocks break because of all the pressure that’s built up. When the rocks break, the earthquake occurs. During the earthquake and afterward, the plates or blocks of rock start moving, and they continue to move until they get stuck again. The spot underground where the rock breaks is called the focus of the earthquake. The place right above the focus (on top of the ground) is called the epicenter of the earthquake.

Try this little experiment:

 

  1. Break a block of foam rubber in half.
  2. Put the pieces on a smooth table.
  3. Put the rough edges of the foam rubber pieces together.
  4. While pushing the two pieces together lightly, push one piece away from you along the table top while pulling the other piece toward you. See how they stick?
  5. Keep pushing and pulling smoothly.Soon a little bit of foam rubber along the crack (the fault) will break and the two pieces will suddenly slip past each other. That sudden breaking of the foam rubber is the earthquake. That’s just what happens along a strike-slip fault.

Earthquake-like seismic waves can also be caused by explosions underground. These explosions may be set off to break rock while making tunnels for roads, railroads, subways, or mines. These explosions, however, don’t cause very strong seismic waves. You may not even feel them. Sometimes seismic waves occur when the roof or walls of a mine collapse. These can sometimes be felt by people near the mine. The largest underground explosions, from tests of nuclear warheads (bombs), can create seismic waves very much like large earthquakes. This fact has been exploited as a means to enforce the global nuclear test ban, because no nuclear warhead can be detonated on earth without producing such seismic waves.

Source: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/

Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a looBermuda_Triangle.pngsely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery. The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe, and the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it.

Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors.

In 1964, Vincent Gaddis wrote in the pulp magazine Argosy of the boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle: three vertices, in Miami, Florida peninsula, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda. Subsequent writers did not necessarily follow this definition. Some writers gave different boundaries and vertices to the triangle, with the total area varying from 1,300,000 to 3,900,000 km2 (500,000 to 1,510,000 sq mi). Consequently, the determination of which accidents occurred inside the triangle depends on which writer reported them. The United States Board on Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle.

Origins

The earliest suggestion of unusual disappearances in the Bermuda area appeared in a September 17, 1950 article published in The Miami Herald (Associated Press) by Edward Van Winkle Jones. Two years later, Fate magazine published “Sea Mystery at Our Back Door”, a short article by George X. Sand covering the loss of several planes and ships, including the loss of Flight 19, a group of five U.S. Navy Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training mission. Sand’s article was the first to lay out the now-familiar triangular area where the losses took place. Flight 19 alone would be covered again in the April 1962 issue of American Legion magazine. In it, author Allan W. Eckert wrote that the flight leader had been heard saying, “We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.” He also wrote that officials at the Navy board of inquiry stated that the planes “flew off to Mars.” Sand’s article was the first to suggest a supernatural element to the Flight 19 incident. In the February 1964 issue of Argosy, Vincent Gaddis’ article “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” argued that Flight 19 and other disappearances were part of a pattern of strange events in the region. The next year, Gaddis expanded this article into a book, Invisible Horizons.

Others would follow with their own works, elaborating on Gaddis’ ideas: John Wallace Spencer (Limbo of the Lost, 1969, repr. 1973); Charles Berlitz (The Bermuda Triangle, 1974); Richard Winer (The Devil’s Triangle, 1974), and many others, all keeping to some of the same supernatural elements outlined by Eckert.

Explanation attempts

Persons accepting the Bermuda Triangle as a real phenomenon have offered a number of explanatory approaches.

Paranormal explanations

Triangle writers have used a number of supernatural concepts to explain the events. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis. Sometimes connected to the Atlantis story is the submerged rock formation known as the Bimini Road off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas, which is in the Triangle by some definitions. Followers of the purported psychic Edgar Cayce take his prediction that evidence of Atlantis would be found in 1968 as referring to the discovery of the Bimini Road. Believers describe the formation as a road, wall, or other structure, but the Bimini Road is of natural origin.

Other writers attribute the events to UFOs. This idea was used by Steven Spielberg for his science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which features the lost Flight 19 aircrews as alien abductees.

Charles Berlitz, author of various books on anomalous phenomena, lists several theories attributing the losses in the Triangle to anomalous or unexplained forces.

Natural explanations

Compass variations

Compass problems are one of the cited phrases in many Triangle incidents. While some have theorized that unusual local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area, such anomalies have not been found. Compasses have natural magnetic variations in relation to the magnetic poles, a fact which navigators have known for centuries. Magnetic (compass) north and geographic (true) north are only exactly the same for a small number of places – for example, as of 2000, in the United States, only those places on a line running from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico. But the public may not be as informed, and think there is something mysterious about a compass “changing” across an area as large as the Triangle, which it naturally will.

False-color image of the Gulf Stream flowing north through the western Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is a major surface current, primarily driven by thermohaline circulation that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and then flows through the Straits of Florida into the North Atlantic. In essence, it is a river within an ocean, and, like a river, it can and does carry floating objects. It has a surface velocity of up to about 2.5 metres per second (5.6 mi/h). A small plane making a water landing or a boat having engine trouble can be carried away from its reported position by the current.

Human error

One of the most cited explanations in official inquiries as to the loss of any aircraft or vessel is human error. Human stubbornness may have caused businessman Harvey Conover to lose his sailing yacht, the Revonoc, as he sailed into the teeth of a storm south of Florida on January 1, 1958.

Violent weather

Tropical cyclones are powerful storms, which form in tropical waters and have historically cost thousands of lives lost and caused billions of dollars in damage. The sinking of Francisco de Bobadilla’s Spanish fleet in 1502 was the first recorded instance of a destructive hurricane. These storms have in the past caused a number of incidents related to the Triangle.

A powerful downdraft of cold air was suspected to be a cause in the sinking of the Pride of Baltimore on May 14, 1986. The crew of the sunken vessel noted the wind suddenly shifted and increased velocity from 32 km/h (20 mph) to 97–145 km/h (60–90 mph). A National Hurricane Center satellite specialist, James Lushine, stated “during very unstable weather conditions the downburst of cold air from aloft can hit the surface like a bomb, exploding outward like a giant squall line of wind and water.” A similar event occurred to the Concordia in 2010 off the coast of Brazil. Scientists are currently investigating whether “hexagonal” clouds may be the source of these up-to-170 mph “air bombs”.

Methane hydrates

Main article: Methane clathrate

Worldwide distribution of confirmed or inferred offshore gas hydrate-bearing sediments, 1996.
Source: United States Geological Survey

An explanation for some of the disappearances has focused on the presence of large fields of methane hydrates (a form of natural gas) on the continental shelves. Laboratory experiments carried out in Australia have proven that bubbles can, indeed, sink a scale model ship by decreasing the density of the water; any wreckage consequently rising to the surface would be rapidly dispersed by the Gulf Stream. It has been hypothesized that periodic methane eruptions (sometimes called “mud volcanoes”) may produce regions of frothy water that are no longer capable of providing adequate buoyancy for ships. If this were the case, such an area forming around a ship could cause it to sink very rapidly and without warning.

Publications by the USGS describe large stores of undersea hydrates worldwide, including the Blake Ridge area, off the coast of the southeastern United States. However, according to the USGS, no large releases of gas hydrates are believed to have occurred in the Bermuda Triangle for the past 15,000 years.

9/11 Cover-Up

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Not since the JFK assassination has there been a national tragedy so heavily imprinted in American minds — or that has given rise to quite as many alternative explanations. While videos and photographs of the two planes striking the World Trade Center towers are famous around the world, the sheer profusion of documentary evidence has only provided even more fodder for conspiracy theories.

A May 2006 Zogby poll found that 42% of Americans believed that the government and the 9/11 commission “concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks.” Why had the military failed to intercept the hijacked planes? Had the government issued a “stand down” order, to minimize interference with a secret plan to destroy the buildings and blame it on Islamic terrorists? In 2005, Popular Mechanics published a massive investigation of similar claims and responses to them. The reporting team found that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) did not have a history of having fighter jets prepped and ready to intercept aircraft that had gone off route. And while the team found no evidence that the government had planned the attacks, lack of proof has rarely stopped conspiracy theorists before.

Source : time.com

The Fake US Moon Landings

top10_conspiracy_moon.jpgIt’s now been nearly four decades since Neil Armstrong took his “giant leap for mankind” — if, that is, he ever set foot off this planet. Doubters say the U.S. government, desperate to beat the Russians in the space race, faked the lunar landings, with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin acting out their mission on a secret film set, located (depending on the theory) either high in the Hollywood Hills or deep within Area 51. With the photos and videos of the Apollo missions only available throu
gh NASA, there’s no independent verification that the lunar landings were anything but a hoax.

The smoking gun? Film of Aldrin planting a waving American flag on the moon, which critics say proves that he was not in space. The flag’s movement, they say, clearly shows the presence of wind, which is impossible in a vacuum. NASA says Aldrin was twisting the flagpole to get the moon soil, which caused the flag to move. (And never mind that astronauts have brought back hundreds of independently verified moon rocks.) Theorists have even suggested that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick may have helped NASA fake the first lunar landing, given that his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odessey proves that the technology existed back then to artificially create a spacelike set. And as for Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee — three astronauts who died in a fire while testing equipment for the first moon mission? They were executed by the U.S. government, which feared they were about to disclose the truth.

Source: time.com