Monthly Archives: October 2012

How the brain controls our habits – Research

Habits are behaviors wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically. This allows you to follow the same route to work every day without thinking about it, liberating your brain to ponder other things, such as what to make for dinner. However, the brain’s executive command center does not completely relinquish control […] … learn more→

Going paperless part one: your desk

Going paperless, or as I call it ‘working in digital’ is challenging, but the benefits are considerable, long-lasting, and exceed the costs of adjustment. Working digitally allows you to devote more attention to what is really important- ergo research, without having to actively manage books on shelves, folders in filing cabinents and footnotes on pages. […] … learn more→

Schrödinger’s Qur’an – a 2012 thought experiment

Whenever I see angry mobs reacting to the destruction of religious books it makes me think of Schrödinger, iPads and how we should interpret fundamentalist religious teachings in the digital era. The brilliant Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger won the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics for his contributions to quantum theory. He is best known for […] … learn more→

Armageddon and its aftermath: dating the Toba super-eruption

No-one alive today has witnessed a volcanic eruption remotely as big as the Toba “super” eruption. But our ancestors may have done, tens of thousands of years ago, when northern Sumatra exploded, creating a caldera now filled by the largest volcanic lake on Earth, measuring 100km by 30km and 0.5km at its deepest. But when, […] … learn more→

Green variations on traditional business

As the world gets smarter about the need to go green, millions of consumers are looking for greener ways of doing the things they\’ve been doing all along. And smart businesses owners are right there with them, offering greener ways to do business and making their green attitude. Here are a few among numerous examples […] … learn more→

The dissertation defense: We\’re doing something right

I never had a dissertation defense. My department had abolished them sometime before I arrived as a graduate student, and I considered myself lucky compared with friends at other universities who had to endure what I imagined as a painful ordeal. So when the time came, my two faculty readers signed a form approving my […] … learn more→

Foreign students and tolerance – II

\”Would you date someone who was African-American?\” The interviewee quickly responded, \”No, they will hurt me because they are so big and I don’t like their curly hair and big lips, it’s not my style. It may come from Western aesthetics of blond and white.\” These were not the words of a white supremacist, nor […] … learn more→

Humans did affect the atmosphere – even before industrialisation

The past is the key to the future. When snow falls on polar ice sheets, in Greenland and Antarctica for example, air is trapped between the snowflakes. Year after year, the snow compacts under its own weight to become ice, and air is enclosed in small bubbles. These are the best atmospheric archives on Earth. […] … learn more→

10 ways to tell if you\’re confident – or arrogant

There\’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. This is especially true given both entail a strong belief in one\’s own abilities. When it comes to the responses they provoke, however, that\’s where the similarities end. Confidence is inspiring; arrogance is a turn-off. Confidence gets hired; arrogance is shown the door. Building confidence takes work; […] … learn more→

The end of universities? Don’t count on it

Ernst & Young’s report on the future of Australian universities made a big splash this week, fuelled by apocalyptic headlines heralding the end of the university world as we know it. No one who has any feel for or interest in the world of higher education would deny that we are living in challenging times. […] … learn more→