Now that we’ve lived our best years, let’s bow out at 75

Friday, 26 September, 2014

Ezekiel Emanuel, writing for The Atlantic, thinks age seventy-five would be about a good time for him to make an exit from this life.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

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Procrastination, a symptom that all may not be well?

Monday, 22 September, 2014

Simply trying to force yourself into action may not be the remedy for procrastination. In fact procrastination may be symptomatic of stress and low self-compassion, suggests some Canadian research into the subject.

Sirois found that people prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress. Further analysis revealed that procrastination might increase levels of stress – particularly among people low in self-compassion.

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Good ideas will seldom come from sitting about

Friday, 12 September, 2014

My best ideas come to me while I’m on foot. Or so I like to think. Whether anyone agrees is another matter. It seems though there a clear link between walking and the thought process, that makes walking a two-for-the-price-of-one sort of activity, exercise plus clear thoughts…

When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs – including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

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In the ultraviolet, you need to see how the Sun sees you

Friday, 22 August, 2014

Let’s just say that the Sun sees you in a light that may not always be flattering. Be sure to take the appropriate precautions if spending any amount of time exposed to solar rays.

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Bones in motion, a series of x-ray animations

Friday, 22 August, 2014

Image via Cameron Drake

Cameron Drake has created a series of animations using x-ray images of people’s hands, ankles, elbows, and shoulders. Fascinating.

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The thing about depression is it may not always feel like depression

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

Depression can be an elusive, slippery, illness to contend with, given many sufferers don’t fully realise how afflicted they are, until they start being treated:

Until I started taking my antidepressants, though, I didn’t actually know that I was depressed. I thought the dark staticky corners were part of who I was. It was the same way I felt before I put on my first pair of glasses at age 14 and suddenly realized that trees weren’t green blobs but intricate filigrees of thousands of individual leaves; I hadn’t known, before, that I couldn’t see the leaves, because I didn’t realize that seeing leaves was a possibility at all. And it wasn’t until I started using tools to counterbalance my depression that I even realized there was depression there to need counterbalancing.

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Personality, sometimes it is stable, sometimes it is not…

Wednesday, 20 August, 2014

Key aspects of our personality, such as extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness, vary in stability as we go through life, rather than remaining constant, with the greatest fluctuations being experienced in youth, and then later life:

Stability of personality increases through youth, peaks in mid-life and then gradually reduces again into old age, presumably in response to the variations in social and biological pressures we experience at the different stages of life.

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In space no one can sleep… or rather sleep all that well

Tuesday, 19 August, 2014

Crews aboard long haul space flights, such as trips to Mars, should one, be introverts, and two, be possessed of the gene variant that allows them to function on less sleep than others since space, it seems, is not particularly conducive to slumber

Researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 85 crew members aboard the ISS and space shuttle and found that despite an official flight schedule mandating 8.5 hours of sleep per night, they rarely got more than five. In fact, getting a full night’s rest was so difficult that three-quarters of shuttle mission crew members used sleep medication, and sometimes entire teams were sedated on the same night.

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Could you condition yourself to go without shampoo?

Monday, 18 August, 2014

While the notion of a single, global, time zone is something I could quite easily get my head around, the thought of ditching shampoo and conditioner, something that appears to make an equal amount of sense, would be another matter entirely.

Left to its own devices or washed with natural substitutes, the scalp eventually theoretically returns to its natural balance, producing enough oil to keep hair soft and smooth without the associated grease-slick. The oils produced by the scalp – notably sebum – keep the shaft of the hair clean, smooth and protected, performing the role of “shampoo and conditioner” far more effectively than the manufactured alternatives. The upshot should be healthier hair that is stronger, thicker and fuller as it is less damaged than shampooed hair.

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Ebola, some hard facts, not hearsay

Thursday, 14 August, 2014

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is making headlines, and rightly so. But while the virus – that has a mortality rate of fifty to ninety percent – is not to be taken lightly, it’s not as if it spreads like the flu:

Let’s start with the basics: Ebola is spread only through bodily fluids from an infected person, or from objects such as needles that have been in contact with infected bodily fluids. Ebola is not spread through air, food, water, or by touching money and keyboards.

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