08 April 2011


POLITICAL BRAINS. We all understand that liberals and conservatives think and behave differently. New research has shown that their brains are actually structured differently. "Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain [the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC] associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section [the right amygdala] related to processing fear .... It is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts .... It remains unclear whether the structural differences cause the divergence in political views, or are the effect of them. But the central issue in determining political views appears to revolve around fear and how it affects a person."

The findings are consistent with my perception that liberals are given to more nuanced, flexible thinking which allows for shades of meaning and experience; while conservatives are given to stark, rigid thinking thinking which admits to merely black-and-white interpretations of the world. Of course, these are generalities -- moderates probably exhibit both types of thought.

LOSING LISA. NASA has announced that due to budgetary constraints, it is abandoning LISA, "the planned Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, as well as IXO, an X-ray satellite observatory." LISA is designed to detect and isolate signals called gravity waves, which would allow it to pinpoint binary systems within our galaxy, as well as "giving detailed access to the spacetime metric near a black hole. As a side benefit, the wavelength is just right for looking at gravitational waves that might be produced in the early universe .... "

Budget cuts. Shrinking and reordering priorities. What sort of twisted society have we allowed to develop -- one in which NASA must hold bake sales to fund its missions, while GE, the largest corporation on the planet, pays zero taxes? The failed war in Afghanistan costs billion of dollars a day, yet we somehow imagine that it's all the fault of teachers' unions. Someone toss me a rope, I've fallen down the rabbit hole.

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