16 June 2011


HANDWRITING. It has been known for some time that taking handwritten notes (lecture notes in a class, or notes on a book being read) improves one's memory of the material. But in an age of increasing texting and typing on keyboards, is handwriting likely to remain relevant? The answer is a resounding yes, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. "The benefits of gripping and moving a pen or pencil reach beyond communication. Emerging research shows that handwriting increases brain activity, hones fine motor skills, and can predict a child's academic success in ways that keyboarding can't." Among the practical benefits of handwriting --

~ Handwriting can change how children learn and how their brains develop.

~ Good handwriting can mean better grades.

~ Handwriting is faster, and encourages more complete sentences.

~ Handwriting aids memory.

~ Handwriting proficiency inspires confidence.

~ Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding, and the repetitive process of handwriting integrates motor pathways into the brain.

Someone near and dear to me is an accomplished calligrapher -- taking handwriting from a skill to an art. The careful, almost meditative practice of calligraphy is something I envy. My own handwriting has deteriorated as I've grown older, and too often I take the lazy way out by typing. Perhaps it's time that I discipline myself to write by hand every day, in hopes of regaining muscle control and retuning those neural pathways.

ANTIMATTER. I was surprised to come across a brief description of the discovery of antimatter. You don't have to be a physicist or a mathematician to appreciate the elegant simplicity of the story, or where it led -- to our recent ability to study entire anti-atoms.

"Readers who were paying attention in their math classes may recall that quadratic equations often have two solutions, one positive and the other negative. So when, in 1928, a British physicist named Paul Durac solved an equation relating to the electron, the fact that one answer described the opposite of that particle might have been brushed aside as a curiosity. But it wasn't. Instead, Durac interpreted it as antimatter -- and four years later, it turned up in a real experiment.

"Since then, antimatter -- first anti-electrons, known as positrons, and then antiversions of all other particles of matter -- have become a staple of real science and the fictional sort. What has not been available for study until recently, however, is entire anti-atoms. A handful have been made in various laboratories, and even held on to for a few seconds. But none has hung around long enough to be examined in detail because, famously, antimatter and matter annihilate each other on contact. But that has now changed .... "

With that teaser, I refer you to the article to learn what has changed, and how. Antimatter, the stuff of science fiction and science fact, continues to provide elusive glimpses into the mysteries of physics and the universe.

No comments:

Post a Comment