You know when you read or hear about something and you think oh why didn’t I study that at university!! I’ve just had that response to this talk. This is so lovely and intelligent and engaging… and she had to run away from grizzlies while doing the fieldwork. Watch the video now…. Continue reading How Trees Talk to Each Other
One of Dr Clifford Saron’s short talks about his experience in working with Buddhist monks in Dharamasala to look at what happens to their brain activity whilst they are meditation. But as he says at the beginning of this video:
“…. maybe these meditators were always extraordinary people; maybe that extraordinariness was what had led them to meditation in the first place. So how can you test this scientifically? how do you set up a control group for people who’s already got 20, 30, 40 years experience of meditation?”
What they did was set up a longitudinal study called The Shamatha Project.
Clifford Saron is another investigator I came across in the online Coursera MOOC Tibetan Buddhist Meditation & the Modern World. I really enjoyed his section of the course which explored the scientific study of meditation.Dr Saron is a neuroscientist who has applied his scientific expertise to investigating meditators – what are they doing? what difference does it make to them? do they act differently? what’s going on in their brain?
You can find a lot of his short videos on YouTube. Just search under his name. The ones I’m sharing here are on YouTube and were all part of the MOOC course material.
In the first video he gives an account of how he became involved in this field of enquiry in the 1990s in Dharamasala, India, meeting the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist meditators. As he says himself, those were life-changing experiences for him.
Maybe you’re like me and think that once you’re past 20 or so, your brain cell count quietly subsides and decreases from then on. No new brain cells in adult brains. Well, apparently, not. So that’s really good news isn’t it.
Some activities appear to help this renewal: getting a good night’s sleep, physical exercise, lifelong learning, sex….
Other things don’t help: getting older, stress, insufficient sleep….
What we eat also helps or hinders. The helpful stuff is highlighted in white below. Although alcohol isn’t helpful, nevertheless resveratrol is helpful. So drink red wine and the helpful resvaratrol will balance out the unhelpful effects of the alcohol.
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future. Watch the video: Continue reading James Hansen: Why I Must Speak Out about Climate Change
This was a course run jointly by the Philosophy, Astronomy and Cognitive Science Departments at Edinburgh University. The philosophers took part in all of it. In the first half they linked with astronomers and in the second half with people researching in consciousness and what it is, and interested in developing machine intelligence. It was pretty tough going especially the first half! But I really enjoyed it. It’s on Coursera and you can find the course syllabus here. This is a brief intro…. Click the arrow to start.
As in most MOOCs, there comes a point where you’re faced with a project to submit. There were actually two projects in this course, one on the astronomy input and one on the consciousness / intelligence lectures. I went from being annoyed that I had to write one to being annoyed, after i got going, that I was limited to 750 words! Here are mine: