This time, you say to yourself, this time I will do 50 chin-ups every day or skip dessert or call my mother every Friday. It’s time to do those things that I know, I really, really know I should do.
And then you don’t.
According to British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure. Those are his findings from a 2007 University of Hertfordshire study of more than 3,000 people.
How come so many attempts at willpower lose both their will and their power?
In our Radiolab excerpt on Morning Edition, with my co-host, Jad Abumrad, we propose an answer …
Jonah Lehrer, one of our regular reporters (he writes all the time about the brain), told Jad and me about an experiment involving the prefrontal cortex, located just behind the forehead. It’s the brain area largely responsible for willpower. This hunk of brain tissue, he says, has greatly expanded over the last few hundred-thousand years, but “it probably hasn’t expanded enough.” The reason our willpower is so often weak, he suggests, is because this bit of brain lacks a certain (how shall we put this?) … muscularity. more>>>
JUST suppose that Darwin’s ideas were only a part of the story of evolution. Suppose that a process he never wrote about, and never even imagined, has been controlling the evolution of life throughout most of the Earth’s history. It may sound preposterous, but this is exactly what microbiologist Carl Woese and physicist Nigel Goldenfeld, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believe. Darwin’s explanation of evolution, they argue, even in its sophisticated modern form, applies only to a recent phase of life on Earth. more>>>
Drag racing and nanotech seemingly go together like peanut butter and… very small rocks, but that hasn’t stopped a team of researchers at Rice University from creating a microscopic car dubbed a “nanodragster.” Its wheels are buckeyballs, the rear composed of 60 carbon atoms each, while its front wheels are made of p-carborane. This gives the car more grip at the back, meaning it’ll pop wheelies just like a real dragster — though only when running on a road paved with gold. Even then it doesn’t go very fast, just .0005 inches per hour, meaning for those 1,327,000 days it takes to cover a quarter-mile its driver is free. more>>>
The hyper-quick electronics of the future will require new materials and the hottest around is graphene – a single layer of carbon atoms. Graphene produced using a method developed at Linköping University is now being used as part of a study at Chalmers University of Technology, where it has been shown that graphene maintains the same high quality as silicon, thus paving the way for large-scale production. more>>>
ScienceDaily (Jan. 22, 2010) — For the first time, CNRS(1) and CEA(2) researchers have developed a transistor that can mimic the main functionalities of a synapse(3). This organic transistor, based on pentacene(4) and gold nanoparticles and known as a NOMFET (Nanoparticle Organic Memory Field-Effect Transistor), has opened the way to new generations of neuro-inspired computers, capable of responding in a manner similar to the nervous system.
The study is published in the 22 January 2010 issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
In the development of new information processing strategies, one approach consists in mimicking the way biological systems such as neuron networks operate to produce electronic circuits with new features. In the nervous system, a synapse is the junction between two neurons, enabling the transmission of electric messages from one neuron to another and the adaptation of the message as a function of the nature of the incoming signal (plasticity). For example, if the synapse receives very closely packed pulses of incoming signals, it will transmit a more intense action potential. Conversely, if the pulses are spaced farther apart, the action potential will be weaker. more>>>
IT’S a laser, but not as we know it. For a start, you need a microscope to see it. Gleaming eerily green, it is a single spherical particle just a few tens of nanometres across.
Tiny it might be, but its creators have big plans for it. With further advances, it could help to fulfil a long-held dream: to build a super-fast computer that computes with light.
Dubbed a “spaser”, this minuscule lasing object is the latest by-product of a buzzing field known as nanoplasmonics. Just as microelectronics exploits the behaviour of electrons in metals and semiconductors on micrometre scales, so nanoplasmonics is concerned with the nanoscale comings and goings of entities known as plasmons that lurk on and below the surfaces of metals.
To envisage what as plasmon is, imagine a metal as a great sea of freely moving electrons. When light of the right frequency strikes the surface of the metal, it can set up a wavelike oscillation in this electron sea, just as the wind whips up waves on the ocean. These collective electron waves – plasmons – act to all intents and purposes as light waves trapped in the metal’s surface. Their wavelengths depend on the metal, but are generally measured in nanometres. Their frequencies span the terahertz range – equivalent to the frequency range of light from the ultraviolet right through the visible to the infrared.
Scientists have demonstrated a new microwire fabrication technique in which microwires self-assemble themselves in a three-dimensional template made of nematic liquid crystals. Amidst concerns about Moore’s law eventually approaching a limit in two dimensions, the new fabrication method could enable researchers to continue to increase the density of transistors on integrated circuits by making use of the third dimension…
Click here for the complete article found on PhysOrg.com.
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Blogging the Singularity Bloggers:
Chris Williamson: Filmmaker, science enthusiast, and futurist concerned with the accelerating nature of technological growth and where it's headed. He is currently studying for his MFA in Film Production.
Frank Whittemore: As an IT professional since 1961, the accelerating change of technology is not news to him but the wonder will never cease! Be sure check out Frank's blog about Life Extension!