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Showing posts from March 17, 2019

The Loch Ness Monster Story

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This is just one of the over 1000 sightings of the Loch Ness Monster recorded in the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register. The register records encounters with the Monster that go back almost 1500 years to 565AD.
On the 22nd of August in that year the Irish Saint Columba encountered a creature, not in the loch itself, but in the River Ness that flows out of the loch to connect with the North Sea. Although known for a host of other deeds that included bringing Christianity to the Picts, St. Columba not only saw the monster, but spoke to it. In a story told over 100 years after the event, the saint saved one of his followers from being attacked by the creature. He made the sign of the cross and commanded it to "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once."
This is the only sighting recorded until 1520 and through the next 300 years descriptions of Nessie are sporadic.
But in the early 1930s a road opened around Loch Ness and sightings poured in. In 1933 the …

How Does Religion Affect Culture?

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A huge factor in different cultures is different religions. As Christopher Dawson wrote in his book Religion and Culture, "In all ages the first creative works of a culture are due to a religious inspiration and dedicated to a religions end" (Dawson 50). Almost every piece of art created by the Greeks or Romans were dedicated to their gods or depicted the gods doing certain things. Most ancient stories are in some way influenced by religion, and people today still hold religious sacrifices, pray, and thank god for things that happen.
Not only does religion affect how people in certain cultures think or how they are inspired, but it also affects how they act. For example, Muslims do not eat, touch, or gift with their left hand, because they think that it is evil. They also do not talk loudly or hold eye contact, and this is all because of their religion ("Customs and Behavior | Tips on how to behave in Muslim countries"). Similarly, many Hindus are vegetarian becau…

The Theory of Evolution: Another Reason To Be An Existentialist

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In his 1945 public lecture 'Existentialism is a Humanism'Jean-Paul Sartre made a bold claim: for  human beings, existence precedes essence.We exist, then we choose how to be. This is as opposed to a chair, for example, which is designed to fit a particular purpose and then brought into existence to fulfill that purpose. The chair has an essence that precedes it; it has a "chair nature" that it is created to conform to.
Sartre rejects the idea that human nature is a guide on how we should live and further denies that there is any such human nature at all. This was a radical departure from most of the philosophy that came before him. Thinkers going back to ancient Greece and China have tried to use human nature as a guide to living a proper life.
Each of those philosophers, including Aristotle, Mencius, John Calvin and Xun Kuang, made an insight into what they saw as human nature and then tried to determine what we ought to do from there. In doing so, they made a horr…

7 Ways Social Media Changes Your Brain

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The internet is a wild place that's given us many good things, and just as many not-so-good things. Whether you slot social media into either camp is entirely up to you. But one thing experts are starting to understand is how social media changes your brain. In the grand scheme of things, the virtual world is still in its infancy, which means it's likely that the long-term effects of all of this online living won't be known for decades. And, in an attempt to uncover both positive and negative consequences of social media, neuroscientists are starting to study some of the effects that online social networking has on the human brain.
One surprising finding is that the size of your online social network can actually change your brain — in a good way. "The number of social contacts declared publicly on a major web-based social networking site was strongly associated with the structure of focal regions of the human brain," a study published in the journal Proceedings…

NASA’s new telescope will investigate the evolution of the universe

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The telescope is projected to launch in 2023.
A bit of a mouthful: This week, NASA announced it will create the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer: SPHEREx for short. It’ll look at how our universe has changed, and how common the ingredients of life are in the Milky Way.
What it will do: It will collect data on more than 300 million galaxies and 100 million Milky Way-based stars using optical and near-infrared light. SPHEREx will search for water and organic molecules in stellar nurseries (areas where stars are born). Every six months, the telescope will take a step back and look at the entire sky, creating a detailed sky map that will be used to identify targets for future missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.
Why it matters: “It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing ‘fingerprints’ from the first moments in the universe’s history,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission D…

Area 51: What's Known & Believed

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FOR decades the US government remained tight-lipped about this mysterious section of land in the middle of nowhere.
The CIA officially acknowledged it in 2013 but its exact use remains secret - but here's what we know about this mysterious place.
Where is Area 51? Deep in the Nevada desert is the highly secretive base known as Area 51.
Located 100 miles north of Las Vegas in Nevada, it is classified as a US military installation.
The patch of fenced off land, measuring six by ten miles, is tucked between a US Air Force base and an abandoned nuclear testing ground.
What is Area 51? For years the US government denied it even existed.
But in 2013 the CIA officially acknowledged its existence and its location was revealed.
Declassified documents reveal it was originally somewhere for the Army Air Corp pilots to practice their aerial gunnery.
During the Cold War experimental aircraft and weapons systems were tested here.
This included the high altitude U-2 spy plane.
Its current use i…

Freud's Life & Death Instincts

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Sigmund Freud’s theory of drives evolved throughout the course of his life and work. He initially described a class of drives known as the life instincts and believed that these drives were responsible for much of our behavior.
Eventually, he came to believe that life instincts alone could not explain all human behavior. With the publication of his book Beyond the Pleasure Principal in 1920, Freud concluded that all instincts fall into one of two major classes: life instincts or death instincts.
Life Instincts (Eros) Sometimes referred to as sexual instincts, the life instincts are those which deal with basic survival, pleasure, and reproduction. These instincts are essential for sustaining the life of the individual as well as the continuation of the species. While we tend to think of life instincts in term of sexual procreation, these drives also include such things as thirst, hunger, and pain avoidance. The energy created by the life instincts is known as libido.
In his early psyc…