Tag Archives | growth

Learning New Ideas Alters Brain Cells

Pic: Jens Langner (PD)

Pic: Jens Langner (PD)

Phineas Gage proved that matter could affect consciousness.  Now, Shernaz Bamji and Stefano Brigidi of the University of British Columbia have proven the reverse is also true.  Looks like the “hardwiring” in our brains isn’t so hard:

A new University of British Columbia study identifies an important molecular change that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember.

Published this month in Nature Neuroscience, the research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain. This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning, the study finds.

In animal models, the scientists found almost twice the amount of modified delta-catenin in the brain after learning about new environments. While delta-catenin has previously been linked to learning, this study is the first to describe the protein’s role in the molecular mechanism behind memory formation.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Don’t Work So Much – It’s Better For Everyone

Anders Hayden writes at The Solutions Journal:

Since the Industrial Revolution, two main motivations have driven the movement for work-time reduction. Free time away from the job improves individual well-being, while reducing work hours can cut unemployment by better distributing the available work. These historical motivations for work-time reduction have been joined by a new rationale: the need to reduce the impact of human societies on the environment.

The urgency of reducing humanity’s impacts on the earth is well documented. Estimates of our ecological footprint suggest that we need 1.5 planets to sustain current consumption practices, while studies of humanity’s “safe operating space” have concluded that we have already crossed some critical planetary boundaries, including safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two dominant responses to this threat have emerged. One has been to carry on with business as usual, pursuing endless economic expansion while downplaying or denying the severity of environmental problems.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A Skeptical Physicist Argues With An Economist

glowingballVia Do The Math, physicist Tom Murphy shares his dinner conversation (with a pro-growth economist) in which he finds that the laws of mainstream economics do not jibe with his understanding of the laws of reality:

Some while back, I found myself sitting next to an accomplished economics professor. After pleasantries, I said to him, “economic growth cannot continue indefinitely,” just to see where things would go. It was a lively and informative conversation. I was somewhat alarmed by the disconnect between economic theory and physical constraints—not for the first time, but here it was up-close and personal.

We do not share the view of many of our economics colleagues that growth will solve the economic problem, that narrow self-interest is the only dependable human motive, that technology will always find a substitute for any depleted resource, that the market can efficiently allocate all types of goods, that free markets always lead to an equilibrium balancing supply and demand, or that the laws of thermodynamics are irrelevant to economics.

Read the rest
Continue Reading