Brain magic

Brain magic. What’s brain magic all about? Brain magic to me indicates that area of magic dealing with psychological and mind-reading effects. So unlike traditional magic, it uses the power of words, linguistic deception, non-verbal communication and various other techniques to create the illusion of a sixth sense.
Now, I’m going to show you all how easy it is to manipulate the human mind once you know how. And I want everybody downstairs also to join in with me and everybody here. I want everybody to put out your hands like this for me, first of all. OK, clap them together, once. OK, reverse your hands. Now, follow my actions exactly. Now about half the audience has their left hand up. Why is that? OK, swap them around, put your right hand up. OK, now, cross your hands over, so your right hand goes over, interlace your fingers like this, then make sure your right thumb is outside your left thumb — that’s very important. Yours is the other way around, so swap it around. Excellent, OK. Extend your fingers like this for me. All right. Tap them together once. OK, now, if you did not allow me to deceive your minds, you would all be able to do this. (Laughter) So, now you can see how easy it is for me to manipulate the human mind, once you know how. (Laughter)

Now, I remember when I was about 15, I read a copy of Life magazine, which detailed a story about a 75-year-old blind Russian woman who could sense printed letters — there’s still people trying to do it here — (Laughter) — who could sense printed letters and even sense colors, just by touch. And she was completely blind. She could also read the serial numbers on bills when they were placed, face down, on a hard surface. Now, I was fascinated, but at the same time, skeptical. How could somebody read using their fingertips? You know, if you actually think about it, if somebody is totally blind — a guy yesterday did a demonstration in one of the rooms, where people had to close their eyes and they could just hear things. And it’s just a really weird thing to try and figure out. How could somebody read using their fingertips? Now earlier on, as part of a TV show that I have coming up on MTV, I attempted to give a similar demonstration of what is now known as second sight. So, let’s take a look. Continue reading Brain magic

One more reason to get a good night’s sleep

Sleep. It’s something we spend about a third of our lives doing, but do any of us really understand what it’s all about? 0:19 Two thousand years ago, Galen, one of the most prominent medical researchers of the ancient world, proposed that while we’re awake, our brain’s motive force, its juice, would flow out to all the other parts of the body, animating them but leaving the brain all dried up, and he thought that when we sleep, all this moisture that filled the rest of the body would come rushing back,

rehydrating the brain and refreshing the mind. Now, that sounds completely ridiculous to us now, but Galen was simply trying to explain something about sleep that we all deal with every day. See, we all know based on our own experience that when you sleep, it clears your mind, and when you don’t sleep, it leaves your mind murky. But while we know a great deal more about sleep now than when Galen was around, we still haven’t understood why it is that sleep, of all of our activities, has this incredible restorative function for the mind.
So today I want to tell you about some recent research that may shed new light on this question. We’ve found that sleep may actually be a kind of elegant design solution to some of the brain’s most basic needs, a unique way that the brain meets the high demands and the narrow margins that set it apart from all the other organs of the body. Continue reading One more reason to get a good night’s sleep

How behavioral science can lower your energy bill

What’s a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would you believe: learning what your neighbor pays. Alex Laskey shows how a quirk of human behavior can make us all better, wiser energy users, with lower bills to prove it.

How many of you have checked your email today? Come on, raise your hands. How many of you are checking it right now?
And how about finances? Anybody check that today? Credit card, investment account? How about this week?
Now, how about your household energy use? Anybody check that today? This week? Last week? A few energy geeks spread out across the room. It’s good to see you guys. But the rest of us — this is a room filled with people who are passionate about the future of this planet, and even we aren’t paying attention to the energy use that’s driving climate change. The woman in the photo with me is Harriet. We met her on our first family vacation. Harriet’s paying attention to her energy use, and she is decidedly not an energy geek. This is the story of how Harriet came to pay attention.
This is coal, the most common source of electricity on the planet, and there’s enough energy in this coal to light this bulb for more than a year. But unfortunately, between here and here, most of that energy is lost to things like transmission leakage and heat. In fact, only 10 percent ends up as light. So this coal will last a little bit more than a month. If you wanted to light this bulb for a year, you’d need this much coal. The bad news here is that, for every unit of energy we use, we waste nine. That means there’s good news, because for every unit of energy we save, we save the other nine. So the question is, how can we get the people in this room and across the globe to start paying attention to the energy we’re using, and start wasting less of it? Continue reading How behavioral science can lower your energy bill