Category Archives: Complexity Matters

A Healing Fix From the Eclipse?

Geography, psychology and history suggest the total solar eclipse August 21, in addition to offering rare fascination for astronomers and sky watchers, could also provide opportunity for national healing in a time of partisan discord, science writer David Baron says. Baron, who is an eclipse fanatic himself, wrote the book “American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race To Catch The Shadow Of The Moon And Win The Glory Of The World.”It’s a fascinating story of the total eclipse of 1878,

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The Music of the Spheres is Jazz

Astrophysicist Finds Planets in Orbital Resonance When the discovery of TRAPPIST-1, a system of seven earth sized planets orbiting around a sun 39 light years from our sun, was announced earlier this year, astronomers were excited by the possibility of life in these distant worlds. It appeared there might be lakes and oceans on the surfaces of three or more of these planets. Daniel Tamayo, an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto at Scarborough’s Center for Planetary Sciences and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, had a different

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Improvisation: The Most Complex Human Ability?

What goes on in the brains of jazz musicians at work? “When Melody Takes a Detour, the Science Begins,” a New York Times story by Pam Belluck, captures the thoughts of musicians and scholars who are looking at the importance of music in human development, cognition and communication. One of the ways music touches us, apparently, is by its tonal and rhythmic patterns. We like familiar and predictable patterns, but we also like a certain amount

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Do We Have Imagination Deficit Disorder?

Imagination and Creativity are Different Are we so enamored with technical innovations, with the incremental improvements to all our gadgets, devices and the latest trendy life styles fads that we forget the possibilities of grander visions? Brian Reich thinks so. In his new book, The Imagination Gap, Reich argues that the pace of change today is so rapid that it’s easy to become focused on small novelties that we think will make our lives dramatically

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We’re Smarter with People Whose World Views Differ

We’re Also More Diligent and Thoughtful Researchers say we try harder, make better decisions and achieve more when we work in groups that have racial, ethnic and gender diversity. A Scientific American story by Katherine Phillips describes research showing that scientists, businesses, banks, juries and groups collaborating to solve problems do a better job when people from diverse viewpoints and life experiences come together. People who differ from each other bring differing information, perspectives and

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Leadership Lessons from the Birds and the Bees

Communication, Decisions and Smart Swarms – A Different Set of Rules The Digital Age is challenging all our assumptions about the ways we work together as the Internet transforms the world into an interconnected network that was inconceivable a mere 20 years ago. While the technology revolution continues to expand the power of our possibilities, it also brings with it an unprecedented combination of accelerating change and escalating complexity that is severely testing the limits

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Fractal Fields and Self Organization:These Commons Aren’t Tragic

Water Temples Sustain Intricate Systems Balinese farmers who maintain their ancient terraced rice fields and self organized networks of villagers cooperating in an intricate system of irrigation and shared decisions achieve rare successes. Without central planning, their planting practices create fractal patterns of growing that promote resilience and optimal harvests. The collective water systems are known as subaks, which are made up of forest that protect the water supply, the terraced landscape and rice fields

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Values, Culture and Learning Climate Science  

If students come from families who are deeply skeptical about climate change, how can a teacher provide instruction on climate science while simultaneously acknowledging their values? The Idaho State Legislature in February voted to eliminate reference to climate sciencefrom the state’s new science curriculum. Surveys show fewer than half the adults in Kootenai County, where Coeur D’Alene’s Lake City High School is located, think that humans contribute to global warming. A Washington Post story by Sarah Kaplandescribes

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Biology & Education Out of Sync for Teens

‘Their Body Clocks are in Some Time Zone West of Us’ When children enter puberty, their circadian rhythms change, which means early school start times maybe turning many of them into sleep-deprived zombies prone to moodiness and sub-par academic performance. As long schools start when kids need to be asleep, says sleep researcher Mary Carskadon, teenagers on average may be consigned to “social jet lag” in which the timing of life is not the timing

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It’s Only Weird the first Time: How Curiosity and Courage Expand Possibility!

During the week, Dr. Michelle Carnes is a public health anthropologist in American Indian and LGBTQ youth suicide prevention, cultural preservation and restoration.  On weekends, she eats fire. And escapes rope ties. And swallows swords. Michelle Carnes’ evolution to professional sideshow stuntress is rooted in her own resolve to conquer fear. At first, it’s hard to get past the fear, she said. “When the fire is coming at your face, a part of you says

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