The empty brain


No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.

To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s. It prefers the sound of voices to non-speech sounds, and can distinguish one basic speech sound from another. We are, without doubt, built to make social connections.                                         Continue reading

‘Exciting’ pill can make blood POISONOUS to mosquitoes: Scientists discover a super-strength dose of a scabies drug kills the disease-carrying flies when they feed on humans

Scientists discovered the disease-carrying flies died after feeding on the blood of humans given super-strength doses of ivermectin

An ‘exciting’ pill can make human blood poisonous to mosquitoes and kill them, research suggests.

Scientists discovered the disease-carrying flies died after feeding on the blood of humans given super-strength doses of ivermectin.

The mosquito-killing effects lasted up to a month after patients were given the drug, which is already used to treat scabies.

Researchers now hope the drug could be used to stem the control of malaria, and potentially other mosquito-borne diseases.

A team of British-led researchers split 139 volunteers from Kenya – which reports more than six million new cases of malaria each year – into three groups.                           Continue reading

‘Good people make mistakes and I’ve made a big one’: Grovelling cricket cheat Steve Smith, apologises to Australia’ after the ball-tampering scandal

Distraught Steve Smith has issued a grovelling apology through tears as he faced a press conference after being sent back home in disgrace for his involvement in the ball tampering scandal.

The 28-year-old arrived in Sydney on Thursday night after receiving a year-long cricket ban and having his multi-million dollar Indian Premier League contract ripped up.

An emotional Smith – who knew of the plan to cheat in the third Test against South Africa but failed to stand in – told reporters ‘good people make mistakes’, and accepted full responsibility.

After watching the emotional press conference, Australia coach Darren Lehmann announced he would resign from his position following the fourth Test – despite governing body Cricket Australia finding he played no role in the cheating scandal.

Lehmann spoke through tears, saying the game ‘needed to move on’ after Bancroft, Smith and David Warner were involved in a plot to cheat in the third Test.  Continue reading


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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on 2 March 2018 graduated the first set of in-house trained pilots for its Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), as part of the human capacity development initiatives of the current NAF leadership.

The 5 newly trained RPA pilots were decorated with their ‘wings’ by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base at Maiduguri. The training of the new Pilots commenced in 2016 at the 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna, following which they later converted on the CH-3A RPA. The CH-3A RPA conversion training, which started in May 2017, covered areas such as Ground Academics, General Airmanship, Instruments, Situational Awareness, Radiotelephony, Boldface exercises as well as handling of simulated and real emergencies.

The entire programme lasted about 2 years while the CH-3A RPA specifics phase lasted for 10 months, culminating in check rides for each of the 5 new RPA pilots. At the moment, the new pilots each have nearly a hundred hours each on the CH-3A RPA.   

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Hope Hicks: Close Trump aide and White House communications chief resigns

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks leaves the US Capitol after attending the House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting in Washington, February 27, 2018

Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, is to step down, the administration says.

The 29-year-old former model and ex-Trump Organization employee has been by Mr Trump’s side for years.

She is reported to have told colleagues she felt she had accomplished all she could in the White House.

She is the fourth person to serve as White House communications chief.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it remained unclear when Ms Hicks would leave the administration.

She said her resignation was not connected to testimony she gave to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.                                   Continue reading