Spaced repetition using flash cards

Pierce J. Howard’s book “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain” starts with the following ideas:

Learning is memory; memory, learning. Learning entails two processes: acquiring and retaining. Psychologists and educators would call these processes short-term memory and long-term memory. Whether we are learning a telephone number, a chess strategy, a role in a play, a dance step, or how to recover from a computer mishap, in order to say that we have learned something we must be able to demonstrate that not only have we acquired the knowledge or skill, i.e., that we understand it and can use it properly, but that we also have retained that understanding so that we may continue to use it over time.

Another key point to keep in mind with respect to how we use the word memory is that it comes in different modes: memory for words (e.g., a poem), for numbers (e.g., telephone numbers or the times tables), for images (e.g., faces or artworks), for sounds (e.g., specific engine noises or melodies), for movements (e.g., dance steps), for nomenclatures and organizational schemes (e.g., an organization chart or the periodic table of elements), for interpersonal idiosyncrasies (e.g., what motivates different people), and for personal preferences (e.g., things I do and don’t like). These eight areas are called talents, or multiple intelligences.”

The two best strategies that anyone can apply to aid in the learning process are spaced repetition and flash cards. They imply dividing the material into smaller parts, then writing down definitions, formulas, vocabulary, dates etc. and repeatedly learning and testing over a longer period of time, with breaks in between. Another tip is creating categories, based on how well you know the content. For example, there can be 3 groups for when to review the cards: every day, once per week, or before test. This process can be done by pen and paper (see video below), but there are also apps like Anki, Tinycards, Brainscape or Quizlet. Happy learning!

A galaxy’s stop-and-start young radio jets

In this image, made with the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), young, radio-emitting jets of material emerge from the core of an elliptical galaxy some 500 million light-years from Earth. The broad lobes on either side of the bright core are the result of jet activity that began roughly 80 years ago. The gap between these lobes and the central region indicates, the scientists said, that the jet activity stopped sometime after that, then resumed about 10 years ago.

“These are among the youngest known jets in such systems, and only a handful are known to emit gamma-rays,” said Matthew Lister, of Purdue University. The bright edges of the lobes are where the ejected material, moving at about a third the speed of light, impacted material within the galaxy. The bright emitting areas total about 35 light-years across, and are at the core of the galaxy, where a supermassive black hole about one million times the mass of the Sun resides.

Source (National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “A galaxy’s stop-and-start young radio jets: Very long baseline array reveals object’s history.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2020.)

Paper: Lister, M.L., Homan, D.C., Kovalev, Y.Y., Mandal, S., Pushkarev, A.B. and Siemiginowska, A., 2020. TXS 0128+ 554: A Young Gamma-Ray Emitting AGN With Episodic Jet Activity. arXiv preprint arXiv:2006.16970.

Kanban board

If you want to be more organized, a solution is to use a kanban board. This helps you to better manage your time and human resources, when working alone or in a team. The concept is really simple: start with your to-do list, select the task you are focusing on, and then get a sense of accomplishment when you finish it.


The following two videos show you various use-case scenarios, such as from personal work, team projects, family planning and study scheduling. This method allows you to make your work visible, when oftentimes it is invisible and intangible.

Dyson Lightcycle Morph™ light

This new type of lamp from Dyson makes us reconsider how we perceive indoor illumination. With embedded technology that takes into account atmospheric conditions, the amount of daylight, and user preferences, this gadget offers a wide range of options to choose from. You can focus on working, relax when reading books, or just create a cozy ambiance.

David Ludlow has made an in-depth review of this product and highlights the 60-year lifetime, the advantages of diffusing powerful and flexible lighting, as well as automatic adjustment to weather conditions and motion around it. It’s main disadvantage is the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, but this is compensated by programming from the lamp or the mobile app.


Ikigai – find your reason for being

Philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W. Thurman said, “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Ikigai is a Japanese concept translated as ‘reason for being’, that can help anyone achieve and life a fulfilling life. It sits at the intersection of 4 elements: what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can get paid for.

The next video explains these concepts, as well as their convergence.

In the next video, a realistic scenario for finding one’s ikigai is given. Doing this exercise will ensure that you are able to find a place in your life in which you work doing what you love, you can grow and improve, while helping the world in the process.

Additionally, Thomas Oppong provides in his blog post the ten rules from the book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”, by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles:

  1. Stay active and don’t retire.
  2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life.
  3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full.
  4. Surround yourself with good friends.
  5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise.
  6. Smile and acknowledge people around you.
  7. Reconnect with nature.
  8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Follow your ikigai.

New study on the size, structure, and functions of the cerebellum

In a new research done at San Diego State University, scientists have reconstructed, unfolded, and flattened the entire cerebellar surface, down to the level of individual folia. This was done to quantitatively measure its total surface area, better characterize its regional structure, and provide a full-resolution human cerebellar base map. Unlike the human neocortex, the surface of the human cerebellum has never been computationally reconstructed to the level of all individual small folds (folia).

By using an ultra-high-field 9.4 Tesla MRI machine to scan the brain and custom software to process the resulting images, an SDSU neuroimaging expert discovered the tightly packed folds actually contain a surface area equal to 78% of the cerebral cortex’s surface area, even though the cerebellum is roughly one-eighth the volume of the neocortex. The unfolded and flattened surface comprises a narrow strip 10 cm wide, and almost 1 m long.

Reconstruction of the pial surface of the human cerebellum.

These findings suggest a prominent role for the cerebellum in the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition. During active movements involving multiple body parts and skin contact points, parallel fibers that extend across multiple patches can integrate information from many distant body parts to speed, refine, and coordinate complex actions. Furthermore, the large cerebellum may have been as important as a large neocortex for the origin of some distinctively human abilities (e.g., language, extensive toolmaking, complex sociality).

“When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept, you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that’s just how the cerebellum is set up.”, said Martin Sereno, psychology professor, cognitive neuroscientist and director of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center.

Source (San Diego State University. “‘Little brain’ or cerebellum not so little after all.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2020.)

Paper: Sereno, M.I., Diedrichsen, J., Tachrount, M., Testa-Silva, G., d’Arceuil, H. and De Zeeuw, C., 2020. The human cerebellum has almost 80% of the surface area of the neocortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.