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aeraeber's blog

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The Beautiful Illusion: Alterations of Perception in Classical Ballet

Ballet is all about illusions. Dancers trick themselves and their audiences in order to produce a time-honored art form based on unnatural and highly ordered movements and positions. Much of what the audience sees is a trick or a distraction, because what they think they are seeing is impossible. Really, much of what dancers expect of themselves is impossible, because what they expect is perfection. In this quest for perfection, there is pain and often injury, but to a dancer, that is simply part of the cost of creating their art. Dance creates a very different perception of self than another sport or art form, perhaps because it is a combination of both.

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From Molecules to Memory: A Commentary on Eric Kandel’s In Search of Memory

Eric Kandel shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine in 2000 “for [his] discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system” (The Nobel Prize). Nobel laureates are asked to write a short piece describing the research for which they were awarded the prize. What Kandel wrote instead was a nearly 500-page history of neuroscience and his own participation in it, as well a detailed description of his research on the cellular and molecular basis of memory. He ties his own life experiences, especially the necessity of leaving Vienna as a child in the face of the Nazi takeover, into his research, giving the book a more human element that makes it readable by the general public. Memory is Kandel’s life work.

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The Clash of Logic and Emotion

As much as can be established, based on analysis of the currently available data, human morality is based on the interaction of two very different systems. One system is responsible for the cold, calculating morality that causes people to say that it is morally permissible to flip a switch in order to kill one person instead of five. This kind of morality is based on numbers and logic without the influence of emotion. The other system, however; is very much based in emotion. The majority of people would not push a large man in front of a train in order to save five people. The numbers are the same, killing one to save five, but people are horrified by the thought of pushing another person in front of a train (Koenigs).

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Disease or Madness: Society's Perception of Bipolar Disorder

“Mania is...constant anxiety, constant irritability, having everything be raw, being brittle, crying but feeling nothing, and really . . . just you never know” (Anon). Though it refers to a something that Western society generally characterizes as a mental illness, this statement is more applicable to madness than a medical condition. It is no small wonder that the stigma associated with bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, have endured far more strongly than that of many other mental illnesses.

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