Berlin, July 1945

This is mesmerizing color footage of life in a bombed-out Berlin in July, 1945, as the residents were just beginning to crawl out from under the wreckage and begin rebuilding. However, I’m pretty sure the sound effects were added later, as editors have usually done to just about all World War 2 footage you’ve seen.

Read more about the footage here.

Scientists identify brain network responsible for tinnitus

Scientists have identified the brain regions responsible for tinnitus, a major step forward in research into the disease.

Ten to fifteen percent of people suffer from chronic tinnitus. Unlike the occasional ringing in the ears most people experience, this is the permanent problem that never goes away and gets worse as one gets older.

More, from Fox News:

This is a 3-D image of the left brain hemisphere of a patient with tinnitus (right) and the part of that hemisphere containing primary auditory cortex (left). Black dots indicate all the sites recorded from. Colored circles indicate electrodes at which the strength of ongoing brain activity correlated with the current strength of tinnitus perceived by the patient. Different colors indicate different frequencies of brain activity (blue = low, magenta = middle, orange = high) whose strength changed alongside tinnitus. Green squares indicate sites where the interaction between these different frequencies changed alongside changes in tinnitus. (Image: Sedley, W et al.)

This is a 3-D image of the left brain hemisphere of a patient with tinnitus (right) and the part of that hemisphere containing primary auditory cortex (left). Black dots indicate all the sites recorded from. Colored circles indicate electrodes at which the strength of ongoing brain activity correlated with the current strength of tinnitus perceived by the patient. Different colors indicate different frequencies of brain activity (blue = low, magenta = middle, orange = high) whose strength changed alongside tinnitus. Green squares indicate sites where the interaction between these different frequencies changed alongside changes in tinnitus. (Image: Sedley, W et al.)

[…] To study the subject’s tinnitus-linked brain activity, researchers tried to temporarily suppress the chronic sound by playing a loud noise for 30 seconds. After turning off the external noise, tinnitus can get quieter or go away for a brief period of time. Researchers then looked at brain scans of when the subject’s tinnitus went away and compared them to times when he experienced no change.

Researchers said they were fortunate because the same noise seemed to randomly make his tinnitus get quieter half the time, and didn’t for the other half— making the man his own control subject.

“That’s why our experiment was really powerful: because it controls for all those other factors related to tinnitus— attention, fatigue— across different experiment conditions. If [the subject] was tired, he was tired across both conditions,” said Gander, who noted that this characteristic prevented confounding factors from impacting the study results.

By directly recording brain activity, researchers were able to conclude that tinnitus affects a large expanse of the brain— not just the sound areas— including regions related to emotions, memory and mood.

“What we’re hoping is that the details of the brain networks and brain mechanisms we highlight in our paper can be starting points that people could target [for treatment],” Gander said.

Ex Machina for the win.

Ex Machina still

If you’re tired of action thrillers dressed up in sci fi trappings, if you long for REAL science fiction served up with as many thought provoking ideas as CGI effects, then Ex Machina is for you. It’s got deep dialog, some funny lines, incredible but understated effects, and most of all, a real, honest to goodness science fiction story.

Writer/director Alex Garland came so close to writing a great sci fi film with Sunshine, the story only losing it in the final act, but with Machina he wins all the way through.

The most fascinating thing here is we’re not that far off from artificial intelligence, and it will be the cultural debate we will have to have when AI becomes reality. Do we fear it? Should we embrace it? Should we merge with it? What will morality mean to an AI? Can humanity coexist with it? Whatever the answers are, Ex Machina is a perfect jumping off point for those discussions, and that’s what makes for great science fiction.

Short story: The Heretic Dies

Here’s a short story, originally posted on my writing blog Darkaria. I’ve shortened and polished a bit.

THE HERETIC DIES

nooseThe giant red sun began to rise over the Court of the Invisible Moon. In a short time, it would fill a quarter of the sky. But its glow was pleasant, not harsh at all as it banished the few stars that dared to shine above the place of execution.

Already the early mourners were there, professional weepers practicing their sad wails and moans. The Magister had decreed that the Heretic, hated though he may be, was not to die in loneliness unmourned. Since no villager would dare mourn him for fear of sharing in the suspicion of heresy, the Magister had hired out the mourners, and hired the best. He ruled for a State that tempered its harsh justice with uncommon mercy.

Presently, as the sky brightened, others began to gather – witnesses from the city and village, come to see confirmation that truth always wins out over lies, and liars and their heresies must, after being given a fair hearing in light of cold, unfeeling fact, be stamped out for the good of all, and for the good of truth.

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Rob Archer’s radio retrospective, take 2

I’ve revamped my radio retrospective video featuring pics from the stations and time periods in the different airchecks. Going through the photos brought back so many great memories.

Special thanks to the radio voices who appear with me, including Mark Thompson, Charlie Tuna, Kari Steele, Frank Neill, Taco Bob, and assorted listeners calling on the phone.