Category: Life

Your Brain on a Washing Machine

And even more stupid thoughts.

Suppose you could get into a gigantic washing machine. It spins fast. Very fast. Almost to the speed of light. Can you picture it?

Come on, I trust you.

Okay. As I said, you are inside it, so you are spinning at the speed of light. But the whole “you” is not going at the same speed. The further you are from the center, the faster you go. So, one half of your brain is going at a greater speed than the other.

But there’s more. According to Relativity, the faster you move, the slower time passes for the object in movement.

Therefore, if you got inside a gigantic, hyper-fast washing machine, one part of your brain would go way faster than the other.

If it hadn’t been liquified before.

That’s one of the dumb thoughts I’ve been having lately.

But I am quite proud of my ability for making up these dumb thoughts. They make life more entertaining, both for myself and for others. They create powerful psychological weapons (aka terrible puns). And they provide new insight on almost any subject.

It is always nice to get something new, isn’t it?

 

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How to -Anything

I really hate self-help books, how-to guides, tips to do stuff, video tutorials, and all that jazz.

Why? Because we’re capable of more than we think. Seriously, next time you want to do something, just start doing it. Then, check what you have done wrong, and think about what you can do to improve it.

Are you totally lost? Do you desperately need some help? Ask a friend. Don’t you have friends? Okay, then do the following:

Get into the internet.

Google whatever you want to do

And open the first result.

Now, that’s important. Open one, and only one tab. Don’t spend countless hours looking on the different ways of shooting a ball, or whether it’s best to juggle clock-wise or counter clock-wise.

Open one tab, and only one tab, and read it throughly once, without stopping to check facebook.

Once you’ve read it, do it!

Yes and No

Remember when I promised to give some stupid thoughts?

Well, I gave you the thoughts on dolphins, but that’s not stupid enough, so here I come with stupider thoughts.

Toddlers know very specific words, like “car”, “house”, “mom” and “dad”. They can talk about trees, balls, beds and shoes.

And they know “Yes” and “No”.

This might be one of the things only I find interesting and everybody else thinks “they’re obvious, duh!”. However, since it’s not them who are writing, it’s me, I can say whatever I want.

The thing is, “yes” and “no” are nothing! There is not such a thing as a yes, and I can’t have two nos on my left hand and three on my right.

“No” means “that does not correspond with reality”. And toddlers can say it! And understand the concept!

‘Hey, Timmy, do you want some ice cream?’
‘That sentence does correspond with reality. Gimme ice cream’

Cool.

But that’s not all. “No” can also mean “That does not correspond with my reality”, that is, “I don’t want that”.

 

Annoying Stuff

We’re all gonna die.

Okay, that’s not a good way to start a cheerful blog like mine. So here’s a funny thing I found to cheer you up.

photo-full

I think it’s a children’s book, but I’m not sure.

Where was I?

Oh, right.

Death.

We’re gonna die, and there’s so much we’re gonna miss, and so much stuff we won’t live to see. Like whether the prime numbers follow a pattern. Or why the weird 3n+1 problem happens. Or how future historians will call our time (obviously we won’t be the “Contemporary” when we’re in the past, and we won’t be “The Space Era” either, because future people will be even better at that).

We won’t know what happens to our children, or grandchildren, or grand grand children, or even our loved ones.

We won’t know whether the Humankind goes out in space and makes colonies or dies with the sun.

But it’s not only knowledge here. Imagine dying because of cancer the day before a cure is found. My ghost would be pissed if that happened, and I can’t even imagine how pissed my people would be.

The only way out of this is, of course, living enough to see it happen, or make it happen ourselves.

That’s all. There’s no conclusion. It’s just a thought.

Willpower

There are clever people. There are strong people. There are fast people, risky people, cunning people. All those have talents. But there’s a talent to rule them all: willpower.

Practice makes everything. Absolutely everything. Maybe some people get a head start determined by genetics, but ultimately it’s all about practice.

In a study made on people at the top of their job (be it chess players, musicians or whatever) they all had 10 000 hours of practice. All of them.

Maybe there was a lot that started with some talent. But they, too, had to get the 10 000 hours to keep that way.

Willpower makes everything. Even willpower. As always, there are some ways to help it. And, obviously, I’m going to talk about them.

The Rule of 40%

Your brain wants to save energy. When you run, or solve math problems, or whatever, it loses energy. And it doesn’t want to. So, when you’ve wasted around a 40%, it says “I can’t keep going. This is my limit”

Well, it isn’t. You still have 60% left. Think of marathon runners. They say they can’t keep going around mile 10. They finish them.

So every time you think “I can’t keep going”, answer yourself “Yes I can! I still can double what I’ve done!”

And it works.

The Pomodoro Technique

Take a clock. Set it for 20 minutes, and force yourself to do something until it finishes. Did you finish before? Well, bad luck. Keep working. Work the full 20 minutes with zero distractions.

There is an app I recommend that’s called “Forest”. It works exactly like that, except it plants a tree (a virtual tree) every time you set it. And it kills the tree if you get out of the app during that time. It also graphs your progress and all.

Suffer

Oh, yes, you will suffer if you work every waking hour, without a minute to do nothing. Your head will hurt and feel tired if you’ve been doing hardcore thinking for two hours, and your feet will try to let you fall after running as if a demon was trying to kill you.

And it’s that suffering which counts. That means you get better. That means you’re getting closer to your objective.

But know when to stop

You can’t work the whole day, unless you’re a robot. In that case, feel free to do it. But you really need some rest. Maybe, if you’re feeling strong enough, you don’t want to stop working hard. Okay.

But work hard on other things. After having written ten pages of a novel, go and work hard on playing the piano. But don’t keep writing.

 

And that’s all. Remember: willpower is stronger than talent, and willpower can be gotten by everyone. But it won’t be easy.

Mind Palace

I’ll tell you a story. It happened a long, long time ago, when I was watching the wonderful program called “Sherlock”. And in one of the episodes (the second of the second season, in case there’s anybody interested) the detective talked about something called “mind palace”.

Immediately after the episode, I googled it up and found a lot about the “Method of Loci”, aka Mind Palace.

 

It’s a very powerful mnemonic technique that allows the user to absorbe great quantities of information quantum-fast by using creativity, free association and a little bit of reconstruction skills.

It goes as it follows: the human brain is brilliant at remembering places and shapes, and it can easily picture itself walking through his home, his parents’ home, or even a friend’s.

It’s also very good with strange things that get its attention. Therefore, you can combinate this two things to make a Mind Palace.

Picture yourself walking through your home (or any place, really). On your way, keep noticing things that are not the background: tables, beds, pictures hanging, plants… They will be called “pegs”

Done? Good.

The next part is getting a list of things to remember, like the following sequence: Chewing gum, pear, bag, german, silicium.

It’s a short list, but it’s just to grasp the idea.

Now, the process consist in making each of those into a ridiculous, catchy picture and associate it to each one of the pegs: your dinning table hanging from a chewing gum balloon in the middle of the room, a plant being eaten by a gigantic pear*, some guy taking the picture out of your wall and putting it into his bag, a gigantic pretzel and a gigantic C  (which reminds of Si, the symbol of Silicium)

* You cannot make the plant simply grow pears, that would not be strange and you will forget it easily

Now, to remind them, you only have to walk again in your Mind Palace, checking that everything is in order.

There are also some tricks to do it with numbers: a spear for one, a swan for two… There is even the Person-Action-Object system that professionals use to remember entire decks of cards, but it would be too long for this post.

Enjoy your new, improved memory!