Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Scientist

Train journeys make for a million and one captivating observations. But...I didn't have a notebook with me. So they are more or less lost to the world now...

*racks brain to shake out a story*

Anyway, went to the Reading blinks this Saturday to say farewell and bon boyage to a 20Sixer who is moving to Australia, and it was lovely to be with everyone. Photos will be up when I can get around to reducing their great number of megapixels and getting them online!
I think I got slightly drunk :) either that, or very tipsy.

[And guess what? I didn't know blinks meant "blog drinks". :P]

My hotel was an old building, a many-gabled red brick Victorian mansion. Overnight I had a dream that I could not leave my room because there were all sorts of scary people milling about in the hallway, knocking on my door, saying awful things and trying to make me come out. I could see them through the peephole.



Silly me, forgot to bring a book along so I picked up a couple at Reading station in the WHSmith buy 1 get 1 half price deal :

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking -- all about trusting your instincts and going with those moments when you just know something without knowing why

Does Anything Eat Wasps? and 101 other questions -- full of things you always wanted to know and things you never knew you wanted to know - from the "Last Word" column in the New Scientist magazine, in which readers answer other readers' questions.

Now, please do not read any further if you are squeamish but I got to a section that was so amazing I dropped my jaw and the book after reading it.
It's about decapitation, so don't say I didn't warn you...

A reader in Oxford asked the column: Does beheading hurt? And if so, for how long is the severed head aware of its plight?

I refer you to this page if you want to read it:

A Guillotine Experiment

Forgive me, but some things are just too much for the mind to conceive of sometimes.


M. said...

Blinks, eh? Right up there with "milkwee." :D

Glad you had fun! I need to get out more.


Michelle said...

Blink..all about the wisdom of the unconscious. They have something in it about people's ability to predict who is going to get divorced. I think their study must somehow be skewed because I see people who seem like they're going to be seperated or divorced all the time but they just make-up. How do people differentiate between good angry face and loud pout and bad angry face? Do we just know?

Leilouta said...

Oh my God!That sounds like the kind of questions I would ask.
I never thought of that one though.
I watched an autopsy show once and it affected me for a while. I had those memories for months.

Olivia said...

M - they were talking about the funny things I say on their blogs (I'm much less serious on 20Six), and they put Milkwee at the top of the list :)

Michelle - I can only talk about it once I've read it; at the moment I am still on the 101 questions. Sometimes people are sensitive to situations but few of them are good at solidifying that feeling into words. I often sense things, stay silent for fear of being wrong, and then find I would have been amazingly right had I said something.

Leilouta - did you read the story? It amazes me still.
The autopsy you watched, was it by Dr Gunther von Hagens?

Steliano Ponticos said...

Olive its 11 o'clock and I am still AT work actually. I wonder if I'm going to sleep here. Also I am testing a program that I wrote and its takes about 5 minutes to do one test..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Now I will read the story

Steliano Ponticos said...

I read your post on YEO, now I want to cry...but *takes a deep breath*...I would imagine its more reflex than my head is tingling, so I won't finish what I was saying..

THank you for this sensational moment in my boring work night

Steliano Ponticos said...

I have a dream of being able to solve anything by thinking without thinking...maybe there is a button somewhere that you can push and it does anything for you...and maybe there is a button that helps you push that button, now I would want to buy that..

Olivia said...

Steli - is this the new job at Peugeot? I forgot you had it :P

Thanks for reading the story on YEO. I am not sure everyone was brave enough to go there. And I think I know how you felt on reading it.
When I read it, I felt truly unusual, I dropped the book on my lap, said "oh my god!", covered my mouth and stared out the window for ages...

When I start reading the Blink book I will tell you about it, if you haven't read it first. It's called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

M. said...

I just read that article on dying by the guillotine...*shiver* Fascinating but in a very morbid way. Now I feel the urge to read Sherlock Holmes for some reason.


Michelle said...

Steli-What always greatly upsets me is how I remember things at the wrong time. I must remember it, sort of. But I just can't get it out when I really need it. Right now I'm trying to remember the name of this math professor who visited one of my old homepages. I wanted to sign up for one of his classes but all I remember now is his first name.

Olivia-Maybe this just comes from being unusually timid as a child but I was always the one who knew the right answer and just never said it. Then around my 3rd year of high school I started being a lot more aggressive about answering these questions. I also found out that usually when I'm unsure I'm right, especially in quiz bowl.

Master Enigma said...

Very interesting. I read the Guillotine page and now have added that to the trivia banks in my head. I am interested in The Power of Thinking Without Thinking book. I do that all the time myself. It is a very zen thing to do.

Steliano Ponticos said...

*Renault* in fact.

But like the guy who did the experiment. He has to be completely crazy. We read it and feel so strange, what did he feel doing it...imagine a depacitated head speaking to you..OMG OMG

Jia Li said...

interesting books...there goes the dryer...I geuss I go pack laundry

Olivia said...

M - probably because Mr Holmes sometimes looks at some very morbid evidence, and hails from the same era.

Michelle - good quote of yours to remember and make me speak up: when I'm unsure I'm right.
And as for remembering things at the wrong time, I'm great at that. My last semester in university, I could list all my classes except one - people would ask, I'd count off on my fingers, and always be left with an extra finger!

Enigma - I can very well understand why you would be interested in both books.

Steli - Renault, sorry +)
The head didn't speak but it responded to its name. Ugh, I would feel even worse if it spoke!

I have just remembered a story by Edgar Allan Poe: Mesmeric Revelation, about a dying man who was put into a mesmeric sleep and died in the middle of it so that his state of rigor was further advanced when they released him from the sleep.
Not quite as fascinating as the head, though...

Steliano Ponticos said...

yeah that's allready bad enough, that it looked at the guy...I'm going to read your story (I mean Allan Poe's)

Olivia said...

Steli, I wanted to blog today, but I don't know what to blog about!

Olivia said...

What a coincidence, I have just noticed that Edgar Allan Poe is in today's sidebar Quote of the Day.

Steliano Ponticos said...

did you see who today's B-day is?!

Olivia said...

Yes, Khalid Shaikh Mohamed?
Today's Dr Seuss is MUCH nicer :)

Steliano Ponticos said...

ja, I would also say so :D