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Can a test measure your imagination?

Behold, the new multimillion-dollar effort to quantify what happens when you let your mind wander.

Try this: Picture a famous monument. Let’s say it’s the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. You’re directly in front of it and you can see the whole thing, or at least your version of it—sandals, robe, face, crown, torch. Now, rotate it so you see one side, then the rear, the other side, and now the front again.

Finished? Well done. You’ve just flexed your imagination — or at least one of the many cognitive processes that make it possible.

Imagination, that vast and scintillating internal fountain of all things strange and new, is now at the center of some exceptionally focused and well-financed academic work.

So what is “imagination,” exactly?

“At the most basic level, imagination is the mental representation of things that are not immediately present to your senses,” says Barry Scott Kaufman…

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It’s OK to eat alone: Q&A with Susan Cain

Brilliant interview.

TED Blog

By far the most viewed talk from TED2012 was given by an introvert who doesn’t like talking. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, quietly and powerfully delivered a call to action: take introverts seriously and understand what they can do in the right environment.

There is, of course, much more to say, and maybe an introvert should also talk in a one-on-one setting. So TED’s Ben Lillie called her up for an extended conversation about the terrors of public speaking, how her issue is one of civil rights, and the neuroscience behind personalities.

What was it like giving a TEDTalk, as opposed to some of the other talks you’ve given?

It was a lot scarier, for one thing.

So how did you get through that?

Well, there was “How did I prepare for it?” and then “How did I…

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Is the rise of the UKIP actually a call for nonpartisan politics?


The louder message from the rise of UKIP’s popularity in the UK is more a statement of distrust and need for change. The word “Independent” hangs in ambiguity as an umbrella over the fact that this is still a party.

100 years ago party politics was a necessary institution of trust for the people. It was needed to bridge the class system and build better working conditions and standards of living. Over time the differences between party approaches has been subtle at the least, and yet loyalty to the party line has restricted the use of common sense and intuition. It is now little more than an obsolete tradition, but it can only change from within. The current rise of social media and the transparency of the government is slowly awakening a political consciousness with the public. A vote is worthless now, compared to 100 years ago. It’s like choosing death by hanging or lethal injection.

The only way forward is to develop a nation of nonpartisan politics, where politicians are motivated by passion and desire to make the country better and not by money and power. This is not a utopian vision, it’s an inevitable change and time and conditions are right for now.

The global economic crisis and resulting austerity measures have opened our eyes to all that is wrong and needs to be put right. We could look at this in a positive way and consider it a lesson that lays the foundation for constructive change. I propose that what the public are really demanding is a political system where they feel that their vote makes a real difference and the changes we really want to see will work something like this:

* All parties dissolved and party politics banned, both at local and national level
* 650 wholly independent seats from each constituency voted as normal (not to be confused with UKIP)
* Voting for Prime Minister decided in the four weeks following General Election by the 650 candidates
* Other cabinet ministers also voted for with PM Proposing candidates based on their own experiences or expertise
* Each cabinet minister has a team of specialists in that area to work with (e.g. environment minister works with scientists, education minister works with headmasters, professors etc.,)
* All politicians pay capped (to around £40,000) regardless of cabinet position (including PM) so that the incentive doesn’t become the money – more the desire to make the country a better place.
* Any debate that does not reach 60% vote in Commons becomes voted for by public by annual referendums
* Politicians declare interest if affiliated with any corporate company, forfeiting right to vote on any decisions that might affect that interest

Of course in order to change things, it will have to be done from the inside, which would never happen without pressure. So I propose we force debate within the natural channels that exist (starting with

* We propose a box to tick at next general election papers in 2015

” Should there be an open debate and referendum on the dissolving of all political parties?” (phrasing needs considered)

This should then be debated fully in commons and televised with a date for referendum before 2020 election.

In order to get this box we need to set up a petition to the government through the e-petitions, mentioned earlier. This will open a public debate on whether to include this box on the vote slip.

This will encourage the people on the street to talk about it and possibly want to learn more about the way their country is run.

Never feel that we can’t make the change. Debate is crucial in finding the balance that will work. There needs to be a paradigm shift in politics to take us through the 21st century and it won’t happen unless we make it happen. So, let’s talk!



Would be interesting to try this


@nllf13 Beginning middle & end.
Your story, on screen on campus, while the literary world watches.
Tweet it now!#twitfic13

Can you tell a story in just under 140 characters?

The idea of writing a story with a character restriction might seem daunting to many writers, but some will definitely rise to the challenge. With the rise of social media and the internet being a staple for everyday life, we invite you to participate in our very own twitter fiction or Twiction.

We will re-tweet every tweet-fiction using the hashtag (#twitfic13) and they will also be displayed at the Middlesex campus on twitter walls during the two days of the festival.

The rules are simple – keep it short and let your creativity flow. Put your thinking cap on, let your imagination run wild, and tweet it. We will be starting to tweet with the hashtag #twitfic13 next week.

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TED Blog

Sugata-Mitra-playlistSugata Mitra’s bold efforts towards advancing learning earned him the first-ever $1 million dollar TED Prize. [ted_talkteaser id=1678]At TED2013, Sugata asked the global TED community to make his dream come true by helping him build a “School in the Cloud,” where kids can tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together.

Since Sugata is passionate about reinventing the way kids learn, he’s curated a list of 5 great TED Talks that align with his vision for the future of learning. From Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about creativity in schools to Arvind Gupta’s reflection on turning garbage into educational toys, Sugata’s diverse inspirations fan the flames of curiosity and explore the significance of learning beyond the classroom.

Watch Mitra’s playlist of talks here »

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Positive energy – The Home advantage

Use the home advantage in life

Take the positive energy of the home advantage with you in life

It seems fitting as England take on the Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine tonight that I should write about something I have been pondering for a while, the “Home Advantage” and its psychological effects.

There is no doubt that positive and negative forces within our lives affect our psyche and confidence; when a team or sportsperson loses form or the crowd get behind the team or boo the team, the combined energy or ‘vibe’ can be extremely powerful. You can feel the euphoria of winning or scoring a goal. You can also feel the wrath of the crowd or disappointment of under-performing. They are two powerful, yet contrasting emotions. Have you ever thought why this happens? How can it be that the combined excitement can cause a feeling of euphoria or that combined animosity can cause so much sadness and lack of self-esteem?

Positive and negative forces affect our lives all the time. How many times does life seem to kick you when you are already down? On the upside too, how many times do good things present themselves, like the proverbial London busses, in clusters of many? I have often been in the company of people whereby their presence seems to drain me by virtue of their negativity and other people I can’t wait to see again because of the positive energy that I seem to feed off in their presence.

We can control this if we think about it. Simply by recognising that this happens, we can help turn the tide of negativity when it hits and promote positive things in the face of adversity. We can also control the feeling that we give out to others too. This goes for social behaviour and in business too. We are always pulled towards the positive and naturally repel the negative. Everything in life follows this principal – it is not a psychological experience but one of physics.

It could be said that the same principle works for prayer – or even a magician’s tool. The collected positive prayers for a situation can help have a positive effect on the outcome. Faith will tell us that it is God answering our prayers – science will tell us it is a concentration of positive energy creating that ‘home advantage’. It is part of what naturally defines ‘good’ and ‘bad’ there is no direct blame that can be associated to the conscience of the sportsperson who is being affected by the audience’s (positive or negative) behaviour and yet their emotions will respond as if it does.

A magician uses the mind’s energy in the same way to form illusions. There can be little denial that positive and negative suggestion works within the complexities of our minds. Placebos have been recognised and documented over centuries and in medical use have even forced the body to repair itself. Little is known of why this happens but the concentration of positive energy, either by numbers or by pure faith, has a definite positive effect on the outcome of a situation.

There is much that we are yet to learn about how the mind works but we cannot deny the things that happen for what science can’t yet explain. So use it in life and trust in these unwritten laws of physics until we do. Take the home advantage with you in life – persue you dreams and ambitions, have faith in yourself and use that positive energy to enjoy life and the passion of those around you.