Drops from the Fire Hose – November 22, 2012

Neuroscience Says Buildings Can Reshape Our Brains — Co.Design

Emily Badger introduces us to a group of scientists who believe that our brains are deeply affected by the spaces around us. Led by the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, an organization of neuroscientists and architects, a growing body of evidence proves that certain types of spaces actually promote the growth of new neurons. Such an insight could have huge implications–Badger points to Jonas Salk’s own anecdotal story about retreating to a 13th-century monastery where he felt the most mental clarity (foreshadowing his work with Louis Kahn). “Architects could even design environments expressly to foster research breakthroughs,” she suggests.

How Kids Are Remaking Our Consumer Behavior — Co.Design

As flu season approaches, one particularly visible example of this is the “vampire sneeze.” Only a few years ago, it was common for all of us to cover our mouths with our hands when we sneezed or coughed. Do that now, and people will look at you as if you have cooties. The only proper way to sneeze is by crossing your arm over your face and letting loose into the crook of your elbow, à la Dracula on the prowl with his cape. This seemingly unintuitive move comes to use directly from our kids’ schools, where teachers have been advocating it for several years now. When kids came home, parents unconsciously began picking up the practice, which spread, well, faster than a virus. As it began to catch on, some manufacturers lent further support to the practice. Now, it has gone so mainstream it has reached definition status–and even been adopted by the Centers for Disease Control as the recommended way to “cover your cough.”

Our College Crisis: A PowerPoint Presentation by Bill Gates — The Atlantic

Of the many public figures who routinely sound off about the problems facing higher education in America, Bill Gates is one who is actually worth paying attention to. As he explained yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum, shrinking state budgets have indeed made college less affordable and lead to ballooning student debt. But throughout most of our higher education system, the biggest problem isn’t necessarily cost; it’s our shockingly low graduation rates. If we want to produce an educated, 21st century workforce, we need to focus on making sure more students who are currently dropping out of school instead make it to commencement.

Tim Cook Is Giving Apple Employees Two-Week Breaks To Work On Special Projects — Business Insider

Speaking on today’s News Hub video show, Lessin reports Apple started a program earlier this year called “Blue Sky” that lets employees take two weeks to work on projects outside their normal responsibilities.

It’s similar to Google’s 20% time, which lets employees spend 20% of their time on side projects that could end up helping Google.

Lessin cautioned it was a “far cry” from what Google does. It’s limited to a small group of employees at Apple.



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