Learning to Fake it

Greetings, happy new year and a warm welcome in to the Year of the Tiger.

After a bit of hiatus, we are hopping back on the wagon and looking forward to the many years still ahead of us in paglalayag.

Learning, physical and mental health have captured our attention this time around. The articles are a bit more technical this time around. Hopefully you’ll appreciate the commons thread that ties them together into a nice reflection of the past while keep an eye out for rocks out ahead.

Hanggang sa abot tanaw!

Mic n Al

Can your environment talk the nature out of your genes?

Experiences in/around nature for urban residents is known to have direct impacts on mental health, anxiety and depression.
For many people living in mega-cities, direct contact with nature and green spaces is an out of reach luxury. Even still, many people across nations and cultures identify nature as something to love, protect and preserve.

Is this impulse in people inherent or something that “grows on you” like a jungle vine? The gold standard for research trying to tackle the question of ‘nature vs nurture’ is the study of identical twins separated at birth. These rare social actors have identical genetics and completely different life experiences.

So what do the life experiences of twins tell us about our attraction to nature? Like the old stories of fairies and druids, genetics do seem have a role to play on how much you will seek out nature during your life. But the environment around you often plays a larger role.

Twins in Nature

Your pancreas has a new favourite colour

Diabetes is the #4 killer of Filipinos today and is highly correlated with diet and lifestyle. As the joke goes: “Filipino food keeps you young, by killing you before you get old.”

It’s not for lack of alternative options that the standard Filipino diet produces such a short life expectancy. But its not always obvious what changes to make either and good diet choices often become low priority when stress is high and time is limited.

The science tells us of 4 areas around the world that produce long, healthy, active lives, the so called “Blue Zones” https://content.iospress.com/articles/mediterranean-journal-of-nutrition-and-metabolism/mnm180225

the Mediterranean Diet, the Japanese Diet, the Vegetarian Diet and the New Nordic Diet are all variants of “Blue Zone” diets. 7 Blue Zone foods to incorporate into your diet

A meat head fake

While ruminants (cattle, goats, etc) are the largest contributors, animal-based agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to global warming. Fake meat

So the transition away from meat diets & animal-based agriculture is one of the important global transitions required to transition to a low-carbon future.

A friend of ours passed away “a proud carnivore” last year at 45. In my more makulit years, I used to think I was pretty clever tricking my vegetarian sister into eating my ‘vegetarian chilis’. Given the stakes involved, maybe its almost time to bring back the joke the practice but from the other side of the equation. Jackfruit meat trick recipes

Learning to have our fingers on the pulse

The tradition of Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes different ‘qualities’ of your pulse that can provide clues into underlying health conditions. The wisdom behind this technique is ancient and buried in lifetimes of practice.

Modern medicine uses the electrocardiogram (ECG) which is rich in information, but the interpretation of that information is still left to human eye. But that is starting to change.
As machine learning techniques evolve to begin handling Shannon entropy, which basically launched the computer age, ECGs may eventually be able to yield a sort of “intuition and understanding” from the information your inner organs transmit via your pulse. There are still lots of layers to peel back on that onion but it’s always exciting to see ancient knowledge & techniques see validation from modern science. Stay Tuned!! Applying ML to ECG measurements in order to investigate gender variations in pulse

Stories of learning from the sands of time

Ancient Egypt has produced a wonderful view of how our ancient ancestors made sense of the natural world they could sense and the supernatural they could sense but only speculate about. As one of the first societies to cast their knowledge and understanding into written form, their students had to learn writing just as we do today. This year, the second largest collection of egyptian writing tablets was uncovered. The time and place uncovered by this snapshot in time? A school next to the temple of King Ptolemy, father of Cleopatra.

Massive new discovery of ancient egyptian writing

The Mighty Facebook falters

As the dominant provider of social connectivity in the Philippines, Facebook’s recent stumble may mark the beginning of the end of a communications and social era. Given the reputation the giant company has established around intrusions of privacy and hostility towards attempts at user data sovereignty, it couldnt come a moment too soon for me.

However, who/what might step in to fill such giant shoes? Current social media trends might suggest Tik Tok. With its rapid fire, continuous delivery of highly stimulating content, this would suggest a continued trend towards shorter attention spans and dopamine overloading/addiction. Psychological effects of Tik Tok

Given the continuous stream of new content, the emotional & political rollercoasters initiated by Facebook seem likely to continue for years to come.
Will we adapt and thrive in the coming generations? Or will our minds waste away like the sea stars?


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Photo credit: University of Tubingen