Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world

Speaker: Peter Doolittle

Length: 9:30

Rating 2 / 5

Summary

Your ability to solve problems is limited to your ‘working memory’ capacity – to remember and think at the same time. The example was memorising 5 words and then doing maths problems, which most people failed. He gives some (very brief) hints on how to process things more accurately, and remember more – including visualising more, and practising the things we’re learning.

Critique

Interesting viewpoint, but missing the ‘killer’ ending telling us how to improve. Actually, he seemed to give quite a few hints, but perhaps my limited processing power wasn’t picking up on all of it 🙂

By this I mean he ran through the advice and hints too quickly, and without any elaboration. It made things difficult. The irony is not lost, but I missed most of it.

Still, the story of working memory itself is interesting, so I can at least take away knowledge of what it is.

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Brian Cox: CERN’s supercollider

Speaker: Brian Cox

Length: 16:26

Rating 3 / 5

Summary

Brian very briefly discusses a number of topics in Physics

  • construction of the CERN supercollider
  • scale of the universe, and the subatomic particles within it
  • standard model, and the theoretical term in this ultimate equation that implies Higgs boson (the source of mass)

Critique

I might want to rewatch this talk. It had a lot of detail and raced through a lot of information. I think if I watched this a few times, I could get a basic understanding of subatomic physics. However, it felt slightly frantic and most of the detail went over my head. If you had some more grounding in physics, you might pick up more.

I feel like I might have enjoyed a more detailed and slower paced but smaller topic within subatomic physics.

However, the information in here could teach you a lot

Arthur Benjamin: The Magic of Fibonacci Numbers

Speaker: Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin

Length: 6:25

Rating 4 / 5

Summary

Math should be taught for 3 reasons:

  •  Calculation: to work out an answer
  • Application: to apply the method
  • Inspiration: for the fun, beautiful patterns and logical thinking behind it.

Arthur argues Inspiration is underappreciated. He shows the beauty of Fibonacci numbers and how it ties to nature

  • number of petals on a flower tends to be Fibonacci number
  • patterns in numbers: sum of squares of a Fibonacci number equals another Fibonacci, and cumulative sum of all squares equals product of 2 consecutive Fibonacci numbers.

Maths isn’t just solving for ‘x’, it’s also about figuring out ‘y’ (why?).

Critique

Arthur is excited by the numbers, and gets bonus points for being called a ‘Mathemagician’. The idea of the talk was to refocus maths on finding patterns then investigating how they come about – making it more fun and feel relevant to the world around it.

A fun talk, and especially to fit so many interesting points in 6mins.

James Randi: Homeopathy, Psychics and fraud

Speaker: James Randi

Length: 17:51

Rating 1 / 5

Summary

James issued a 1 million dollar challenge to psychics to prove themselves, and has had a single response which was never followed through. He also took a ‘lethal’ dose of homeopathic sleeping pills on stage (no effect), and said he was reassured by the fact the dosage of active ingredient was equivalent to dumping a pill of aspirin in lake Tahoe and drinking the water.

He considers homeopathics and people who speak to the dead to be emotionally and financially draining, and they should be cracked down upon.

Critique

I was entertained, and I’m sure anyone with a friend into psychic readings or homeopathy could have a good time showing this video to them. Reaction videos would be appreciated.

However for me it was missing an idea or suggestion to improve myself, or teach me anything. It was basically a long rant against psychics and homeopathics. Not that I disagree with anything he said, I just don’t think many people would get anything out of it.

Dong Woo Jang: The art of bow-making

Speaker: Dong Woo Jang

Length: 8:29

Rating 2 / 5

Summary

Dang discusses high pressure South Korean schooling, and his unique form of meditation: bow-making. He uses found wood from the ‘concrete jungle’, harvests with improvised tools, then turns them into bows at his apartment. After designing a perfect bow, he comes to the realisation it is identical to an ancient Korean design, which increases his interest in Korean history.

Critique

A very entertaining talk, by a good speaker. I’d put it in the ‘inspirational’ category – it is a good story, well told, and makes you want to do something, but doesn’t really present any new ideas.

It does make me want to try my hand at bowmaking though 🙂