Posts from the ‘school’ category

The Science of Awe

Cedar Wright enjoys a view of the long way down, moments after getting the first ascent of the Virgin Tower in Enshi Grand Canyon National Park, China

“Scientifically speaking, the storm brought me into a state of awe, an emotion that, psychologists are coming to understand, can have profoundly positive effects on people. It happens when people encounter a vast and unexpected stimulus, something that makes them feel small and forces them to revise their mental models of what’s possible in the world. In its wake, people act more generously and ethically, think more critically when encountering persuasive stimuli, like arguments or advertisements, and often feel a deeper connection to others and the world in general. Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else. And about three-quarters of the time, it’s elicited by nature.”
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San Diego Scientist Illuminates Link Between Light And Health

Evening Edition

Above: We all know that proper diet, exercise, and sleep can improve our health. But emerging research suggests we might want to consider something else, too. Something so ubiquitous, few of us ever stop to reflect on it. That something is light. KPBS science reporter David Wagner profiled one San Diego researcher who’s illuminating the importance of getting light in the right amount at the right time.

Continue reading…

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Movie Theaters Hope To Add Another Dimension To Their Profits

Theaters that call themselves 4-D use lights, moving seats, fog and even sprays of water and air to give moviegoers a unique experience — one they hope audiences will consider worthy of higher ticket prices.

Theaters that call themselves 4-D use lights, moving seats, fog and even sprays of water and air to give moviegoers a unique experience — one they hope audiences will consider worthy of higher ticket prices.

Some experimental features have been popping up in movie theaters lately. One of them is a so-called 4-D experience. It’s hard to describe in words exactly what a 4-D movie experience feels like, but here’s one attempt: it is intense. Continue reading…

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Advice for Young Animators

“The love for animation alone is not enough to start a career. You have to prepare and improve your skills. This is a craft like any other and requires the mastery of certain techniques. To paraphrase Tiana’s dad: ‘You can wish upon a star, but you have to back it up with hard work.'” Good advice!

Andreas

Here is a letter written by Andreas Wessel-Therhorn, former animator atWalt Disney Animation Studios.

Wessel-Therhorn’s feature film credits include The Thief and the Cobbler, A Goofy Movie, Balto, All Dogs go to Heaven 2, Space Jam, Hercules, Tarzan, Fantasia/ 2000, The Emperors New Groove, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Home on the Range, Curious George, and The Princess and the Frog, to name a few. Continue reading…

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Adaptive Room Personalizes Its Settings to Soothe Workplace Stress

In collaboration with a dynamic team of academics and professionals in mental health, Philips created a healing space that adapts to meet individual stress-relieving needs. Depending on where users stand, the room changes its shape and soundscapes to create new calming ambient experiences. This open space is built to combat various work-related tensions such as burnout and anxiety. Ideally, this innovation will fit perfectly in hospitals, mental healthcare facilities and even airports.

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Three key themes are introduced in order to reduce people’s stress levels: paced breathing, personal balance, and ambient experience. Embedded sensors under the soft flooring of this high-tech sanctuary trigger space partitions that enclose different areas. When a person moves from one area to another, they intuitively create their own individual space. Soothing rhythms and tones are generated by the people in room, nothing is prerecorded. To help re-energize people, pulsating lights that range in color and hues were installed to help control their pace of breath. Continue reading…

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Corridors of the Mind

ARCHITECTS HAVE BEEN talking for years about “biophilic” design, “evidence based” design, design informed by the work of psychologists. But last May, at the profession’s annual convention, John Zeisel and fellow panelists were trying to explain neuroscience to a packed ballroom.

The late-afternoon session pushed well past the end of the day; questions just kept coming. It was a scene, Zeisel marveled—all this interest in neuroscience—that would not have taken place just a few years earlier.

Zeisel is a sociologist and architect who has researched the design of facilities for Alzheimer’s patients. Architects, he explains, “understand about aesthetics; they know about psychology. The next depth to which they can go is understanding the brain and how it works and why do people feel more comfortable in one space than another?” Continue reading…

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Czech Animation Legend Břetislav Pojar Dies at 89

I had the great honor of meeting Mr. Pojar while studying in the Czech Republic last summer. The mechanics of his puppets are stunning and ingenious and his animations heartfelt. I thought that Cartoon Brew had a nice compilation of his work (shown below), so please take a moment and enjoy.

One of the giants of 20th century animation, Czech animator and director Břetislav Pojar, died last Friday evening [link to story in Czech newspaper]. He was 89. After studying architecture in college, Pojar started his animation career in the early-1940s. He was among the first group of artists to work at the state-run Studio Bratri v triku in Prague. There, he met Jiří Trnka, and in the mid-1940s, he left with Trnka to start a new animation studio. Pojar became Trnka’s key animator on numerous puppet shorts in the late-1940s and early-1950s, including Story of the Bass Cello, The Emperor’s Nightingale, and Old Czech Legends. Even after Pojar became a director, he continued to animate on Trnka’s later films like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Continue reading…

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The Future of Storytelling: Immersion, Integration, Interactivity, Impact

BY: 

A new study from research consultancy Latitude lays out “The Future of Storytelling.”

As technology becomes more advanced and more accessible across multiple platforms, it’s only natural for consumers to expect increasingly higher standards of creativity and engagement from content creators. However, with social media, apps, tablets, smartphones, websites, TV, etc. all part of the audience’s viewing habit, learning how stories should be evolving and how to make narratives work across platforms is a complicated matter. A new study offers some perspectives on what audiences may be looking for in their stories. Continue reading…

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Millefiori

The shapes, you see in these image are about the size of a thumbnail. They are created by mixing ferrofluid with water color and putting it into a magnetic field.
Ferrofluid is a magnetic solution with a viscosity similar to motor oil. When put under a magnetic field, the iron particles in the solution start to rearrange, forming the black channels and separating the water colors from the ferrofluid. The result are these peculiar looking structures.

On itsnicethat.com, you can find out more about the project

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Why Movies Like Oscar-Winning ‘Undefeated’ Make Grown Men (and Women) Cry

The newly minted Oscar winner for best documentary, Undefeated, has left many critics gushing—with praise, but also tears. The true-life sports tale follows a struggling high school football team in a poor area of Memphis, Tennessee, whose fortunes begin to turn under the guidance of a devoted and determined coach. The emotional story has reduced folks at ForbesEsquire, and other media outlets to sniffles and sobs. It made us wonder: What actually causes people to cry at movies? Continue reading…

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How meditation can reshape our brains (and revisiting neuroplasticity)

I learned some of this at MARC (at UCLA) and found it fascinating.

Neuroplasticity is visited in this video. I often post about neuroplasticity and how that concept allows us to understand that we can heal and change our health and wellbeing by changing our brains.

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.

Found on beyondmeds.com

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Brain Scans Predict Subjective Beauty

When we find something aesthetically pleasing, the sensory areas of the brain light up, and the more beautiful we find, say, a piece of art,  the greater the brain activity in certain regions, a new study shows.

By further investigating the connection between humans’ subjective preferences and brain activity, scientists will someday be able to pinpoint various characteristics that make a painting, musical number or other sensory experience beautiful, researchers said.

“For the first time, we can ask questions about subjective preferences and relate them to activity in the brain,” lead researcher Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University College London in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience. “There are some people who would prefer [beauty] to remain a mystery, but that’s not how scientists view things.”

In a previous study, Zeki found that an area in the pleasure and reward center of the brain is more active when people view a painting or hear a piece of music that they think is beautiful, compared with art they didn’t find particularly pleasing. Because the brain activity of study participants rose accordingly with their ratings of beauty, the results suggest that scientists can look at the brain to objectively measure an experience that seems wholly subjective.

“So the question that we askedis: Do beautiful objects have any specific characteristics that render them beautiful?” Zeki said.

Measuring beauty in the brain

If you look at a painting, video or some other piece of visual art, there are many “domains” that could contribute to the perception of its aesthetics, such as color, shape and motion. For the new study, Zeki and his colleague, Jonathan Stutters, zeroed in on motion, which is the simplest visual attribute, Zeki said.

The researchers used a computer program to generate sets of white dots moving on a black background. The eight patterns all had the same number of dots and changes in speed, but differed in the way the particles moved: Some of the patterns involved dots that moved uniformly on a grid, while others had groups of dots that moved in a seemingly random way.

They then had 16 adults view the patterns twice — once while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, which measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, and once before going into the machine. With each viewing, the participants had to rate how much they likedeach visual stimulus.

“It turns out that there are certain patterns that are almost universally liked,” Zeki said, referring to those preferred by 14 out of the 16 participants.The researchers also found that a certain sensory brain area called V5, which is thought to play a major role in motion perception, activated more strongly when the participants viewed patterns they preferred the most.

By analyzing the participants’ preferences and the fMRI data, the researchers were able to pick out certain characteristics — such as the separation between dots — that made some patterns more preferable than others.

In a follow-up experiment, which was not detailed in their study published online today (Feb. 21) in the journal Open Biology, Zeki and Stutters created other patterns that utilized the characteristics they found. Participants overwhelmingly preferred these new patterns to the old ones.

Tip of the iceberg

“It’s nice to see that people are breaking down the aesthetic experience to basic processes,” said Marcos Nadal Roberts, a psychologist at theUniversity of the Balearic Islands in Spain, who was not involved with the study.”If we don’t break it down to smaller pieces, it will be very hard to understand the bigger picture.”

But, Roberts notes, the research is not saying that beauty can be reduced to a merely objective experience, because the participants in the study had slightly different likes and dislikes. For example, one of the participants in the study didn’t strongly prefer any of the patterns, while another participant preferred a pattern that no one else did.

“Beauty is not just about an object and all its features, it’s also about the person and all of his or her features,” Roberts told LiveScience. “So it’s subjective and objective, both happening at the same time.”

Roberts said that the study could have been more relatable to the real world if the researchers had used more natural forms of motion, such as the movement of waves in the ocean, the flocking of birds or the rustle of leaves in a tree as the wind blows.

The abstract motion of dots isn’t something that people would typically say is “beautiful,” Zeki concedes.

Zeki is now looking to tease out preferred characteristics in the other domains, and eventually combine them to get a better picture of the objective qualities of visual beauty. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “Actually, it’s not even the tip, it’s just a few micrometers of the tip.”

Via livescience.com

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