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The Late Movies: Five Five-Minute Educational Ignite Talks

After yesterday's link to an Ignite Talk, Scrabble: How to Confuse and Destroy Your Opponents, I thought I'd take this opportunity to feature a few more great five-minute talks. Remember, the Ignite format is very strict: five minutes per talk, twenty slides total, and slides auto-advance every fifteen seconds. So each of these talks is sort of a bite-sized lecture. Some are delivered by experts, others by people who just know interesting stuff. Enjoy!

Will Noel, "Restoring The Archimedes Palimpsest"

The Archimedes Palimpsest is a 10th century manuscript of the mathematician's work. Unfortunately it was turned into a prayer book in the 13th century. Will Noel explains how he helped rescue the text in this week's Ignite talk.

Note: you can also check out the palimpsest online at ArchimedesPalimpsest.org.

Vanessa Holfeltz, "Boiling Water in 5 Easy Steps" (Using a Nuclear Reactor)

In this week's Ignite Show, Vanessa Holfeltz walks us through the steps of building a nuclear reactor just to boil water. It's a great look at the science and engineering behind the tech.

Alexis Bauer, "How to Work a Crowd"

In this week's Ignite Show episode, Alexis Bauer show's us how easy and effective it is control your own social fate and turn a room full of strangers into friends.

Michael Galpert, "Internet Images: Identifying Real Vs. Fake"

You can't believe everything you see on the internet. In this week's ignite episode, Michael Galpert shows us how to spot the difference between real and fake images.

Note: the speaker doesn't really have time to show us specifics on how to spot fake images, but does show a lot of good fake image examples, and basically says to trust no one.

Jason Grigsby, "Cup Noodle: Innovation, Inspiration and Manga"

In just five minutes, Jason Grigsby shares the story and learnings from the creation of Cup Noodle. A lot more went into making that product than meets the eye.

Note: Jason is a friend and former coworker in the tech industry (we worked together for...five years?). I can vouch for his knowledge of both Cup Noodle as well as startups.

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The Surprising Link Between Language and Depression
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iStock

Skim through the poems of Sylvia Plath, the lyrics of Kurt Cobain, or posts on an internet forum dedicated to depression, and you'll probably start to see some commonalities. That's because there's a particular way that people with clinical depression communicate, whether they're speaking or writing, and psychologists believe they now understand the link between the two.

According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, there are certain "markers" in a person's parlance that may point to symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers used automated text analysis methods to comb through large quantities of posts in 63 internet forums with more than 6400 members, searching for certain words and phrases. They also noted average sentence length, grammatical patterns, and other factors.

What researchers found was that a person's use (or overuse) of first-person pronouns can provide some insight into the state of their mental health. People with clinical depression tend to use more first-person singular pronouns, such as "I" and "me," and fewer third-person pronouns, like "they," "he," or "she." As Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Reading and the head of the study, writes in a post for IFL Science:

"This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words."

What remains unclear, though, is whether people who are more focused on themselves tend to depression, or if depression turns a person's focus on themselves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people with depression also use more negative descriptors, like "lonely" and "miserable."

But, Al-Mosaiwi notes, it's hardly the most important clue when using language to assess clinical depression. Far better indicators, he says, are the presence of "absolutist words" in a person's speech or writing, such as "always," "constantly," and "completely." When overused, they tend to indicate that someone has a "black-and-white view of the world," Al-Mosaiwi says. An analysis of posts on different internet forums found that absolutist words were 50 percent more prevalent on anxiety and depression forums, and 80 percent more prevalent on suicidal ideation forums.

Researchers hope these types of classifications, supported by computerized methods, will prove more and more beneficial in a clinical setting.

[h/t IFL Science]

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The ‘Scully Effect’ Is Real: Female X-Files Fans More Likely to Go Into STEM
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Fox

FBI agent Dana Scully is more than just a role model for remaining professional when a colleague won't stop talking about his vast governmental conspiracy theories. The skeptical doctor played by Gillian Anderson on The X-Files helped inspire women to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, according to a new report [PDF] from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which we spotted at Fast Company.

“In the world of entertainment media, where scientists are often portrayed as white men wearing white coats and working alone in labs, Scully stood out in the 1990s as the only female STEM character in a prominent, prime-time television role,” the report explains. Previously, anecdotal evidence has pointed to the existence of a “Scully effect,” in which the measured TV scientist—with her detailed note-taking, evidence-based approach, and desire to autopsy everything—inspired women to seek out their own science careers. This report provides the hard data.

The Geena Davis Institute surveyed more than 2000 women in the U.S. above the age of 25, a significant portion of whom were viewers of The X-Files (68 percent) and women who had studied for or were in STEM careers (49 percent). While the survey didn’t ask women whether watching Dana Scully on The X-Files directly influenced their decision to be a scientist, the results hint that seeing a character like her on TV regularly did affect them. Women who watched more of the show were more likely to say they were interested in STEM, more likely to have studied a STEM field in college, and more likely to have worked in a STEM field after college.

While it’s hard to draw a direct line of causation there—women who are interested in science might just be more inclined to watch a sci-fi show like The X-Files than women who grow up to be historians—viewers also tended to say Scully gave them positive impressions of women in science. More than half of respondents who were familiar with Scully’s character said she increased their confidence in succeeding in a male-dominated profession. More than 60 percent of the respondents said she increased their belief in the importance of STEM. And when asked to describe her, they were most likely to say she was “smart” and “intelligent” before any other adjective.

STEM fields are still overwhelmingly male, and governments, nonprofits, schools, activists, and some tech companies have been pushing to make the field more diverse by recruiting and retaining more female talent. While the desire to become a doctor or an engineer isn’t the only thing keeping STEM a boy’s club, women also need more role models in the fields whose success and accomplishments they can look up to. Even if some of those role models are fictional.

Now that The X-Files has returned to Fox, perhaps Dana Scully will have an opportunity to shepherd a whole new generation of women into the sciences.

[h/t Fast Company]

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