Summary of “31 Ways to Improve Your Life in Just a Month”

Remind yourself frequently that the purpose of your life is not to work 10 hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida.
Day 6: Stop getting the attention and focus it on other people.
Day 14: Journal about three new things you are grateful for.
Psychologist Shawn Achor told Oprah that you train your brain to be optimistic if you do this for 21 days in a row: Each day, write down three new things you are grateful for.
Day 23: Have lunch with someone, and listen to that person selflessly.
Day 25: Look at people in the eye, smile, and say hello.
Elderly people have a rich and long history full of stories, experiences, and perspectives you’ve never thought of from simpler days gone by.
What would your life look like if you practiced some of these things everyday, extending this plan beyond a 31-day cycle? It just might help you live the life you’ve always wanted rather than settling for whatever comes your way.

The orginal article.

Summary of “It’s Personal: Five Scientists on the Heroes Who Changed Their Lives”

Now, Gerace is a professor of science education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, after a 30-year career as a professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, during which time he made the transition from theoretical nuclear physicist to leader in science education and co-founder of the Scientific Reasoning Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Keller describes the outcome of her illness as having “Plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby,” and then recounts how this new state became normal: “I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different.” The next two chapters describe the five-and-a-half years that Keller struggled to understand the world she was living in and communicate with those around her, without the benefit of a common language.
Most people are familiar with the moment when Anne Sullivan helped the 7-year-old Keller make a tactile connection between the concept of running water and the motion of hands spelling out its English name, “W-A-T-E-R.” Keller herself described that moment as “My soul’s sudden awakening.” But Keller’s writing makes it clear that her soul-as well as intellect-was actually wide awake well before that particular epiphany.
In the short two-and-a-half chapters of her autobiography that relates the years between infancy and before the arrival of Sullivan, Keller does an extraordinary job of describing how an experimental scientist’s subconscious mind works.
In the complete absence of sight and sound, Keller navigated the world for years using exclusively smell, touch, and taste.
The people who were stuck working for the Keller family bore the worst of Helen’s anger: She describes how she repeatedly kicked her nurse, locked her mother in a pantry, and bullied the cook’s daughter.
Only much later, after Anne Sullivan had taught to her to sign using English, had Keller “Realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.” Unsatisfied with the world she knew, Keller was tormented by her inkling that there was much more to know, and she extended this torment to the people around her.
Virchow almost single-handedly invented the notion that good science can be a weapon in the service of social justice, at a time when there was damn little good science or social justice.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Grow Old: Bertrand Russell on What Makes a Fulfilling Life”

“If you can fall in love again and again,” Henry Miller wrote as he contemplated the measure of a life well lived on the precipice of turning eighty, “If you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical you’ve got it half licked.”
Seven years earlier, the great British philosopher, mathematician, historian, and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell considered the same abiding question at the same life-stage in a wonderful short essay titled “How to Grow Old,” penned in his eighty-first year and later published in Portraits from Memory and Other Essays.
Russell places at the heart of a fulfilling life the dissolution of the personal ego into something larger.
Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.
Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.
The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue.
Portraits from Memory and Other Essays is an uncommonly potent packet of wisdom in its totality.
Complement this particular fragment with Nobel laureate André Gide on how happiness increases with age, Ursula K. Le Guin on aging and what beauty really means, and Grace Paley on the art of growing older – the loveliest thing I’ve ever read on the subject – then revisit Russell on critical thinking, power-knowledge vs. love-knowledge, what “The good life” really means, why “Fruitful monotony” is essential for happiness, and his remarkable response to a fascist’s provocation.

The orginal article.

Summary of “31 Ways to Improve Your Life in Just a Month”

Remind yourself frequently that the purpose of your life is not to work 10 hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida.
Day 6: Stop getting the attention and focus it on other people.
Day 14: Journal about three new things you are grateful for.
Psychologist Shawn Achor told Oprah that you train your brain to be optimistic if you do this for 21 days in a row: Each day, write down three new things you are grateful for.
Day 23: Have lunch with someone, and listen to that person selflessly.
Day 25: Look at people in the eye, smile, and say hello.
Elderly people have a rich and long history full of stories, experiences, and perspectives you’ve never thought of from simpler days gone by.
What would your life look like if you practiced some of these things everyday, extending this plan beyond a 31-day cycle? It just might help you live the life you’ve always wanted rather than settling for whatever comes your way.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Life of One’s Own”

In 1926, more than a decade before a team of Harvard psychologists commenced history’s longest and most revelatory study of human happiness and half a century before the humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm penned his classic on the art of living, the British psychoanalyst and writer Marion Milner undertook a seven-year experiment in living, aimed at unpeeling the existential rind of all we chronically mistake for fulfillment – prestige, pleasure, popularity – to reveal the succulent, pulsating core of what makes for genuine happiness.
In 1934, under the pen name Joanna Field, Milner released the results of her inquiry in A Life of One’s Own – a small, enormously insightful book, beloved by W.H. Auden and titled in homage to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, published three years after Milner began her existential experiment.
Finally, let no one undertake such an experiment who is not prepared to find himself more of a fool than he thought.
Not only did I find that trying to describe my experience enhanced the quality of it, but also this effort to describe had made me more observant of the small movements of the mind.
Blind thinking could make me pretend I was being true to myself when really I was only being true to an infantile fear and confusion of situations; and the more confused it was the more it would call to its aid a sense of conviction.
So I had finally come to the conclusion that my task was to become more and more aware, more and more understanding with an understanding that was not at all the same thing as intellectual comprehension.
By finding that in order to be more and more aware I had to be more and more still, I had not only come to see through my own eyes instead of at second hand, but I had also finally come to discover what was the way of escape from the imprisoning island of my own self-consciousness.
Complement the uncommonly penetrating A Life of One’s Own with Hermann Hesse on the most important habit for living with presence, E.E. Cummings on being unafraid to feel, and Maurice Sendak’s forgotten debut – a magnificent philosophical children’s book about knowing what you really want.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?”

If the cosmos holds other life, and if some of that life has evolved beyond our own waypoints of complexity and technology, we should be considering some very extreme possibilities.
Noting subtle mismatches between observations and models, have suggested that dark matter has a richer inner life.
The dark energy didn’t become significant until enough time had gone by for life to take hold on Earth.
Elsewhere, dark energy is stronger and blows the universe apart too quickly for cosmic structures to form and life to take root.
Life absorbs low-entropy energy, does useful work with that energy, and dumps higher-entropy energy back into the universe as waste heat.
What better long-term investment by some hypothetical life 5 billion years ago than to get the universe to cool even faster? To be sure, it may come to rue its decision: Hundreds of billions of years later the accelerating expansion would dilute matter so quickly that civilizations would run out of fresh sources of energy.
In this context, hyper-advanced life is going to look for ways to get rid of physical locality and to maximize redundancy and flexibility.
In other words, part of the fabric of the universe is a product of intelligence or is perhaps even life itself.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Make Mars Great Again”

In the ’90s the award-winning science-fiction trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars centered on the science and ethics of terraforming.
Of all the other worlds in our solar system, only Mars has a realistic potential for terraforming.
How would we respond if Mars turns out to have life of its own?
To judge from how quickly our greenhouse emissions are warming Earth, we could shift Mars into a warm climate state within 100 years.
How would we respond if Mars turns out to have life of its own? As a first step, we would need to determine how Martian life is related to Earth life.
The motivation for altering Mars would not be creating a new habitat for Earth life, but enhancing the richness and diversity of the indigenous Martian life.
Whether Mars becomes an outpost of Earth life or a planet-size wilderness refuge, altering it to host a rich and diverse global biosphere would be one of humanity’s greatest creative achievements.
He was a co-investigator on the Huygens probe to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005, the Mars Phoenix lander mission in 2008, and the Mars Science Laboratory mission in 2012..

The orginal article.

Summary of “”Little Prince” Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on Losing a Friend”

“Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship,” Seneca counseled in considering true and false friendship, “But when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.” To lose a friend who has earned such wholehearted admission into your soul is one of life’s most devastating sorrows.
No one has articulated the disorientation of that inevitability more beautifully than Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Wind, Sand, and Stars – that endlessly rewarding collection of his autobiographical vignettes, philosophical inquiries, and poetic reflections on the nature of existence, published just as WWII was breaking out and four years before The Little Prince, which Saint-Exupéry would dedicate to his best friend in what remains perhaps the most beautiful book dedication ever composed.
With an eye to his life as a pilot, Saint-Exupéry considers with unsentimental sweetness the common experience of losing fellow pilots to accident or war.
One of Saint-Exupéry’s original watercolors for The Little Prince.
Three years later, Saint-Exupéry would offer the most poetic consolation there is, only consolation there is for this existential sorrow, in the final pages of The Little Prince – a book very much about reconciling the great unbidden gift of loving a friend with the inevitability of losing that friend.
You will sometimes open your window for that pleasure And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky!
Months later, much to the sorrow of his own friends and the millions of strangers who had come to love him through his books, Saint-Exupéry himself would become one of the lost pilots, vanishing over the Mediterranean Sea on a reconnaissance mission, his stardust silently returned to the stars that made him.
Couple with trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell on how we co-create one another and re-create ourselves through friendship, then revisit Saint-Exupéry on love and mortality, what the desert taught him about the meaning of life, and how a simple human smile saved his life during the war.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman”

Can you see this woman yet? She looks like an Instagram – which is to say, an ordinary woman reproducing the lessons of the marketplace, which is how an ordinary woman evolves into an ideal.
If women start to resist an aesthetic, like the overapplication of Photoshop, the aesthetic just changes to suit us; the power of the ideal image never actually wanes.
Sweetgreen is a marvel of optimization: a line of 40 people – a texting, shuffling, eyes-down snake – can be processed in 10 minutes, as customer after customer orders a kale caesar with chicken without even looking at the other, darker-skinned, hairnet-wearing line of people who are busy adding chicken to kale caesars as if it were their purpose in life to do so and their customers’ purpose in life to send emails for 16 hours a day with a brief break to snort down a bowl of nutrients that ward off the unhealthfulness of urban professional living.
As a form of exercise, barre is ideal for an era in which everyone has to work constantly – you can be back at the office in five minutes, no shower necessary – and in which women are still expected to look unreasonably good.
So an exercise method even nominally drawn from ballet has the subtle effect of giving regular women a sense of serious, artistic, professional purpose in their pursuit of their ideal body.
The ideal woman looks beautiful, happy, carefree and perfectly competent.
Not coincidentally, these stories usually center on women, and usually involve a protagonist driven to insanity by the digital avatar of an ideal peer.
Lately, the ideal women of Instagram have started chafing, just a little, against the structures that surround them.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Aging Isn’t Inevitable”

Illustration by Nora Krug.Humans age gradually, but some animals do all their aging in a rush at the end of life, while others don’t age at all, and a few can even age backward.
The variety of aging patterns in nature should be a caution sign to anyone inclined to generalize-particularly the generalization that aging is inevitable.
Aging can occur at a steady pace through the course of an entire lifetime, or there can be no aging at all for decades at a time, followed by sudden death.
Everything from growth to reproduction to aging must occur more slowly in a behemoth with a slow metabolism and tons of tissue to nourish.
Every conceivable combination is represented, with rapid aging and no aging and backward aging, paired with life spans of weeks or years or centuries.
At the top of the chart, with low mortality that rises suddenly at the end of life, humans are joined by lab worms and tropical fish! In fact, in terms of aging profiles, we humans look more like the lab worm than the chimpanzee.
If this is true, then the hydra’s style of aging is a throwback to protists, ancestral microbes more complex than bacteria-some of which have a limited life span, being able to divide only so many times until they run out of reproductive gas-unless they are jumpstarted by exchanging genes, which resets their aging clock.
Styles of aging in nature are just about as diverse as they can be, which suggests that nature is able to turn aging on and off at will.

The orginal article.