Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta - Our Four Brain States

It would be safe to say that the average person knows very little about brain states. Indeed, it is doubtful whether many people know that there are four brain states and that all our brains function according to these states - Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta.

Simply put, Beta refers to that state when our brains are most alert; concentration and our ability to think are heightened and in the ideal condition to write an examination, present a paper, synthesize information or tackle situations where we need an intensified mental sharpness. The second state, known as Alpha, refers to a relaxation of the brain that allows our thoughts to run freely and for creativity to blossom.

Theta is a very different state of mind. Theta is the mode in which the brain is neither highly active, nor completely relaxed but slows down the activity of brain waves to the point of sleep. This state exists on the edge of sub-consciousness and is where we are drawn into memories and expansive thoughts, meditation and, sometimes, true inspiration.

The actual state of sleep is the Delta state. Our brainwave frequency is slow and undulating and we drift into deep restorative sleep that allows our brain to operate optimally in other states.

When we speak of a brainwave, we may not realize that we literally have an electrical power in our brains that causes waves to course through our brains at varying speeds. Scientists have been able to measure the frequency of these waves, and to determine the effect of the waves on the way in which our brains work. The high frequency waves cause arousal of the brain and occur when we are intensely busy with an activity, particularly involving speech. This is the beta state of mind.

The Alpha brainwaves occur less frequently than beta waves, are slower and higher in scale or amplitude and so your brain would be working, but far less actively in this state. You may be reflecting on your activities undertaken in the more alert state of mind, or working on more mundane tasks. The slowing of the brain waves continues as we reach the Theta state. The slow frequency of these brainwaves can put us in a mellow mood, daydreaming as we perform routine, simple tasks. We free our minds and allow ideas to flow as we drive slowly along a common route, take a shower or a bath. We usually enjoy this unhurried state of mind.

Our brainwaves slow down to no more than a couple of cycles per second when we fall into a deep sleep. As we move through the Rapid Eye Movement period of our sleep, so our brains will have sped up and we be in the theta state of mind, closer to being awake. As we awake, our brainwaves speed up until we reach the beta state. Some of us have brains that get up to speed very quickly and so we can jump out of bed the minute the alarm rings; for others it is a much slower process.

This knowledge of how the brain works has allowed religious groups to utilize the frequencies. For example, the Buddhist chant echoes the rhythm of the brain in theta mode and transports them into deep meditation. In the western world, too, experts in the field have discovered that they can help people suffering from illness such as depression and post-traumatic stress by guiding them into the various stages of the brain, especially the theta stage, to deal with their distress.

Don't Worry Be Happy If you Aren't Happy Then What Are You?

Live life to the fullest, spread your arms and breathe, don't be afraid of change, the world is for you to have not the other way around. Use the power of your mind to free yourself from the shackles of negativity.

Life is to short to be unhappy stop wasting time on negative impulse. Take negativity and use it as fuel for positive thought.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

5th Grade Math

This year my son entered the 5th grade and had a little trouble in math. Not anything that threatened him failing, but problem enough that it could affect his performance in the future if he did not get the concepts this year. I found with him that what really works is making him do problems, and do them correctly on concepts that he is having difficulty with. He's smart and understands it, he's just a boy and flies through things at warp speed so he can go play basketball with his friends.

This was the case the other day when he was struggling with fractions. I wrote down a whole bunch of practice problems and made them a little tougher than the ones I knew he would get in class. For each problem he got wrong he would do two more problems. It worked great because he wanted so desperately to not have to do more that he got them all right.

If you are a concerned parent with a 5th grader, I have included a basic curriculum of 5th grade math:

Place value and number sense-determining the value of different digits and knowing what numbers mean.

Fractions and mixed numbers-understanding fractions in the form of mixed numbers and improper fractions.

Geometry-shapes and their measurements.

Add and subtract fractions-adding and subtraction improper fractions and mixed numbers-understand.

Decimals-understanding what decimals mean.

Multiply fractions-muliplying fractions as mixed numbers and improper fractions.

Addition and subtraction-adding and subtracting large numbers.

Divide fractions-understanding how to divide fractions.

Mixed operations-add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.

Add and subtract decimals-using decimals to add and subtract.

Algebra-elementary algebraic concepts.

Multiplication-multiplying decimal, fractions, and whole numbers.

Coordinate Graphs-understanding the basics of graphs.

Multiply decimals-decimal multiplication.

Data, charts, and graphs-understanding various displays of data.

Patterns-identifying patterns.

Division-using the division algorithm

Consumer math-math of percentages, sales, and other life applications.

Ratios, proportions, and percents-understanding ratios, proportions, and percents.

Division with decimals-understanding how to do division with decimals.

Problem solving-using various skills to calculate problems.

Measurement-identifying, converting between, and using measurements.

Number theory-prime numbers and LCM

Time-understanding units of time and using calculations with time.

Probability and statistics-calculating basic probability and statistics and making predictions.

Friday, 9 December 2011

What Math eTextbooks of the Future Desperately Need

Have you ever read a research paper and found a mathematical mistaken in it? Indeed I have, and perhaps you are not skilled or knowledgeable on the topic, but there are mistakes, and they do exist. Often these peer-reviewed papers do not get the adequate time necessary to hash out all the issues or find the mistakes. Further, often research papers have a lot of math in them, but they are solving the wrong problem, or attacking the problem the wrong way, and yet they publish the paper anyway.

Of course, I've also seen mistakes in college textbooks, supposedly written by the professor, and a group of grad students. Yes, it happens, and sometimes the professor points it out to the students along the way, or the correction will come about the next year. This seems unfortunate when you are paying $225 that college textbook in the first place, and so perhaps I might shed some more light on this problem, I'd like to tell you about something I recently read.

There was an interesting post on SlashDot on March 4, 2012 titled; "Math Textbooks a Textbook Example of Bad Textbooks," by Samzenpus, where the words of Keeghan were reiterated, namely that;

"There may be a reason you can't figure out some of those math problems in your son or daughter's math text and it might have nothing at all to do with you. That math homework you're trying to help your child muddle through might include problems with no possible solution. It could be that key information or steps are missing, that the problem involves a concept your child hasn't yet been introduced to, or that the math problem is structurally unsound for a host of other reasons."

Now then, in the future I suspect that math textbooks will be holographic, give it five more years and they will project holograms of the shapes, and images which you are trying to figure out. Putting things in three and four dimensions with a projected hologram makes a lot of sense. Imagine the advantages for a student who can visualize the math problem using holographic imagery. You see, in solving these problems in this way they will be using the spatial part of the brain, and not the language part of the brain were they are trying to determine what all the symbols mean.

Indeed, I bet that the students learn math better, quicker, and go on to enjoy it more, therefore do better at the subject and get better grades. Perhaps, we are just a few technologies away right now from having all the math and science engineers, scientists, and future generation of mathematical intellectual superstars graduating from our high schools and colleges. I wouldn't be surprised, and I hope that if you are involved in any of these types of technologies, that you will be thinking here, please consider it.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Calculus - Derivatives

Derivative is the central concept of Calculus and is known for its numerous applications to higher Mathematics. The derivative of a function at a point can be described in two different ways: geometrical and physical. Geometrically, the derivative of a function at a certain value of its input variable is the slope of the line tangent to its graph through the given point. It can be found by using the slope formula or if given a graph, by drawing horizontal lines toward the input value under inquiry. If the graph has no break or jump at that point, then it is simply the y value corresponding to the given x-value. In Physics, the derivative is described as a physical change. It refers to the instantaneous rate of change in the velocity of an object with respect to the shortest possible time it takes to travel a certain distance. In relation thereof, the derivative of a function at a point in a Mathematical view refers to the rate of change of the value of the output variables as the values of its corresponding input variables get close to zero. In other words, if two carefully chosen values are very close to the given point under question, then the derivative of the function at the point of inquiry is the quotient of the difference between the output values and their corresponding input values, as denominator gets close to zero (0).

Precisely, the derivative of a function is a measurement of how a function transforms with respect to a change of values in its input (independent) variable. To find the derivative of a function at a certain point, do the following steps:

1. Choose two values, very close to the given point, one from its left and the other from its right.

2. Solve for the corresponding output values or y values.

3. Compare the two values.

4. If the two values are the same or will approximately equal to the same number, then it is the derivative of the function at that certain value of x (input variable).

5. Using a table of values, if the values of y for those points to the right of the x value under question is approximately equal to the y value being approached by the y values corresponding to the chosen input values to the left of x. The value being approached is the derivative of the function at x.

6. Algebraically we can look for the derivative function first by taking the limit of the difference quotient formula as the denominator approaches zero. Use the derived function to look for the derivative by replacing the input variable with the given value of x.

Monday, 28 November 2011

How To Learn More Outside Your English School

Are you taking up ESL or EFL? Are you getting yourself ready for TOEIC or TOEFL? Are you looking for other ways to learn more about English? Learning anything is not always confined to being inside a class room. In fact all academic programs of very popular universities have activities tied in with their academics that are done outside the confines of the classroom. It is important to know theories and principles for any field but not putting them into practice or into any type of use will render it useless. They say that unless you use it, you will never really learn it. That is why if you are studying English, you must use it in writing, in speaking and even in reading.

If you are up for an examination to assess your English skills in speaking, try to practice it by talking with someone who uses it as their first language or somebody who has mastered it already. If you keep on hanging out with people who speak the same language as you do or with people who hardly know any English, then conversing in English would be the last thing you will be able to do. Remember, it is only when you speak it in actual conversations that you really learn a language. Let them know that you are practicing English and that they can correct you with any grammatical errors you make. This will help you master your weakest points.

When you are out in a restaurant or a movie, when conversing with others, try to speak the correct formation of a sentence. Don't speak in phrases where in you expect others to understand you by just saying two words like "buy ticket" or "want water", make an effort to really say and complete the sentence you intend to say. These basic questions or dialogues are very essential if and when you are taking any English exam such as the TOEFL or the TOEIC. Remember each of these exams have a speaking part so better practice your sentence formation and correct pronunciation of words.

Nothing still beats reading. Read whatever you like to read, comics even. As long as it is in English! Reading gives you the correct visual of how sentences are formed, how words are spelled and it can increase your vocabulary. Make your reading fun by getting a book or a magazine that you are really interested in. Try to veer away from books or magazines with too much pictures as this can and will distract you from really reading. When you read, this exercise will help you with your examination's part of reading and comprehension and even the writing part of the test.

These are only a few ideas how to learn more outside your English school. If you are still struggling after doing these exercises, try to list down your problem areas or your problem words and write down the correct way of saying or writing it. There is no short cut to learning, only practice, practice and practice. Don't stress out too much, it is when you have fun while learning that you really remember what you studied.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

How to Learn French While Cooking

Learn French by preparing famous French recipes. It is effective to have memorable real life experiences, for language learning. Drilling and memorizing lists of words is boring, and is only useful for short-term memory. You remember the vocabulary for the test, but a few days later... it is gone.

Cooking uses many senses and not only creates a context, but also produces a pleasant memory - long term memory. Children can cook along with adults, under proper supervision. Practice the vocabulary, as you are making the recipe together. Then, when you all sit down to eat, reinforce it again, perhaps explaining to each other, in French, how you prepared the meal or dessert.

Try to incorporate French culture into the experience. Make a French onion soup recipe and learn the words for cheese, onions, bread, and olive oil. The soup reminds me of New Years Eve in Grenoble, France - a tradition of our French hosts.

Christmas time, make a buche de noel; the exciting genoise cake roll, which resembles a yuletide log. Learn the vocabulary for oven, baking, chocolate, cream and more. And also learn about the patisseries in France, which are teaming with buche de noel cakes during the Christmas season.

Coq au vin dates back hundreds of years. It is a quintessential French dish, originally made from rooster, braised with carrots, onions, mushrooms and, of course, wine. Legend has it that Caesar was sent a rooster by the chief of the Gauls, to show symbolically that the Gauls were lean and aggressive. Caesar had the rooster cooked and served to the chief. Today, Coq au vin has evolved into a fragrant chicken stew.

Simulate a French bistro and prepare a croque monsieur. The French verb croquer means to crunch. The grilled ham and cheese sandwich is finished with a French béchamel sauce. Add a fried egg on top, and you have a Croque Madame.

To complete the experience, make crepes - savory or sweet. Crepes are often served on candlemas. Flip the crepes, while saying the French rhyme:

A la Chandeleur - (At Candlemas)
Faire sauter les crepes (to make the crepes jump)
Porte Bonheur (brings happiness)

Crepes make a nutritious meal or snack. There are so many different fillings - all additions to your growing vocabulary. And learn about creperies, which serve crepes and are typical of Brittany, but can found all over France

The famous French author Marcel Proust recognized the link, between food association and memory. In his novel "À La Recherche du Temps Perdu", vivid memories are triggered by a madeleine dunked in tea. Bake some of the melt in your mouth, fluted little cakes, and imprint "la recette" (the recipe), in your developing French repertoire. Try other French dessert recipes.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

What Is Kinetic Energy?

I have the distinct impression most science writers are English majors and not schooled in physics. Why do I think this? Because kinetic energy is bandied about as though it were a force. We hear that a meteor will strike with hundreds of thousands of foot pounds of energy or a rifle bullet strikes with thousands of foot pounds of energy. It's all rubbish. Kinetic energy is a formula devised by Isaac Newton to enable you to calculate the potential energy of an object in motion. He expressed it as ke (kinetic energy) = 1/2 m V2. Seems simple enough until you try a simple example. We know if you drop something here on earth that gravity accelerates it at about 32.2 feet per second toward the center of the earth. So in 1/4 of a second our object will attain a velocity of about 8 feet per second and travel about 1 foot. In another 1/4 second it will reach about 16 feet per second and travel an additional 3 feet for a total of 4 feet. We see a graph of velocity versus time is a straight line but the distance traveled quadruples for each doubling of time. It does this because it accumulates velocity with time and moves further with each increment of time.

So let's try a simple example. We will drop a 1 pound mass 1 foot. The velocity it attains in one foot is the same velocity that would enable it to rise 1 foot if it were traveling in the opposite direction. It is called symmetry. Physical processes usually exhibit symmetry. Up and down are mirror images of each other. So, back to our 1 pound mass dropped 1 foot. We know this is a foot pound by definition. So we multiply 1 pound by 8 squared for 64 and halve it for an answer of 32. Long way from 1 foot pound so what is the problem? The problem is m is used in Newtonian mechanics to mean many things. In the momentum equation (momentum = mv) m is 1 pound - BUT- in the kinetic energy formula m is expressed in what Newton termed a slug. A slug is that mass which when acted upon by a force of 1 pound accelerates at 1 foot per second. Since we know gravity would accelerate it at 32.2 feet per second but a force of 1 pound accelerates it at 1 foot per second a slug is obviously 32.2 lbs. It is the gravitational constant, little g, over 1. So he coined a new unit of mass with the gravitational constant neatly ensconced within it.

Why you may ask. Well because we get the correct answer if we take our original answer and divide by 32. It is 1 which is the correct answer. Since v changes only 32 feet per second we see at high levels of v the potential energy is enormous. But remember this is potential energy only if you can extract work by lowering it on a rope or in an elevator. That's why a .308 bullet may possess around 3000 foot pounds because in a vacuum it will rise losing only 32 feet per second in its travel. If you think it imparts 3000 foot pounds to a deer it does not. Newton also said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the kick on the butt plate of the rifle. If it were 3000 foot pounds you can be confident in the knowledge no one would fire the rifle a second time. Kinetic energy is not a force. The impact energy is its momentum. Kinetic energy just expresses how high it can rise.

Kinetic energy is much more impressive when talking about impacts though so marketing people and English majors describe motion in terms of kinetic energy.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How A Boarding School Can Be A Positive Influence

Some people look down at boarding schools but the truth is other wise. Parents are slowly realizing the many benefits of putting their children in such place. These schools focus on all round development of the children and thus help them not only excel in their studies but also in extra curricular activities.

Often parents need to make a choice between a boarding-school and a public school. And the choice can be based on different aspect for different families. The parents need to consider so many things like financial resources, needs, and priorities that may differ from family to family. But over and above, boarding-school score much higher than a public school.

To begin with, the size of the class is much smaller in a boarding school. And due to the smaller class size, the students get much more personal attention and chances are that he will get a complete positive atmosphere for his growth and development. Such one-on-one attention allows students to develop specialized study habits and better focus while learning. But if you look at the public schools they often have a very big class size that can go up to 30 or even more. Thus it ensures personal attention for every student studying there.

Another big benefit is the qualified and experienced staff. Most of the teachers there are completely dedicated to their students. As the class size is already small, it does not take much effort for the teachers and student to develop special bonds with each other. This too acts as a good foundation for a great education.

As they do not have to face any financial limitations, there are no cut backs and the students are given the best opportunities in the field of learning. You will find these schools offering diverse programs like sports, art, yoga, equine programs, music, and many other outdoor activities like water rafting or rock climbing. Students of other schools definitely miss out on such opportunities. This clearly shows that students get a well-rounded education that is not possible in public schools.

Another advantage is that they nurture family bonds and focus on family relations. Parents are encouraged to get involved and have a complete say in their child's education. They attend meetings, participate in outings with their kids, go on adventure trips. All these develop stronger skills in the home and the child feels very close to his or her parents' despite remaining away from them in a boarding school. The family interaction goes along way in developing new skills and strategies among both parent and their children that strengthen the family bond and improve functioning at home.

To wrap up, one can clearly see the many advantages of putting your child in this place, but keep in mind that not all schools are made equal. So make some effort and put your child only in the best boarding school.