Brain Science of Politics

So this article just got published (as far as I saw), which seems to indicate that there are actual physical differences in the brains of self described liberals and conservatives.  It does seem to agree with my previous posting on bipolar behavior of politcians.

Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex–a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety.

Ok, I’ll admit, this seems to fit, and passes the initial “faux science smell test” of fitting the world view of many people.  Liberals get complexity, conservatives are fear mongers.  Ok, so I call shenanigans, precisely because it fits so easily into our preconceived views on these people.  Not included in the study, centrists, socialists, etc. or determination of the other options in the political spectrum and the associated brain structure sizing.  What if I’m a financial conservative but social liberal?  Etc.

The good news is that the researchers know this and have commented on it, but I’m guessing many people will ignore the remaining questions.

While the London study does find distinct differences between Democrats and Republicans, its authors caution that more research needs to be done on the subject. One unknown is whether people are simply born with their political beliefs or if our brains adjust to life experiences–which is a possibility, Kanai writes.

We all knew that these views were different, but posing them as polar opposites coded into the brain seems a bit of a stretch.

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An Anti-matter matter, and more..

Why are we here?  Good question, huh?  And one that we’ve (as humans) been talking about for probably about as long as we’ve been around.  And as it turns out there seems to be a peek at an answer, at least to the scientific side of that question.  Apparently there is an imbalance in the creation of matter and anti-matter as some of the basic building blocks decay.  So as the Big Bang went boom, other matter / anti-matter collisions were happening and destroying those particles, but since there was more matter than anti-matter, we got the universe we have today which, for those not keeping score, is made up mostly of matter.

As a result we have this strange and wonderful place that we call SPACE to study, to speculate on, and to watch.  In some cases even to capture our arch rival Anti-matter.

Studying such trapped atoms could help answer basic questions in physics, like why antimatter has disappeared from the natural universe while ordinary matter abounds in the stars, planets and galaxies. Theorists say both must have been created in equal amounts in the Big Bang.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_switzerland_antimatter

I suppose one could ask, why do we care?  I mean really, isn’t that the stuff of science fiction and not something that will result in anything that helps us out on Earth?  I suppose it might seem that way, but then again maybe not.  First, there could be a whole lot of Earths out there that are habitable, or possibly inhabited.  That’s pretty cool and if we were to ever figure out this whole “how to travel really far and really fast” thing those places could help resolve population and resource issues.  Other planets have been found pretty close by too, (astronomically speaking).  Too far away? Ok how about the possibility of life on a moon of Saturn, Titan?  Despite the presumably great views of Jupiter this might still be too far away huh?

So what about Mars having caves discovered on it?  By a group of 7th graders.  You’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool, if only because some 7th graders just went “In your face NASA!”  Ok, really they said, “thanks” as the discovery was facilitated by a NASA educational program.  They commissioned a priamry and backup photo to be used as a study for a class project.

But the backup photo provided another surprise: a small, round black spot. It was a hole on Mars leading into the buried cave, researchers said.

The students have submitted their site to be further imaged by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which could reveal enough detail to see inside the hole in the ground.

“The Mars Student Imaging Program is certainly one of the greatest educational programs ever developed,” Mitchell said.  “It gives the students a good understanding of the way research is conducted and how that research can be important for the scientific community. This has been a wonderful experience.”

Full story at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37835185/ns/technology_and_science-space/

Or how about or closest neighbor the Moon having more water than the Sahara desert?  That could come in handy and we can even get there if we so choose.  And as these boundaries of science get further expanded we find the interesting, like Diamond Stars, the puzzling, and especially the beautiful and inspiring views.  We begin to understand ourselves as we study Coments, once thought of as an omen, now we can see what they really are.  We see our theories (E=MC^2) proving to be true and showing matter and energy are the same.  The once magical thought of invisibility being shown it isn’t fantasy, but only difficult?  Nice work science, but I’m still waiting on my flying car that folds up into a briefcase. 🙂

But perhaps the most important is finding out how our space based surroundings impact our world directly.  I know it’s all theory, and still being looked at.  But it does matter.