Tag Archives: Science

Hitmen, Fiction vs Real Life (and Death)

A must for readers and writers of thrillers:

“A group of researchers at the Center for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University in the U.K. has recently analyzed newspaper articles, court records, and a series of “off-the-record” interviews with informants “who have, or who had, direct knowledge of contract killings” in order to construct what they term a “typology” of British hitmen.” …

“The main thrust of the paper, which will be published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, is that hitmen do not operate with the drama, professionalism, or glamour that mob films and spy novels afford them. In actuality, the majority of killers select jejune settings for their crimes, have occasionally bumbling performances, and are often hired by contractors with lame motivations.”

“Here’s the profile of an average British hitman, who seems more confined by the boxy restraints of reality than the undulating arcs of fiction:”

“He kills on the cheap. The average asking price was £15,180. It was £100,000 at the highest level, and a teenager was shafted with £200 at the low end.” …

“The weapon of choice was a firearm.” …

“Most of the killers were working on first-time contracts, meaning there weren’t many long-distance snipers taking shots from towers.” …

READ MORE: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/how-hitmen-operate-73430/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+miller-mccune%2Fmain_feed+%28Pacific+Standard+-+Main+Feed%29

Reading Novels = Body-shifting

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically,” says neuroscientist Gregory Berns.”

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns says.”

“The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”

“It remains an open question how long these neural changes might last,” Berns says. “But the fact that we’re detecting them over a few days for a randomly assigned novel suggests that your favorite novels could certainly have a bigger and longer-lasting effect on the biology of your brain.”

Source: http://esciencecommons.blogspot.ca/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html?m=1

Watching vs Reading

“The fact is, writing is one heck of an informational medium — the best ever invented. Neurological studies show that, as we learn to read, our brains undergo extensive cellular changes that allow us to decipher the meaning of words with breathtaking speed and enormous flexibility. By comparison, gathering information through audio and video media is a slow and cumbersome process.” Nicholas Carr

“A screen-based lifestyle provides a gratifying, easy-sensation ‘yuk and wow’ environment, which doesn’t require a young mind to work….We cannot park our children in front of a screen and expect them to develop a long attention span.”  Professor Susan Greenfield

“Research published in the world’s most reputable medical and scientific journals shows that the sheer amount of time children spend watching TV, DVDs, computers and the internet is linked with significant measurable biological changes in their bodies and brains that may have significant medicalconsequences.” –  Dr. Aric Sigman

“He is part of a generation which, more and more, is reading less and less. This is having a negative impact on writing skills, depth of expression and, in this case, employment prospects, at least while her employers belong to Generation X.”- Chris Harrison

More: tipsfromthetlist.com

Reading Classic Literature Boosts Brain Power

“Reading books can help your brain – of that there is little doubt. But a new scientific study and a recently released book have taken that concept to an entirely new level, showing that what you read, how you read, and how you apply lessons learned from the experience could have a tremendous impact on your thought-processes and problem-solving skills.

Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain… The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”

More: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112763043/brain-gets-a-boost-from-classical-literature-and-poetry-011413/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

How writers achieve literary immortality

… “neurobiological forces designed for our survival naturally make interest in art fade. But the forces don’t stop artists from trying for timelessness.

what writers can do to block or slow that natural erosion over time? …

We are evolutionarily designed so that we focus on new objects and ignore familiar ones … When the mind confronts a new object, our perception is intense and vivid, but it soon dies with familiarity. Every minute, this feeling fades as the mind grasps the object.

Many writers in the Romantic tradition are animated by an impossible ambition to indefinitely extend that intensity. … the strategies some literary greats have used to slow the brain’s familiarity and create a never-fading image.

Where science can learn from literature is that it’s not recreating the feeling of the first experience of the drug encounter, but that initial imagery associated with the intensity…”

How to achieve literary immortality? Combine an inkling of familiarity with the unknown. “Literary immortality is achieved by immersing the reader in an extraordinary experience outside the realm of their reality. Vagueness also works to keep the mind active. It isn’t about a good or complicated plot in the story.”

READ MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213151442.htm
SpyWriter Jack King: www.SpyWriter.com | FaceBook | Twitter

Dissolvable espionage

Imagine spy devices that dissolve completely into nothingness…

“The technology, which will be announced in a paper this week in Science, is called transient electronics or resorbable electronics. These systems work until they are no longer needed, at which point they dissolve completely away—the dissolution triggered by ordinary water in their operating environment. …

It’s not hard to imagine the uses of small electronic devices that vanish without a trace when exposed to water. Disappearing sensors and other spy gear could be air-dropped or strategically embedded in hostile environments with no one the wiser. …

The work is being funded in part by DARPA, the Defense Department’s mad science arm, which sees a range of applications. To no one’s surprise, though, those uses are classified.”I can’t get into those details,” he tells PM.” Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/breakthroughs/transient-electronics-could-dissolve-inside-your-body-13098637?click=pm_latest

The spies can’t tell you what their plans are, but this thriller writer can – a spy device based on the above concept is used by characters in my latest novel THE BLACK VAULThttp://www.spywriter.com/tbv/index.html

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Complexities of reading

“Neurobiological experts, radiologists, and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention, and distraction—by reading Jane Austen.

Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for “executive function,” areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, says Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.

During a series of ongoing experiments, functional magnetic resonance images track blood flow in the brains of subjects as they read excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. Experiment participants are first asked to skim a passage leisurely as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam.

Phillips says the global increase in blood flow during close reading suggests that “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” Blood flow also increased during pleasure reading, but in different areas of the brain. Phillips suggests that each style of reading may create distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.”

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London’s The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. http://www.SPYWRITER.com

The Practical Benefits of Reading Fiction

“Over the past decade, academic researchers such as Oatley and Raymond Mar from York University have gathered data indicating that fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness. For instance, in fMRI studies of people reading fiction, neuroscientists detect activity in the pre-frontal cortex — a part of the brain involved with setting goals — when the participants read about characters setting a new goal. It turns out that when Henry James, more than a century ago, defended the value of fiction by saying that “a novel is a direct impression of life,” he was more right than he knew.

In one of Oatley and Mar’s studies in 2006, 94 subjects were asked to guess the emotional state of a person from a photograph of their eyes. “The more fiction people [had] read,” they discovered, “the better they were at perceiving emotion in the eyes, and…correctly interpreting social cues.” In 2009, wondering, as Oatley put it, if “devouring novels might be a result, not a cause, of having a strong theory of mind,” they expanded the scope of their research, testing 252 adults on the “Big Five “personality traits — extraversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness — and correlated those results with how much time the subjects generally spent reading fiction. Once again, they discovered “a significant relation between the amount of fiction people read and their empathic and theory-of-mind abilities” allowing them to conclude that it was reading fiction that improved the subjects’ social skills, not that those with already high interpersonal skills tended to read more.”

More: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/01/the_business_case_for_reading.html#.Tw4i6VK-zFE.email

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http://www.SPYWRITER.com

Brainless spies and criminals rejoice

An “example of putting brain waves into practice in a practical way is Brain Fingerprinting.

In Brain Fingerprinting, it is believed that when someone commits a crime, the event is stored as a memory. When the perpetrator is presented with evidence of the crime, the memory is triggered, creating a neurological response.

If the perpetrator is attached to a machine similar to an EEG, then this response can be recorded.

Brain Fingerprinting is still in its early stages, but is being seriously evaluated by the FBI as part of deception detection and profiling.

If this technique is perfected and coupled with Clark’s sensor technology, individuals such as criminals, and even spies could be easily identified.

Taking this technology a step further, it is conceivable that technology such as this could be used by a government to monitor the brain wave activity of its people or to detect espionage. Intelligence agents could use the technology to spy on foreign diplomats or scientists.”

More: http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2011/11/could-us-intelligence-detect-brain-waves-to-spy/

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http://www.SPYWRITER.com

The kitchen device that’s killing you

“Microwaves were first invented by the Nazis in order to provide a method of cooking for their troops during World War II. Seeing as though these microwave ovens have been experimental and new, the US War Department was assigned to research these new devices shortly after the war.

Turns out, the U.S. didn’t really perform the extensive research necessary for the new invention. Instead, the Russians decided to tackle the issue with extreme force.

Intrigued by this new device, the Russians conducted in-depth research to discover the biological effects they might possess. The results were staggering enough to lead to a ban of the new device in the Soviet Union. The ban, however, was later lifted during Perestroika, the political movement responsible for the restructuring of the Soviet Union.

The findings include:

  * Carcinogenic substances were formed from the microwaving of nearly all foods tested
  * Microwaving milk and grains resulted in carcinogenic substances being formed through the conversion of amino acids
  * Microwaving prepared meats caused cancer-causing agents such as d-Nitrosodienthanolamines to form
  * Microwaving fruits as a method of thawing resulted in the conversion of glucoside and galactoside fractions into carcinogenic substances
  * Extremely short exposure of raw, cooked, or frozen vegetables converted their plant alkaloids into carcinogens
  * Carcinogenic free radicals were formed in microwaved plants, especially root vegetables
  * Structural degradation leading to decreased food value was found to be 60 to 90 percent overall for all foods tested, with significant decreases in bioavailability of B complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, essential minerals, and lipotropics

Twenty years of the Russian research led to the international warning about the damaging biological and environmental effects microwaves possess. The warning also included other similar frequency electronic devices such as cell phones.”

More: http://naturalsociety.com/the-dangerous-truth-behind-microwaves/