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Ben Thomas
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Ben Thomas is an author, journalist, inventor and independent
researcher who studies consciousness and the brain. A lifelong lover
of all things mysterious and unexplained, he weaves tales from the
frontiers of science into videos, podcasts and unique multimedia
events. Lots more of his work is available at http://the-connectome.com.

Entries by Ben Thomas

A Seemingly Insane Idea That Actually Struck Gold

(9) Comments | Posted July 26, 2013 | 9:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

In April 2000, a bizarre research paper appeared in the pages of Nature, one of Britain's oldest and most venerable scientific journals. In the paper,...

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Web Portals and Mouse Mazes: How Your Brain Sorts the World

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 2:38 PM

We're drowning in information. Every day, a whopping 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data appears across the Internet -- the tweets alone contain more textual data than your hard drive can hold. So we rely on search engines and RSS aggregators to track down and organize the data that's...

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How Much Stressful Secret-Keeping Is Worth the Trouble?

(9) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 5:42 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

I have a friend who seems to keep no secrets at all -- at least, not about himself. Maybe you have a friend like this, too....

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How Bilingual Brains Think Outside the Boxe(s)

(1) Comments | Posted March 25, 2013 | 6:40 PM

Doctors don't always keep track of their patients closely enough for comfort. In the age of Facebook and Google, private clinics and medical practices throughout the U.S. still rely on paper filing systems and handwritten prescriptions, while others trust decades-old computer systems whose compatibility with other clinics' software is...

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How Flawed Memories Teach Us What's True

(9) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 8:33 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

Jussi Hovenen sings songs that few people care to hear nowadays. He's the last rune singer in Finland -- the only living man who can...

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Invalid Files and Language Learning: Your Brain's Interoperable World

(1) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 1:49 PM

"I can't open the file you sent," she told me. "My computer's saying 'invalid file type.'" I double-clicked the file on my desktop again, and lo and behold, it opened as usual for me. "Let me send it again," I tried to say -- but she cut me off. "My...

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Teenage Dreams and Mid-life Memories: How Your Brain Gets Smarter With Age

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2013 | 3:56 PM

When I learned, at the sage age of eight, that I'd have to wait until I was 16 to drive a car, I couldn't contain my despair. "Sixteen!" I lamented. "That's a whole 'nother lifetime!" Of course, by the time my 16th birthday actually rolled around I was looking back...

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Sustainable Satisfaction: How Aging Makes Your Mind More Charitable

(1) Comments | Posted March 1, 2013 | 12:39 PM

Unless you've got a few million bucks in the bank, the power of a philanthropic family can seem almost limitless. When Émile B. Cartier launched the Foundation de Hoop Cartier in 1964, the diamond heir brought worldwide clout and mounds of cash to bear on problems that wouldn't appear...

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Vision for the Blind: New Technologies Offer 'Second Sight'

(9) Comments | Posted February 27, 2013 | 10:45 AM

Ever since the patient's stroke, she'd been living in impenetrable darkness; tormented by memories of shapes and faces and letters, but powerless to perceive them in the world around her. The nerve cells in her retina, doctors said, were damaged beyond repair.

But when Bill Dobelle flipped the switch...

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Seeing Sound and Touching Data: How New Senses Will Expand Your World

(3) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 5:25 PM

When Erik Weihenmayer conquered the Seven Summits - the tallest peak on each of the seven continents - his friends were impressed, but not exactly surprised. After all, Erik had scaled Mt. Everest a few years earlier, and he liked to spend his vacations skydiving, skiing and whitewater rafting. Those...

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Revelry, Revulsion and Residential Treatment: Your Brain's Fine Line Between Love and Hate

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2013 | 11:03 AM

Though I love a frosty glass of ale now and then, I'll never forget how much I hated my first beer. The scene was pretty typical: I was a teenager at a party, someone handed me a bottle of cheap brew, and I cracked it open and took a sip...

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Competitive Kindness: How Our Desires Make Us More Generous

(1) Comments | Posted February 12, 2013 | 9:00 PM

Long before Kison Patel was a benefactor, he was a failed real estate agent. Six months without a single home sale convinced him to try selling hotels and restaurant franchises instead. A few million dollars later, his desire for more robust and secure deal-making software inspired him to launch...

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Seaside Fog and Fiber-Optics: How Light Shapes Your Thoughts

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 2:55 PM

Every morning, the fog rolled in from the sea and enveloped my apartment in impenetrable gray. I'd moved into a place near the beach in the hope of enjoying some world-famous California weather -- but every day, until the sun burned away the fog around lunchtime, the only weather I...

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What Folding Chairs Taught Me About Skepticism

(14) Comments | Posted February 3, 2013 | 7:07 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

At the Baptist church in which I was raised, my Sunday school teacher liked to explain faith with the analogy of a folding chair. No matter...

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Miracle Pills and Muscle Drills: How to Train Your Brain to Think Healthy

(5) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 9:11 AM

"Is Dr. Oz doing America more harm than good?" asks an article in The New Yorker this week. Although television's most famous doctor emphasizes education and healthy habits, he's also known to stick his brand -- or at least his endorsement -- on a wide range of profitable

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How to Stick to Your Resolutions by Hacking Your Brain

(6) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 10:08 PM

When former U.S. Marine Jason Scott Johnson set out to write a book on everyday fitness, he faced an unusual challenge. Not only would he have to boil down his intensive workout regimen into widely accessible tips, but he'd also have to translate his sense of discipline into words...

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New Facts and Old Habits: How Your Brain Sculpts Your Memories

(4) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 10:44 PM

Like many large companies, MusclePharm has seen its share of both positive and negative press. Over the past two years the nutritional supplements manufacturer has battled lawsuits alleging price discrimination, environmental violations and patent infringement -- all while bringing home boatloads of best-product awards and

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Rolling Dice and Flashing Lights: How Your Brain Gets Addicted to Risk

(6) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 3:41 PM

Casinos aren't just for gamblers anymore, as anyone who's spent time in Las Vegas lately can tell you. These days, families make their pilgrimages into the desert to enjoy kid-friendly music shows, browse sprawling outlet malls or just float around in the pool.

Though the latest reports note that gambling...

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Ripoff Knives and Body Doubles: How Your Brain Recognizes Fakes and Impostors

(20) Comments | Posted January 11, 2013 | 7:16 PM

In December 2012 a German knife manufacturer filed an injunction against Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network over a very unusual accusation. The knife maker, known as Solingen, claims that Stewart, Lagasse and HSN have all been selling counterfeit Solingen cutlery: knives with "Solingen Germany" stamped...

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This Study Brought to You by the Letter 'C' -- How Sesame Street Predicts Kids' Brain Maturity

(6) Comments | Posted January 9, 2013 | 4:08 PM

My family likes to tell and retell a certain story about my cousin Ashley. Up until he (yes, he; Ashley was once a boy's name) was about four years old, he'd hardly spoken a word, although he watched the world with wide-eyed attention. One evening, my aunt and uncle took...

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