North Korea

If North Korea launched a nuclear attack, the death toll would be costly: perhaps as bad as 2.1 million deaths in Tokyo and Seoul alone.

In the event of an “unthinkable” escalation, casualties in the East Asian capitals of key American allies would be catastrophic, including as many as 7.7 million injuries, according to a new report from 38 North, a North Korea analysis group based at Johns Hopkins University’s U.S.-Korea Institute.

Since 2011, North Korea has carried out 98 ballistic missile tests and six underground nuclear tests overall. The most recent, on Sept. 3, clocked in around 120 kilotons and North Korea was quick to claim it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. The tests have also revealed the isolated state’s increasing technical sophistication: on July 4 and July 28, North Korean state media said it had tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the mainland U.S.

The report offers hypothetical scenarios based on the assumption that North Korea has a nuclear arsenal of some 20-25 warheads. The warheads are estimated to range from 15 kilotons — about the size of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing more than 200,000 — to 250 kilotons — the estimated strength of a thermonuclear weapon. The report suggests that were North Korea to launch its entire arsenal against Tokyo (population 37.9 million) and Seoul (24.1 million), casualties in each city could reach as high as 3.8 million.

The report cautions that most nuclear weapons systems don’t have 100% reliability, and America’s allies have defenses — South Korea has deployed the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system despite the initial opposition of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, while Japan plans to install an Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile defense system. But Tokyo and Seoul are far more densely populated than they were during World War II or the Korean War (1950-1953), and the latter is in reach of North Korea’s conventional weapons, including artillery, meaning a devastating death toll in any all-out conflict would be certain, according to 38 North.

Data Source: TIME.com

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Nirvana

when I tell you I have reached nirvana I mean:

For all the experiences I feel, rather than becoming [insert_adjective_here] and judging it as good, bad, right or wrong, I can watch the emotion travelling as it wants through my body without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean before it actually happens.

 

Did someone say multi-task?

Idiots! It is literally impossible for our brains to multi-task

Multi-tasking is something we’ve long been encouraged to practice, but it turns out multitasking is actually impossible. When we think we’re multi-tasking, we’re actually context-switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back-and-forth between different tasks, rather than doing them at the same time.

The book Brain Rules explains how detrimental “multi-tasking” can be:

Research shows your error rate goes up 50 percent and it takes you twice as long to do things.

The problem with multi-tasking is that we’re splitting our brain’s resources. We’re giving less attention to each task, and probably performing worse on all of them:

When the brain tries to do two things at once, it divides and conquers, dedicating one-half of our gray matter to each task.

Here is how this looks like in reality. Whilst we try to do both Action A and Action B at the same time, our brain is never handling both simultaneously. Instead, it has to painfully switch back and forth and use important brainpower just for the switching:

how our brain works, how our brains work multitasking and the brain

When our brains handle a single task, the prefrontal cortex plays a big part. Here’s how it helps us achieve a goal or complete a task:

The anterior part of this brain region forms the goal or intention—for example, “I want that cookie”—and the posterior prefrontal cortex talks to the rest of the brain so that your hand reaches toward the cookie jar and your mind knows whether you have the cookie.

A study in Paris found that when a second task was required, the brains of the study volunteers split up, with each hemisphere working alone on a task. The brain was overloaded by the second task and couldn’t perform at its full capacity, because it needed to split its resources.

When a third task was added, the volunteers’ results plummeted:

The triple-task jugglers consistently forgot one of their tasks. They also made three times as many errors as they did while dual-tasking.

Brain Surgery(k)

You can make your brain think time is going slowly by doing new things.

Ever wished you didn’t find yourself saying “Where does the time go!” every June when you realize the year is half-over? This is a neat trick that relates to how our brains perceive time. Once you know how it works, you can trick your brain into thinking time is moving more slowly.

Essentially, our brains take a whole bunch of information from our senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to us, before we ever perceive it. So what we think is our sense of time is actually just a whole bunch of information presented to us in a particular way, as determined by our brains:

When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated.

Even stranger, it isn’t just a single area of the brain that controls our time perception—it’s done by a whole bunch of brain areas, unlike our common five senses, which can each be pinpointed to a single, specific area.

how our brain works, how our brains work, senses and the brain

When we receive lots of new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all. The longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels:

When we’re in life-threatening situations, for instance, “we remember the time as longer because we record more of the experience. Life-threatening experiences make us really pay attention, but we don’t gain superhuman powers of perception.”

The same thing happens when we hear enjoyable music, because “greater attention leads to perception of a longer period of time.”

Conversely, if your brain doesn’t have to process lots of new information, time seems to move faster, so the same amount of time will actually feel shorter than it would otherwise. This happens when you take in lots of information that’s familiar, because you’ve processed it before. Your brain doesn’t have to work very hard, so it processes time faster.

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science.

Meditation: So Good

Meditation can rewire your brain for the better

. . . and has a whole bunch of great benefits.

Here are a few examples:

Less anxiety

This point is pretty technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we’re actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but it’s not.

What happens without meditation is that there’s a section of our brains that’s sometimes called the Me Center (it’s technically the medial prefrontal cortex). This is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the Me Center are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your Me Center, making you feel scared and under attack.

Here is how anxiety and agitation decreases with just a 20 minute meditation session:

how our brain works, how our brains work, meditation and the brain

When we meditate, especially when we are just getting started with meditation, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our Me Centers. As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our Assessment Center (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally. Here’s a good example:

For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.

More creativity

Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied both focused-attention and open-monitoring mediation to see if there was any improvement in creativity afterwards. They found that people who practiced focused-attention meditation did not show any obvious signs of improvement in the creativity task following their meditation. For those who did open-monitoring meditation, however, they performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas.

Better memory

One of the things meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those that did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.” This seems to be very similar to the power of being exposed to new situations that will also dramatically improve our memory of things.

Meditation has also been linked to increasing compassion, decreasing stress, improving memory skills and even increasing the amount of gray matter in the brain.

The Pratfall Effect

We tend to like people who make mistakes more

Apparently, making mistakes actually makes us more likeable, due to something called the Pratfall Effect.

Kevan Lee recently explained how this works on the Buffer blog:
Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likeable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws people closer to you, makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and an unattractive air of invincibility. Those of us with flaws win out every time.

This theory was tested by psychologist Elliot Aronson. In his test, he asked participants to listen to recordings of people answering a quiz. Select recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a cup of coffee. When participants were asked to rate the quizzers on likability, the coffee-spill group came out on top.

So this is why we tend to dislike people who seem perfect! And now we know that making minor mistakes isn’t the worst thing in the world—in fact, it can work in our favor.

What is Faith?

Faith is simply an electro-chemical reaction that occurs in the brain when a person wants to believe in something. The something doesn’t have to exist. The person simply needs to tell himself enough that the thing exists and is good for him and then the brain acquiesces and makes it real. That’s all it is, but once done, the unconscious, conscious and subconscious are drenched with it and the belief exists until a new one is conjured to take it place.