Hannah Mueller's blog

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The personal blog as an archive of the emerging self

To explain the proliferation of personal blogs as a new genre, it has been suggested that "the generic exigence that motivates bloggers is related less to the need for information than to the self and the relations between selves" (Miller, Shepherd). In other words, people write personal blogs because they are interested in getting to know themselves by writing and by communicating with others through writing. The blog, then, is an antidote for two different kinds of alienation. On one hand, the blog brings diverse people together in conversation, expanding what Kate Thomas described to us as the "Incredible Shrinking Public Sphere." On the other hand, the blog brings writers closer to

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"Mapping the Mind" and Finding Consciousness in Biological Architecture

Of all the improbable biological organizations in existence, the brain is perhaps the least probable. In her book Mapping the Mind, Rita Carter describes how everything we do, sense, experience, and are is processed through intricate interactions in the brain. Despite advances in the relatively new scientific field of brain mapping, the brain "is probably so complex that it will never succeed in comprehending itself"(10). However, in classes such as Biology 103, scientists with all levels of experience continually attempt to form a "less wrong" understanding of the brain not only by using it but also by imitating it. The brain itself is a scientist that tests hypotheses and is always inventing better stories to use to interact with the world around it. Through evolution, the brain has caused humans to emerge as "Story Tellers," conscious life forms with the ability to question and to create. Mapping the Mind asks many of the same questions about the brain that we have asked about science in Biology 103. These include the effects of architecture on life, the use of "seriously loopy science," and the rise of consciousness from matter.

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The Sixth Sense of Direction, or, Navigation Secrets of Migratory Birds

If humans had to migrate yearly from one spot on the globe to another thousands of miles away in order to find adequate food and to reproduce, and if the only navigational tools available were landmarks, the earth's magnetic field, the sun and the stars, most people would not have a strong enough sense of direction to make the trip. Yet migratory birds accomplish just this feat twice a year when they travel to their wintering grounds and back to their summer habitats. Each bird has the ability to utilize more than one of the above devices to navigate its way north and south. The urge to migrate at certain times yearly, and even the direction in which to start off in, may be programmed directly into the genes of migratory birds, but is affected by their environment and can be changed through evolution. The migratory "sense" that birds seem to possess seems like a sixth sense, difficult for humans to imagine. It turns out to be a combination of many different factors that birds have learned, throughout the evolutionary process, to interpret.

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Orthomolecular Psychiatry As a Preventative Measure

Many health-conscious people take a multivitamin daily because they wish to provide
their bodies with an optimal amount of vitamins and minerals. This simple idea, that one cannot
rely solely on diet to take in all the nutrients one needs, is widely accepted. A field of
complementary and alternative medicine called orthomolecular therapy draws on the same basic
understanding. From the Greek "ortho," right, orthomolecular describes a treatment that
provides "the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body" (4).
Orthomolecular psychiatry, in particular, is the prescription of extra nutrients to treat mental
disorders. Some orthomolecular practices, such as those attempting to cure cancer and
schizophrenia, are advised against by health agencies (6). However, the therapy can also be
applied as a preventative measure for more common disorders, or for conditions that might
otherwise seem like a result of societal pressures instead of physical problems. If vitamins and
minerals enhance day-to-day bodily functions, their absence in the diet may account for
abnormal functions of the mind.

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Already Seen, Already Lived: What is Déjà Vu?

"It's déjà vu all over again." Upon hearing this cliché, most people know that it refers to a repetitive, unoriginal situation. They might also be familiar with the meaning of the French phrase "déjà vu": "already seen." Yet only about two thirds of the American population has ever had a déjà vu experience (1), and no scientist in history has been able to definitively explain the phenomenon. What is this sudden, often eerie sensation of having already seen or lived through the present moment, and how does it happen? Recent research on déjà vu, which only a few decades ago was considered unworthy of scientific exploration, has more clearly defined how déjà vu occurs and what is meant by the phrase. "Déjà vu" may actually be a catch-all term for three or four different memory malfunctions, at least one of which can become chronic in people with brain damage.

Defining déjà vu has proved nearly as difficult as describing a déjà vu experience. In 1983, the psychiatrist Vernon Neppe explained the illusion as "any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of a present experience with an undefined past" (3). The words "inappropriate" and "undefined" troubled later researchers in their search for a single cause, because sometimes a "déjà vu" experience actually can be traced back to an experience in the past. Other scientists have found that, in a déjà vu situation, there is a difference between a feeling of "familiarity" and one of "recollection" (4). These discrepancies have caused different categories of phenomena to be created, of which déjà vu is only one.

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