Tuesday, 30 November 2010

'CAN PEOPLE FEEL THE PAIN OF OTHERS' Article Review (Assignment 4)

‘Can People Feel The Pain Of Others’
Jacob Silverman

‘Can People Feel The Pain Of Others’ is an article about synesthesia. It exists to make others aware of the presence of synesthesia and its symptoms. Synesthesia is a cross wiring in the brain between the sensory receptors. This causes sufferers ‘ synesthesiacs’ to experience unusual sensory experiences very different to how a ‘normal’ person might perceive them.

The author suggests that a lot more of us are synesthesiacs than originally thought. He uses an example of a woman in a lecture on synesthesia who was surprised to discover that not everyone had the same sensory experiences as she did.

What’s really interesting about this article is that it shows that people who have cross wiring in the sensory part of their brain do experience the world in a different way. This is something that I believe is very important to my research into reality.

Silverman uses evidence of others research to discuss the developments in our understanding of synesthesia and the different types. The information he has collected is very focused on the most prominent characteristics of synesthesia. He is a writer and not a doctor or a scientist so he has no primary research into synesthesia. Although the author has found no conflicting sources of information he takes all the secondary research as fact and could be misunderstanding some information.

There are it seems four different types of synesthesia. These are colour-grapheme synesthesia, sound-colour synesthesia, word taste synesthesia and taste touch synesthesia, although Silverman states that there may be more he doesn’t mention a source for this which could point to holes in his research.
By only looking at a couple of sources concerning synesthesia Silverman could be missing a lot of information in his article, which could mislead his readers.

Silverman has successfully written a short informative article about synesthesia and its symptoms. He puts forward his information of the subject in a clear and focused way.

Monday, 29 November 2010


‘THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT’ is an insightful and exciting book which looks into the workings of the brain, and the strange things that can happen when a part of our brain, (that we possibly didn’t even know we had) stops working. It is a story of a collection of meetings with such patients.

Dr Sacks wants to show the reader the person and their identity and how this is affected by their brain disorder. He does this my talking about their brain problems in a congratulatory way. I believe he is questioning with this book, if we are what our brain makes us. Or can our identities still shine through even though we may not be able to over come some of the hindrances’ it places on us.

Because the author of this book is a physician who specializes in matters of the brain he backs up most of his statements with his primary research of the patients he speaks of in this book. Sacks is extremely aware of others in his field and surrounding fields and uses their studies and analysis to conclude his own findings. Sacks takes nothing for granted, as this is a book about pure primary research.

Sacks uses language throughout the book that respects the people he has studied in it. The come across as heroic human beings instead of freaks which could have easily happened. Sacks really know the importance of the self and even as a brain doctor can separate the self from the brain. I think we are forced to draw our own conclusion of this book through our selves and with our brain, very smart.

If we all thought like Dr Sacks we’d be great human beings and have a lot more respect for one another. He has the deepest respect for every one of his patients no matter how helpless they are. This is a book that really makes you stop and think about the world and the self, and yourself within the world. Humans are very complex beings and I don’t believe anyone will ever know fully how we work. Although this book comes close. The point of it isn’t to point and stare at a collection of freaks but to dwell on what they can teach us about others and ourselves. I recommend that everyone read this eye-opening book.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


I was listening to a podcast last night by 'stuff you should know' from 'www.howstuffworks.com' and they were talking about the 'lifestraw'. Id never heard of it before but it turns out its a life saving piece of product design!

I was horrified to hear that over 6,000 people die each day in developing countries because they don't have access to clean drinking water. We take for granted that we can turn on the tap and an endless flow of safe water will be available to us.

Lifestraw is not the answer to world thirst but it is a great step on the way to preserving life in these countries that need it. The lifestraw works by giving the user their own personal instant water purification system. The user can drink straight from streams, sucking up the dirty water whilst the lifestraw filters out all the dangerous bacterias and parasites which would usually have been ingested.

How it works:
  • Water passes through a mesh filter that removes the larger sediment and dirt. The holes in the filter are about 100 microns in diameter.
  • A polyester filter with a much smaller mesh of about 15 microns -- about a tenth of the diameter of a human hair -- catches bacteria.
  • The next step sends the water through iodine-coated resin beads. Iodine is a halogen (reactive nonmetal) that kills parasites, viruses and bacteria. These halogenated resin beads lie in a specially designed chamber that maximizes the exposure of pathogens to the iodine.
  • The water passes through an empty chamber.
  • The water is pulled through an active carbon filter to remove any taste left from the iodine and block any remaining pathogens. Carbon is the porous result of burned organic material and is activated by a special chemical process that makes it even more porous and more able to absorb impurities.
This product is literally saving lives! you can donate a lifestraw to a developing country at: