RIP Stephen Hawking… You will be missed!



World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.




Stephen Hawking was born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England and at the age of 22 was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live.

The disease left him to live in a wheelchair and only able to communicate through a voice synthesizer.

But, Stephen never gave up, and living with the disease for another 54 years is proof in his courage and will to live!

Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.  Then Stephen went on to The University of Cambridge as a Professor of Mathematics and wrote a international best seller “A Brief History of Time”.

Professor Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe began was completely determined by the laws of science. Recently Stephen has been working with colleagues on a possible resolution to the black hole information paradox, where debate centres around the conservation of information.

Stephen Hawking has 13 honorary degrees, written many books, given many lectures, has been on several television shows, has had several movies made about him and his life and has had many documentaries shown on the Discovery Channel about him and his work.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking

January 8, 1942-March 14, 2018

Daniel Shaw, Founder & CEO of High Touch High Tech had this to say:

“ Over the years our program development team has drawn so much inspiration from Stephen Hawking. It has been so exhilarating to take concepts that Hawking explained, and create hands on science programs such as Cosmic Capersand Staggering Through The Stars to students in classrooms everywhere. Personally, as a huge Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos show fan, I learned so much about Stephen Hawking’s incredible mind and accomplishments that all of humanity benefits from. RIP Stephen Hawking.”




Spring Forward and Fall Back








Why do we “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” every year?


On March 11th we will be “springing it Forward” meaning we will be setting our clocks ahead one hour.

Why do we do this? We move one hour from the morning and add it to the night so that people could make better use of the day light hours. In the summer time the sunshine will last longer and we can make better use of the day when we “spring forward”.

As children we love this time of year because it stays lighter later at night, but as parents…. I don’t know how we feel about the time change.

Did you know that there are several places in the Unite States that do not observe daylight savings time, such as Arizona, Hawaii, and our oversea territories like Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico?

So don’t forget to change your clock on March 11, 2018… Spring Forward

Image sources: Pixabay

Your Brain on Video Games








                 Your brain on video games

Think fast! Your brain is a communication powerhouse! It takes in data, analyzes it, and helps you understand the world around you.  You also move, breath, and live because of the brain. So, what makes your brain tick and what happens when you add outside stimuli – specifically video games?

Think of your brain like an adaptable sponge.  It absorbs information and creates new pathways and skills based off the stimuli. The repetitive practice of a skill grows your brain’s grey matter as new connections are made and neurons fire more messages.  Think of something you do without even thinking – walking, riding a bike, typing on the computer.  All these tasks are things you learned by practicing which lead to your brain creating muscle memory for these actions.  As I sit here typing (not looking, just pressing keys as fast as I can), I think back to the first time I started to learn how to type.  It took time and practice, but now I do it without thinking; my fingers just know where to go to create the words in my head.  That is the defining quality of the brain – its plasticity and adaptability to new information and stimuli.

You can’t talk about the brain without mentioning two of the main chemicals that make all this communication possible – dopamine and serotonin.  They are essential neurotransmitters, which basically means they carry messages to different parts of the brain and body.  For movement, your basal ganglia require the secretion of dopamine, so you can get up and go! Dopamine also stimulates working memory in the pre frontal cortex.  Dopamine has a lot of functions but it’s main role where ever it goes is to stimulate – movement, memory, rewards, pleasure, focus, attention.  Serotonin is dopamine’s partner in crime.  It is another neurotransmitter wrapped up in mood, memory, sleep and cognition. Dopamine is your motivation message, serotonin is the sunshiny feeling you get when reflecting on what you have achieved.  The release of serotonin increases your desire to do an activity because your memory gives you that burst of happiness. Knowing this, you can understand how video games and other technology grab a hold of our brains.

Add video games to the mix and it gets interesting.  There is a lot of research and opinions about video games and the brain, but one thing we can agree on is that these games stimulate the brain!   There have been some studies that suggest that games help us learn and grow grey matter (remember that muscle memory!) and transferable skills, but on the other side is how addictive and, as a result, destructive these games can be.  These games, educational or recreational, tap into the reward center of the brain basically creating a positive feedback loop.  You play the game, dopamine motivates you and excites you. Then, later when you think of the game, serotonin zooms across your brain reinforcing the connection that video game = happy, which in turn leads to an increased desire to play again to relive that feeling.  On ward and round and round – you keep returning to the game to recapture that feeling.

Video game addiction is a real condition.  Imagine all those neurotransmitters firing and that natural high you feel as a result, but you unplug and carry on with life and what you need to do.  Now imagine having to play more and more often to get the same level of happiness and everything – relationships, job, your health – fall by the wayside because you MUST play.  That is the difference where too much video games outweighs the positive benefits and you enter the realm of true addiction.  As you can tell, my opinion is moderation and limits around this type of technology, a little bit is good but too much can have consequences.  An educational game that teaches a child to spell by offering rewards for a job well done is awesome, but when it skews to the other side and effects the wiring of the brain, that is a serious issue.