Today I learned

For a while now I’ve firmly believed that my day is wasted if I haven’t learned at least something new. That can be any interesting piece of information at all: things I learn at university, while reading fiction or nonfiction, talking to people, browsing the internet, and so on. This helps me stay curious and appreciate how many things I don’t know. So I decided to write these curiosities down and keep them in one place on my website. Maybe someone else can learn something new too.

Autumn 2018

  • Patients with Parkinson’s Disease can be split roughly into two bigger groups, depending on the symptoms they show – on the one hand are those who are mostly affected by tremor, on the other there are those whose gait and posture are primarily affected. [19. 9.]

Autumn 2017

  • The brain size of a certain species isn’t connected to its body size. An interesting theory as to why that is the case: brain cells need a relatively big amount of energy, which means that animals that need energy for other processes (e.g. for their metabolism), have smaller brains. [30. 8.]
  • The Zagreb airport must be surrounded by a mysterious force that makes sure that we always get lost on our way there. Even Google Maps don’t help. [31. 8.]
  • Humans and seals are the only complex vocal imitators who produce sound with a vocal production system typical for mammals: with lungs, larynx, and a vocal tract. Who would’ve thought that we have something in common only with seals! [1. 9.]
  • If your car runs out of engine oil, the entire machine breaks down. It’s not like with gasoline, where the car only dies for a while and everything’s okay once the gas tank is full again. [2. 9.]
  • A predominating theory of language development is that it was preceded by a kind of a “protolanguage”, for which there are several possibilities: it consisted of 1) lexical words, but there was no grammar; 2) gestures and signs (which is supported by sign languages that spontaneously develop); 3) musical sounds. [3. 9.]
  • 50% of the population in developed countries have problems with being overweight. Unfortunately, this is also a problem increasingly faced by children. [4. 9.]
  • Altruism might be becoming the tool with which we will build a sustainable society. [5. 9.]
  • There is long-lasting milk that you can buy in small doses and store in your cupboard, which is of course perfect for people who use milk approximately once a week. [6. 9.]
  • Believing that stress is harmful actually influences your health more than the stress by itself. A wonderful TED talk on the topic of how to befriend stress – link. [7. 9.]
  • Patients with aphasia lose the ability to formulate and comprehend language, but they are still capable of reading the tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and everything else that accompanies speech. Which resulted in a funny anecdote: sometime in the 1980s, aphasiacs in a hospital ward were listening to Ronald Reagan’s presidential speech and laughed wildly, even though the topic wasn’t funny. Why? Because he was lying and they detected it in a hot second. [8. 9.]
  • Doctors used to thing that tea is more dangerous to your health than alcohol [9. 9.]
  • Linguists can’t agree on anything, not even on what syntax or meaning are. [11. 9.]

I am very bad at updating this page [6. 6. 2017]

March 2017

  • Experts generally hold the view that we are born with absolute pitch, but lose it if we don’t start playing an instrument when we’re very young [16. 3.]
  • When studying how a child’s brain is affected by musical training, the control group is often another type of arts (e.g. drama or drawing lessons). In fact, considering music’s rhythmic properties and how it promotes social interaction, it would be better if the control group were a group sport that emphasizes those things, for example rowing (Miendlarzewska & Trost, 2014). [17. 3.]
  • Palestine was under the British mandate for quite a while, and Great Britain and the USA always cause problems in the Middle East. [18. 3.]
  • No research method is perfect – no matter how smart you are and what you’ll use, there will always be something wrong and there will always be something to criticize. The more I read scientific articles, the more that is apparent to me [19. 3.]
  • There are 11 female and 118 male characters in the new Star Wars film. Once I started noticing this, it ruined my enjoyment [20. 3.]
  • If you participate in a study that wishes to use a PET scan on you, they have to pay you 300 € or more due to radioactivity [21. 3.]
  • It isn’t rare in the Netherlands for future PhD students to send a funding request two or three times before they’re accepted. You improve with every application and find out what you need to correct [22. 3.]
  • Cowboys originally weren’t white, like movies and books present them, but black, Mexican, and so on [23. 3.]


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