The Scientific American Library

As one who loves creation (and of course, its Creator) I love to learn science topics, whether in school (as we approach such, for summer is wrapping up and we soon enter the fall semester),  or just by reading and personal self-study.

The Scientific American Library, while now out of print, is still an awesome way to learn a number of topics on science.  You can find them in the Amazon Marketplace (Amazon’s department for sellers not part of Amazon) and cost a minimum of $4 per book (actually, a cent plus $3.99 for shipping)

There are many neat topics in this series.  They usually don’t demand too much scientific background, but if they do, it may be enough to Google certain points that you find murky.  Moreover, they are often interdisciplinary, so you see connections among topics.

Best of all, they include some historical and cultural background and practical applications; to support the info (instead of the in-your-face science of typical textbooks made for scholastic use).  While a layman series, it can be semi-technical at times, so again, have Google ready in case you’re stumped.

And since no book, let alone no series of books, has all knowledge on its topic, there’s always more to learn, through the internet, etc.

While I have abandoned some titles because I was “finished” with them, I may get them back (with the hope I can get the whole series and perhaps devour them).  Also, they may make good reference, even though I may have additional college textbook material.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.


Why Textbooks Don’t Cut It On Their Own

Since high school, I’ve had a draw to college textbooks of many kinds, especially in the sciences.  Even though a given subject is of interest, the truth is, I’ve never felt confident to finish a text front to back.

Perhaps the main reason for such is the fact that without any instructor, you can’t guarantee your getting the right information.  Even if you can comprehend the writing with no problem, textbook material needs that actual power imparted by the professor in order to know exactly what is going on. This is especially true when you consider a college’s prerequisites for a given subject.  Reading such a book (and usually, thus taking such a class) warrants previous knowledge.

Moreover, especially in the natural sciences, you need labs, field trips, and many other practical exercises to truly learn concepts.  And of course, the lecture is at the center of it all.

Also, the fact that textbooks are constantly updated means inevitably that, as you grow older, you will miss newer material taught long after you graduated.  But again, you should be content with the position you are in now.

Now if you are out of college and wish to use a textbook for additional learning (e.g., when your school didn’t offer  a given class), I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there, as I would have to test that statement.

So I must resist spending money on texts that have nothing to do with my coursework, and just take “baby steps” toward the goals I may aspire to achieve.  And I’ll leave the choices of texts to the professors.  And ultimately, all of it is in God’s hands.

So until then, just Google things, or if you dare, use Wikipedia.  LOL

Slouch, Yawn

Whenever I sit upright, say, when reading, I can usually stay alert.  But when I slouch on a bed or couch, I start yawning when I read or do something similar.

Of course, it makes sense, but is there something scientific behind it, at least in general?

In fact, there is.  I learned it in Psychology last fall.  In the 1890s, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, discovered the concept of classical conditioning.  He used a dog as his subject.  Dog naturally salivate at food, for it is internally wired into their brain.  They don’t need extrinsic commands. Then, Pavlov rang a bell to draw the dog to the food.  After then, the food was no longer necessary.

So, how do we explain this?  The bell, when combined with the food, takes precedence.  Thus, what was once irrelevant to the dog (the bell) has been incorporated into the dog’s repertoire of behavioral stimuli.  This incorporation is known as classical conditioning.

Now for my situation.  Keep in mind I’m no doctor or psychologist (and probably not planning to be either one), so I’m not trying to develop a direct theory of why slouching on a couch causes yawning or drowsiness when reading.  Just the correlations are enough.  Yet again, correlation does not mean causality.  But hey, at least it’s something quite practical from the course, that can be easily applied to us humans.  I guess I could do without the causality.  At least for now.

Source:  McLeod, S. A. (2013). Pavlov’s Dogs. Retrieved from

Putting Flavored Plain Oatmeal to the Test

OatsFor many years, I couldn’t stand the smell of plain oatmeal.  I preferred the instant flavored packets that were enough to mask the odor.  According to the book pictured below, however, flavored packets contained “a bevy of excess sugars and other ingredients that don’t belong in your breakfast bowl.”

So, as a person who should watch his diet, last night I tried using the oats (pictured above) as a snack to put plain oats to the test by adding to apples and cinnamon to it.  While it didn’t “mask” the overall oat taste, at least it’s better than no flavor at all.

This is the cookbook I plan to use as a dieting tool.

So, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste.  One test probably just isn’t enough.