viernes, 30 de marzo de 2012

Learning languages

Change Is Good

When we learn a new language, we adopt some of the behavior patterns of another culture, which in turn changes our personalities and perceptions. Many of the difficulties that grown-ups face in language learning come from a resistance to this kind of change. It is often more comfortable to follow the patterns and pronunciation of our own language, rather than to commit to fully imitating the new language, because as adults, we have a stronger vested interested in our own identity, and in what we already know. In order to overcome these learning barriers, adults need to benefit from the help of an encouraging tutor and an enthusiastic group of fellow learners.

lunes, 26 de marzo de 2012

Sección vocabulario

Pensamientos: La Vida - Chauteubriand



Todos mis días son adioses.


A cada paso, en la vida, se abren ante nosotros mil lejanías diversas, mil futuros; sin embargo, sólo alcanzamos un horizonte; sólo corremos hacia un porvenir.


Ya no está aquí la hechicera, la Juventud, que con una sonrisa, transforma la indigencia en tesoro, que nos trae como amante a su hermana menor la Esperanza; ésta es tan engañosa como su hermana mayor, pero regresa todavía cuando la otra ya ha huido para siempre.


El equipaje del hombre son sus ilusiones y sus años; a cada minuto entrega parte de él a aquel que la Escritura llama un correo rápido: el Tiempo.


La vida tiene dos infancias, pero no tiene dos primaveras.


La eternidad que acaba de empezar es tan antigua como la eternidad que data de la primera muerte, del asesinato de Abel. Sin embargo, los hombres, durante su efímera aparición sobre este globo, se convencen de que dejan algunas huellas de sí mismos: ¡sin duda! Cada mosca tiene su sombra.


Sois joven, señor, como este futuro en que pensáis y que os engañará; yo soy viejo como este tiempo en que sueño y que se me escapa.


El tiempo no se detiene para admirar la gloria; se sirve de ella y sigue adelante.

miércoles, 7 de marzo de 2012




Adults can learn languages better than children?

A recent study  shows that adults can learn languages better than children. There are other studies that show children as better at learning languages, and point to a critical period after which it is more difficult to learn languages. We know empirically that children, especially children under 10 or 12, become fluent in a new language more quickly than adults, with better pronunciation although often with a more limited vocabulary. In fact it is motivation and attitude, not age, that determines our ability to learn languages. Most, if not all, polyglots, learn most of their languages as adults. Adults are often more inhibited or self-conscious, and have less opportunity, or are less willing, to socialize with people of another language group, whereas children just blend in to their new environment. The only thing that matters is that we can learn at any age. If we are 50 there is no point in wondering if we were able to learn better when we were 5. If you can motivate a child to learn a language when young, great. Otherwise it is never too late to start.

lunes, 5 de marzo de 2012



Watch the video! Clic on the title above! It's really inspiring...


Origin of Life - Spontaneous Generation For millennia, the Origin of Life was thought to be the result of Abiogenesis (also known as "Spontaneous Generation"). The doctrine of Spontaneous Generation holds that organic life could and does arise from inorganic matter. As late as the 17th century, there were recipes to "create" life. Take sweaty rags, wrap them around wheat, and set them in an open jar. In 21 days, you'll "create" mice. For rats, just throw garbage in the street. In a few days, rats will take the place of the garbage. All over the world, in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, mankind was formulating recipes for "creating" bees, lice, scorpions, maggots, worms, frogs, etc. In 1668, Francesco Redi publicly opposed the idea of Spontaneous Generation. While it was generally accepted that rotting meat generated maggots, Redi disagreed. He maintained that maggots hatched from eggs laid by flies. To test his hypothesis, Redi performed one of the first known experiments to utilize a "control group." Thus began both the death of Spontaneous Generation and the birth of the modern era of scientific development. Redi placed meat in three flasks -- one open, one sealed and one covered with gauze. Maggots appeared in the open flask, as the flies were able to reach the meat. Maggots did not appear in the sealed flask or the flask covered by gauze. At the time, this experiment was not thought to disprove Spontaneous Generation. It merely proved that maggots did not come from meat.
Origin of Life - Louis Pasteur Spontaneous Generation was thought to be the Origin of Life until the late 1850's. It wasn't until Frenchman Louis Pasteur that this fallacy was finally disproved. In 1859, the French Academy of Science sponsored a Science Fair, the goal being to prove or disprove Spontaneous Generation. Young Pasteur's award winning experiment was a clever variation of earlier experiments performed by John Needham (1713-1781) and Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799). Pasteur filled a long necked flask with meat broth. He then heated the glass neck and bent it into an "S" shape. Air could reach the broth, but gravity acted to trap airborne microorganisms in the curve of the neck. He then boiled the broth. After a time, no microorganisms had formed in the broth. When the flask was tipped so that the broth reached the microorganisms trapped in the neck, the broth quickly became cloudy with microscopic life. Thus, Pasteur disproved Spontaneous Generation. Furthermore, Pasteur proved that some microorganisms are airborne.
Origin of Life - Origin of Species and Modern Day Science Class Spontaneous Generation was disproved as the Origin of Life in 1859. Ironically, it was this same year that Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was published. From this work arose the modern evolutionary movement, which is now thought to have occurred in six phases: (1) Cosmic Evolution (the origin of space, time, matter and energy from nothing); (2)Chemical Evolution (the development of the higher elements from hydrogen); (3) Stellar and Planetary Evolution (the origin of stars and planets); (4) Organic Evolution (the origin of organic life from a rock); (5)Macro Evolution (the origin of major kinds); and (6) Micro Evolution(the variation within the kinds). Only the sixth phase has been observed and documented. The first five are merely assumed. Interestingly, the fourth assumption is the old doctrine of Spontaneous Generation - organic life developing from inorganic matter (a rock). The sadly comical result is that some modern day textbooks devote a chapter to the work of Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur, and their success in disproving Spontaneous Generation. Then, a few chapters later, school kids are taught that Spontaneous Generation is the Origin of Life.

Origin of Life - Evolutionary Theory Why are children taught Spontaneous Generation as the Origin of Life, despite the apparent contradiction to empirical science? The fallacy continues in the textbooks mainly due to the efforts of a few zealous and influential evolutionists. They have been quite successful in blatantly ignoring this issue. Besides Spontaneous Generation, evolutionists continue to avoid several other problems with their theory. Here are just two significant examples: (1) Cosmic Evolution (the first assumption listed above), also known as the "Big Bang," is not an acceptable theory of Origins. The Big Bang Theory does not explain the uneven distribution of original matter that results in "voids" and "clumps", nor can it explain the reality of retrograde motion without violating the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Furthermore, the Big Bang does not address the major question, "where did everything come from?" Did nothing explode? How did this explosion cause order, while every explosion observed in actual history causes only disorder and disarray? Consequently, the Big Bang also violates two out of three Laws of Thermodynamics. (2) Macro Evolution (the fifth assumption listed above) has been refuted by the lack of transitional fossils in the fossil record, and the harmful trend of genetic mutation (a beneficial mutation is yet to be observed). Actually, none of the five assumed evolutionary phases amount to anything more than "fairy tales," and imagination has no part in science. The result is that many modern day science classes don't educate our children, they indoctrinate them.
Origin of Life - Notable Quotes Here are a few illuminating quotes that illustrate the controversy regarding the Evolutionary Model for the Origin of Life: 

"I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has." Malcolm Muggeridge, journalist and philosopher (Pascal Lectures, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada). 

"Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever. In explaining evolution, we do not have one iota of fact." Dr. T. N. Tahmisian, Atomic Energy Commission, USA. 

"Darwinian science inevitably will, and should have, legal, political and moral consequences." L. Tiger, an anthropologist at Rutgers (as presented in Scientific American, October 1995, pg. 181)


Planet of the Apes? Not Likely — and Here's Why

It's always been easy to understand why human beings developed technology, poetry, music, agriculture, language, cities and medicine, and other critters didn't: big brains — full stop. The animal with the best cognitive computer is simply going to do better than all the others, and that advantage tends to build on itself, with the brain upgrading itself with each iteration of the species.
But intelligence is only part of our collective success. You may be the smartest member of your early-human tribe, but if you die without ever telling other early humans all the cool and innovative things you know, those accomplishments die with you. The real key to the steady climb of humanity — what anthropologists call the "racheting" of the culture — is sharing, the democratic distribution of information so that what starts off as personal knowledge eventually becomes community knowledge. Once an idea goes viral that way, everyone can take a crack at improving on it further.
Sharing, unlike many of our other gifts, is not exclusive to us. Individuals in many species learn from each other by observation and even instruction. Still, the kinds of skills each species needs to acquire are very different; it's the rare human mother who has to teach her kids how to crack open a mollusk with a rock, but for an otter mama it's job one. That makes it hard to compare how well humans share knowledge with how well other critters do it.

In a study just published in the journal Science, however, a team of biologists from the U.K., the U.S. and France, came up with a way, subjecting teams of chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys and three- to four-year old children to a puzzle-solving task that all of them could theoretically solve. The goal was not to see which species did best at figuring out the problem (spoiler alert: the kids won), but how well they cooperated within their own groups to get the job done.
The investigators assembled groups of 34 kids, 74 chimps and 40 capuchins (no, not in the same room), broke them into smaller teams and had each work on a closed box that contained three, increasingly valuable rewards. A door had to be pushed the proper way to reveal the first reward. That also unlocked two buttons which could be pressed to reveal the second reward, and that in turn activated a knob that could be turned to release the third. For the animals, the rewards were carrots (which they like), apple slices (which they love) and grapes (which they die for). For the kids, the prizes were stickers of increasing size and attractiveness.
There are three main ways to share information in a task like this one: verbal instruction, imitation and sharing your early rewards — which motivates other individuals to help get later ones. The chimps and capuchins could not exactly ace the verbal part, but there'd be nothing to stop them from doubling down in the other two areas — provided they wanted to.

Among the 34 kids, there were 23 cases of direct instruction — all of which involved words such as "push that button there," and a third of which also included a gesture of some kind. Among the chimps and capuchins there were no cases at all of deliberate teaching. What the critters knew they kept to themselves.
Learning by observation was more complicated. The capuchins actually came close to the humans in imitating the efforts of other members of their species — with the monkeys making an average of three attempts at copying in their first minute of work compared to close to four for the kids. Chimps lagged behind at slightly under two. But the humans did a lot better at copying well, imitating correctly at about twice the rate they imitated incorrectly. Both the capuchins and the chimps were wrong more than they were right.
As for sharing the rewards? Forget it — at least when it came to the animals. There were precisely zero instances in which a capuchin or a chimp earned a treat and effectively asked another one want a bite? Indeed, in some cases, the chimps actually stole rewards from each other, which is not exactly the way to build esprit de corps. The humans, by contrast, were a whole lot more generous than the rep of kids their age would suggest — with the researchers observing a total of 215 instances of altruistic sharing exhibited by 47% of the subjects.

The behavior of the kids, while impressive, was less important than the consequences of that behavior — and that's where you see the real payoff of sharing. In the majority of cases, children who got either instruction or rewards from others or who correctly imitated the moves they observed improved their performance and moved on more successfully to the next stages.
"Human cultural achievements accumulate refinements over time," the researchers wrote, "thereby producing technology and other cultural accomplishments of astonishing complexity." Acquiring intellectual riches, in other words, is perfectly fine. But the real trick is spreading that wealth.

Read more:,8599,2107961,00.html#ixzz1oF4QyJj2




Célebre escritor y dramaturgo de espíritu corrosivo. Es notable su influencia previa y posterior a la Revolución Francesa.

Todo mortal al placer debe su existencia; por él actúa el cuerpo, siente el corazón y piensa la mente.

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Buscamos la felicidad sin saber dónde, como los borrachos buscan su casa, sabiendo confusamente que tienen una.

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Si la naturaleza no nos hubiera hecho un poco frívolos, seríamos muy desdichados. Gracias a que somos frívolos, la mayoría de la gente no se ahorca.

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Me he convertido en un sibarita y me he creado una morada deliciosa, pero sería capaz de vivir igual de cómodo como Diógenes que como Aristipo. Prefiero un amigo a los reyes. Y aunque prefiero una casa bonita a una choza, sabría estar muy bien en la choza. Sólo vivo en la opulencia a causa de los demás. Así desafío a la fortuna y disfruto una situación muy grata y muy libre que no debo a nadie sino a mí. Cuando he hablado en verso de la desdicha de mis congéneres, los humanos, fue por pura generosidad. Pues, salvo por la debilidad de mi salud, soy tan feliz que me da vergüenza.

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El hombre no puede tener más que cierto número de dientes, de cabellos y de ideas; llega un momento en el que pierde necesariamente sus dientes, sus cabellos y sus ideas.

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Este mundo, teatro del orgullo y del error, está lleno de desdichados que hablan de felicidad.

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¿Qué hacer entonces, señora? Cultivar su campo y su viña, pasearse por las alamedas que uno mismo ha plantado, estar bien alojado, bien amueblado, tener buenos vehículos, comer muy bien, leer buenos libros, vivir entre gente decente el día a día, no pensar en la muerte ni en las maldades de los vivos. Los necios sirven a los reyes, los sabios gozan de un reposo precioso.

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A veces tomo toda mi felicidad por un sueño. Me costaría mucho lograr deciros qué es lo que he hecho para llegar a convertirme en el más feliz de los hombres. Me atengo simplemente a este hecho sin razonar sobre él.

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La paciencia sea con vosotros. Marchad siempre a carcajadas por el camino de la verdad.