Hot Topics: Mind Games of "Moonwalking with Einstein"
First New York Times health and medical editor Barbara Strauch showed us that, contrary to popular misconception, the grown-up brain works better than ever. Now Slate science writer Joshua Foer explains how anyone, regardless of age, can improve their memory using techniques that have been around since the Greeks.
In a book that's got people buzzing about brains, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Foer chronicles how he went from covering a championship for world-class "mental athletes" to competing in the same contest a year later.
He did it using the "method of loci," a time-honored technique for visualizing familiar locations -- your childhood home or favorite coffee shop, for example -- and then distributing items to be memorized in specific spots within that location. When you need to remember something, you simply walk back through your "memory palace." In his own memory-enhancement quest, Foer collects a rather eclectic set of mental images that includes Dom DeLuise hula-hooping and an earring-wearing Incredible Hulk on a stationary bike.
It's the right book at the right time, says Daily Beast writer Casey Schwartz. "Now, more than ever, the subject of memory has taken on a new urgency," she writes. "The baby boomers are senior citizens, having senior moments. The rise of neuroscience in the last decade has made us aware of our brains in a way that we weren't before. And, perhaps most significantly, technology is obviating the need to remember anything. Welcome to the age of forgetting."
To learn more, you can listen to Foer, the brother of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, reading from the book in this Vanity Fair podcast.
Jeopardy Win Funds Book Editor's Second Act: Three months after becoming an eight-time Jeopardy champion and the show's third-highest money winner ever, Tom Nissley is using his earnings to bankroll a midlife career change. Nissley, 43, an Amazon.com book editor and author of the online retail giant's Omnivoracious blog, announced to readers on March 21 that he is resigning to concentrate on other things. "I'm going to be focusing mainly on some longer-term projects of my own," he wrote in this parting post, "but I'm sure I'll find a way to surface online as well, and I hope the folks here will point you there when I do." Here's a YouTube clip of Nissley's eighth and final Jeopardy episode, which brought his winnings to $235,405.
More Evidence Boomers Will Keep Working: Although the percentage of people working in the United States peaked more than a decade ago and has been on a steady decline ever since (especially during the recession), more people 55 and older are staying in the workforce, according to a Congressional Budget Office report [pdf] released this week. The current U.S. labor force participation rate was 64.2 percent in February, down from 66 percent in December 2007 and a high of 67 percent in the late 1990s, according to the report. The federal agency predicts that only 63 percent of the population will be working in 2021. But older workers are bucking the trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2008 and 2018, the total number of working adults ages 55 to 64 is expected to grow by a third and even more for adults 65 and older.
Japanese Hero Braves Tsunami to Rescue Family: When the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck the town where real-life superhero Hideaki Akaiwa lives, the 43-year-old donned scuba gear and went looking for his wife at the site of their former home -- and found her. "The water felt very cold, dark and scary," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "I had to swim about 200 yards to her, which was quite difficult with all the floating wreckage." Several days later when his mother was still unaccounted for, Akaiwa searched evacuation centers, the town's city hall and through neck-deep water in the neighborhood where she'd last been seen -- and he found her, too -- on the second floor of a flooded house. Although his family is safe, Akaiwa continues to look for other tsunami survivors, according to the Toronto Star. Related stories at SecondAct: An American Expat in Tokyo Recounts Quake, Aftermath and What You Can Do to Help Japan.
Fashionably Late: Elizabeth Taylor was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., on Thursday, two days after the actress died from congestive heart failure at age 79. In keeping with Taylor's flair for the dramatic, the ceremony was purposely delayed by 15 minutes. "She even wanted to be late to her own funeral," her publicist said in a statement. Read more about Taylor's achievements: 5 Things to Admire About Elizabeth Taylor Besides Those Violet Eyes.
Last Word: "From all appearances, this post-World War II population is hell-bent on proving that author F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he wrote, 'There are no second acts in American lives.' Boomers have never left the stage. Their second acts include starting their own companies, buying franchises and reinventing careers." -- Ned Smith, writing in BusinessNewsDaily
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