Judit Kis-Halas, a folklorist and a visiting lecturer at UT from Pecs University in Hungary, studies mysterious stuff – witchcraft, healing practices, and magic. She started her research in early modern Europe and gradually became immersed in contemporary New Age practices.
Judit Kis-Halas: People feel abandoned in a huge, bureaucratic medical care system. Photo by Inga Külmoja.
Judit kindly agreed to share some of her research insights in a podcast interview (listen below), so we headed to the blooming UT Botanical Garden to sit down and talk. The garden buzzed with life, causing us to pause several times and look for quieter spots; in the end we found ourselves far by the riverside. Hopefully all those external sounds of life in our recording aren’t too distracting and you will enjoy hearing the birds singing – quite in line with the animated world concept – and, above all, enjoy Judit’s story and explanations.
Our starting point was a big ‘why’: Why in the contemporary world of advanced, high-tech medicine and science do people still turn to traditional healing and witchcraft? Continue reading
Posted in Humanities, Research
Tagged church, early modern period, esoterica, folkloristics, healers, healing, holistic, magic, medicine, New Age, religion, witchcraft, witches, yoga
Angelina Jolie’s confession about her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy, published recently in the New York Times, was shocking news and a moving story at the same time. She explained that her choice was based on her abnormally high genetic predisposition for breast cancer and that she would hate for her six children to lose her too early; Jolie’s own mother died of cancer when she was just 56 years old.
While Jolie’s ‘faulty’ gene is very rare, the risks of developing many other, much more common diseases can be evaluated based on personal genetic data. Let’s take diabetes, suggests Professor Andres Metspalu, Director of the University of Tartu’s Estonian Genome Centre. Currently one’s risk of acquiring diabetes is predicted based on a person’s age, sex, weight and blood sugar; however, all of these factors show diabetes risk once one is overweight and has developed an intolerance to glucose, which means pre-diabetic. A genetic test could reveal diabetic risk much earlier, e.g. at 25 years of age.
Whether this risk is realised or not depends largely on one’s weight. By knowing about this risk and keeping body weight under control, a person can postpone the disease by ten years or so. This means a healthier and happier life for the person, but also substantial financial savings for the state.
UT Professor Andres Metspalu: 75 percent of people change their lifestyle when told about personal genetic risks. Photo by Andres Tennus.
According to Professor Metspalu, modern medicine is a 4P Medicine: It is preventive, personalised, predictive, and participatory. This means that we are responsible for our health. Continue reading
Posted in Estonia, Medical sciences, Research
Tagged diabetes, Estonia, Estonian genome chip, genetic risks, genetics, genome chip, health inventory, health risks, personalised medicine, prevention
As the semester draws to an end and deadlines for your writing assignments are lurking around the corner, are you feeling the pressure and still staring at a blank page, waiting for inspiration to strike at any moment now (at any moment now!) You might have been struck by a condition called writer’s block.
Writer’s block is most commonly believed to affect professional writers only. The truth is, however, that all writers are prone to writer’s block. Consequently, as studying at university involves a lot of writing, mainly used as a form of knowledge assessment, a lot of students suffer from writer’s block. Surely you can recognize those moments when you are sitting down behind your computer, a blank page facing you, words do not come, your mind is blank, the assignment keeps running through your mind, and the deadline is approaching fast. You have no idea where to start, what to write, and most of all, whether, if you manage to put something on paper or not, it is going to be correct or not.
In order to cure writer’s block, it is important to understand what causes it. The most common reason why students are struck by writer’s block are: anxiety, which is a result of a lack of writing practice, inability to self-assess the requirements and quality of their writing, poor writing assignment descriptions, and the simple question “Where and how do I start?”. The following guide offers both insights into the writing process as well as useful tips how to cure and avoid writer’s block.
1. Start early
To understand how the cure works, it is important to understand the writing process itself.
Originally from Australia, Liam Clark studied at the University of Tartu as an exchange student during the 2011-2012 academic year. Liam is the editor for Estonia on the fan-run Eurovision news site escXtra.
In the Eurovision press centre in Baku.
At around 06:50 on Wednesday morning I woke my entire house up with a triumphant cheer. It’s not every Australian who would react such a way to the qualification of Estonia to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, nor for that matter would many Australians be awake at that time watching it live. For most Australians, Eurovision is a quirky, cheesy thing that for one weekend a year shows us just how strange Europe is and reminds us that countries like Moldova and San Marino exist. For me however it is my life, my biggest passion, to a certain extent my job and it is because of Eurovision that I ended up as an exchange student in Estonia. Continue reading
We are updating the story as new information comes in. Last update on 23 May 2013.
Estonia’s first satellite, student-built ESTCube-1, rocketed into orbit on 7 May 2013 at 5:06, thus making Estonia the 41st nation to have a man-made object in space.
Launch of ESTCube-1 on Vega. Photo: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013
Posted in Estonia, Events, Natural and exact sciences, Research, Student life, Tartu
Tagged ESTCube-1, Estonia, launch, satellite, space, student satellite, Vega
Jaan Aru is a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and a researcher at the Talis Bachmann Lab in Estonia, where he investigates how the neural machinery of the brain produces conscious experience. See more about Jaan’s research interests.
When I open your skull, I see neurons and the web of their connections. I can measure fluctuating membrane potentials, neurons firing, neurotransmitters being released to the synaptic cleft, ion channels opening, etc. You are a machine – a very complicated machine, but nevertheless a machine.
Yet from the first-person perspective, from the inside, you do not feel like a machine. It feels like something to be you, to be afraid, to feel joy. You have consciousness. How do these two perspectives – the machine and the subjective experience – fit together? How does the neuronal machinery create consciousness of oneself and the surrounding world? Our current laws of nature give no explanation for the question as to how matter could become mind. Although consciousness is “everything we have and everything we are”, we do not know how it is produced by the neurobiological processes in the brain.
Neural correlates of consciousness. Image credit: Christof Koch / Wikimedia Commons
Posted in Medical sciences, Natural and exact sciences, Research
Tagged binocular rivalry, brain, brain research, cognitive psychology, consciousness, neural activity, neurobiological mechanism, neuroscience, perception