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Love of pets on show at storytime – The Irrigator

7 Mar 2017, 1 p.m.

WHILE they werent allowed into the library, pets were the subject of many minds this week.

WHILE they werent allowed into the library, pets were the subject of many minds this week.

Storytime this month had a pet theme, with the young participants learning all about their favourite animals.

Tuesdays session started off with getting the small group up and about with the songIf Youre Happy and You Know Itfollowed by the first book of the dayThe Pets You Get.

Next up was the songOld MacDonald Had a Farm, only this time around the words were changed to say he owned a pet shop.

The librarys Jo Pianca then read the final book of the day, which had the children kicking back and relaxing while listening at the same time.

The craft activity for this month was the colour in Old MacDonalds pet shop and animals for sale.

Along with the monthly storytime sessions, the event is now being held every Wednesday and Saturday.

Wednesdays have been really popular weve been getting around 40 or 50 there each week, Mrs Pianca said.

Its really good weve also renamed our Saturday book chair to storytime so its all the same name and people recognise what it is.

The library has also launched its brain games with the aim of keeping the mind fit, but also providing a social outlet for residents.

The program is designed to exercise the mind through a series of simple activities that are designed to challenge the brain.

Brain games will be held throughout March every Wednesday from 2pmto 3pm.

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Love of pets on show at storytime – The Irrigator

Contemporary Philosopher and Nat Geo Host Jason Silva is Reinventing How We Tell the Story of Evolution – Remezcla (blog)

Millennials are said to be the least religious generation yet but that doesnt mean we arent questioning things and seeking more. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, 46% of young adults say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least once a week. And like generations before us, 55% of young people say they think about the meaning and purpose of life on a weekly basis.

These spiritual and philosophical explorations ones that have become increasingly unmoored from organized religion, and instead driven by science and technology have found a torchbearer in Jason Silva. Silva, the Venezuelan-American host of National Geographics top-rated, Emmy-nominated series Brain Games, is somewhat of a contemporary philosopher or as he describes himself, a wonder junkie who relishes cognitive ecstasy.

For the last several years, 35 year-old Silva has been carving out a name for himself with his thought-provoking viral videos and eloquent rants on subjects ranging from evolution, to technology, human behavior, creativity, and reality. Hes a refreshing counterpoint to a cultural zeitgeist that is often rife with ironic posturing; Jason is all earnestness, all breathless, boundless excitement about the futures potential.

Silvas newest project, Origins: The Journey Of Humankind, premiering March 6th, 9/8c on Nat Geo, takes us back in time to pivotal moments that have fueled our very own evolution.

I had the chance to pick his brain about religious stereotypes in Latinos, his role as a Latino thought leader in these politically charged times, and how growing up bilingual helps shape your creativity and potential. Heres what he had to say.

As a Futurist and advocate for technological singularity, when did these topics first interest you? What inspired you? I am fascinated by technology the idea of technology as the embodiment of human creativity and imagination. Using our tools to radically extend our limits. The Singularity is a metaphor for when things truly phase-change. I came across the idea in Ray Kurzweils book and it changed me forever. He was an inspiration.

Latino culture is often stereotyped as staunchly religious, creating restrictive social expectations for those who drift from a specific understanding of acceptable spirituality. As a modern advocate for existentialism, how do you view the future relationship of young Latinos to spirituality, especially as contemporary society becomes more secular? I had no problem with this. I grew up in a secular Jewish household where art andideas were our religions. Ive done my best to lead by example to anyone who is hungry for bigger questions and freedom from dogma.

Youve made a couple of videos speaking about how being multicultural + bilingual leads to more fluid creativity. As a Venezuelan, having grown up bilingually, canyou give examples from your personal experience? Being open to multiple perspectives and world views heightens creativity. Youre less rigid in your opinions because you can see things from many angles. Language sculpts perception, so speaking more than one language makes you privy to multiple modes of perception.

What advice do you have for Latinos who grew up outside of their homeland and may feel disconnected from their roots? How do you suggest they maximize this potential you speak of? We are all humans. I recommend a phase-change in perspective. What the astronauts call the overview effect. Weneed to see things through a global lens. Latinos should not feel separated, they should feel they are integral flavors of the human experience.

What impact do you want to have in Latino communities in these trying political times? I want people to aim higher than ever. All of us can make an impact Latinos should feel empowered to make a dent, to make a difference!

And as a final thought for our readers who seek wisdom, what question would you have them ask themselves? Ask yourself: WHAT MAKES LIFE MEANINGFUL IN SPITE OF YOU BEING MORTAL?

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Contemporary Philosopher and Nat Geo Host Jason Silva is Reinventing How We Tell the Story of Evolution – Remezcla (blog)

This clever puzzle game is a great fit for the Switch. – IGN India

The key to Snipperclips: Cut It Out Together! lies in cutting your own characters to pieces to fit whatever colorful, lighthearted challenges it throws at you. That idea, applied to a series of peculiar but engaging objectives, consistently leads to clever and oftentimes hilarious use of this puzzlers central mechanic. And those objectives are well worth tackling alongside a group of friends.

Offering two sets of puzzles one for up to two players and another set for up to four Snipperclips simply throws you into each problem in a refreshing way. The only information it provides is a name and the basics of its snipping mechanic characters can overlap and cut away those parts of each other. Being given so little direction is actually freeing because it prompts you and whoever youre playing with to think creatively. I found myself immediately exploring every level, testing the bouncy physics that cause items in the environment to react to whatever shapes youve created and occasionally messing with other players by cutting them to pieces before tackling the puzzlers wide away of eclectic challenges.

Experimentation is so rewarding because no puzzle, from matching a shape outline to helping a lone frog find its way to a friend, feels like there is a single correct method for solving it. Trying to get a baseball into a hoop? Maybe carefully carry it with your friend on your heads across the screen. Or, snip and clip a bowl-shaped indent onto your friends body to safely transport the ball.

The Princess Power-Up minigame is a particular highlight essentially a game within Snipperclips, you have to move an in-world joystick to control a princess who has to collect a series of diamonds. But, you must first cut the right path for her to walk, avoiding enemies along the way. I would take an entire expansion of these levels alone.

I played Snipperclips while waiting for a movie at a theater, during dinner at a diner, and at home on the couch. The bite-sized approach to puzzle design delivered

, making good on the Switchs promise to be a console for use at home and on the go.

Adding up to three more people in co-op just means more creativity from the different perspectives, and thus more fun, especially with the puzzles designed for larger groups. Make a gear out of your friend, transport sludge via a ramp made from your characters body, or pop balloons with another players head sharpened to a point. Every weird solution, or attempt at one, is a delight to work through in all of Snipperclips more than 60 puzzles.

And the bright, angular art design is easily understandable and a joy to play through, so it rarely left me or other players at all confused about how to proceed throughout those challenges. The player characters ridiculous facial expressions only add to the silly nature of your tasks, as they squint under the weight of every bowling or baseball or gasp in horror as their friends snip away at them.

Snipperclips is undoubtedly more fun when playing with others. Though just about everything can be completed alone, even the four-player challenges, taking the right steps to trap a firefly, catch some fish, or deliver a bird egg to its nest for hatching can often be more tedious than entertaining when snipping solo. And while later puzzles can get tough, most levels are forgiving, with reset buttons often included in each level and the ability to reform your character with a simple button press. Snipperclips control scheme is also simple and easy to grasp, so having two built-in controllers with the Joy-Cons makes for readymade pick-up-and-play opportunities.

There are a few competitive options as well air hockey, basketball, and a fighting dojo where whoever can snip their friends into oblivion first wins but theyre more amusing diversions than modes worth revisiting time and again. All three are also particularly more fun with three players rather than two the frenetic action becomes a bit of controlled chaos that is a blast in short bursts. But they dont extend Snipperclips life too long after the handful of hours it takes to beat all of the puzzles.

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This clever puzzle game is a great fit for the Switch. – IGN India

The Room: Old Sins will be the next entry in the popular puzzle game series – Android Authority (blog)

UK developer Fireproof Games has previously released three installments in its popular 3D puzzle-based game series The Room so far on Android. However, the last such release, The Room 3, was launched over a year ago, and since then many fans of the series have wondered if there would be a fourth entry.Today, the team finally announced that they are indeed working on a new game in the franchise, The Room: Old Sins.

April 13, 2016

The Room series combines adventure-style gameplay with a room escape theme. The developer has not reveal much in terms of what we can expect from The Room: Old Sins, but based on its brief description on its main page, it will center on trying to find some kind of artifact in a home with and old and odd dollhouse inside. It adds that players can expect to go on a journey into the world behind the veil in this installment of The Room. That sounds pretty creepy.

It looks like we will have to wait a while beforeThe Room: Old Sins is released, as it is not due to launch until sometime in late 2017 for both Android and iOS. However, if you happen to be in the UK from March 30 to April 1, you can head over to the EGX Rezzed game event in London, where The Room: Old Sins will get its first public showing.

If you are a fan of The Room game series, are you happy to learn about The Room: Old Sins? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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The Room: Old Sins will be the next entry in the popular puzzle game series – Android Authority (blog)

Bounce uses virtual reality to perfect the physics puzzle genre – Polygon

As much as I want to tell you, I cant spoil the ending to Bounce, a VR physics puzzle that launched in November. It is pure creative genius, cackling at you as you stumble through its puzzles to arrive at a storyline shocker that only the sharpest and most skeptical eye could even vaguely predict. Fewer than 3 percent of those playing this virtual reality puzzle game have seen it for themselves.

Bounce comprises 50 mind-bending levels. The good news is the user gets to place the tools for solving each level by hand, kneeling, squatting or standing on tiptoes if necessary. The game is made by Steel Wool Studios, a team of designers hailing from Pixar, Lucasfilm, Intel and other big names. I visited their hotel suite at GDC 2017 ostensibly to talk about a virtual reality space exploration game and was instead shown Bounce first. It was delightful, and made me seriously consider buying a VR headset (Bounce supports the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift).

In Bounce, the user must guide an energy ball from one end of a room to a capture point at the other, using a toolkit of ramps, trampolines, chutes, conveyor belts and other constructions to get it there. The ball has a name, D1G-B (Digby) and some semblance of a personality. The users natural sympathy for a cheerful inanimate object is ultimately used against them in Bounces narrative arc.

Physics puzzles are a staple of two-dimensional gaming platforms, particularly mobile devices; to actually see and manipulate the tools in the first-person perspective was rather profound to me. Every time the player tests out a design, Bounce leaves a ghost trail of D1G-Bs trajectory, to help in setting up the next piece of the puzzle to get him home.

The early puzzles span simple, squared-off rooms and are reasonably easy to complete. Run a ramp from the energy balls drop point, set up some backboards behind the goal, and press go. Bounce doesnt punish experimentation; players can try placements repeatedly and see a ghost trajectory of where the ball travels. It does reward fast thinkers, and those who use fewer pieces and take less time to accomplish the goal. That translates to a higher score (jn the form of a three-star appraisal at the end of each round which should be familiar to those who play 3D puzzle games).

Beginning around level 10, though, the spaces get larger, and Bounce requires users to redirect D1G-B around corners, down hallways, or ascend to higher levels to reach the goal. The toolkit provided for each level gets the user there, but damn if it isnt daunting how to do it, or how much time it will take to do it.

The ability to squint at, manually rotate and evaluate, in three dimensions, my Rube Goldberg contraption was the difference-maker. Its one thing to guess at the angle of attack in something like Angry Birds. Its quite another to squat in front of a half-pipe and line up where the ball will roll out and how to angle the trampoline it hits. One of our testers, I came into the room and saw him laying down on his back, looking up, said Jason Topolski, co-founder of Steel Wool, folding his hands across his chest for effect. He was really trying to figure it out.

Many physics puzzle games can be jettisoned as inscrutable or unreasonable in their demands, thanks to the limitations of a 2D space. Bounce provides the means of a close-up inspection, movable by hand, to make the goal. Trial and error is required throughout. Some of the levels I saw couldnt be completed on the 10th try, much less the first.

Steel Wool co-founder Andrew Dayton said his studio isnt purely a VR company, but they seem to have nailed the true appeal of the technology with Bounce. Virtual reality isnt always about putting a gun in the users hands and allowing them to dodge and shoot in real life. Sometimes its best use is giving a user a close-up and high manipulable view of a puzzle. The feeling of control and understanding in Bounce was fantastic.

The results felt legitimately earned, and that made Bounces narrative, and conclusion, as stunning and laughter-filled as anything Ive played since Portal.

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Bounce uses virtual reality to perfect the physics puzzle genre – Polygon

The 4 Overlapping Circles Problem. Sunday Puzzle

What is the total area of the shaded region? The largest circle has a diameter of 84 and inside it are 4 overlapping circles.

The problem was asked to 12 year old students in Singapore. Can you figure it out?

Watch the video for a solution.

Can You Solve This Problem For 12 Year Olds In Singapore? 4 Overlapping Circles Puzzle

Or keep reading.

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Answer To The 4 Overlapping Circles Problem

This is a fun problem because there are many ways to solve it. I came up with one solution (#2 below), and then I found there were 2 other ways to solve it from a website about Singapore maths.

Preliminary for all methods

Since the large circle has a diameter of 84, its radius is 42. As a small circle spans half the large circle, its diameter is 42, so its radius is 21.

The area of the large circle is π(42)2 = 1764π ≈ 5541.769.

Method 1: large square

This approach is great because it avoids the overlapping circular portions entirely. The idea is to draw the diameters of the small circles to form a square.

The area that is removed is equal to the area of the square, whose length is 42, and the area of 4 semi-circles, each with radius 21.

The removed area is therefore:

(area square) + 4(area semi-circle)
422 + 4π(212)/2
422 + 2π(212)
1764 + 882π
≈ 4534.885

This amount is subtracted from the area of the large circle, so the answer is:

1764π – (1764 + 882π)
882π – 1764
≈ 1006.885

Method 2: smaller square

Another approach is to draw a square between the centers of two adjacent circles to their intersection points to get a square with a side 21.

Let us focus on the geometry of a single square and shade the area between the quarter-circles.

The area of the square equals the area of the 2 quarter-circles minus their overlapping area. In other words, the area of the overlapping area is equal to the area of the 2 quarter-circles minus the area of the square. The overlapping area is then:

(2 quarter-circles) – (area square)
2π(212)/4 – 212
220.5π – 441

Now return to the original problem

The area removed is equal to the area of the 4 smaller squares minus the area of the 4 overlapping regions. As the area of a single overlapping region was just calculated, the area removed is therefore:

(4 small circles) – (4 overlapping regions)
4π(212) – 4(220.5π – 441)
1764π – (882π – 1764)
1764 + 882π

Once again, this amount is subtracted from the area of the large circle, so the answer is:

1764π – (1764 + 882π)
882π – 1764
≈ 1006.885

Method 3: triangle and semicircle

Draw an isosceles right triangle in one of the small semi-circles as follows:

The area between the semi-circle and the triangle is 2 halves which together form the overlapping region between two of the small circles.

This area is then:

(area semi-circle) – (area triangle)
π(212)/2 – (42)(21)/2
220.5π – 441

Knowing the area of a single overlapping region, we can proceed as in method 2.

In the original problem, the area removed is 4 circles minus the 4 overlapping regions:

(4 small circles) – (4 overlapping regions)
4π(212) – 4(220.5π – 441)
1764π – (882π – 1764)
1764 + 882π

Once again, this amount is subtracted from the area of the large circle, so the answer is:

1764π – (1764 + 882π)
882π – 1764
≈ 1006.885

Credit for methods 1 and 3

This site also features many similar problems, check it out: https://solvesingaporeprimaryschoolmathematics.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/sarin-learns-perimeter-area-and-volume-in-school-part-112-math-question/

Thanks to all patrons! Special thanks to:

Kyle
Shrihari Puranik
Marlon Forbes

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The 4 Overlapping Circles Problem. Sunday Puzzle

Puzzle game Cryptogram uses a real bookshelf to open secret doors – PC Gamer

I’ve never in my life had the experience of tilting a book off an old dusty bookshelf and unlocking a secret passageway, but I hope I do before I die. Movies have never sold us a more believable-but-still-magical fantasy than the passage behind the bookshelf, or the revolving bookshelf that turns under your feet and rotates you, speechless, into a hidden laboratory. But I have now gotten to play a game inspired by that fantasy, and it’s one of the most creative things I’ve seen at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference.

GDC hosts a small selection of games with weird input methods every year under the banner of Alt.Ctrl.GDC, and the standout for me this year was bookshelf game Cryptogram. The setup is what caught my attention first. Two rows of books line a bookshelf, with a monitor in the center showing a simple room in a creepy manor. A journal of 30 or so pages contains clues that correspond to each room in the manor, and offer a hint on how to get out. But to find the right hint, you first have to figure out which chapter of the journal corresponds to the room you’re in.

“A second me” refers to a room with a ghostly figure in a mirror. “The first sin” refers to a room with a hissing snake in the corner. From there, each journal entry is a puzzle that culminates in that action I’ve always wanted: tilting a book forward on the shelf, feeling it go taut as it triggers a mechanism inside the bookshelf, and hearing a metallic clang that indicates success. On the screen, the bookshelf slides to the side, and the screen fades as we enter the secret passage to the room beyond. It’s almost the fantasy brought to life.

Cryptogram was designed by a group of Swedish students in just eight weeks. Eight weeks! Producer Daniel Qvarnemark told me that the trapdoors I dream of were indeed the inspiration. “We came up with the controller before we came up with the game,” he said. “We weren’t really sure how it would work when we first came up with the concept of playing a game with a bookshelf. Everything came from that. The fact that it’s a puzzle game. It’s a more logical thing to do with this kind of controller.”

Qvarnemark gave me a short explanation of how they built the bookshelf input for Cryptogram, which is programmed in Unity.

“Behind the books are cords,” he said. “When you pull them they tense and push a button. Each input is more or less a keyboard input. We have an I-PAC card behind there. It’s pretty simple. Each book when you pull it in a writing program, the input shows letters.”

Cryptogram’s rooms will appear in a random order, but once you’ve seen all the puzzles there’s not much to replay. But in the place of a true trapdoor bookshelf, it’s something I’d love to run into in a dusty corner of a creaky mansion and play for half an hour. And then show to my group of friends before we run away from a miner dressed like a ghost, or something.

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Puzzle game Cryptogram uses a real bookshelf to open secret doors – PC Gamer

She Remembered Caterpillars Is Perfectly Precious – Kotaku – Kotaku

In a world filled with information overload and digital noise from every direction, She Remembered Caterpillars is a tranquil puzzle game that will test your brainpower while still soothing the soul.

In the game you control different little fungal dudes, trying to get them onto white landing pads where they can take off and helicopter up to the next level like colorful spores lifted up by a momentary breeze. But a number of rules make this more complicated than it might otherwise seem. Primary colors can only cross over matching caterpillar bridges while at the same time needing to be a different color to pass between upright posts along the way.

As a result, solving each level requires combining different spores to create secondary colors and try to scramble the games underlying logic. For example, a red spore wont be able to pass over a blue bridge, but it can combine with a blue spore to create a purple one, effectively letting some units transport others so that everyone can get where they need to go to reach the next level.

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Developed by Jumpsuit Entertainment and published by Ysbryd Games, the project began with artist Daniel Goffin and programmer David Priemer trying to play with the use of color and the way different layers interact with one another in Unity. The core mechanic emerged when I was messing around with the physics of Unity 3D while working on a platforming game, letting colored blocks pass through similar colored walls by using collision layers, said Priemer. At some point I thought that it would be cool to let objects of a secondary colorlike purplego through multiple types of walls, based on the logics of color theory.

There are additional mechanics, like certain creatures that can make make a spore colorless, or special switches that will create a snail bridge when stepped on, but everything remains an elegant extension of the original idea of a maze predicated on color-based binaries. For most levels I started by creating smaller sections of puzzles containing the main idea or twist, said Priemer.

Whats especially interesting about She Remembered Caterpillars puzzles is how they combine space and logic in such a simple way. After learning the basic and intuitive color rules, its simply a matter of deciphering a route that will allow the spores to get to their destinations without anyone being left behind. Situated somewhere between the physical obstacles in a game like Inside and the abstract theory guiding puzzles in Jonathan Blows The Witness, She Remembered Caterpillars feels like a 2D Rubiks Cube thats equal parts logic and muscle memory.

At one point I printed out a screenshot of a particularly difficult level and took it with me on a bus ride downtown, sketching possible paths and trying to record the steps, molding a solution in real time. Priemer said he developed his own personal notation in the same vein while trying to design the games puzzles. Levels are represented as a layout of connected platforms, not bothering about the specific fields a character could actually stand on, he said.

Theses platforms are represented as big circles, connected either by a straight line (bridge), line with a dash (gate) or a wavy line (snail bridge). Some of the sketches contain very detailed information about puzzles (sometimes even a step by step solution) while some dont even include all gameplay elements (in order to allow for faster sketching).

In this respect, the game layers on itself in a way thats similar to the conceit which originally spawned it. There are the invisible collisions blocking different colors or allowing them to pass, but then also the invisible paths based on color theoru connecting each platform and spore, and a wordless language thats woven throughout them. The effect is that when you finally solve a puzzle, it feels infinitely natural, like it had been there all along, just waiting for someone to stumble upon it. Im not very good at puzzle games, but in She Remembered Caterpillars that didnt really matter. In a way, the solutions seemed to discover themselves.

Its this naturalistic feeling pervasive in the game which elevates its mechanics and puzzles beyond their mathematics. A loose narrative stitches each level to the one before it with brief bits of dialogue alluding to something taking place in a world outside of, or beyond, the one youre playing in. Written by Cassandra Khaw, the story, in which two people talk to one another about the past and future, life and death, is the product of real life tragedy. During the course of making the game, Khaws father died. From there the original plot was scrapped and something new and more intimate arose.

A thing I figured out early while navigating my own grief was that it is never manifests the same way, said Cassandra. Two people might lose their fathers to a heart attack, or their sisters to Stage IV pancreatic cancer, but how they process it, how they move through those initial monthsit is never, ever the same.

Its this final layer to the game that makes it feel so poignant and personal; not just a puzzle game but a memoir of sorts. Helped along by the equal parts eerie and whimsical soundtrack composed by Thomas Hoehl, She Remembered Caterpillars offers an experience not unlike waking up trying to re-establish the boundaries between dreams and the person dreaming them.

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She Remembered Caterpillars Is Perfectly Precious – Kotaku – Kotaku

Generation Us: Learning new things helps keep brain sharp – The Daily Progress

As the old saying goes, you cant teach an old dog new tricks. But as it turns out, learning new tricks may be the secret to keeping our old brains running smoothly. And were not talking about brain games and puzzles that are supposed to improve memory; were talking about learning a new skill or hobby, like playing an instrument, learning a language, mastering a new software program or even getting a degree.

Research has shown that challenging learning activities improve memory and overall cognition in older people, and that that improvement can be maintained over time.

Consider a study done by a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas a few years ago, in which 200 older people were given different activities to do. Some were tasked with forming social groups and reminiscing, and others stayed at home to watch movies or do simple games and puzzles, but others were asked to learn quilting and master a digital photography program. After three months, those who learned to use the digital photography program, by far the most challenging task, showed the most significant gains on memory tests. And they continued to show the most gains even when the tests were done again a year later.

Celebrating 125 years of Progress! Look back at the history of Charlottesville each day in 2017. Click to read today’s story.

Celebrating 125 years of Progress! Look back at the history of Charlottesville each day in 2017.

According to researchers, improvements in brain function happen because leaning a new skill involves activating many different parts of the brain at once, therefore strengthening its performance as a whole. Basically, when you step out of your comfort zone and embrace something that may at first feel confusing and overwhelming, your brain begins firing on all cylinders. As a result, there can be increased verbal capacity, and memory loss can be slowed down. Whats more, learning new things can widen a persons social circle, and the sense of accomplishment can renew a sense of purpose and inspire others.

Also, certain kinds of vocational education and training, like learning gardening or woodworking, can combine learning with exercise, which can be doubly beneficial to older people.

Now might be a good time to bust the myth that brain power declines with age. While many people think that some form of memory loss and dementia is simply part of aging, according to the National Institutes of Health, only 5 percent of people aged 71 to 79 have some form of dementia, and while that goes up to 24.2 percent between 80 and 89, the vast majority of older people maintain their brain functions. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School researchers, older people actually have better judgment, are better at making rational decisions and better able to screen out negativity and actually can work out math and reason problems faster than younger people.

That said, health problems, loss of a spouse, or loneliness and isolation can be the real enemy for older people, causing them to shut down intellectually not due to reduced cognitive ability, but because they might feel lonely and depressed.

Indeed, 82-year-old Jimmy Wilson, one of the people assigned to learning digital photography in the University of Texas study, told NPR that it would have been real easy to just become a total recluse after his wife died, but that he pushed himself to remain active, joining a church choir, keeping up on current events and organizing dinner dates with his family. By challenging himself, hes not only improved his brain health, hes improved his mental health.

Or maybe youve always wanted to learn another language. Penn State researchers found that anatomical changes in the brain that must occur when people successfully learn a new language, and which involves a strengthening of the brains network, can happen for people no matter what their age. Related research also has proved that older brains are capable of learning to play a musical instrument, and that learning to do so improves and maintains cognition. Same goes for the use of technology, like the internet, smart phones, and social media networks. What stands in the way isnt cognitive ability, as many assume, but fear and anxiety. Researchers have found that when older people take introductory courses in technology, or are mentored by someone who makes them feel comfortable, they learn just as easily as younger people.

Denise Park, the neuroscientist and lead researcher for the University of Texas study, says it perfectly in comments made to the Association for Psychological Science. It seems it is not enough just to get out and do somethingit is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.

David McNair handles publicity, marketing, media relations and social media efforts for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.

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Generation Us: Learning new things helps keep brain sharp – The Daily Progress

Habbo Hotel founder creates Small Giant Games and releases Empires & Puzzles – VentureBeat

Small Giant Gamesis a new Finnish game startup, and today it is releasing its first game, Empires & Puzzles: RPG Quest.

The title from the Helsinki company is an online role-playing game that is designed to be accessible to a wide audience. It comes from a startup formedby the creators of Habbo Hotel.

The social-mobile game is launching on both iOS andAndroid mobile devices. Empires & Puzzles is designed from the ground up to offer the mostrewarding puzzle RPG experience yet seen on mobile devices, the company said.

Playersnew to the genre can start by battling their way through an epic story, one puzzle at atime. More experienced players can engage in fast-paced online battles and cooperative Titan battles.

All battles and quests provide the playerwith resources that can be used to build and upgrade amighty mountaintop fortress. The game featuresgorgeous art and hundreds of heroes to collect and upgrade.

Timo Soininen, the CEO at Small GiantGames, said in a statement, We started with a clear vision that we want to create something thatssuper easy to pick up and play, but that also surprises the players with unforeseendepth and a fresh take on familiar elements. Were already seeing strong indicationsthat we succeeded in this goal and are extremely excited to continue the journey withour community. The game turned out even better than we hoped for weve alreadyseen how the game really thrills many kinds of players.

Empires & Puzzles is a combination of match-3 battling with a tactical twist, base-building, and hero-collecting. Players can match the shields on the battlefield to sendforth their troops. Each herohas their own powerful special attacks that play akey role in winning the battles. Players can also participate in player-versus-playerbattles or create alliances with other players in a co-op gameplay mode.

Small Giant Gameshas 13 employees, including those who previously worked at Habbos maker, Sulake, and Remedy Entertainment, two of Finlands oldest game companies.

Soininen previously built Sulake and Habbo Hotel from a tiny startup to a large-scale international company with 300 employees and 350 million downloads.

He is joined by chief product officer Otto Nieminen, formerly of Sulake; Markus Halttunen, the chief technology officer and a seasoned online multiplayer game veteran; Ilkka-Kristian Juopperi and Tommi Vallisto, two seasoned graphic designers; and senior game designer Tim Lnnqvist.

Read more:
Habbo Hotel founder creates Small Giant Games and releases Empires & Puzzles – VentureBeat


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