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The Spill: Musical Medicine

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Music as Medicine

Did you know music can be used as therapeutic medicine? According to a study by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST), music stimulates positive neural responses in the brain, and different types of sounds can help certain maladies. The research, titled “Music as Medicine,” reported that “Most people hear or actively listen to music every day and as humans we tend to change our playlists based on our mood.”

Examples of this could be when you’re excited to hang out with friends, and you listen to upbeat and fast rhythms or when you’re sad and listen to ballads.

A pre-trial survey found that of the 7,581 people who participated, 89% said music was essential to their health and wellbeing. In fact, it only takes 13 minutes of listening to slow tempo melodies without lyrics to help people relax and reduce anxiety. “Our test subjects reported positive benefits including decreased muscle tension, negative thoughts disappearing, feeling peaceful and contented and being able to sleep better,” the study revealed. Of the participants, 79% had reduced muscle tension, the study pointed out, 84% had less negative thoughts, and 82% slept better.

Music lifts the soul, or so the saying goes. After listening to fast tempo music with positive lyrics for just nine minutes, 89% of the people said they had improved energy, while 65% laughed more or felt happier, and 82% claimed they felt more in control of their lives.

If you’re feeling sad, 13 minutes of uplifting music may just do the trick to lift your spirits. The study reported that “Listening to music for sadness caused our listeners to feel a sense of relief, be less overwhelmed, feel more stable and less likely to be triggered by things that reminded them of the issue.” According to the results, 81% of the people who participated felt relief from sadness after listening to music, and 84% said they felt less overwhelmed.

Music has been part of our culture since practically the beginning of time. It’s good to know that something we enjoy so much has great health benefits, too. Next time you’re feeling a bit blue, instead of listening to something slow and sad, try cranking up some upbeat tunes to see if you can change that mood around.

Not So Primitive

Neanderthals, fondly known as “cavemen,” are not commonly thought of as the intelligent ancestors of mankind. They are depicted as humans slouched over with large foreheads, wearing furs, and dragging a club around their caves. Verbal communication was not much more than a few grunts, and cave drawings were their main source of interaction. However, a recent discovery shows these ancient people may have been much more intelligent than modern man has given them credit for after researchers found evidence that early mankind had at least some knowledge of mathematics.

In the Rhone River valley of southeastern France, an archaeological site has produced a tool estimated to be between 40,000 and 50,000 years old. On the bottom of the tool was a white mark that, when looked at under a microscope, turned out to be a string. This is the first absolute evidence that Neanderthals had the ability to make string and suggests they understood at least a little of numbers as well as the trees that supplied the material needed to produce the string. It also hints that the early people were able to make other materials such as nets, mats, and fabric – a capability that modern scientists were not aware of before.

The string was made from fiber obtained from the inner bark of trees. Three bundles of these fibers were twisted together in a counterclockwise direction, and then the bundle was twisted clockwise to produce the finished string. This demonstrates at least some knowledge of numbers and counting, according to researchers.

It looks like our ancient ancestors were a little more intelligent than we thought, and perhaps new sites and digs will reveal even more evidence of intelligence and problem-solving.

Living on the Moon

Mankind may soon be living on the moon – for a few months at a time, at least. NASA’s Artemis program, named after the Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon, is on schedule to land humans on the moon in just four years. A newly updated report, “NASA’S Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development,” was sent to the National Space Council, an advisory group to President Donald Trump, which is also chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. The report gives us an idea of how the project may look in 2024.

“After 20 years of continuously living in low-Earth orbit, we’re now ready for the next great challenge of space exploration – the development of a sustained presence on and around the moon,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator.

The Artemis Base Camp may be placed in the Shackleton Crater located at the moon’s south pole. The camp is expected to hold four astronauts for about a week at a time. Eventually, the facility will need infrastructure for necessities such as waste disposal, power, communications, radiation shielding, and a landing pad.

Two mobility systems are planned to help astronauts navigate the camp: a lunar terrain vehicle which will allow them to move across the surface, and a habitable mobility platform that will give them support for trips lasting up to 45 days away from the base. This is important because NASA is also looking into visits to Mars, with missions lasting between 30 and 45 days. “Robust mobility systems will be needed to explore and develop the moon,” the report reads. “The same is true for Mars, making the habitable mobility platform a particularly important element as we will need a similar type of vehicle to explore the Red Planet.”

A moon-orbiting waystation known as the “Gateway” will be used for Mars practice missions. Here, a team of four astronauts would live on the station for several months in preparation for journeying to Mars.

“For years to come, Artemis will serve as our North Star as we continue to work toward even greater exploration of the moon, where we will demonstrate key elements needed for the first human mission to Mars,” Bridenstine said.

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