Neuroplasticity by Dr. Matt Hayler The Science of Love by Imogen Custers Life Without Carbs by Mark Izatt Superabundance by Robert Price The Evolution of Dance Music by Oliver Flower
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CONTENTS Life Without Carbs Science vs Humanities Recipe for an English Student/Lonely Hearts Hacking into The Brainframe Pull Out Poster Superabundance in The Age of Post-Scarcity Asteroid Mining Deconstructing Love From the Archive: Past Predictions The Evolution of Dance Music Sounds for Life Horoscopes
6 10 11 12 16 18 21 22 25 26 29 30
Cover Model: Megan Train
What do you think about when you think about Science?
? insecurity is a pro
Relatively speaking, I know very little about science, but I do know this: I like it. I like the way it can be defined by so much that it can become impossible to describe, and how the word “scientific” was originally used to translate the Greek word epistemonikos, which literally means “making knowledge”. As the paper mâché volcano on the front cover suggests, we are not attempting to make new knowledge for this edition. Instead, we want to provide a textual science fair of sorts. There has been no scientific method involved in the collection of the content for this edition; all we asked of our contributors was to present any topic loosely or tightly related to science that interested them, and which they thought might be of interest to others. And here they are, collected together in this one booklet, like stalls arranged in a school hall.
On a different note, it is almost exactly one year ago since the first printed edition of Exetera was distributed on campus. If you ever read The Fresh Edition last November then you’ll probably see that a lot has changed since then, for better, or for worse (although obviously we think for the better, by the way). Regardless, the fact that it is all still going is something I really didn’t expect to happen, having started with no expectations of where it would end up (or any idea of what I was actually doing). So whether this is your first (or last) time reading Exetera, or if you’ve read it before, I would like to thank you; this one’s for you. Max Benwell Editor
The Team Exetera Magazine is a completely independent, student-run magazine. It is no way affiliated with The Students’ Guild. Nuh uh.
Editor & Designer Max Benwell Deputy Editor Mark Izatt
Visual Director Alexis Mastroyiannis
We would like to thank the College of Humanities for all their help, and kind contribution towards the printing of this edition.
Music Editor Oliver Flower
Sub Editor Chloe Hajnal-Corob
Sales & Marketing Alex Chadwick Science Editor Imogen Custers Web Kathleen Sayers Illustration Meri Wills, Dave Wood, Conner Heron
Why Not Facebook Them? #creepy
Simon Whitehead plus more! 5
Fashion is in My Blood Mark Izatt, Deputy Editor For a long time I’ve been feeling like my body is a bit broken, like it doesn’t quite do what it’s supposed to. It leaks blood, I have difficulty breathing and sometimes I have absolutely zero energy. Stuff kept getting worse until spring this year, when I had a kind of hilarious seizure over dinner in Nando’s. As I lifted my head out of a half-eaten jumbo chicken platter to see my friend shaking in fear next to me, I realised that something was probably wrong. One trip to A&E, a few episodes of immobilising fatigue and countless inappropriately-timed nosebleeds later, I’ve worked out the problem. It turns out that I have a confusing blood disease called Gilbert’s Syndrome (pronounced the French way, obviously). It causes increased levels of a chemical by-product called Bilirubin, which is normally an indication of jaundice and makes me yellow when I’m stressed. Amongst other symptoms that I don’t really understand, my liver has problems detoxifying alcohol and drugs, I get abdominal pains, and eating processed carbs gives me headaches and really bad fatigue. I was diagnosed way back in May, but the effects crept up on me all summer and reached a peak in September when I was getting through a loaf of white bread and spent three days paralysed in bed, convinced I had the early symptoms of locked-in syndrome. Oops. Although there’s something a little Alice and Wonderland about being lulled to sleep by a slice of cake, it’s not great fun. When the doctor told me I had the syndrome he made it sound like the best thing in the world. According to the NHS it significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and makes you more tanned than your friends. Hurray! The only issue here is that they’re lying. My dad has had open heart surgery and I kind of wish I was paler. Life is so hard when you have a non-life-threatening disease in a first world country. However, there are, thank God, some angry online groups determined to spread the word about those
of us who suffer fatigue and other complications due to our disease. I turn to their words when I feel the need for some blood dysfunction solidarity. I gleaned from certain sites that I can call myself a Gilbert, which is a bit cute, no? Here’s a comment on a YouTube vlog about being diagnosed (you can fill in the [sic]s yourself): ok people we r all gilberts here …we should be happy and thank god cause we r really lucky … only 5 % of people have gilbert and they are well protected by the bilirubin against heart diseases and cancers …we live longer and have better health than other people…so smile everyone ...and about the fatigue thing its ok ..not really that bad …and to the chick who posted the video here !!!! ur soooooo cute !!! lets marry and have baby gilberts me and u !!! yayyyyyy Whoever wrote that is clearly annoyingly happy and not at all cynical enough, but hey. This other comment only made me want to turn all the lights off and cry in the corner: I was diagnosed with it 9 years ago, i too get fatigued, sometimes get brain fog, thing i miss was all the energy i used to have, but, i still jog and excercise, good luck There is one plus to Gilbert’s syndrome, though: the biological legitimisation of an aloof fashionista diet. I frown on you and your large fries as I nibble on miniature forkfuls of lettuce and goji berries. Just how polio sufferers pick up crutches and blind people adopt guide dogs, I dealt with my illness by purchasing a camouflage coat, hanging an SLR round my neck and starting a fashion blog. So eat your hearts out all you fashionistas and Susie Bubbles; I bet you hide pepperoni pizza in your Prada clutch.
Robert Harris, Staff Writer Taxoplasma Gondii (TG) is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases on earth. It’s been shown to induce behavioural changes in its host by altering neural activity and has been linked to psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, OCD and schizophrenia. Although cats are its primary victims, with a 20-60% infection rate, almost all warm-blooded animals are prone to infection as intermediate hosts. Why does all this matter? Well, because there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you are a carrier. TG spreads through the ingestion of a spore found in infected cat faeces and raw meat and, once it has bored its way into the brain, it can manipulate behavioural tendencies in intermediate hosts in order to help it reach a definitive one. Effected mice, for example, become less fearful of cats. Healthy adults will typically feel nothing worse than brief flu-like symptoms before antibodies start to fight off the parasite, which then remains dormant in the subject’s brain cells. Research has suggested that possible effects of this latent infection include slower reaction
times and an increased risk of traffic accidents. However, other studies have indicated that these accidents may in fact be a consequence of TG somehow increasing the host’s desire to take risks in general. But it doesn’t stop there. A study on 191 women also found higher guilt-proneness and higher intelligence in those that tested positive for TG. Though the exact cause of these changes is still unknown, studies have found that the parasite sparks a knock-on effect resulting in increased levels of dopamine, an important chemical in the brain which controls emotional responses and the ability to feel pleasure and pain. It’s been proven that dopamine deficiency is the cause of sexual dysfunctions such as premature ejaculation. So, if you suffer from the ghastly “prems”, a toxoplasma infection may be your cure. Suddenly that 1 in 3 chance doesn’t look like such bad odds. Illustration: Conner Heron
BEER GOGGLES Why?
Emma Brisdion Described as ‘an alcohol induced condition of the eyes in which members of the opposite sex appear more attractive’, “Beer Goggles” is a phenomenon all too frequently experienced at university. We all know that after a certain number of units, standards are relaxed and people who wouldn’t usually command a second glance are suddenly capturing your drunken attention. But why? Recent studies have shown that facial symmetry plays a highly influential role in determining the attractiveness of an individual: a well-proportioned face and body being an evolutionary cue of good
genes and reproductive fitness. Instinctively, we are programmed to be drawn to these good genes for the benefit of potential offspring. So, symmetry is an inherent turn-on. Drinking alcohol however, as I’m guessing you might already know, impairs our judgment by slowing down the brain’s general processes. This reduces our ability to recognize this symmetry, which we would usually pick up subconsciously. In a study by Roehampton University, it was found that drink for drink, women lose this capability faster than men. Students were shown
pairs of faces and asked to decide which was more symmetrical. During the course of the experiment the they were then given increasing amounts of alcohol and consequently found the test increasingly difficult, in some cases consistently choosing the less symmetrical face to be the more “attractive” one. But that’s not the only questionable consequence of drinking. Alcohol enters the blood stream first and heads directly to the brain. The more you consume, the more it dampens brain functioning, causing noticeable problems with coordination, balance and reasoning. While in the brain, alcohol interrupts the activity of neurotransmitters, signaling molecules used to transmit messages from the brain that act on your body and mental state. The warm ‘feel-good’ sensation alcohol gives you is caused by the way in which it increases levels of the chemical neurotransmitter Dopamine in the
area of the brain referred to as the ‘reward centre’. It also inhibits the stimulatory neurotransmitter Glutamate, causing the body to slow down and decrease its reflexes and coordination. Alcohol is vasodilatory, meaning that when it is streaming through your body, the blood vessels near the skin relax and blood pressure drops. Consequently, in order to compensate and get enough oxygen to your brain, your breathing and heart rate increase. Yet this is not always enough, and as the brain receives less and less oxygen, you start to feel lethargic. And whether you are in your own bed or not, you don’t need to read any of the latest studies to know that sleep, and perhaps regret, usually follows.
Manuscripts that make you hallucinate Robert Harris, Staff Writer In a recently published edition of The Lancet, a British medical journal, it has been suggested that hallucinogenic spores found on old books can get you high. Dr. R.J. Hay believes the fungus harboured on aged pages, when inhaled in concentrated doses, can produce mindaltering effects, leading to an “enhancement of enlightenment.” But before you begin stuffing the shredded pages of an antique Bible into a snuff box, know that it takes a considerable period of extended exposure to the fungi for these effects to take hold. Because very little research on the effects of the spores exists, it is hard to attribute the behaviour
of those often strange, wild-eyed eccentrics who populate the darker corners of the library to the effects of ancient manuscripts. Nevertheless, the threat (or benefit) of antiquarian highs is being taken very seriously by some. The Las Cruces Public Library in New Mexico was closed indefinitely after an outbreak of the fungus spread from old history books into the literature section. There is no doubt that these book-dwelling hallucinogens exist. So, the tortured genius of our great literary figures is called into question, their boundless creativity attributed to the mind-altering effects of some trusty narcotics. But hang on, didn’t we know that already?
The Top 5 Reasons Why A Science Degree is Better Than A Humanities Degree Words: Louis Jones
You will get employed By a proper faceless, soulless corporation like what your parents work for and that your partisan Che t-shirt wearing 15 year old self would have been disgusted at. Or by the government. Same thing right?
Your employer will pay you And well. With salaries as opposed to the hourly wage you get for making cappuccinos at Boston Tea Party. The scientists sit up in their ivory labs crying with laughter whilst drinking brandy from conical flasks, telling tales of journalists who worked for free at a paper for two years before actually getting paid - and all in a dying industry!
3 Even your fucking internship will pay you Now for humanities students this is really starting to take the piss. Isn’t the prospect of actual employment enough for these greedy, intelligent, hardworking bastards? It probably is – chances are they’d still do it even if it wasn’t paid. They’re the type of people who do work experience because they actually want to learn something rather than Mr. Humanity who either a) doesn’t do it or b) only does it because he keeps getting told it’s good for his CV. So why do they get paid? Because they are USEFUL and can do stuff as they have learnt from their degree. They’re really rather good.
Humanities students will pay for your degree If 3) had the whole epistemology lecture up in arms, at least the one(s) that turned up, this will truly disturb their impractical philosophising minds. Did you ever wonder why tuition fees for your mate the medic were the same as for your English degree? It’s because you are cheap and easy to teach, and they are not. You’re so cheap and easy to teach in fact, almost anyone can do it at home!
You will get a BSc Fun fact: this looks better than a BA. (Although Politics and Geography don’t count.)
6 You will learn how to count Something that, if you’re a humanities student, you probably need to work on. If you don’t understand, stick with your degree. So now you’re screaming, “This is a revelation! I’ve had an epiphany! I’m going to change my degree to a science! Lo, why on earth didn’t I start a science degree earlier?!” Take a look at the next physicist you see. You want? Really? Yeah, I thought so. That’s why you didn’t do a science degree. Plus you’re lazy.
Recipe For An English Graduate All you need is: A handful of badly paid lecturers. A dash of PhD students. Just a pinch of contact hours. 1. Mixing all three of the unavoidable ingredients together, simmer for 3 years then let stand unemployed for a further 2. 2. Results should be bitter, rancid and disillusioned, and all at a great personal cost – perfect for the whole family! 3. Whilst your English student is stewing away in an elaborate metaphor, let the university take the leftover cash the government gave them, and watch as they gradually subsidise a medical student for around seven years. 4. Enjoy!
Parasitic space phallus looking for strong independent man. Cannot host. Transdimensional alter ego looking to spend time with a caring male in a multiverse we can call our own. Disembodied amalgam of all knowledge past, present and future seeks 18-24 female for flirty chat.
Ursa minor seeks well-built, large bear.
Nasa scientist seeks female woman.
Protean humanoid approximation seeks flexible person of either gender. Must be open to change.
Radioactive particle in midst of half life crisis looking for a stable relationship.
Lonely Pluto seeks new celestial group to join after debilitating identity crisis.
Poly-tentacled septuagenarian looking for someone to cuddle. Must be into slime.
Orion’s belt seeks starry-eyed female to wear the trousers.
All powerful creator of the universe seeks faithful non-scientific woman into the male-female binary and a bit of traditional logocentricism.
Fun-loving, open-minded, “madcap” scientist seeks young, experimental woman with healthy organs.
Infinite light spectrum seeks female prism to focus on. Must be open-minded and not into all that “only seven colours” bullshit.
Man who goes by the name of Occam searching for simple, NSA fun.
Rocket boy on collision course with exploding sun seeks distraction.
Recently bereaved Neptune looking for small icy planet to take the place of an old friend.
Young bunsen burner seeks methane male to spark some flames with. 11
Agar Jelly seeks bacterial friend to start a fresh life, grow together and enjoy new cultural experiences. Quantum Physicist seeks cat, dead and/or alive. Feeling spacy? Give me a call.
HACKING INTO THE BRAINFRAME Enhancing the brain with a 9 Volt Battery Dr. Matt Hayler
Illustration: Meri Wills
s a doctor working in the fields of Digital and Cognitive Humanities, a great deal of my research focuses on digital culture, particularly on how people read online and with e-readers, and what effects this might have on them, especially when they’re young and impressionable and retain a love for what the world has to offer.
is focused on digital culture, science finds its way into my work periodically, and allows me to say that I work in the fields of Digital and Cognitive Humanities. I’m interested in how digital culture as a whole is scientifically aware in general, and how it extends this awareness to Cognitive Science. Read any popular internet culture, technology, or futurist online magazine or blog, like Wired, or Boing Boing, or io9, and you can’t help but be struck by the broad range of knowledge that is taken for granted by main articles and comments sections alike. An impending Singularity, where a greater-thanhuman artificial intelligence emerges along with its inevitable fallout, for instance, is taken as banal knowledge in many arenas of mainstream internet culture, as is the uncanny valley of near-human imitation in robotics, or flow states of creativity, and a hundred other examples of popular and hard-scientific theory. So not only is Cognitive Neuroscience a great way-in to discussing the changes that occur in a move from page to screen, or in the kinds of media and environments that we encounter there, it’s also an essential part of the substrate of the culture that’s to be investigated. Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation, or tDCS is a process that’s getting a lot of attention at the moment in both academic Psychology and internet and technology culture, the latter in particular because of the popular reporting of DARPA’s (America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) apparent success with using tDCS to halve the training time of its drone pilots. tDCS is the passing of a direct current through the brain between two externally attached electrodes. What makes it so appealing is that a) theoretically all it takes is a 9 volt battery and two wires and b) it promises a harmless way to hack your brain to perform better, which is way safer than, for instance, using drugs such as Aderall or Ritalin to boost performance. In a 2008 poll of Nature readers, 20% of 1500 respondents had used drugs for cognitive enhancement, and Wired magazine dedicated two substantial articles to investigating the widespread use of cognitive enhancements on American university
“If you go blind and learn how to read braille eventually your visual cortex will start to be cannibalised by other areas so that your fingertips become more sensitive” Science makes its way into what I want to explore because digital texts are archly scientific things, high-technology that’s been made, often, somehow, to feel like a toy. What interests me is how people have become scared of e-readers and e-reading, and of digital technology in general. And why shouldn’t they be? With a Daily Mail article each week on how Facebook and Twitter and videogames are changing our brains for the worse, it’s easy to see why. Although, for the record, they absolutely are. It’s called neuroplasticity – a great word for how our brains fundamentally change their structure in response to our activities. And it’s not just the Internet: everything changes our brains. If you go blind and learn how to read braille eventually your visual cortex will start to be cannibalised by other areas so that your fingertips become more sensitive. If you use your mobile phone all the time then your brain devotes more space to how your thumbs work. Basically, the only way to avoid changes in the brain, the “rewiring” that we keep being warned about, is to deny yourself all exciting stimulus (which might actually be the function of the Daily Mail website). So, although my research
campuses, detailing the various drug regimens of its readers. With the tDCS literature suggesting potential for improvements in mood, attention, motor learning, and creativity, after several thousand painless and safe clinical trials it’s clear that if the procedure comes even close to its promise then it will find a growing audience outside of the lab as drug-based neural enhancements have prepared the field. The theory of tDCS, as it’s disseminated most frequently online, goes: by passing 9 volts through various bits of your brain you’ll get better at doing things. This can lead to some cathode and anode placements that would make any tDCS researcher wince, and if you are looking to Do It Yourself, you really are spoilt for choice with online videos of people passing current through various points on their skulls. The theory as it appears in the academic literature is more like: much evidence is still technically anecdotal, many results may be down to a placebo effect. Where there has been demonstrable improvement in performance we’re not sure why, and we’re not sure what’s being acted upon or what the long term effects might be.
diagrams for his experiment on what it’s like to insert a needle between your eye and its socket in terms of the shapes and colours that you can produce. People have long played with the limits of their experience, but the discussion of science and experimentation are, I think, uniquely widespread at this moment through an increasingly democratised discussion taking place in a republic of digital letters. tDCS certainly caught my attention through these channels, through blogs and videos rather than academic papers, but rather than reaching for a spare battery I volunteered as a lab guineapig. Over the Summer a PhD researcher at the University of Nottingham shot at my head with an electromagnet until she made my hand twitch, then marked the point that she’d found on my scalp with her eyeliner, apparently having found my motor cortex. She then passed 1.5ma of steady current between two saline-soaked sponges, one above my left eye and one at this discovered point, while I tried to master a new motor skill and she monitored the results. Apparently I got a bit better when I was being zapped. What’s interesting to me is that I only wanted to do all of this because I read a blog post and then watched a video of an American guy in his early twenties try to gently electrocute himself in his front room. My point is that the reporting of amateur and professional tDCS trials online is changing the way that people see opportunities for improving themselves, changing the public perception of what Cognitive Neuroscience has to offer neurotypical healthy subjects, and changing the beliefs in how information on such topics should rightly be disseminated. New ways of looking at the world change what we think we can do, as well as our perception of the world itself, and how it operates and can be operated in. We now live in a world where science can be reduced to things which feel like toys, but strangely it’s often when things become boring, neutral, or mundane, that they can start to have their deepest effects.
Over the Summer a PhD researcher shot at my head with an electromagnet until she made my hand twitch, then marked the point that she’d found on my scalp with her eyeliner, apparently having found my motor cortex. More is known all the time, of course, and there’s certainly a lot of promise for tDCS being therapeutic or even enhancing. But from a digital cultures standpoint there are two very interesting phenomena: first is the continuation of a hacking culture passing from software, to hardware, to the wet-ware of the brain and body (so called “bio-hacking” or, more broadly, transhumanism), and second is how information on this topic is being passed around. The amateur tDCS literature is an amalgam of shared academic .pdfs, popular blog posts, tech magazine reports, YouTube videos, and internet mail-order parts. Aspects of the digital world at all levels, from file-sharing to eBay, come together in producing this phenomenon emerging from a previously academy-led field of research. Self-experimentation is in no way exclusive to the digital age; it stretches back throughout the history of scientific research. In notes taken around 1665, we can read Isaac Newton’s comments and
Dr. Matt Hayler is lecturer in the English Department at Exeter. You can follow him on twitter (@cryurchin) or read his blog (4oh4-wordsnotfound.blogspot.com). If you’re a second year English student then you’ve probably had enough of him already, but you could take his Digital and Cyberculture Studies class next year (#DandCS, dandcs.wordpress.com).
The Lighter Alternative for Exeter University
exeteramagazine.com facebook.com/exeteramagazine 17
SUPE ABUN EXETERA 18 18
In the Age of Post Scarcity
he Internet is transforming the world more rapidly and radically than you may realise. Online shopping, international communications, global finance – these are all overtures to a far greater shift in the way humans live and act, and are all heading towards one destination – the end of information scarcity. Scarcity. It’s defined human interaction since time immemorial. Food scarcity, territory scarcity, energy scarcity, information scarcity. To be in a post-scarcity age is for there to be effectively no limitations on an individual’s access to the given resource. A post-scarcity age for energy would involve unlimited access for all to free energy, the only limitation being the individual’s capability to consume, a paradigm shift from the traditional scarcity model in which an individual’s access is limited by both their ability to acquire energy and the capability of others to create it. This is a state of superabundance. Now, we haven’t quite reached information superabundance yet – but we’re hurtling towards it at an ever-faster rate. Back in 1965, Computer Scientist Gordon Moore predicted that for at least the next decade, the number of transistors that could be fitted on an integrated circuit would double every other year. 47 years on, this accelerating rate of improvement, known as “Moore’s Law”, shows no signs of abating. A 2tb hard drive is available for less than £60 (capable of storing the text of the King James Bible in its entirety 227, 262 times over), and the 27% of the UK that doesn’t use the internet is only set to decrease. In China you’re more likely to have a mobile phone than a credit card, a perfect example of the growing ubiquity of free information access. Alongside this ever-increasing access to data is a quasicommunistic-cum-libertarian intellectual culture never imagined before. Its most public face is probably Wikipedia, the non-profit online encyclopaedia born out of the principles of the open internet, hundreds of thousands of people editing it with no goal beyond aiding others in their search for information. There’s also the Open Source movement, dedicated to creating and distributing free alternatives to commercial software, while providing source code so users can modify it freely. Accompanying this is the flagrant disregard for traditional copyright law. Intellectual property (IP) has been overwhelmed, with 40 million albums and singles illegally shared online in the UK during the first half of 2012. Some have experimented with
Words: Robert Price
new methods of content dissemination. For example, in 2007 Radiohead offered their album In Rainbows for whatever figure their fans wished to pay (including nothing). Yet the IP industries’ response has typically been to prosecute prolific file sharers while pushing their content through their own channels. Attempts to clamp down on distribution have employed methods ranging from the Draconian to the ridiculous. In 2009 a US Jury hit mother-of-four Jammie ThomasRassett with a fine of $1.9 million dollars for the heinous act of downloading 24 songs for personal use. Such behaviour on the behalf of the industries cannot help but reduce any tolerance that we might have for their growing unsustainability. Whereas previously there was mere opportunism in file-sharing motivations, now there’s ideology. The inability of the copyright Old Guard to recognise the changing face of the intellectual property landscape has led to a legitimate political movement, revering freedom of information as a sacred right, of which the “Wiki’s” and Open Source are part of. Any doubt that there is a serious movement emerging is dispelled when one turns to the Pirate Party, an umbrella term referring to a myriad of loosely-associated political parties
in dozens of countries across the world with the common aim of reforming intellectual property law. In Germany, the Piratenpartei Deutschland has 45 parliamentary seats; the Swedish Piratpartiet got 7% of the popular vote in European Elections, and Besti flokkurinn won the mayorship of Reykjavik in Iceland. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has noted that, from the dawn of man to 2003, roughly 5 Exabytes (which, by the way, is 5,000,000,000 gigabytes) of total information was created. “That much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing”. Access to superabundant information is in sight, and accompanying it is a paradigm shift in our approach to intellectual property that the established industries are yet incapable of grasping. Any financial barrier to accessing data ultimately proves an artificial imposition of scarcity where it need not exist, a deliberate degradation of the wealth of knowledge available to man, and something to be deplored. But this is just the start. Once we reach effective energy superabundance - or yet further off, resource superabundance (e.g. Asteroid Mining*) - that’s when things will get really interesting.
* 3554-Amun is an astrologically mundane nearEarth asteroid. Just over 2km across, it is almost impressively average in the galactic scale of things, one small space rock amongst countless billions of billions of others. It also has, if we could reach it, an estimated mineral value of around $20 trillion dollars. $8,000 billion in iron and nickel, $6,000 billion in cobalt and another $6,000 in platinum – these are the figures that planetary scientist John Lewis claims in his book, Mining the Sky, and they’re just waiting there, ripe for the taking. With the 2011 world GDP given by the World Bank at $69 trillion, this places the resources on this one insignificant asteroid as valuable as almost a third of all services and products produced in a year across the entire globe. Of course, if the asteroid was succesfully harvested, these figures would not stay true – because inevitably, it would precipitate global economic mayhem. With the market flooded by absurdly more resources than have ever been available before, market prices would drop through the floor. Regardless, whoever managed this would be richer than Croesus, and would irrevocably transform industry. No more resource scarcity. And this is exactly what people are trying. Planetary Resources Ltd. is a key player, with a team including James Cameron and Google founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. Though not yet beyond planning stages, a combination of some of the largest fortunes ever amassed and the realization of Cold War Apollo Programmefueled childhood dreams means that if anyone can do it, they can. Words: Robert Price Illustration: Connerr Heron
DECONSTRUCTING The Heart
Imogen Custers and Nicolas Morgenroth give two very different sides to love
Imogen Custers, Biology
“Upon falling for someone, an individual’s serotonin levels drop, sometimes to the levels of someone with OCD” The hurtle towards biological inevitability begins with attraction and lust. So what pulls us towards another person’s sweaty drunken body in the first place? A huge range of things, as it turns out. Looks are one thing, especially for heterosexual men, but it really starts to get interesting when hormones become involved. The higher the levels of testosterone in both men and women, the more keen they are to get together, and what many people don’t know is that it can be transferred from the male to the female via the act of kissing. So, the more a female partner kisses, the more likely she is to want to have sex. The nose also plays an important role in our sexual preferences. The reason you may like, or even love, someone, yet just can’t put your finger on why, can be down to their pheromones, which are odorless but recognized inside the nasal passages. This is because of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) found in pheromones, which confers your immunological status to the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not, through our bodies’ natural instincts we are all looking (subconsciously) for mates with a different MHC to our own. This ensures that our offspring are immune to as wide a variety of pathogens as possible. In the small population of yesteryear, this instinct would have been vital to decreasing the chance of incest. If an individual’s MHC is too similar to their potential mate’s then attraction is diminished, reducing the chance of consanguine sex and genetic malformation. Following lust is the Honeymoon Phase. This is regulated by neurotransmitters, which are chemical compounds that alter and modulate the signals in your brain. They are produced in the Caudus Nucleus region of your brain, to which blood flow increases when you first
fall in love, in turn increasing neurotransmitter production. Mimicking the feelings you get from nicotine and cocaine, part of this process includes the release of dopamine. As an integral part of our bodies’ “reward” system, this neurotransmitter is just so good that it is believed to play a significant role in addiction: hence all the clingy texts you get from your new beau. If you are spending sleepless nights thinking about your love, then that is the adrenaline. It makes your heart race, causing insomnia and sweaty palms, which also explains the clamminess the first time you hold hands. Upon falling for someone, an individual’s serotonin levels drop, sometimes to the levels of someone with OCD. Known as the neurotransmitter for pleasure, this may seem odd, but it accounts for the increase in anxiety and, depending on how well you can control it, the obsessive, never-ending texts. The increased bloodflow to the caudus nucleus also affects the nearby prefrontal cortex, which is used for planning and preparation. These two areas of the brain work together to channel the passion from the dopamine affecting the caudus nucleus with the determination of the prefrontal cortex to obtain your goal: the love of your new partner. After all of this we finally are able to reach attachment, and fully commit ourselves to love of both the body and mind. Oxytocin levels increase, cementing the relationship. (It is also released at orgasm, which is why it’s scientifically proven that physical and emotional attachment are in proportion to one another. It’s easy to forget that we are animals, and our emotions and feelings have become honed over millennia to make us feel the way we do for the benefit of us as a species. Sure, you have no control over your primal urges; but don’t panic – neither does anyone else.
“it is only in the realm of love that two individuals can enjoy the mutual acceptance of their undivided selves” Love is irrational. Behind closed doors, its most physical manifestation – sex – is everybody’s own business. So why should science, let alone sociology, attempt to apply its cold, analytical logic to it? Well, for two reasons. Firstly, love can neither be defined as an objective, historical constant. Along with everything else, its meaning is shaped by the culture that surrounds it. Secondly, love performs various social functions. Procreating may be the most obvious, but it is not the only one. Many functions of love go far beyond pure biological reproduction. In the late 18th century Friedrich Schlegel came up with a revolutionary idea: Romantic Love. He and those within his scholarly circle (including his girlfriend) argued that there was more to love than just the Judeo-Christian concept of enlarging a man’s flock and lineage. In his novel Lucinde, Schlegel draws a picture of love where the specifics of gender fade away, and where partnership and friendship are amalgamated into a free, singular, intimate love. In a marriage formed on this basis, the lovers view each other as androgynous individuals and not just as a product of their gender, class or religion. Challenging the status quo as they did, Schlegel’s writings were ahead of their time, and it was only 200 years later when what was practised in Schlegel’s novels evolved into the widely popular Free Love movement of the 1960s. As the 1960s came to a close, and with society’s lips not so tightly pursed as they were in the 18th century, Schlegel’s theories were developed on, and taken much further. In 1969, German social scientist Niklas Luhmann not only disputed the idea that love’s only function was species propagation, but also refuted the idea that it could simply exist outside of social categories. Instead, he put forward the idea of love as one of the ways in which we are able to understand our lives.
In a world of increasing complexity, people need generalised symbols as guides to navigate through the otherwise incomprehensible mass of surrounding information. Luhmann extracts the leading symbols as power, money, truth, and love. Through these we are able to reduce our relationships with the world into easily understood categories. However, Luhmann singles out love as being completely unique amongst these guiding symbols. For example, while the concept of “truth” pervades many of our social circumstances, allowing us to build the idea of an objective and moral reality for ourselves, love does not. Instead, it only applies to intimate, unique relationships. In the rest of modern society the individual is forced to stumble through life split into different social roles, atomised by a mesh of various structures. One person may be many things all at once: a student, a sibling, a parent and/or worker. Yet it is only in the realm of love that two individuals can enjoy the mutual acceptance of their undivided selves. The world created by this intimate love is the only place where society has no control. As Ulrich Beck writes, it is a “Utopia of counterindividualisation which unlocks the cage of normality”. If this seems far-fetched, and more theoretical than practical, then you’re right – Beck has a reason to call it Utopia. Such a micro-society independently constructed by two equal persons sadly enough doesn’t exist. A relationship based on this love is at this point in time only an idea, or an ideal. It would exist in a world apart from the rest, where social norms such as gender stereotypes or class bias cannot arrange individuals into marriage, but instead, where the process of who loves who and how we express our love is only constructed by ourselves: a non-society of lovers.
From The Archive
1964 Exetera Fashion and Technology Editor Chad Chadwell provided readers with a few predictions of what the human of the future will be wearing.
Words & Illustration: Dave Wood
Hair-Gro Band Ever since the massive nuclear fallout of the late nineties, humans in the year 2000 will no longer have hair. This stylish piece allows them to create any hair style of their choosing, through the miracles that are presumably around the corner in science.
Groovy Asbestos Jacket In order to preserve warmth, humans in the future will utilise futuristic and reliable materials such as asbestos much more frequently than we do now. In this instance, we have modelled a handsome asbestos jacket over a fetching “retro” chainmail t-shirt.
Thermo-Nuclear ™ Underwear Thanks to the massive sexual liberation this author predicts will occur in the future, human beings will no longer have any need for the archaic shackles of the past, such as marriage, fidelity, or the use of trousers. Using the power of the future – Nuclear reactions – these pants will keep those legs from getting frosty.
All-action Knee Pads Thanks to his high impact lifestyle of jazz shows and poetry recitals, the man of the future will require a high level of protection. Thankfully, what with modern medicine being predicted to eradicate all maladies and disease by the late eighties, he needn’t worry! These beautiful knee pads will serve only as a fashion accessory to the modern man.
THE EVOLUTION OF DANCE MUSIC Oliver Flower
rom the emergence of House in Chicago in the early ‘80s to the rise of the UK Garage scene across London in the ‘90s, dance music has always had an audience and enjoyed occasional inroads into the charts. Yet, in the last decade, it has gone from being a genre on the margins of popular music to making up the very DNA of chart music itself. This may not be immediately apparent, but you need only scan over the current Top 40 and see artists such as Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta (of, granted, questionable quality) finding mainstream commercial success. Indeed, the very notion of popular music has evolved to the extent that our charts are dominated by tracks formulated on the foundations of dance music. The genre’s evolution over the last 5-10 years has taken its cues from various socio-technological developments. First of all, music is more accessible than it has ever been. The Internet has facilitated its discovery to such an extent that we can now find a single track online, skip to the middle to decide if we like it, and then, within a matter of seconds, purchase it from our chosen digital store. To state this may seem obvious, as it is something we all do on a regular basis. But considering how the sites we use for this are all surprisingly recent creations – YouTube went live in 2005, Soundcloud in 2007 and Spotify in 2008 – it shows how quickly such a way of accessing music has become the norm. Indeed, there are so many new avenues through which we are able to discover music, and for it to discover us (such as when it comes up embedded on our Facebook newsfeed, or is linked and retweeted), that the consumer now has the ability to listen to a huge variety of different artists, styles and genres, and to indulge their curiosities at no additional cost. Subsequently, we are encouraged to take an open-minded approach to listening to music. Secondly, with advancements in technology and a receptive audience, music producers have little restraint in terms of the type of music they can make. Where in the past it would be necessary to invest a huge amount of money on hardware or studio time, the modern musician can, for free (albeit illegally), download a cracked copy
of their chosen production software and produce music on a laptop. If you consider all the logistics surrounding the cost, transport and setting up of instruments, it is easy to see how this has played a huge part in the growth of electronic music over the years. As well as encouraging involvement due to the lower financial risk and increased chance of your musical output being heard by an audience, this has also led to a significant fall in the age of the average producer. Young, successful producers such as Disclosure, who released their first single whilst still in their teens, stand as figureheads for a generation of independent producers who have witnessed first hand the potential success that can become of crafting music on a tight budget. Although many current young artists (of which there are plenty), draw influence from various musical movements, they still show a youthful exuberance, freshness and originality to their sound that can seldom be replicated by older producers who, throughout their lifetimes, have been exposed such a range and abundance of music that much of their personality is often lost in their production. For dance music to succeed and keep evolving, it has to be promoted by it’s audience – the youth – and hence there’s no doubt that there’s a reciprocal link between the multitude of talented young electronic music producers who are currently active and the explosion of dance music in general. Thirdly, let’s not forget the influence of the now notorious Dubstep sound - arguably one of the most significant musical movements of our generation thus far. Taking influences from Garage and Breakbeat, Dubstep was conceived in London as early as the late 90s, yet it wasn’t until the release of such records as Skream’s “Midnight Request Line” (2005) that the sound was pushed out of The Capital and onto dancefloors further afield. In 2010, a somewhat watered-down, commercially marketable Dubstep track entitled “Katy On a Mission”, by Katy B, was sitting at number 5 in the UK singles chart. It was tracks like this that had a key role in the commercial genesis and explosion of this particular sound, and dance music in general. Mainstream dubstep was adopted by a young audience at an extraordinary pace, who saw it as a high-octane, adrenalin-fueled release. This popularity lead to many people opening their ears to and digging deeper for other varieties of dance music. Obviously, there have always been
occasions in the past where underground music has permeated the charts, but this has never happened as quickly as with Dubstep (which is perhaps why it has been so quickly embraced and subsequently bastardised by the American market). Of course, at the heart of the dance music scene are the DJs - those who select the music to be heard either on the radio, across the Internet, or in clubs and parties across the country. In this Internet age, where an abundance of information is constantly competing for our attention and our collective attention spans are decreasing, DJs have had to adapt to their audience. Modern DJs will often mix tracks of various musical styles quickly and creatively in order to retain the attention of the dance floor, and modern DJing technology and equipment assists this. Many believe that the smoking ban in 2007 also contributed to this modern attitude to mixing, as DJs began to feel under pressure to keep smokers in the venue. The thriving, fertile clubbing environment that this promotes is more accessible to the general club attendee, since there is no necessity to have a given preference to a certain musical genre – you can go out and have a great night dancing to music of varying styles. In terms of Exeter’s clubbing climate, it’s clear that much has changed over the last few years. Up until recently, Beats and Bass Society represented the only student-run club night that offered a genuinely good time for the student dance music fan. Sadly, however, held back by both a lack of venues and student promoters, and being in direct competition with perhaps the busiest night of the week – Timepiece Wednesdays – it was never able to single-handedly push its vision of proper dance music to the Exeter student masses. Thanks to the advent of The Cellar Door and in turn Thick as Thieves (and more recently the likes of Exit and Our House) the city now offers high standards for the student looking for something more than Cheesy Tuesdays at Arena. Exeter has finally caught up with the national trend and began to acquire a greater respect for dance music, and with more and more great DJs and artists making the journey down to the South West, there’s never been a better time to be a student in Exeter who loves dance music. Visit our website to read our interview with two of the minds behind Thick as Thieves, as they talk to us about their first year in operation and how they believe the music scene has changed in Exeter.
SOUNDS FOR LIFE Simon Whitehead/5imba Its 3am and after a great night out you’re finally back at home in the comfort of your bed, ready for some sleep. You shut your eyes but can’t help notice a ringing in your ear. That, my friends, is your ears crying out for help and letting you know that they’ve been damaged. Pretty scary, right? What’s even scarier is the fact you will probably never hear that frequency again. Ever. There’s no need to bore you with a biology lesson, but essentially, when our ears are exposed to high levels of sound for continuous periods, tiny
microscopic hairs designed to pick up different frequencies are damaged and die, resulting in your hearing range diminishing. Typically, a human can hear frequencies between 20hz and 20,000hz. As we get older, and our ears begin to wear, this naturally deteriorates. With the addition of loud music and clubbing, the rate it deteriorates can really accelerate. Having begun DJing at 9 and playing the drums at 6, there’s no doubt that my ears have taken far more abuse than they should have
done. However, one recent incident when I lost all hearing in my left ear for 3 days was the final straw. I now have earplugs that I wear religiously and thankfully my ear recovered. It’s usually after your ears are already damaged that you decide to get protection, so please, learn from my mistake and do the sensible thing! Beats & Bass Society will be providing free foam earplugs and on behalf of both myself and the society, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to wear them, whether in front of, or behind, the decks.
A Beats and Bass Pick On 18 January 2013, Beats & Bass will descend on that most renowned of global music hubs – Bognor Regis. OK, so maybe it’s not really known as a global music hub, but for one weekend of the year, it can stake a genuine claim. After 17 years of throwing some of the best nights the UK has to offer, last year the Bugged Out organisers decided to start making a weekend of it, and put on the first Bugged Out Weekender.
For those who attended, it was one of the events of the year, and is still talked about by some at Exeter in reverent tones. What’s not to love about an impeccably curated weekend of music held entirely in Butlins? Yes, you heard right – Butlins. It actually turns out to be the perfect venue for the weekend. The festival takes over the entire site (minus the holidaying families so there’s no confusion), which boasts
an enormous complex of stages, and restaurants, as well as an indoors water park, and yes: on-site accommodation, included in the ticket price. Living up to its promise, this year’s lineup features the Chemical Brothers, Skream & Benga, Maya Jane Coles, Disclosure, Joy Orbison, plus loads more. For more information go to buggedoutweekender.net
(23 November - 21 December)
(22 December - 20 January)
(21 January - 19 February)
Worried about the strange disrupStephen Hawking, renowned The next few months, thanks to tions in your internet connection theoretical physicist and notorious Venus’ sudden and unforeseen this month? Have you heard doors Capricorn once said ‘Using e-mail, collision course with your sign, will slamming and locking loudly at I can communicate with scientists all be particularly exciting for you, all hours of the night? Is toilet roll over the world’. You should reflect as more and more news about the AQUARIUS disappearing at an unnatural rate? on this before you use Facebook toPISCES reboot of the Star Wars franchise is LEO PISCES AQUARIUS leaked. Do notLEO Don’t worry: these are not signs of poke that person from your seminar talk to people about VIRGO ARIES TAURUS CANCER LIBRA LIBRA SCORPIO Capricorn paranormal activity. Your housegroup who you’ve been eye fucking it. It isn’t endearing. CANCER LIBRA SCORPIO Capric LEO VIRGO GEMINI all term. SAGGITARIUS mate has justARIES worked out how to TAURUS torrent porn.
GEMINI ARIES PISCES
SAGGITARIUS TAURUS AQUARIUS
(20 February - 20 March)
PISCES CANCER LEO ARIES
AQUARIUS LIBRA TAURUS ARIESVIRGO
(21 March - 20 April)
LEO SCORPIO GEMINI CANCER TAURUS
VIRGO Capricor SAGGITA LIBRA CANCER
(21 April - 21 May)
Paranoia is going to be the main Luck is on your side this month. All theme for you this month. With this of the experiments you’ve secretly in mind, be sure to avoid the second been working on in your room will season of Homeland and especially finally come together, culminating those people who you think are your in the world’s first fully functioning friends (but actually hate you and shrink ray. Unfortunately, an always talk about you behind your accident involving a vanity mirror SAGGITAR LEO VIRGO GEMINI back). You were totally right aboutAQUARIUS and a pull upLEO bar will leave only VIRGO PISCES that time they were laughing loudlyPISCES your head perceptibly AQUARIUS smaller than LEO but then stopped really suddenly it should be. ARIES TAURUS CANCER LIBRA Capricorn when you walked back in the room. Bitches.
As a Pisces you are naturally calm and collected. However, even you won’t be able to stand the suspense leading to both the release of the Hobbit and the impending SSB. Please note that your idea of combining these two events will not PISCES AQUARIUS be sexy or fantastical, no matter which way you go about it.
(22 May - 21 June)
(22 June - 22 July)
(23 July - 22 August)
This will be a month of stunning revelations. In the true spirit of your sign, you will soon discover that you have a twin that you previously knew nothing about. Warning! For anyone with a twin already: one of you is an imposter.
As a direct result of this November’s solar eclipse you will be granted the gift of foresight in a case that confounds and amazes the entirety of the scientific community. Unfortunately, Nate Silver beat you to it and no one will be able to stand watching X-Factor with you.
Thanks to the hysterical influence of the Moon, this month you will be feeling even more courageous than you normally do! This new adventurous spirit will take you to hitherto unexplored areas of the city i.e. The King Billy. You will not be well received.
TAURUS ARIES VIRGO
CANCER TAURUS GEMINI
(23 August - 23 September) With your innate receptiveness and Jupiter in your sign, this month will see inspiration striking at an almost unbearable rate (!). However, attempts to transfer these inspirational and world changing ideas into witty or thoughtprovoking articles will not work at AQUARIUS PISCES all. But don’t worry: there areAQUARIUS stillLEO plenty of other student publications that would be happy to have you.
LIBRA CANCER SAGGITARIUS (24 September - 23 October)
(24 October - 22 November)
Feeling lonely? 07500831161.
Your fellow Scorpio Carl Sagan once said, ‘The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use it feels very good. Understanding is joyous’. Paraphrasing this to the Arena bouncers after being thrown out will only make things worse.
Had enough with seeing off your drinks from smelly shoes? Ideal for the Exeter student, chuggs are the odor-free, leak-proof drinking boots. Available for men and women, in a range of colours.
pour your drink into your chugg
See off your drink from the chugg
STEP 3: CelebratE!
Featuring: Dr. Matt Hayler on Neuroplasticity, Mark Izatt on life without carbs, the science of love, lonely hearts, horoscopes, plus much m...
Published on Dec 28, 2012
Featuring: Dr. Matt Hayler on Neuroplasticity, Mark Izatt on life without carbs, the science of love, lonely hearts, horoscopes, plus much m...