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Super Saiyan Science: How To Throw A Kamehameha Wave

Power Up with Dragon Ball Z

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Dragon Ball Z is an awesome Japanese anime television series that first appeared in 1989.  It tells the story of Goku, who along with his companions, defends the Earth against a collection of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and nearly indestructible magical creatures.  Goku’s Kamehameha Wave, or Turtle Devastation Wave is his main weapon of choice against his enemies.  It is a ball of energy created within his hands, that he then shoots out at a distance, debilitating his foe.

The Kamehameha Wave

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YouTube Channel, The Film Theorists, put together a short movie that illustrates the science behind the Kamehameha wave. What exactly IS this wave and can we please one day be able to shoot energy balls out of our own hands??  The narrator gives an explanation of the concept behind the wave. It is named after the Hawaiian King, Kamehameha.  It generally involves the character gathering “Ki” energy between their hands to form an energy ball. That then gets blasted out in a beam. Ki Energy is life force that exists within everyone.  It exists in the center of the body.

Chi Rules Everything Around Me

It’s similar to the Chinese word Qi, or “Chi” which is a basic principle of Chinese medicine and martial arts.  The word literally translates to “breath,” “air,” or “gas,” and is thought to be a life force or energy that exists in everything.

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Chi has a real place in the world, and here is what we know about it. It’s difficult to define, its a mental or spiritual energy, can heal the wounded, or strengthen a fighter. Even go so far as to give “force” like powers.   No real science backs this concept up though.

Plasma Makes it Possible

Keep Chi in mind as we continue.  The Kamehameha wave is composed of energy, but also has mass. It is a form of matter. Matter can be broken down to “solid,” “liquid” and “gas” but there is also “plasma” which the universe is 99% composed of. Plasma is a heated gas. Plasma is found in fluorescent light bulbs, lighting, and the giant hot ball in the sky we call the sun.

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So the way plasma is created is, you take a gas, and heat it up.  The electrons and the atoms in the gas get so excited that they start to break away. You end up with a soup of negatively charged electrons floating alongside positively charged ions. The air (which is a gas) inside of Goku’s hands becomes superheated, and it creates plasma. He is harnessing his body’s “Ki” or “Chi” power and the electrical potential of that Ki.  That electricity then, will super heat the gas to create the plasma.

The Energy to Create Plasma

Plasma typically requires 33 kilovolts (of electricity) per centimeter, to form. Once its created, it can be sustained with only 1/10th of that energy.  (3 kilovolts).  A plasma arc is created next to the energy source, but once it’s generated, it can stretch to 10 times the distance.  That’s how Goku is able to shoot that plasma out to such a great distance away from him.  Plasma Globes are a great source to explore this phenomenon.  Plasma is becoming something that will be utilized more often in the near future.  Boeing recently patented the use of “plasma shields” for instance.  The future is now!

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The Future is Here Pt. 1 of 3: Virtual Reality, The Beginning or the End of Society as We Know It?

 

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“Whoa!” That was the famous word Keanu Reeves said when he discovered the alternate reality of The Matrix back in 1999. Of course, as we learned in the movie, Keanu was stuck in a false reality. His senses were tricked into believing he was on Earth, when in reality an alien planet was living off his body and sending false signals to his brain through some creepy cord connected to his head. It was an apocalyptic, futuristic take on virtual reality, a concept that has been featured in many science fiction films.

The origins of virtual reality date back to 1968 when Ivan Sutherland created a wearable headset  to simulate being in a wireframe polygon room at the University of Utah. Starting in 1966, Thomas Furness spent over two decades at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing the virtual reality environments for pilots to train in. In the 1990s, movies like Lawnmower Man and Disclosure, made Virtual Reality look like it was about to enter the mainstream. By the mid-1990s gaming companies Sega, Atari and Nintendo had all invested heavily in Virtual Reality focused games, but the Virtual Reality hype quickly fizzled when all of their prototypes failed. Nintendo managed to get two of its products in the marketplace, the Power Glove and Virtual Boy, but they had awful sales and caused a virtual reality bust.

NES-Power-Glove
Virtual-Boy-wController

The possibilities of virtual reality have only reemerged recently with Oculus Rift, a VR headset company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. LucasFilms is currently marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience called Jakku Spy and even the New York Times is embracing it. But what is it? How does it ‘trick’ our brains? How can it be used for social good? In this lesson make your own VR headset and get in on the ground floor in figuring out how VR can change the world.

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The Future is Here Pt. 1 of 3: Virtual Reality, The Beginning or the End of Society as We Know It?

 

matrix_slide_01-36ss-virtual-reality-100413967-orig_thumb800

“Whoa!” That was the famous word Keanu Reeves said when he discovered the alternate reality of The Matrix back in 1999. Of course, as we learned in the movie, Keanu was stuck in a false reality. His senses were tricked into believing he was on Earth, when in reality an alien planet was living off his body and sending false signals to his brain through some creepy cord connected to his head. It was an apocalyptic, futuristic take on virtual reality, a concept that has been featured in many science fiction films.

The origins of virtual reality date back to 1968 when Ivan Sutherland created a wearable headset  to simulate being in a wireframe polygon room at the University of Utah. Starting in 1966, Thomas Furness spent over two decades at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing the virtual reality environments for pilots to train in. In the 1990s, movies like Lawnmower Man and Disclosure, made Virtual Reality look like it was about to enter the mainstream. By the mid-1990s gaming companies Sega, Atari and Nintendo had all invested heavily in Virtual Reality focused games, but the Virtual Reality hype quickly fizzled when all of their prototypes failed. Nintendo managed to get two of its products in the marketplace, the Power Glove and Virtual Boy, but they had awful sales and caused a virtual reality bust.

NES-Power-Glove
Virtual-Boy-wController

The possibilities of virtual reality have only reemerged recently with Oculus Rift, a VR headset company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. LucasFilms is currently marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience called Jakku Spy and even the New York Times is embracing it. But what is it? How does it ‘trick’ our brains? How can it be used for social good? In this lesson make your own VR headset and get in on the ground floor in figuring out how VR can change the world.

ps4_virtual_reality-1366x768 thumbnail

The Future is Here Pt. 1 of 3: Virtual Reality, The Beginning or the End of Society as We Know It?

 

matrix_slide_01-36ss-virtual-reality-100413967-orig_thumb800

“Whoa!” That was the famous word Keanu Reeves said when he discovered the alternate reality of The Matrix back in 1999. Of course, as we learned in the movie, Keanu was stuck in a false reality. His senses were tricked into believing he was on Earth, when in reality an alien planet was living off his body and sending false signals to his brain through some creepy cord connected to his head. It was an apocalyptic, futuristic take on virtual reality, a concept that has been featured in many science fiction films.

The origins of virtual reality date back to 1968 when Ivan Sutherland created a wearable headset  to simulate being in a wireframe polygon room at the University of Utah. Starting in 1966, Thomas Furness spent over two decades at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing the virtual reality environments for pilots to train in. In the 1990s, movies like Lawnmower Man and Disclosure, made Virtual Reality look like it was about to enter the mainstream. By the mid-1990s gaming companies Sega, Atari and Nintendo had all invested heavily in Virtual Reality focused games, but the Virtual Reality hype quickly fizzled when all of their prototypes failed. Nintendo managed to get two of its products in the marketplace, the Power Glove and Virtual Boy, but they had awful sales and caused a virtual reality bust.

NES-Power-Glove
Virtual-Boy-wController

The possibilities of virtual reality have only reemerged recently with Oculus Rift, a VR headset company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. LucasFilms is currently marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience called Jakku Spy and even the New York Times is embracing it. But what is it? How does it ‘trick’ our brains? How can it be used for social good? In this lesson make your own VR headset and get in on the ground floor in figuring out how VR can change the world.

MGSV-TPP-Full-Scale-Bionic-Arm-2

The Future of Prosthetics: Metal Gear Inspired Arms

 

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James Young and Metal Gear Solid

James Young lost his arm and his foot in a tragic train accident in 2012, and he has been adjusting to life with prosthetic limbs ever since. He has received a truly groundbreaking prosthetic from a London designer, that has made his limb look like Snake’s from the video game Metal Gear Solid.  Konami, a Japanese video game developer, teamed up with the innovative designer, Sophie De Oliviera Barata to create the limb.

A whole team of engineers, roboticists and designers produced this piece of technology for the 25 year old. As with most prosthetics, the build is customised to Young’s requirements, and also uses cutting edge and innovative technologies

Young was “carefully selected by Sophie as a candidate comfortable with the idea of an eye-catching alternative limb and who would benefit from the capabilities it offered,” say Konami.

In Metal Gear Solid V, Snake gains an artificial arm after losing it in prelude Ground Zeroes. Although Young’s arm won’t be an exact replica, it will be inspired by the aesthetic of the virtual one, without the many weapons and espionage tools outfitted to it in the game though.

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The Special Features

The arm includes a smartwatch in the wrist. The fingers are controllable, and it also doubles as a phone charger thanks to a USB port. A panel on the outside of the shoulder houses a drone that can actually fly around. The arm is detachable and can light up in various colors, and is controlled by James via commands sent by his shoulder muscles to sensors.  However, this is a work in progress.  

To achieve his goal of having two fully independent arms once again, James is currently seeking funding for a procedure called osseointegration, which will basically involve attaching the prosthetic directly to his bone using titanium. If you’d like to help out, you can donate to James’ cause on his GoFundMe page.

“The Phantom Limb Project was born out of a desire to create something innovative, on the cusp of future technology, which would explore the themes present within the series and more specifically, the themes and ideas referenced in the latest incarnation: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” the creators said.

“We also wanted to tell an uplifting human story of what it means to be an amputee, to feel phantom pain, to overcome loss and how technology can change our perceptions of ‘disability’. Moreover, the story of how one gamer [...] never let his condition get in the way of his passion.”

De Oliveira Barata designs unique prosthetic limbs. As founder of The Alternative Limbs Project, she has pioneered a field for individualized limbs built to match the tastes and personalities of their wearers.

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A Brief History of Prosthesis

As the amputee coalition eloquently put, “from the ancient pyramids to World War I, the prosthetic field has morphed into a sophisticated example of man’s determination to do better.”

The evolution of prosthesis is a long history, from its primitive beginnings to its sophisticated present, to the exciting visions of the future. As in the development of any other field, some ideas and inventions have worked and been expanded upon, such as the fixed-position foot, while others have fallen by the wayside or become obsolete, such as the use of iron in a prosthesis.

The Egyptians were the early pioneers of prosthetic technology. Scientists recently discovered what is said to be the world’s first prosthetic toe from an Egyptian mummy and it appears to have been functional.

The Dark Ages saw little advancement in prosthetics other than the hand hook and peg leg. Most prostheses of the time were made to hide deformities or injuries sustained in battle. A knight would be fitted with a prosthesis that was designed only to hold a shield or for a leg to appear in the stirrups, with little attention to functionality. Outside of battle, only the wealthy were lucky enough to be fitted with a peg leg or hand hook for daily function.

In 1508, German mercenary Gotz von Berlichingen had a pair of technologically advanced iron hands made after he lost his right arm in the Battle of Landshut. The hands could be manipulated by setting them with the natural hand and moved by relaxing a series of releases and springs while being suspended with leather straps.

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French Army barber/surgeon Ambroise Paré is considered by many to be the father of modern amputation surgery and prosthetic design. He introduced modern amputation procedures (1529) to the medical community and made prostheses (1536) for upper- and lower-extremity amputees. He also invented an above-knee device that was a kneeling peg leg and foot prosthesis that had a fixed position, adjustable harness, knee lock control and other engineering features that are used in today’s devices.

His work showed the first true understanding of how a prosthesis should function. A colleague of Paré’s, Lorrain, a French locksmith, offered one of the most important contributions to the field when he used leather, paper and glue in place of heavy iron in making a prosthesis.

 

Looking To The Future

Today’s devices are much lighter, made of plastic, aluminum and composite materials to provide amputees with the most functional devices. In addition to lighter, patient-molded devices, the advent of microprocessors, computer chips and robotics in today’s devices are designed to return amputees to the lifestyle they were accustomed to, rather than to simply provide basic functionality or a more pleasing appearance.

Innovators such as Sophie De Oliviera Barata are taking the functionality of a prosthetic limb, and adding the personal style that reflects the wearer.  As this field steps into the future, perhaps limbs like the one James Young wears will become a reality for more and more people who are faced with this challenge of replacing a limb.

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The Future is Here Pt. 1 of 3: Virtual Reality, The Beginning or the End of Society as We Know It?

 

matrix_slide_01-36ss-virtual-reality-100413967-orig_thumb800

“Whoa!” That was the famous word Keanu Reeves said when he discovered the alternate reality of The Matrix back in 1999. Of course, as we learned in the movie, Keanu was stuck in a false reality. His senses were tricked into believing he was on Earth, when in reality an alien planet was living off his body and sending false signals to his brain through some creepy cord connected to his head. It was an apocalyptic, futuristic take on virtual reality, a concept that has been featured in many science fiction films.

The origins of virtual reality date back to 1968 when Ivan Sutherland created a wearable headset  to simulate being in a wireframe polygon room at the University of Utah. Starting in 1966, Thomas Furness spent over two decades at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base developing the virtual reality environments for pilots to train in. In the 1990s, movies like Lawnmower Man and Disclosure, made Virtual Reality look like it was about to enter the mainstream. By the mid-1990s gaming companies Sega, Atari and Nintendo had all invested heavily in Virtual Reality focused games, but the Virtual Reality hype quickly fizzled when all of their prototypes failed. Nintendo managed to get two of its products in the marketplace, the Power Glove and Virtual Boy, but they had awful sales and caused a virtual reality bust.

NES-Power-Glove
Virtual-Boy-wController

The possibilities of virtual reality have only reemerged recently with Oculus Rift, a VR headset company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. LucasFilms is currently marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience called Jakku Spy and even the New York Times is embracing it. But what is it? How does it ‘trick’ our brains? How can it be used for social good? In this lesson make your own VR headset and get in on the ground floor in figuring out how VR can change the world.

The Science Of Bioshock: Plasmids and Genetic Augmentation

 

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Scientifically, the concepts behind the fiction are real.

Bioshock is a very popular, and terrifying video game franchise released by 2K Games and Irrational Games. The main storyline follows Jack, who finds himself in this hostile environment and figures out how to survive along the way. Jack learns about how to augment his DNA through the injection of various plasmids.  He would not survive without the abilities they provided – including shooting electricity, immolating objects, and telekinesis.  Though these augmentations are not yet a reality today, scientifically, the concepts behind the fiction are real. Plasmids, stem cells, and genetic modification all have real world applications.

 

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In this first person adventure game set in an underwater city called Rapture, the city’s founder, Andrew Ryan, had created a utopia where scientific progress made changing our biology a reality.  The city was an experiment, with its people as its test subjects, harnessing God-like powers and wielding them carelessly with the idea that Man and Man’s progress creates his own destiny. Positively, it gave humans supernatural abilities.  Negatively, these abilities created monstrous and other horrific effects on humans.

 

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The potential to change genetic makeup would become more possible.

Certain natural phenomena, and biotech advances enable the augmentation of DNA, including plasmids, viruses, transposons, and the introduction of synthetic DNA.

Plasmids are small loops of DNA found within bacteria that grant different traits and genetic advantages from organism to organism.

Viruses are expert genetic hackers that exist to replicate. They enter cells and control the cells’ DNA, making viruses an extremely useful tool in genetic research.

Transposons are short lengths of DNA that are able to move from one location in a genome to another.  Many transposons carry antibiotic resistance genes and other advantageous traits, spreading these traits throughout a population.

Synthetic DNA constructs can be introduced into human cells, existing independently from the rest of the genome—a human artificial chromosome (HAC).  The potential to change genetic makeup would become more possible.

There are a lot of potential benefits to DNA augmentation methods, fighting diseases and resistant bacteria to name a few.  Some themes that are at play within the Bioshock world include how to proceed when faced with choices to enhance and protect ourselves.  If given the ability to simply augment your genetic makeup to heal oneself, or gain powers, at the possible cost of unforeseen negative effects, what would you do?

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The Science of Why Cops Shoot: A NuSkool Special Report

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Racial injustice and shooting violence are nothing new, this is not even the first time we’ve addressed these topics on NuSkool. However, the questions are becoming harder to answer. How do we respond when a young person asks, “Why are the police shooting us?”. It would be simple to write off all of the recent police involved shootings as the good guys getting the bad guys, but those lines have blurred. Nor can we paint everything with the brush of racism and bias.

We attempted to get to the root of the problem by conducting a scientific investigation into why police are deciding to take lethal action in so many scenarios that seem like they could’ve been handled without loss of life. One major takeaway to consider, deeper than any racial bias – subconscious or otherwise, is the human body’s most basic and biological response to danger, fear and self-preservation. Police officers, criminals and innocent victims, all react to fear as either fight or flight, and sometimes to their detriment.

Here are the highlights of what we found after digging through dozens of research articles, scientific studies, police training videos, and testimonies from police and neuroscience experts.


Police Officers are Trained to Shoot First

Police officers are being told that they are justified in shooting first, based on the findings of a study on reaction time in live shooter situations. Shooting a suspect first and taking preemptive action is considered ‘reasonable’, according to a study on shooting reaction time. In this study, conducted by J. Pete Blair at Texas State University and published by Police Quarterly, it was found that a suspect without a gun revealed or a gun to their side can fire a shot quicker than a well-trained officer can react and shoot, even with the officer’s gun aimed at the suspect ready to fire.

In the experiment, officers had their gun up and on target from the start and were instructed to “attempt to shoot first” as soon as they “perceived” a move to shoot them. The research team then analyzed video recordings of 159 of the shooting exchanges, frame-by-frame. The reaction-time results showed that the suspects on average were able to fire from their side in just 0.38 seconds. Officers fired back in an average of 0.39 seconds after the suspect’s movement began.

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The researchers concluded that “many of the elements that occur in real-life shootings” would no doubt add significant time to the average officer’s reaction time. “The process of perceiving the suspect’s movement, interpreting the action, deciding on a response, and executing the response for the officer generally took longer than it took the suspect to shoot a gun, even though the officer already had his gun aimed at the suspect.” If you take this study and apply it to real life-or-death situations, racial prejudice, fear, stress, fatigue can all further affect an officer’s reaction time, thus causing the officer to preemptively react even earlier or slower than they normally would.

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This study conducted by Blair, who also happens to train thousands of Law Enforcement, is used to help clear officers in cases when police use deadly force. This study is used as the ‘reasonableness’ standard by examining the ability of police officers to respond to armed suspects. New officer trainings also stress the importance of being alert for and responding to early indicators of imminent threats, such as nervous or suspicious movements and other potential early warning signs of potential violent attack, rather than waiting for immediate threats such as a gun being pointed directly at them. Police trainer and scientist, Bill Lewinski of the Force Institute, believes it is “lunacy” that there are still departments that insist by policy that officers cannot legitimately shoot first to defend themselves unless an offender is actually pointing a weapon at them.


Police Officers Shoot Black Targets Faster than White Targets

Investigators in the Stereotyping and Prejudice Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago have been working to develop and refine a first-person-shooter video game, which presents a series of images of black and white men—some armed, some unarmed— in realistic backgrounds such as parks or city streets. The player’s goal is to shoot any and all armed targets but not to shoot unarmed targets. Half of the targets are black, and half are white. The game was to investigate whether shooting a potentially hostile suspect can be influenced by the person’s race.

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The results were upsetting and, quite frankly, tough to swallow. The study found that local police officers, national police officers and even community participants showed significant bias in their reaction times, and the groups were all faster to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target, and uniformly faster to press the “Don’t shoot” button for an unarmed white target and slower to press “Don’t shoot” relative to an unarmed black target.
Community participants were faster to press “Shoot” in response to an armed target if that target was black rather than white, whereas they were faster to press “Don’t shoot” in response to an unarmed target if that target was white rather than black.

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The community participants were also more likely to mistakenly shoot an unarmed target if he was black rather than white. This finding alone is reason enough as to why we don’t need armed citizens walking the streets. Overall, they were slower and more likely to make mistakes in response to targets that deviated from racial stereotypes, such as unarmed blacks and armed whites.


Fear Causes Police Officers to Experience Memory Loss and Sensory Distortion

Crazy things happen to the body in a state of fear, most of us respond in one of three ways, fight, flight or freeze. You would hope that trained professionals are able to deal with fear differently, but nothing can truly prepare you for a life-threatening situation.

Fear is the body’s way of telling itself that his or her life is in danger and immediate action is required, chemical changes alert only the parts of the body you need to survive the situation. Blood flow is enhanced to the large muscles, it is diverted away from other areas of the body. The brain receives less blood and has reduced the need and ability to think or reason. The ability to distinguish time, colors and distance are all diminished and your body reverts to ‘auto-pilot’, acting on learned habits, training and instincts without thinking. Without proper training, which is in the range of performing the act 3,000 to 5,000 times, the body will likely rely on instincts in a crisis.

Police officers experience Perceptual Distortion, a number of perceptual changes as a result of fear. This can affect not only the outcome of the crisis, but their ability to recall key details as part of the investigation of a fatal shooting incident.

72 police officers who had been involved in a shooting were surveyed and the following results were found:

Diminished Sound: 88% did not hear sounds such as gunfire, shouting, or sirens, or the sounds had “an unusual distant, muffled quality.”

Tunnel Vision: 82% reported that their “vision became intensely focused on the perceived threat” and they lost their peripheral vision.

Automatic Pilot: 78% reported responding “automatically to the perceived threat, giving little or no conscious thought” to their actions.

Heightened Visual Clarity: 65% reported being able to “see some details or actions with unusually vivid clarity or detail.”

Slow Motion Time: 63% reported that “events seemed to be taking place in slow motion and seemed to take longer to happen than they really did.”

Memory Loss for Parts of the Event: 61% reported that, after the event, there were parts of it that they could not remember.

Memory Loss for Actions: 60% reported that, after the event, they could not remember some of their own actions. 33% in another study of 90 cases studied found police officers could not accurately recall the number of shots fired in shootings. officers were much more likely to underestimate the number of shots fired than to overestimate that number.

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During the events leading up to a shooting, the officer must process a variety of data, some of it important while much of it will be chaos. Responding to a perceived threat requires cognitive processing and decision making. There are three categories for human reaction: simple, choice, and recognition.

Simple response: involves only one signal and one response. It often appears in the form of a stand-off between police and an armed suspect; police wait until the suspect makes a single threatening gesture such as pointing a firearm before firing.

Choice response: is when the officer has to process multiple signals, each of which may require multiple responses. An officer may, for example, have to decide whether to fire his pistol, use his Taser, Pepper spray, or engage the suspect in hand-to-hand combat based on the person’s actions and other environmental factors such as innocent bystanders.

Recognition response: an officer must process multiple signals but with only one response; this is the typical shoot/don’t shoot scenario, where there are many signals to process but the decision comes down to whether or not to pull the trigger and fire at the suspect.


The Force Institute uses Science to Clear Police Officers of Wrongdoing in Shooting Cases

The Force Science, run by Executive Director Bill Lewinski, PhD. — a specialist in police psychology — has spent the last decade training police officers and conducting unique scientific lethal-force experiments to help clear officers from being charged criminally after a fatal shooting incident.

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One experiment tried to explain how shooting a suspect in the back can actually happen unintentionally at no fault of the officer. Lewinski says. “The officer may make a decision to shoot when the suspect is facing him and threatening deadly force, but before the officer’s gunfire reaches the suspect, he has turned to run and unavoidably is hit in the back. This movement can happen in 14/100 of a second and is so fast that many times the officer doesn’t even realize the suspect has turned and is mystified by where the bullets end up hitting.” These findings were later credited with preventing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by the suspect’s family and kept the case from being brought to trial.

Lewinski also attempts to use physiology and brain science to explain how “extra” shots can be fired by officers after a threatening suspect is neutralized. This experiment explains that once the brain receives the stimulus message to stop shooting in a high-stress situation, a typical officer will still squeeze off two to three additional rounds before the message to stop transmits from his brain to his trigger finger. “In just one second an officer can shoot a semi-automatic pistol four times,” Lewinski claims. “It’s not a case of malicious overreaction. It’s a law of physiology.”

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The Force Institute presents their findings on behalf of officers under legal scrutiny after a shooting, Lewinski has explained his unique findings to internal affairs and homicide investigators, medical examiners, prosecutors, grand juries, judges, civil rights lawyers, civilian review boards, criminal- and civil-court jurors, and others who are responsible for assessing officers’ judgment in street conflicts. His documented work has kept a number of officers from going to prison or being found liable in civil lawsuits.


Shooting a Gun Helps Officers Perform at their Best

Shooting a gun restores power and focus back to the officer. Just as blood flow to the brain is lost as a result of fear, blood flow is regained after a dopamine injection from firing a gun, restoring thinking and reasoning capacities.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. We feel dopamine releases as engagement, excitement, creativity, and desire. The dopamine chemical is released when we win in sports, do well on a task, achieve a goal or even collect coins in a video game. Drugs create artificial releases of dopamine, creating the urge for the body to seek out more and more doses of the dopamine release. Motivation and addiction both come from the body’s internal desire to continually seek out dopamine releases. The act of shooting a gun and hitting a target both release a significant amount of dopamine into the bloodstream.

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The best dopamine release is when the reward follows the stimulus by roughly 100-200 milliseconds. Firing an automatic weapon is instantly gratifying and ideal for dopamine rewards since an assault weapon can fire a round every 100 milliseconds. This means firing automatic weaponry can resemble addictive behavior and dopamine abuse.

Contrary to what we learned about fear depleting the body of key senses, the act of firing a gun and getting a rush of dopamine actually restores key brain functions and improves awareness. This helps the brain perform when we we take risks and helps us survive that behavior. Dopamine increases attention, information flow, and pattern recognition in the brain. It also improves heart rate, blood pressure and muscle firing in the body. Dopamine serves as an important skill-booster and can counterbalance the detrimental affects of fear.

Tetris

The Tetris Effect: Re-Wire Your Mind

Tetris

The Tetris Effect:

When the game Tetris was released, it was insanely popular and became an instant classic.  Even the creator of the game himself has said he had trouble finishing the game’s programming because he couldn’t stop playing it during testing!  From the start, the game produced an unforeseen effect on the players’ minds when played very heavily – one that was confusing, somewhat alarming, and ultimately fascinating.

Also known as The Tetris Syndrome, The Tetris Effect occurs when people spend so much time doing a particular activity or pattern of behavior that it inhabits their thoughts, mental images, and dreams.  With Tetris, the players would see the little tetris block formations, or tetronimos, falling and fitting into rows when they weren’t playing anymore.  With other games and activities requiring repetitive behaviors, other similar visual experiences associated with the activity take place.  It is related to something becoming a habit but with real cognitive changes occurring in the brain.

Memory Science:

In psychology, memory is the process through which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.  There are different types of memory including “declarative memory,” which requires conscious recall.  In other words, some active mental process must occur to recall the information.

Conversely there is “procedural memory,” which is not based on conscious recall but on implicit learning.  Implicit learning takes places when a behavior is learned from repetitive practice.  So procedural memory works when you automatically know how to physically do something without any conscious effort – like tying your shoe, riding a bike, or reading.  Motor skills are developed this way as well as behaviors and patterns of thoughts associated with The Tetris Effect.

Real Studies:

In 2000, a scientist, Robert Stickgold and his colleagues at the Harvard Medical School proposed that Tetris imagery is a separate form of memory likely related to procedural memory.  This is from their research in which they showed that people with anterograde amnesia, unable to form new declarative memories, reported dreaming of falling shapes after playing Tetris during the day despite not being able to remember playing the game at all.

A study conducted by Lynn Okagaki and Peter Frensch in 1994 showed that participants who played Tetris for twelve 30-minute sessions (with no previous experience of the game) did much better than a control group in a spatial skills test.  The result of the experiment was that the game had positive effects on spatial skills abilities including mental rotation, spatial perception, and spatial visualization.

The experience of seeing falling tetris blocks in your mind hours after playing the game can be somewhat alarming, and you might think, “Did I just fry my brain!?”  Playing the game Tetris is very enjoyable for most players, and the somewhat alarming effect of visualizing the game when you aren’t playing it might even have benefits like those described in the studies above.  Overall, it’s a very unique observable scientific phenomenon associated with a popular video game, which is pretty cool.

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The Science of Why Cops Shoot: A NuSkool Special Report

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Racial injustice and shooting violence are nothing new, this is not even the first time we’ve addressed these topics on NuSkool. However, the questions are becoming harder to answer. How do we respond when a young person asks, “Why are the police shooting us?”. It would be simple to write off all of the recent police involved shootings as the good guys getting the bad guys, but those lines have blurred. Nor can we paint everything with the brush of racism and bias.

We attempted to get to the root of the problem by conducting a scientific investigation into why police are deciding to take lethal action in so many scenarios that seem like they could’ve been handled without loss of life. One major takeaway to consider, deeper than any racial bias – subconscious or otherwise, is the human body’s most basic and biological response to danger, fear and self-preservation. Police officers, criminals and innocent victims, all react to fear as either fight or flight, and sometimes to their detriment.

Here are the highlights of what we found after digging through dozens of research articles, scientific studies, police training videos, and testimonies from police and neuroscience experts.


Police Officers are Trained to Shoot First

Police officers are being told that they are justified in shooting first, based on the findings of a study on reaction time in live shooter situations. Shooting a suspect first and taking preemptive action is considered ‘reasonable’, according to a study on shooting reaction time. In this study, conducted by J. Pete Blair at Texas State University and published by Police Quarterly, it was found that a suspect without a gun revealed or a gun to their side can fire a shot quicker than a well-trained officer can react and shoot, even with the officer’s gun aimed at the suspect ready to fire.

In the experiment, officers had their gun up and on target from the start and were instructed to “attempt to shoot first” as soon as they “perceived” a move to shoot them. The research team then analyzed video recordings of 159 of the shooting exchanges, frame-by-frame. The reaction-time results showed that the suspects on average were able to fire from their side in just 0.38 seconds. Officers fired back in an average of 0.39 seconds after the suspect’s movement began.

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The researchers concluded that “many of the elements that occur in real-life shootings” would no doubt add significant time to the average officer’s reaction time. “The process of perceiving the suspect’s movement, interpreting the action, deciding on a response, and executing the response for the officer generally took longer than it took the suspect to shoot a gun, even though the officer already had his gun aimed at the suspect.” If you take this study and apply it to real life-or-death situations, racial prejudice, fear, stress, fatigue can all further affect an officer’s reaction time, thus causing the officer to preemptively react even earlier or slower than they normally would.

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This study conducted by Blair, who also happens to train thousands of Law Enforcement, is used to help clear officers in cases when police use deadly force. This study is used as the ‘reasonableness’ standard by examining the ability of police officers to respond to armed suspects. New officer trainings also stress the importance of being alert for and responding to early indicators of imminent threats, such as nervous or suspicious movements and other potential early warning signs of potential violent attack, rather than waiting for immediate threats such as a gun being pointed directly at them. Police trainer and scientist, Bill Lewinski of the Force Institute, believes it is “lunacy” that there are still departments that insist by policy that officers cannot legitimately shoot first to defend themselves unless an offender is actually pointing a weapon at them.


Police Officers Shoot Black Targets Faster than White Targets

Investigators in the Stereotyping and Prejudice Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago have been working to develop and refine a first-person-shooter video game, which presents a series of images of black and white men—some armed, some unarmed— in realistic backgrounds such as parks or city streets. The player’s goal is to shoot any and all armed targets but not to shoot unarmed targets. Half of the targets are black, and half are white. The game was to investigate whether shooting a potentially hostile suspect can be influenced by the person’s race.

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The results were upsetting and, quite frankly, tough to swallow. The study found that local police officers, national police officers and even community participants showed significant bias in their reaction times, and the groups were all faster to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target, and uniformly faster to press the “Don’t shoot” button for an unarmed white target and slower to press “Don’t shoot” relative to an unarmed black target.
Community participants were faster to press “Shoot” in response to an armed target if that target was black rather than white, whereas they were faster to press “Don’t shoot” in response to an unarmed target if that target was white rather than black.

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The community participants were also more likely to mistakenly shoot an unarmed target if he was black rather than white. This finding alone is reason enough as to why we don’t need armed citizens walking the streets. Overall, they were slower and more likely to make mistakes in response to targets that deviated from racial stereotypes, such as unarmed blacks and armed whites.


Fear Causes Police Officers to Experience Memory Loss and Sensory Distortion

Crazy things happen to the body in a state of fear, most of us respond in one of three ways, fight, flight or freeze. You would hope that trained professionals are able to deal with fear differently, but nothing can truly prepare you for a life-threatening situation.

Fear is the body’s way of telling itself that his or her life is in danger and immediate action is required, chemical changes alert only the parts of the body you need to survive the situation. Blood flow is enhanced to the large muscles, it is diverted away from other areas of the body. The brain receives less blood and has reduced the need and ability to think or reason. The ability to distinguish time, colors and distance are all diminished and your body reverts to ‘auto-pilot’, acting on learned habits, training and instincts without thinking. Without proper training, which is in the range of performing the act 3,000 to 5,000 times, the body will likely rely on instincts in a crisis.

Police officers experience Perceptual Distortion, a number of perceptual changes as a result of fear. This can affect not only the outcome of the crisis, but their ability to recall key details as part of the investigation of a fatal shooting incident.

72 police officers who had been involved in a shooting were surveyed and the following results were found:

Diminished Sound: 88% did not hear sounds such as gunfire, shouting, or sirens, or the sounds had “an unusual distant, muffled quality.”

Tunnel Vision: 82% reported that their “vision became intensely focused on the perceived threat” and they lost their peripheral vision.

Automatic Pilot: 78% reported responding “automatically to the perceived threat, giving little or no conscious thought” to their actions.

Heightened Visual Clarity: 65% reported being able to “see some details or actions with unusually vivid clarity or detail.”

Slow Motion Time: 63% reported that “events seemed to be taking place in slow motion and seemed to take longer to happen than they really did.”

Memory Loss for Parts of the Event: 61% reported that, after the event, there were parts of it that they could not remember.

Memory Loss for Actions: 60% reported that, after the event, they could not remember some of their own actions. 33% in another study of 90 cases studied found police officers could not accurately recall the number of shots fired in shootings. officers were much more likely to underestimate the number of shots fired than to overestimate that number.

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During the events leading up to a shooting, the officer must process a variety of data, some of it important while much of it will be chaos. Responding to a perceived threat requires cognitive processing and decision making. There are three categories for human reaction: simple, choice, and recognition.

Simple response: involves only one signal and one response. It often appears in the form of a stand-off between police and an armed suspect; police wait until the suspect makes a single threatening gesture such as pointing a firearm before firing.

Choice response: is when the officer has to process multiple signals, each of which may require multiple responses. An officer may, for example, have to decide whether to fire his pistol, use his Taser, Pepper spray, or engage the suspect in hand-to-hand combat based on the person’s actions and other environmental factors such as innocent bystanders.

Recognition response: an officer must process multiple signals but with only one response; this is the typical shoot/don’t shoot scenario, where there are many signals to process but the decision comes down to whether or not to pull the trigger and fire at the suspect.


The Force Institute uses Science to Clear Police Officers of Wrongdoing in Shooting Cases

The Force Science, run by Executive Director Bill Lewinski, PhD. — a specialist in police psychology — has spent the last decade training police officers and conducting unique scientific lethal-force experiments to help clear officers from being charged criminally after a fatal shooting incident.

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One experiment tried to explain how shooting a suspect in the back can actually happen unintentionally at no fault of the officer. Lewinski says. “The officer may make a decision to shoot when the suspect is facing him and threatening deadly force, but before the officer’s gunfire reaches the suspect, he has turned to run and unavoidably is hit in the back. This movement can happen in 14/100 of a second and is so fast that many times the officer doesn’t even realize the suspect has turned and is mystified by where the bullets end up hitting.” These findings were later credited with preventing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by the suspect’s family and kept the case from being brought to trial.

Lewinski also attempts to use physiology and brain science to explain how “extra” shots can be fired by officers after a threatening suspect is neutralized. This experiment explains that once the brain receives the stimulus message to stop shooting in a high-stress situation, a typical officer will still squeeze off two to three additional rounds before the message to stop transmits from his brain to his trigger finger. “In just one second an officer can shoot a semi-automatic pistol four times,” Lewinski claims. “It’s not a case of malicious overreaction. It’s a law of physiology.”

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The Force Institute presents their findings on behalf of officers under legal scrutiny after a shooting, Lewinski has explained his unique findings to internal affairs and homicide investigators, medical examiners, prosecutors, grand juries, judges, civil rights lawyers, civilian review boards, criminal- and civil-court jurors, and others who are responsible for assessing officers’ judgment in street conflicts. His documented work has kept a number of officers from going to prison or being found liable in civil lawsuits.


Shooting a Gun Helps Officers Perform at their Best

Shooting a gun restores power and focus back to the officer. Just as blood flow to the brain is lost as a result of fear, blood flow is regained after a dopamine injection from firing a gun, restoring thinking and reasoning capacities.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. We feel dopamine releases as engagement, excitement, creativity, and desire. The dopamine chemical is released when we win in sports, do well on a task, achieve a goal or even collect coins in a video game. Drugs create artificial releases of dopamine, creating the urge for the body to seek out more and more doses of the dopamine release. Motivation and addiction both come from the body’s internal desire to continually seek out dopamine releases. The act of shooting a gun and hitting a target both release a significant amount of dopamine into the bloodstream.

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The best dopamine release is when the reward follows the stimulus by roughly 100-200 milliseconds. Firing an automatic weapon is instantly gratifying and ideal for dopamine rewards since an assault weapon can fire a round every 100 milliseconds. This means firing automatic weaponry can resemble addictive behavior and dopamine abuse.

Contrary to what we learned about fear depleting the body of key senses, the act of firing a gun and getting a rush of dopamine actually restores key brain functions and improves awareness. This helps the brain perform when we we take risks and helps us survive that behavior. Dopamine increases attention, information flow, and pattern recognition in the brain. It also improves heart rate, blood pressure and muscle firing in the body. Dopamine serves as an important skill-booster and can counterbalance the detrimental affects of fear.