The 10 best reference websites

1. The CIA Factbook
This offshoot of the American intelligence agency’s site gives a detailed overview of every country. It also provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.

2. Biography.com
The website of the Biography Channel is an excellent place to gen up on historical figures and celebrities, while its “Dead Or Not” game shows that beyond a necessary obsession with factual accuracy it has a fun side, too.

3. Onelook.com
Type in a word or phrase and OneLook will offer a quick definition and link to reputable online sources, such as the Cambridge and Hutchinson dictionaries. Wildcard searches, meanwhile – where you need only key in a few words from a word – make it invaluable for Scrabble players and crossword solvers.

4. Onlineconversion.com
Sorted by more than 30 categories, from astronomical units to viscosity, this converts one unit of measurement to another. Google can do something similar – type “20kg in ounces” into the search box, for example -but this site is far more comprehensive.

5. 1911encyclopedia.org
The full 1911 version of the Encyclopaedia-Britannica is now online. Particularly interesting are the accounts of historical figures written while they were alive.

6. Britannica.com
Online access to the modern Britannica costs £49.95 a year, but that compares with £450 for the full set of 32 volumes. More comprehensive than Wikipedia, it also features thousands of audio and video clips.

7. About.com
About was set up in 1996 and can now call on a network of more than 750 experts to answer users’ questions. More than 60m people visit the site each month looking for help on pretty much anything.

8. Specialissues.com/lol
A collection of links to lists that have appeared somewhere in the world’s press. If you need to know the planet’s most valuable 15 football teams, head there.

9. Lii.org
The Librarians’ Internet Index is a US organisation with a collection of links to ‘websites you can trust’. The history and politics ones are a little US-centric, arts and science links are more comprehensive.

10. www.WhatsOnWhen.com
This lists upcoming event from all over the world. Search by date, destination, type of event, keyword or a combination of them all, and maybe discover that your trip to Tahiti coincides with its annual Tarantino week.

 

Bookworms’ dream: ATM for books

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launched at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait. It offers the best of both worlds: the virtually unlimited choice of books on the Internet and the traditional book format. In short, ATM for books.

Reading Trends: how non-fiction sales, by genre, have stocked up in the 21st century

Do we read less in recession? Publishing has suffered in the downturn, though not as much as one might think. In fact, over the past eight years, the umber of books bought in the UK has risen by nearly 50 per cent to just under 240 million. Adult non-fiction – now makes up 40 per cent of the sales, eclipsing fiction, which accounts for just 30 per cent (the remaining 30 per cent is accounted for by children’s books). In the graphic below, each full-sized book represents about 225,000 books purchased, meaning that in 2007 – our tallest shelf – the nation bought just under 23 million books across the genres selected. Some of the trends are clear. Su Doku – in “Puzzles” – catapults into the mainstream in 2005. Celebrity chefs continue their rise. Biographies and autobiographies spike in 2006, mostly because a lot of high-profile names among them Gordon Ramsey, Sharon Osbourne and Steven Gerrard – had books published. Then there are the small victories, such as Does Anything Eat Wasps?, a compendium of New Scientist columns, which in 2006 almost single-handedly increased sales of popular science books by 50 per cent.

Reading trends 2001-2009 - sales of books in the UK

Reading trends 2001-2008 – sales of books in the UK

Conscious vs subconscious processing power

How faster is your subconscious at processing information compared to the conscious mind? 500.000 times!

This is how I’ve calculated the difference. The subconscious mind can process 20 000 000 bits of info per second. The conscious mind can only process 40 bits of info/sec. So the subconscious mind can process 500 000 time more what the conscious mind is able to. This according to information from The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton. There is no formal agreement on how fast is the subconscious mind. For example, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine estimate that the human retina can transmit visual input at at roughly 10 million bits per second. Another study suggests that the subconscious mind processes about 400 billion bits of information per second and the impulses travel at a speed of up to 100,000 mph! Compare this to your conscious mind, which processes only about 2,000 bits of information per second and its impulses travel only at 100-150 mph. We have 50 trillion cells in our body performing trillions of processes – so an enormous processing power is required. Another take: only about 0.01% of all the brain’s activity is experienced consciously. In other words, it is as if roughly 10’000 cinema films are actually going on in the brain all at once, while we are only consciously aware of one of them. Altogether then, the data rate processed by the brain is an astronomical 320 Gb/s! (read the full paper) Whatever the processing power and speed of subconscious mind, with speed reading and photoreading you can start to utilise the enormous powers of your subconscious mind.

A plan to scan – Google’s grand ebooks plan

On the shelf statistics: of the 40m titles in US libraries about 8m are out of copyright and 32m are still covered in copyright. Of these 32m, about 7m-9m are in print and 23m-25m are out of print. Of the23m-25m out-of-print titles still covered by copyright, about 2.5m-5m are ‘orphan works’ (copyright holders cannot be traced). Google wants to digitalise all books. Why?  Read the full article in FT online

Bookworld – reading simulates reality

When we read books, our brains process the written information as if we were participating in or observing the scene for real. “Psychologists and neuroscientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that when we read a story and really understand it, we create a mental simulation of the events described by the story.” says Professor Jeffrey Zacks, director of the Dynamic Cognitive Laboratory at Washington University in St Louis. Read more about this study

Relaxation is the key to speed reading

Getting into a good state for speed reading is essential. Having a relaxed, alert, questioning, purposeful mind is the ideal state for reading if you want to understand and remember information. Many of the other speed reading techniques that we teach are also designed to get your mind and body in an optimal state for reading. The latest research backing up relaxation as the key to learning comes from Goldsmiths College in London and the Austrian Academy of Science where they studied the brain rhythms of 25 volunteers  while they were asked to solve verbal problems. Those who displayed higher alpha brain waves – associated with a relaxed brain – were more likely to find the correct solution to the problem. Download our 37 speed reading techniques now

Dr. Larry Dossey The Power of Premonitions: How knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives Vs Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

From an interview with Dr. Larry Dossey: Your book sounds a lot like the bestselling book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. He says we can know something is going to happen and make accurate snap decisions without knowing why.
LD: You’re right. I love the examples Gladwell uses. Many of them are what I’m calling premonitions — firemen who leave a burning room before the floor collapses, without knowing why they are doing so; George Soros’s predicting world markets without rationally knowing why; Vic Braden, the famous tennis coach, who can predict double faults with extreme accuracy without a clue about how he does it. Gladwell regards this kind of knowing as a big fat mystery. He says we should “accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgments….[W]e’re better off that way”. I don’t think we’re better off that way. Gladwell literally endorses ignorance, which I find baffling. He completely ignores research such as the presentiment experiments. The term “premonition” does not even appear in his book. There is a great deal of evidence — an entire chapter in my book — that can shed light on what Gladwell dismisses as a total mystery. Why he won’t go there is unclear to me. Like many other science journalists, he’s reluctant to acknowledge that consciousness can operate outside the present and beyond the body. Although I agree with Gladwell that there’s mystery in all this, it’s not as dense as he says. We know a lot about premonitions — their characteristics, what favors them, andwhat purposes they serve. Some outstanding scientists are willing to consider premonitions as an explanation for the kind of knowing that Gladwell describes. Among them is Paul Drayson, Britain’s science minister. In discussing Gladwell’s book Blink, Drayson says he has personally known in advance that something is going to happen. He says, “In my life there have been some things that I’ve known and I don’t know why…like a sixth sense.’” “Sixth sense” is a common term for premonitions.

Download the whole article – Questions and answers on The Power of Premonitions with Dr Larry Dossey

Listen to an interview with Dr. Larry Dossey about his book on premonitions (12 parts) – this is the 1st part – the rest you can follow on YouTube

Book Summaries – 50 Prosperity Classics

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 21.17.08Research suggests that people who read summaries rather than the whole books remember more details and for longer (Read summaries not chapters). There is a whole industry of book summaries in the world now. Passing Time in The Loo series was one of the first to spot the market for book summaries. Tom Butler-Bowen has written summaries many different classic categories of books from prosperity to self-help to success to spiritual and psychology.

Books that helped changed the world

Big ideas from Vance Packard, Edward de Bono, Germaine Greer, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking altered modern thinking.

Good summary of some of the essential reading from The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale to A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell to The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Read the full article

Searching questions? Searching answers… How to Search on the Web.

The ability to use a web search engine effectively and efficiently is now so important that it’s taught in primary schools. It’s such a core part of the way we navigate and use the web that most of us don’t give it a second thought. However, there’s much more to searching the web than chucking a few words at Google. Learn how to search on Google – it will save you lots of time. Research shows that only 10% of population uses search well and intelligently i.e. 90% of Internet users don’t know/use Ctrl+F (search function) to help them to find something on a page.  Also using the right type of search engines will make a difference. Check the 100 top search engines for searching anything.  Start with Google Search Basics now

Listen to FREE audiobooks on Spotify (Free: The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business by Chris Anderson)

Spotify, streaming music sensation, has started making free audiobooks available on the service.
The first (and, so far, only) free audiobook is, rather appropriately, Chris Anderson’s Free: The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business. The book discusses the business model of giving away content and goods for free, and what effect it will have on the wider economy. The free audiobook, which runs to around 4 hours in total, is broken into 16 chapters, and is narrated by Chris Anderson
Spotify says it’s using Free as a test to gauge interest in audiobooks. “This is the first audiobook we’ve ever included in our catalogue,” the company claims on the Spotify blog. “We’re going to trial it, see what people think and who knows, maybe this is the start of something new for us…”
Spotify users can listen to Chris Anderson reading Free (complete book of 273 pages – about 90 000 words last about 3 hours)
I hope that in the future Spotify will have an option of speeding up listening of the audiobooks – a kind of speed reading of audiobooks.

How long before I can speed read well (learning without software)?

Nanette’s Spd Rdng answer: We do a two-day course without software and people walk away on the Sunday evening being able to do everything. (It’s better to learn in an intensive burst.) You don’t need to practise the techniques – you just need to do them. The more you do them in the course of your normal reading, the better you get. Everyone we’ve had on Spd Rdng courses (which include photoreading, speed reading and additional strategies using an accelerated learning approach so it’s all easy to learn) in the last three years has at least doubled their reading speed in those two days – and has loads of additional techniques which save much more time (typically getting info 10 times faster than before).

You can get a free download of the 37 techniques we teach (or contact me for more info) from our Spd Rdng website https://spdrdng.com

Is speed reading enjoyable? If I’m reading a novel, will I ‘get’ it? Is speed reading purely for knowledge and not for entertainment?

Nanette’s Spd Rdng answer: Lots of the Spd Rdng techniques that we teach are about getting information, but you can also read novels faster – and ‘get it’! Most people read as if they’re driving a car in first gear all the time. Much better to be able to vary the speed at which you read – so if you enjoy reading slowly, you’ll be able to do that too. Go for it – it’s fun to be able to do it – and it certainly beats getting dragged down by those piles of books, reports and journals that sit there making you feel guilty.

Should I learn to speed read instead?

Nanette’s Spd Rdng answer: Learn speed reading as well. Speed reading is about reading traditionally but faster. And in addition to both photoreading and speed reading, it makes sense to have (conscious, easy) strategies for remembering what you read, strategies for evaluating books, knowing WHY you’re reading, getting an overview of a subject before going into detail, etc.

Does Photoreading help with comprehension or memory?

Nanette’s Spd Rdng answer: Yes. But do speed reading as well. Oddly enough, reading faster helps comprehension, because you’ve got more information more quickly for the brain to make sense of. Spd Rdng courses teach photoreading, speed reading and additional techniques to speed up access to information, memory and comprehension.

Is photoreading a scam?

Just answered some questions on yahoo – thought I’d share them here.

Is photoreading a scam?

Nanette’s Spd Rdng answer: No. The non-conscious mind takes in all the information – but you don’t know it consciously, so it doesn’t feel as if you’ve learnt anything. Also, although the info goes straight to your long-term memory, it is only activated by need (need determined by your non-conscious mind, not your conscious mind – the bit that likes to think it’s on control). It therefore works best if you do in together with some conscious (eg speed reading) techniques.

The best book summaries

Don’t have time to read books or classics get Passing Time in The Loo. Volume 1 covers: Literary Classics, Contemporary Muliticultural Classics, Quotes and Anecdotes, Biographies, The Best of Business and Leadership, Classics in Personal Effectiveness, Health and Fitness Advice, Word Power, Expanding Knowledge. In total over 150 books are summaries. And what brilliant book summaries. For example, I was impressed with one book so I bought it and speed read from cover to cover and there was nothing that they’ve missed in the summary. Passing Time in The Loo. Volume 2 covers: Dreamscapes, Realityscapes, Walking Back in Time (the drama of history), They Made a Difference, Poets and Poetry, Thoughts Worth Pondering, Fantastic Facts. Again over 150 top books summaries. I just wish they published it as ebooks or an app for the iPhone.

Read more about the importance of summaries

Summaries micro-trends

screen-shot-2010-02-15-at-113812

How books make us better people?

By reading Shakespeare – which has dramatic effect on human brain

They function to uphold social order and spread altruistic genes, according to evolutionary psychologists. While the romantic era helped us evolve into more virtuous beings, reading Shakespeare can boost our brainpower. Shakerspeare used a technique known as functional shift, which involves making an adjective or a noun into a verb. In The Winter’s Tale, heavy thoughts are said to ‘thick my blood’. Researchers at Liverpool University revealed this technique causes a spark in the brain activity, as we’re forced to understand what a word means before we comprehand the function of it within a sentence. Source University of Liverpool

brain-functional-shift

The effect of functional shift on the brain. Credit: University of Liverpool

Why Reading Matters – BBC program – watch it here

How modern neuroscience has revealed that reading unlocks remarkable powers in people.

Science writer Rita Carter tells the story of how modern neuroscience has revealed that reading, something most of us take for granted, unlocks remarkable powers. Carter explains how the classic novel Wuthering Heights allows us to step inside other minds and understand the world from different points of view, and she wonders whether the new digital revolution could threaten the values of classic reading. It’s not available on BBC iPlayer anymore but you can watch it below on YourTube – [BBC] Why Reading Matters in 6 parts.

Part 1

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdwFFFBCPzw

Part 2

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt4_czM-UuM

Part 3

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFlTV_OPh1I

Part 4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0WDLsIZuZg

Part 5

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuCtHUDW4fw

Part 6

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owdqz8y98-0

ANLP Conference, London, 14 November 2009 – Top Ten Speed Reading Techniques

We’re presenting at ANLP Conference 13-15 November 2009, London
Sat 14 November 18.00 – 19.30 Top Ten Speed Reading Techniques

Learn the key techniques which turn ordinary readers into speed readers. Double your reading speed by the end of the workshop – and walk away with both the tools and the understanding to distil the knowledge and wisdom from the masters in less than a tenth of the time it would take with traditional reading. For more info on the ANLP Conference

Free app Stanza has more people reading ebooks on iPhones than on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.

It’s official: The iPhone is more popular than Amazon Kindle. And not just in the obvious categories like listening to music, surfing the net or the other applications where Kindle barely competes. Now, the iPhone is also muscling into Amazon’s home turf: reading ebooks.
Stanza, an ebook reading application offered in Apple’s iPhone App Store since July, has been downloaded more than 395,000 times and continues to be installed at an average rate of about 5,000 copies a day, according to Portland, Ore.-based Lexcycle, the three-person start-up that created the reading software.

iPhone eBook Reader App - Stanza

iPhone eBook Reader App – Stanza

The future of speed reading e-books
Stanza, like Kindle, lets users download new content directly to their device. It has a snappy interface that allows readers to flip through a book simply by tapping the edges of the page and responds far faster than Kindle’s poky E-ink screen, which takes about a second to turn pages. And then there’s what some may call Stanza’s unfair advantage: the application is free, as are its many titles.

Download Stanza ebook reader for iPhone

Question about Photoreading: Steps of Photoreading, not speedreading?

We’ve received a question today – here it is with our answer

Q: Hi, My name is Andreas and I’m a beginner in photoreading. Can anyone tell me with details how I can photoread? Like exact steps and exact way of feeling thoughts and whatever he can help me with. I’m trying days now but I can’t remember anything from what I’m “trying” to photoread. I may asked many people but each one have different way of saying things so please if there is anyone out there who can fill me with information about photoreading (please don’t send me sites with “buying cds”… I’m broke:P)
A: Photoreading is very easy to do. Decide why you’re reading the book (your purpose – follow ‘SMART’ guidelines for constructing a purpose). Then just look quickly at every page of the book (one second) – doesn’t matter whether your eyes are in focus or not. The trick though is knowing how to retrieve the information and I can’t tell you that in 5 mins (which is why people run courses). But easiest way is to do all the other conscious speed reading techniques – if you want a free download of our 37 speed reading techniques go to https://spdrdng.com – hope this helps. Jan

Confucius on books

“Friends are like a book: they open up the whole world for us. But they can be divided into good and bad. The right sort can help you, but the bad sort will bring you a great deal of trouble and may even lead you down the wrong road. Being able to choose your friends wisely is extremely important.” Confucius as interpreted by Yu Dan, author of Confucius from the Heart

NLP Meta-Programs and Speed Reading / Spd Rdng

An NLP modelling project by Tom O’Connor – NLP TIMES (NLP Videos and Trainings)

NLP meta-programs are perceptions and mindsets and behavioural patterns that operate at an other-than-conscious level. Meta-programs are filters through which we perceive the world. An example is an old maxim is the glass half full or half empty. By understanding and appreciating other people’s models of the world that may differ dramatically from our own we can learn how to do things better.

NLP meta-modeling of speed reading

NLP meta-modelling of speed reading

Modelling subject: Jan Cisek – Master Reader, PhotoReader, Speed Reader and Spd Rdr

1. Chunk Size: Global vs. Specific

Spd Rdng Student: Global
When spd rdng speed readers tend to go global and take in the big picture. The field of vision is broad and the area of focus tends to be on “Concepts” and “Ideas”, getting a Gestalt view. You sort for information at a global level. Global chunk style tends to lead to deductive processing and permits the speed reader to take large mental quick cuts through large volumes of information. There is quite a high level of generalisation. This differs significantly from a person who’s meta-program who is detail based. They will tend to focus on the low-level information, needing to acquire all the details and feel the need for multiple examples and overlapping of information before they feel they are comfortable with the material.

Continue reading

Embrace change through education and self-improvement

Recessions are times of great change and sometimes upheaval.

People who struggle often do so because they cling to the past rather than embrace the ‘now’ and the future. It’s essential for us to stay on the cutting edge of innovation through a lifelong pursuit of education. The most successful people and entrepreneurs are those who are constantly reading, attending seminars, engaging with mentors, and exposing themselves to new ideas and adventures. What are you reading today?

“In a world that is constantly changing, there is no one subject or set of subjects that will serve you for the foreseeable future, or for the rest of your life. The most important skill to acquire now is learning to learn.” John Naisbitt

In a complex society, knowledge has come to mean knowing where and how to find out something, not just knowing.

Praise of s l o w – remedy to fast media?

Speed reading is about speed as much as about slow reading

With speed reading we create more time to reflect – our reflective intelligence is critical to learning and our moral standards. Read previous post.  In Praise of Slow – How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore one can learn the importance of taking time to reflect and slow down.

Both me and Nanette can read very fast when we need to. But we take time to read slowely – usually for pleasure. Novels, poetry, philosophy, etc lend themselves to reading slowely. Never before the balance between fast and slow was so important. Spd rdng is like driving a car – sometimes we use the first gear, sometimes the second, the third, the fourth, etc. Most people though read like they would read in the first gear. Speed reading is about changing your gears of reading depending on the context of your reading.

Reflective intelligence – AHA! moments

Can reflective intelligence survive in the fast media environment?

Following from the previous post about how the speed of Facebook and Tweeter are shaping our moral compass.

David Perkins (Harvard) thinks that reflective intelligence (RI) is the most important one to learn. It’s being aware of your learning and thinking habits and how to improve them. It’s thinking about thinking – meta-thinking.

What brings me most joy when learning? Why?
What do I not understand?
What can I do to understand better? (Ask a friend)
What is the biggest success / aha moment? Write it down & use symbols.
What works and does not work for me?
The moments of learning…

How to switch on your reflective intelligence?
1.    Notice what is working – write it down

2.    Be grateful – gratitude feedbacks to your subconscious mind what you want and what is important to you

3.   Get inspired and motivated by people’s aha! It stimulates your reflective intelligence and executive functioning. Revitalising. Strangely Twitter can be used to post those inspiring AHA! moments – follow us on http://twitter.com/Spdrdng

Are Facebook and Twitter too fast?

New research suggests that fast social portals can be damaging to us – especially young people who’s brains are still developing.

‘If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people’s psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,’ said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, from the University of Southern California. Brain imaging tests showed that humans can respond in fractions of a second to signs of physical pain in others; but admiration and compassion – two of the social emotions which define humanity – take much longer. Digital media may direct users away from traditional avenues for learning about humanity, such as literature or face-to-face interactions, Ms Immordino-Yang added. ‘When it comes to emotion, because these systems are inherently slow, perhaps all we can say is, not so fast,’ said Antonio Damasio, who led the research. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, who led the research said: “What I’m more worried about is what is happening in the abrupt juxtapositions that you find, for example, in the news. He said the research was vital because admiration, “gives us a yardstick for what to reward in a culture, and for what to look for and try to inspire”. Mr Damasio said that Barack Obama, who was inspired by his father, showed how admiration could drive a person onto great things, adding: “We actually separate the good from the bad in great part thanks to the feeling of admiration. It’s a deep physiological reaction that’s very important to define our humanity.”

Read faster with more comprehension

Is it possible to read faster with increased comprehension?

It may seem counter-intuitive but reading faster equates with comprehending more. In fact, individuals who read at slower rates are likely to comprehend less. It makes sense when you realise that the more information your mind has the more it will comprehend. Our advice is always to read faster in order to understand more. The brain-friendly way to more understanding is to get the big picture of the subject first. Reading faster, reading more will give you a bigger picture.

The speed of change

Did you know? In the world of information overload – just a few more facts – watch this video clip

20 years ago 80% of knowledge resided within the books. Now it’s only 20% because the world is changing ever faster. We need to be open to new and unknown connections with people and content.

The people of India love spending their time with a book in their hands. Such are the results of a survey conducted by the public research agency NOP World Culture Score. On average they spend 11 hours reading every week. The world average for book reading is – according to the survey – 6.5 hours. And Poles much the average ideally, putting them in 13th place. We’re behind the Chinese (8 hours), the Czechs (7.4 hours) and the French (6.9 hours), but then the Americans are way behind us (23rd place – or 5.7 hours), as are the Brits (5.3 hours, given 26th place). The Koreans read the least (3.1 hours)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY

Speed reading helps with getting higher degrees

How to get higher degree faster – start earlier

The notion of commencing university education at school was born out of his own precocious boyhood in the United States. “When I was at school academics from the University of California at Berkeley came and taught me some classes in speed reading,” he explains in his quiet drawl. However, since they had no way of imparting an entire degree to a child Kelley went to university early, at 15.

The idea is the brainchild of Paul Kelley, Monkseaton’s American headmaster, who just loves to push the boundaries. “If every school were to make this available, think how much money each student would save by not having to go to a university – and they’d get a step ahead in the jobs market. After all, you are at a huge advantage if you have an honours degree when your peers only have A-levels,” he says.

Read more: The free degrees – A trio of pioneers have undertaken university studies – without debt and while still at school

Speed reading utalises 80/20 rule to find key information

WEIRD: Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, But the wrod as a wlohe. And you touhhgt taht sepllnig was iprmoetnt!

In the same way you don’t need to read every word in a sentence to get the message.

“Classics are still the most essential reads” according to the World Book Day poll

In the end, quality tells. People may have bought The Da Vinci Code in its millions but, when asked to name the most precious book they have read, they relegated it to 42nd place and chose Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

In the poll for World Book Day today, the highest-ranking contemporary adult fiction novel is Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong, which came only 17th. Read more on this

iPhone helps with speed reading

Speed up your reading with iPhone

Reading on the iPhone can be quicker because the screen guides the eyes better. Also with the ease of scrolling and the smaller article sizes on many web pages – all means that information can be processed a lot quicker than by previous means.

Can’t remember what you just read? Take a nap.

Going night after night without sleep makes us absent minded, and now we may know why

Going night after night without sleep makes us absent-minded, and now we may know why. In rats, sleep deprivation causes stress hormones to accumulate in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which in turn stunts the growth of cells that lay down new memories.

“This decrease in neuron production coincided with an increase in the major rodent stress hormone, corticosterone,” says Elizabeth Gould, head of the team at Princeton University that made the discovery. When Gould stopped production of the hormone in rats by removing their adrenal glands, the animals carried on producing new neurons as normal despite being deprived of sleep (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0608644103).

“We concluded that sleep deprivation decreases neurogenesis by elevating stress hormones,” says Gould. The results tally with earlier studies showing that sleep-deprived people are worse at remembering how to do newly learned tasks than they are normally. “We know that sleep deprivation is stressful, and that it impairs certain types of learning and memory,” she says.

Derk-Jan Dijk of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK, says the results are the first to provide a plausible mechanism explaining how a lack of sleep damages memory. “It points to the importance of sleep in the right hormonal conditions,” says Dijk. “These are altered if you sleep at the wrong time of day, or if you are stressed generally,” he says. The results explain how shift work might damage memory by producing “a different hormonal milieu”.
“The results are the first to provide a plausible mechanism explaining how a lack of sleep damages memory”

However, Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen of the University of Helsinki in Finland says that may be going too far, as the 72 hours of sleep deprivation experienced by the rats is exceptionally long, equivalent to several days in humans. Sleep deprivation can damage memory, but only “in extreme cases”, she believes.
Source: NewScientist