Cockroaches and Activation Theory

By Anupum Pant

Robert Zajonc, a Polish-born American social psychologist proposed an activation Theory for social facilitation. Sounds tough, but read on. His first theory, in simple words, tried to explain the way our performance at some tasks increases in the presence of others, while the performance at some other tasks decreases.

According to him, the presence of other individuals around you serves as a source of “arousal” and affects performance (in good ways some times and bad ways the other times).

When this happens, he said, humans tend to do well at tasks which they are inherently good at, or tasks which they’ve practised well, or easy tasks which involve very little conscious cognitive effort. While the performance at other complex tasks, which aren’t well-learned is affected negatively, when there are other people watching you.

More interestingly, he also pointed that this change in performance isn’t only seen among humans. ¬†An experiment that involved several cockroaches effectively proved this.

In two different cases, a cockroach was put in an easy maze to run around and find an exit. The first case had just the one cockroach running around in the maze. It did fine. But in the second case when there were other cockroaches watching the cockroach who was running in the maze, it ran faster. A clear increase in performance was noted in this easy maze.

Interestingly, when the difficulty of this maze was increased (it was a complex task now), as Robert had predicted, the cockroach’s performance decreased when other cockroaches were watching.

Five Mundane Things That Can Be Turned Into Diamonds

By Anupum Pant


Diamonds are natural things…or are they?
All of those who have bought a wedding ring, have most probably been informed at the shop that diamonds can be made in the laboratory. And these diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from the real (mined) ones. Today they go by the name, laboratory-created, lab-grown, synthetic diamonds or man-made diamonds and are available at almost all jewelers. They have the same physical and chemical make up as that of the mined diamonds. The primary difference between the real deal and the lab diamond is their price. The lab-grown ones are usually easier on your wallet.

Normally, synthetic diamonds can be made using 2 different processes – high temperature and high pressure method and Vapor deposition method. The former is used to convert most mundane things into diamonds. But the later is used too…

Note: If this post reminds you of the classic track, Diamonds made from rain by Eric Clapton, then for a minute, you might want to stop playing it in the back of your head. And for the record, no, diamonds cannot be made from rain.
Fun fact: However, scientists say it does rain diamonds right here, in our own solar system, in the planets Jupiter and Saturn. But that is for some other day.

For now, I have collected a small and interesting list for you below. Four out of 5 are made using a similar process (number one from the two mentioned above). The list has been made to realize how there are diamonds hidden and lying around you. Let’s see what are those mundane things that can be turned into diamonds, right here on earth, in laboratories. Continue reading Five Mundane Things That Can Be Turned Into Diamonds