Imagination and Human Origins

Try to remember the first time in your life when you imagined something. It may have been imagining what was behind the door or under the bed, or a fantastic universe of wonders and exciting adventure. As children, our imaginations are furtive and encouraged as ways in which we develop our cognitive capabilities. As we grow older, we may not imagine in quite the same ways, but we continue to heavily use and depend on our imagination in our daily lives, imagining different situations that might occur in a few moments or in a few years. Thus, we actually spend a large amount of time in our own particular universe imagining many possible different ones.

Why do we do this and how did this capacity evolve in humans? Imagination probably helped our ancestors to be successful in making decisions and live in complex societies, and imagination is key to advancing technology. In this CARTA symposium, imagination is explored as a unique and enhanced human ability, and experts from all fields discuss its evolutionary origins, the fundamental genetic and neurological basis of human imagination, the impact of human imagination in science and art, and the consequences of imagination impairment.

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Beyond the Brink?

Are we beyond the brink? With months of oppressive heat and unrelenting fires – the fingerprint – or perhaps the firm boot print – of climate change is planted on California as global warming marches on to change everything about the future.

“Adequate water for food for the nation is a water security issue, and it’s also a national security issue,” says UC Merced CITRIS researcher Roger Bales.

Drought, climate change, an aging infrastructure and growing population threaten the water California’s San Joaquin Valley uses to supply most of the nation’s produce and a large proportion of its livestock and dairy. This excerpt from a new documentary previews an examination of water problems and solutions across the United States and globally.

Watch Water Supply and National Security: Beyond the Brink

Aging Well

Evidence is building for the importance of physical and social activity as the way to optimize wellbeing in older age. UCSF Geriatrics faculty review their research and cutting-edge work on improving physical, social and emotional wellbeing in older adults.

Explore topics on the myths of aging, improving surgical outcomes, the science of longevity, social connection in older adults, and tools for comprehensive advance care planning.

If you are an older adult, caregiver or anyone interested in optimizing well-being as you get older, this is for you.

Browse more programs in Aging, Activity, and Community: The Science Behind Function and Social Connections in Older Age

Jazz – Discipline and Spontaneity

“Most of us would say that inventing meaning while letting loose is the essence and promise of jazz.”
– Robert Christgau

From its origins in the African-American community of New Orleans in the late 19th century jazz has evolved into the premiere all-American art form, and has been labeled “America’s classical music.” By the 1920’s the genre had been embraced by the mainstream to such an extent that the Twenties and Thirties were declared “the Jazz Age” by author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and European composers including Stravinsky and Ravel incorporated jazz elements into their work.

Developing from roots in country blues, ragtime, field hollers, and spirituals, jazz music is notoriously difficult to define as it embraces many subgenres, among them Dixieland, swing, bebop, hard bop, cool jazz, free jazz, Afro-Cuban, modal jazz, jazz fusion, post-bop, and Latin jazz. However varied these styles, they do share some commonalities, chief among them an emphasis on live performance and on improvisation. Classical music performance is judged by fidelity to the written score and the composer’s intentions; by contrast jazz is more often characterized by interaction and collaboration in the moment. Less value is placed on the composer’s contribution and more on the individual musician’s interpretations of melodies, harmonies, and time signatures. Whereas classical music recordings strive to capture a definitive performance of a given work, jazz recordings document just one interpretation of a piece at a particular moment in time. Because of its improvisational nature no two jazz interpretations are alike, and there are no absolutes. It’s an art form that finds its purest expression in live performance, such as in the UC San Diego Jazz Camp’s Finale Concert.

UC San Diego Jazz Camp is an annual week-long intensive workshop for students aged 14 and older. Attendees are mentored by a distinguished faculty of music professionals and educators in a variety of jazz-related topics, including theory, composition, improvisation, critical listening, technology, performance practice, and ensemble performance. Students are grouped into ensembles under the tutelage of a faculty member, and rehearse standards and original compositions for the Camp’s Finale Concert before an audience of family, friends, and jazz aficionados. In the process student musicians are introduced to that combination of group interplay and individual expression, of discipline and spontaneity, that is unique to jazz.

Watch Finale Concert Highlights – UC San Diego Jazz Camp 2018

Adapting to Climate Change

As humankind faces massive changes in weather patterns, sea level, ocean acidity, and oxygen levels, Scripps Oceanography has launched a new center focused on understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Mark Merrifield, director of the new center explains how the members of this dynamic network will develop strategies for climate change adaptation.

Watch Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations