At Home: Bilingual Benefits
It’s no secret that bilingualism is beneficial; it creates the possibility of higher earnings potential and offers cultural insights that are worth their weight in gold. But now there’s another area which a second language can benefit: your brain.
As the CBC reports, new research suggests that bilingualism may strengthen the brain to better cope with the effects of aging. In fact, according to the study, ?picking up a second language may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.?
Although learning a second language won’t necessarily stave off dementia, it may help to soften the blow. The results of the study, which compared the records of over 200 Alzheimer’s patients (half bilingual and half monolingual), show that the patients who had ?spoken two or more languages consistently over many years experienced a delay in the onset of their symptoms.? In some cases, the delay was up to five years.
As Dr. Fergus Craik, who led the study, explained to reporters, fluency in more than one language allows the brain to store up a ?cognitive reserve.? These reserves allow the brain to ?cope better when Alzheimer’s symptoms hit.?
Around the World: Revisiting Pompeii
The wonder of Pompeii?the city buried by the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79?has enthralled historians, anthropologists, and architects for years. Until recently, the prevailing theory was that volcanic ash and poisonous gases from the eruption caused Pompeii’s inhabitants to suffocate where they stood. A new study, however, turns this assumption on its head.
As the National Geographic Daily News reports, the research concluded that most of the residents ?died instantly of extreme heat, with many casualties shocked into a sort of instant rigor mortis.?
To re-examine the historical eruption, volcanologists analyzed the volcanic ash and rock covering the city and created a computer simulation. The results suggested that in fact most of Pompeii’s inhabitants perished before much of the ash ever reached them.
Instead, one of several surges of ?hot, toxic gases? hitting the city caused temperature spikes of at least 300°C. Those temperatures, sufficient to melt certain metals and char wood, would have instantly killed the victims.
The researchers corroborated their findings by examining the bones of victims, discovering features consistent with exposure to extreme temperatures.