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A very serious-minded man visited his happy family after a long time away, and was shocked. He was shocked because he found it quite impossible to interact with his family. All of his normal reactions and behaviors were out of line with his family’s reactions and behaviors. Sure, the family talked and laughed, but it seemed stilted and awkward-sounding. Tense looks were received, but none acknowledged, at least when he was in the conversation. And there was that disquiet. Such palpable disquiet.

It was terrible.

So, the very serious-minded man, who loved his family very much,  decided that the next family visit would have to feel very different.

Before the next visit, the man had a good idea: he would do the things his family members normally do. He wasn’t sure why it was a good idea, but it made sense to him. His father loved to play indoor bowls. So, he joined a bowls club and played bowls every day. He observed the behavior of the other bowls players and also what they talked about. He gave particular attention to how they talked about what they talked about. And, he copied them. It was difficult at first for the serious-minded man to copy the bowls players, but the players always encouraged him with knowing looks and happy talk. And, the man copied these behaviors too. Soon, conversations were easier and fun. He became more relaxed around others at the club, and more relaxed within himself.

The once-very-serious-now-more-relaxed man felt that copying the bowls players had really made him more like them, and that the players also saw it this way and didn’t mind at all. Maybe they saw it as a kind of complement. He wasn’t sure. It just felt positive. The man was encouraged by this promising first result, and decided to do other things his family liked. His younger brother plays the piano. So, the man took piano lessons. He wasn’t very good at it, and he had a hard time making his fingers work together to create music. But, the man was pleased because he understood that his brother would appreciate the effort, and they could share this experience together.

The once-very-serious-now-empathetic man did visit his very happy family again, and was pleasantly surprised.

‘You’ve changed’, his family soon noticed.

‘I have changed’, he breathed happily. ‘I am a different person now. I am like you’.

Come tomorrow, my #SciFund project will go online with other projects in Round 2 of the #SciFund Challenge!
 
 
What is the #SciFund Challenge?
#SciFund Challenge is about raising funds for important and interesting science projects.
It’s called crowdfunding.
In 2011, Round 1 of the #SciFund Challenge raised over US$76,000 for science projects!
The participating scientists included students, professors and independent researchers.
 
How does it work?
Each participating scientist creates a project, and a fundraising target.
Next, each scientist promotes their project online through social media, personal blogs,
YouTube, #Scifund blogs and #Scifund website, from May 1 to May 31, 2012.
A big part of a crowdfunding campaign is a 2-3 minute video advertising the project.
I’ll wrap-up my video tomorrow, and post it on RocketHub (the online host of #SciFund Round 2).
Next, I’ll invite you all to have a look at my excellent project page on RocketHub.
Then, you can decide whether I have convinced you or not!
 
What is my #SciFund project?
It is my PhD project: ‘The face of pain’. Intrigued yet?
Some of the questions I am looking at are:
What differentiates pain faces from emotion faces?
What facial features communicate the most information in a pain face?
How do observers fixate on, react to, and interpret faces of pain?
These aren’t merely interesting questions.
There is potential for direct clinical application.
How? The more clearly we define the attributes that make pain a unique expression,
the better equipped we are to assess and manage pain in patients.
This is especially critical in patients who lack verbal expressions or language
(e.g., patients with verbal disorders, dementia, autism, neonates, infants).
Clinicians rely heavily on non-verbal expressions of pain (e.g., facial expression) in such cases.
 
What is my fundraising target?
My target is US$1000. 
This target is very achievable given a bit of work on my part during May,
and your outstanding generosity and vision!
This target will fund costs related to conducting my experiments online (it ain’t cheap!).
Oh, and did I mention there are rewards for donators?
I’m not kidding around.
I’ll reveal my rewards when my project is online tomorrow!
Now, if you don’t wish to support my project, that’s completely OK.
But, I do ask of you one small thing: spread the word about my #SciFund project 
through your social network.
How is that? 
Muchas gracias, mi buen amigo!
 
What happens next?
I will post the link to my project-page on Rocket Hub on this blog!
Thanks!

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Simon van Rysewyk

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