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This Happened

This Happened—November 9: The Cold War Begins To Crumble

The beginning of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which allowed East Germans to cross into the West, marked a new epoch in world history.

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Amid revolutions that led to the collapse of the Soviet-led communist bloc, the tearing down the wall on Nov. 9, 1989, is considered the symbolic end of the Cold War, culminating in the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

Constructed by the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR), in 1961, the wall was designed to stop its citizens from passing from East German to the West. For decades, the Berlin wall divided the city, which had been partitioned after World War II, both physically and ideologically.

What did the Berlin Wall symbolize?

One of the most infamous symbols of the Cold War, the wall separated families and prevented East Germans from leaving, dampening the dreams of those who fell on the wrong side. Those who wanted to cross were met with guard towers with machine guns ready to shoot them if they tried to cross the “death strip”, laid with beds of nails and other booby traps. An estimated 140 people are believed to have died trying to cross into West Germany.

Why was the Berlin Wall taken down?

After 28 years of forced separation, people had become increasingly discontent living behind the wall and tensions were at their peak. After a broadcast was made by a GDR politician stating that border crossings would be allowed, people rushed to the border stops. After crowding the walls, ordinary people called “wallpeckers” descended upon the wall and began to break it down with various tools, marking the beginning of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Society

The Neuroscience Behind The Perfect Gift

Why do we like what we like? New insights from neuroscience reveal that objects that please us are as much about our own values as the objects themselves.

The Neuroscience Behind The Perfect Gift

What to offer for Christmas?

Ana Clemente

It's the season of gift-giving, which brings both joy and anxiety about picking out the right present for that special someone. But how do you pick a gift that they'll appreciate?

Neuroscience can help. It reveals that the perfect gift is as much about our value systems as the object itself.

We humans, like other cognitive systems, are sensitive to our environment. We use sensory information to guide our behavior. To be in the world.

We decide how to act based on the hedonic value we assign to objects, people, situations or events. We seek out and engage in behaviors that lead to positive or rewarding outcomes and avoid those that lead to negative or punitive consequences. We construct our knowledge of the world according to how much we like elements of the environment, and we do so by learning and generating expectations about them.

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