Posts Tagged ‘Science’

In Your Dreams

I know I already wrote a post about dreams and the blind, but I cant help it if they interest me! Dreams are still one of the most unexplainable phenomenons that exist in our daily lives. There’s not too many things that can compare in this day and age. So, as I continued on my search to discover something new and innovative, I came across an article specifically narrowing down on the weirdness of dreams. The blog is called “Tasty Human” and it deals with the psychology behind healthy living, self-help and food.  The particular blog post I will be focusing on today talks about the 13 most interesting things found about dreams. So let’s begin!

1. You always forget 90% of your dreams. Upon waking, in the first 5 minutes, you forget half of your dream already. In the next 5 minutes a total of 90% is lost. If you ever want to analyze and discuss your dreams write them down on a piece of paper as soon as you wake up. Or else the dream may be lost forever…

2. In Ancient Rome dreams were believed to be messages sent from gods. There were specific roles handed to individuals called “recorders.” These recorders would write down each dream and bring them to the senator for an analysis. They even followed military leaders to battle.

3.Everybody dreams! Don’t think you’re weird if you can’t ever remember dreaming. That only signifies that your dream was forgotten. You still experienced it.

4.In our sleep we only see people that we already know or met. Our mind does not work to makeup new characters it only remembers those we have been exposed to previously. You have seen countless faces throughout your lives even if its those you won’t remember in your consciousness.

5.Between the years of 1915 and 1950 studies were done that provided results which stated people only dream in black and white. During the next decade, these studies were revoked and a relationship of colored dreams was proven to be connected to a progressive incline to the exposure of color TV. Now, science has shown that a mere 4.4% of the total population under 25 years of age dreams in black and white. It has also proved that only 12% of sighted people dream in black and white throughout their lives.

6.Dreams are extremely cryptic and metaphoric. When you dream of a certain object it does not symbolize what you think it does. A different interpretation usually exists.

7.Dreams are found to be almost always more negative than positive. Anxiety has been proven to be the most common emotion transferred through dreams.

8.While some dreams are individuals, meaning they only occur only once in a lifetime others are recurring.65% of men have reoccurring dreams while 70% of women experience them.

9.When scientists have done an analysis of dreams on animals they found they have very similar brain patterns as us. Apparently when a dog sometimes it moves its paws and makes sounds as if it is chasing something.

10.REM eye movement usually occupies a 25% of total dream time. The point of this is for the movement in your sleep to prevent you from moving in real life.

11.In our mind we connect the outside world to our dream world. Sometimes we hear a sound and incorporate into our dream to mean something else. For example when you hear your phone ring but think its just part of your dream? Yeah, that’s what its all about.

12.Here’s something I found personally interesting-men tend to dream more about other men! Women share an equal amount of men and women in their dream span. Men also generally experience more aggressive versions of dreams as opposed to those of women’.

13.A large number of studies cross country have shown that a chunk of people ranging from 18-38% have experienced  precognitive dreams, or future-seeing. Those who actually believe in them encompass a whopping 63-98% of the total population.

So there you go folks! All the mystery known as of now about dreams. Enjoy!

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Television helpful to drug addicts

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Television can do more than we think. Apparently, just watching a five minute video can help whitewash memories of past drug use in former heroin addicts.A new study shows that it can ease their cravings. This happens because these videos weakens the mental ties between drug related paraphernalia and the desire to use. This method may be a very strong way to help people struggling with addiction. 

This method seems to cripple the connection between using a drug and cues that remind someone of using. Researchers decided to first test this idea on animals such as rats. Next, they moved on to people who were dealing with heroin addiction in China.

This study involved 66 people going under a two-step process. First, they watched a video of a natural scene or of people using heroin. The heroin scene was a quick reminder for the addicts. Each time they remember something, the drug user becomes fragile and vulnerable. Participants spend about an hour more watching drug related movies and slide shows. There were people using fake heroin in these clips and slides shows.This was a trial called “extinction session.” The researchers varied the time between the reminder and the extinction sessions. This process was repeated for two days.

The tests shows that the memories of people who had drug reminders 10 minutes before the extinction sessions reported less craving for heroin. Even bodily responses were chagned as well. There were changes in blood pressure.

Researchers are very interested in this study. They want to do more outside of the lab and see if this relationship exists between drug craving and drug relapse.

This was such an interesting article. I believe that there could be some relationship between craving and relapse. What do you guys think? Read the article for more detail and for who these researchers are.


Can recycling become obsolete before it becomes mainstream?

March 19, 2012 3 comments

Everyday we are told another way in which we are destroying our Earth, and everyday we are greeted with thousands of ways to help stop the human impact on the planet. “RECYCLE” “TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN NOT IN USE” “BRING YOUR OWN BAGS” These signs are ones we probably see everyday. I know this is true at least for the GW community.

And instead of humanity as a whole improving how we live with the planet, we do what we do best: innovate. Lights are now LED; are so much more energy efficient, and only need to be replaced every 100 or so years, reducing waste. Bags and bottle caps are being made with less plastic, and certain districts *ahem* are charging you for ever bag you use.

But what about recycling? Certainly there is no better way to do what is already being done. Paper gets turned into new paper, and efficiently too. This article thinks otherwise.  The new “unprinter” does exactly what it does on the box. It unprints. And while now I see a red underline under the word when I type it, unprinting seems to have what it takes to become mainstream.

It is more efficient than recycling, is certainly more faster, and just seems cooler. The toner on the paper is super heated until it vaporises off the paper, leaving a brand new blank piece of paper to now be printed on.

I can see this becoming the norm. There is definitely an opportunity to capatalise on this. Imagine a unprinter-printer combo if you will. If you want to print something off, you just slip in any piece of paper, blank or with something on it. The printer will then unprint the paper and print whatever your want on it, right then and there. The waste of homes might be smaller, I don’t normally print off more than ten pages a week; but for corporations the potential could be huge.

What do you think? Is this the future of paper recycling? Or are the blue/green bins the way to go?

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I Think I Can…can I?

March 3, 2012 4 comments

While surfing the Bad Science blog, a post caught my interest. In his post “The golden arse beam method” Dr. Goldacre mentioned a study that looked at whether or not behaviors changed after practicing different ways of thinking about the goals they wished to achieve (in the case of this study the goal was to eat more fruit). 

The participants were split up into four groups, and each group was assigned to either repeat “eat more fruit” to themselves, imagine themselves enjoying fruit, repeat verbal plans for what they would do when they see fruit, or create a detailed mental image of themselves finding fruit, picking it up, touching it, and finally eating it. Although a short study, it found that the group that imagined themselves doing the latter task doubled their intake of fruit.

Just how effective is our mental willpower? If we sit and imagine detailed plans of how we are going to accomplish our goals (both small and big) and how we will experience them, will it affect the outcome? 

I personally have a hard time creating goals and then following through in order to reach them. While I don’t necessarily believe that this method of ‘positive mental thinking’ that’s described in the study will magically make the outcome of my actions different, I think that it could be a beneficial way to put people in the right mindset and help them focus to work on ways to accomplish the task they are thinking about.


Quantum Uncertainty and the Limit of Knowledge

February 26, 2012 3 comments

Quantum mechanics has always fascinated me.  It is the field of science in which science loses all intuitiveness–particles have probabilistic, not definite properties.   This submicroscopic level  is so beyond the grasp of our minds that even expert physicists have only a superficial understanding of its inner workings.

I recently read this article about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle:  In overly simplistic terms, the uncertainty principle states that the measurement of one attribute of a quantum particle (such as position) will decrease the accuracy of the measurement of another (such as momentum).  Our observation affects what we observe.

The uncertainty principle is sometimes generalized to state there is a limit to how well we are capable of understanding the universe, that there is a limit to human knowledge.  It is often the belief (or at least hope) of scientists that full understanding is possible and even inevitable with time, but could there really be a dead end in scientific progress?  Will physics become a Sisyphean task?  Will we ever give up, disappointed or stop, content in the knowledge we have gained?

Chicken Little – A Modern Day Story

February 22, 2012 3 comments

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

These are the words of Chicken Little, a character in a well-known children’s book who thinks the sky is falling after an acorn falls from a tree and hits Chicken Little on the head. In some versions of the story, Chicken Little convinces her animal friends to go with her to tell the king that the sky is falling only to be sent back home with assurances the sky wasn’t going to fall.

Yet if the story of Chicken Little were set in today’s times, it would be a different story altogether. Just substitute scientists for Chicken Little, a satellite for the acorn, and voila! You get this article in the New York Times.

Scientists and NASA experts are growing increasingly concerned over the amount of space junk in Earth’s lower atmosphere. This comes as no surprise, as within the past two years alone two satellites have crashed into Earth. However, scientists agree that although the likelihood of collisions of Earth are small, the likelihood of collisions with other space technology such as the International Space Station and important satellites is increasing.

Researchers are working on creating technology that would clear up orbital space around Earth. Technology in developmental stages range from balloons and lasers that would push space junk out of orbit (to then burn up harmlessly in Earth’s lower atmosphere) to an $11 million dollar claw that would grab onto space junk before dragging both itself and the junk to burn in lower orbits.

Yet the question is, just how complicated is it to solve the space-junk issue?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as writing THE END. There are many debates as to which method is the most effective at removing space junk, as well as extensive international politics. Space objects are owned by the nations that put them into orbit, and only those nations can bring them down. International agreements and policies are currently developing very slow as countries debate and often get distracted by other pressing international issues.

Do you think that space pollution and the removal of space junk is an issue that the international community should be focusing on more? Who should be responsible for its removal? What’s your favorite new technology to deal with space cleanup?

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The Dangers of Trusting Scientists with Science

January 25, 2012 12 comments

Even if you’re not as ardent a fanatic as I am of Michael Crichton, you’ve at least heard of the movie, Jurassic Park, based on his novel of the same title if you’ve spent any amount of time in human society since 1993.  For you cave-dwellers, Jurassic Park, like many of Crichton’s books, begins with a fictional, but not inconceivable advance in science followed inevitably by unforeseen chaos.  Specifically, the DNA of dinosaurs is extracted from prehistoric, blood-sucking insects preserved in amber.  These genetic blueprints are then used to reconstruct the terrible lizards and fill a paleontological zoo.  But the dinosaurs cannot be contained when an unexpected hurricane hits, and control of Jurassic Park is lost by its creators to disastrous effects.

While thoroughly entertaining his audience, Crichton forces us to face our own naivety.  He reminds us that our capacity for foresight is greatly limited by pride, ignorance, and an appetite for recognition.  This lesson is particularly relevant to the sciences as discoveries are modes of societal and environmental change that may be positive or negative, anticipated or unanticipated.  The negative consequences of scientific advancements may not be as obvious or immediate as an unleashed tyrannosaur, but subtle effects can be just as devastating.  I’m sure global climate change, for example, didn’t remotely occur to the inventors of the internal combustion engine.

At its origins, science can be distilled to an attempt to understand cause-effect relationships.  We have an increasing ability to decipher causes of observable effects, but if we can’t predict the effects of our own actions, can we be trusted with this scientific power?  Negative physical and ethical consequences are never a scientist’s intention, but if he or she is blinded by the immediate gratification of fame or money or simply neglects to look, they are likely.

I think scientists, especially those in fields which attempt to control any phenomena which occur naturally (e.g. genetics), should proceed with caution.  One of the fatal flaws of the Jurassic Park project was its confidentiality.  Transparency allows for unbiased minds to predict consequences of scientific research.  Perhaps through forums like science blogs, the public should be allowed to give input every step of the way.  While a small group of scientists desperate for discovery may overlook potential consequences of their findings, an informed public is more apt to foresee them.