The Null Device


Neuroscientists posit an answer to the question of why do we dream? (via A&L)

But Flanagan says your brain's sleep-time work of storing important thoughts into long-term memory, and discarding trivia, is the stuff dreams are made of. Here's how it works: Part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, works during waking hours to make sense of, and to form a narrative structure from, the complex sensory data we experience. Again, this seems biologically advantageous. The cortex doesn't shut down, though, when we go to sleep. It keeps doing its job, trying to cobble together the most coherent narrative it can from all those thoughts that are floating around.


Salon on life extension research and its consequences:

Long life, while much admired, isn't sought after so much as long healthy life, or perhaps long youth. We want to be 100 years old and dewy fresh.
Hayflick told the Savannah Morning News, "If indeed we had a way of extending human longevity the probability is very high that therapy would be available to the rich and powerful. I don't know how you feel about the rich and powerful, but I can think of lots of them that I would not like to see live forever."
I have also heard men complain about how unfair it is that women live longer on the average. (Some of them will glare at a lady as if she'd been sprinkling free radicals on their salads.) Yet although it has long been known that castration can extend a man's life span by an average of 14 years, guys consistently pass on the chance to even the score.
Maybe we'll make people choose between living forever and having kids. If you're going to bring more people into the world, you'll have to be willing to leave it yourself on a reasonable schedule. Conversely, if you refuse to leave the party, you can't bring crashers. Of course, this would create an interesting two-tiered world full of crabby child-haters who think they know so much because they've seen it all and breeders speaking smugly about how they're being not only natural but also more evolved.


Brazilian commuters spend hours waiting for a train, then, after spending hours waiting for the train to move, burn it to the ground. (Reuters)