What Do You Think?

A Machine May Let Us
All In Your Thoughts

Even without hearing a thing, some people can understand speech by reading the speaker’s lips. Now there’s a machine that does roughly the same thing: it ‘sees’ the brain waves that words create while still inside the listener and ‘translate’ them back into speech.
We’re not even close yet to being able to carry around such a device, and check what other people are thinking (about us), but researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, may be on their way to understand how the brain makes sense of the sound of words, either spoken aloud or as waves, inside somebody’s mind.
The science of brain imaging has had truly quantum leaps in the past 20 years, and modern medicine is now completely dependent on the precision of CAT scans and MRIs to make accurate diagnosis. It’s a matter of when, not if, we’ll be able to apply that to understanding the physiology behind our thoughts.
So far, research has been promising. To talk about cats, we told you just a few months ago about another team at the same university, that was able to track the group of cells in their brains that processes Continue reading

Napping As You Go

New Yorkers Sleep Where They
Spend a Lot of Time: the Subway

It‘s quite possible that you’ve been ignoring for years one of the best advices you mother ever gave you: never fall sleep on a New York subway train.
Now, as if to take your Mom to task, New York-Presbyterian Hospital Dr. Carl Bazil decided to actually see whether such naps are worth your trouble, and the risk of getting mugged while you’re at it.
As most tired New Yorkers know, a person goes through five sleeping stages a night, but on the subway, chances are your stop will come before you get too far down the list.
Riders do try it and often, though. Just take a look around and you’ll see at least one person, but usually more than that, closing their eyes between stations. Whether they really get some sleep is what the good doctor has tried to find out.
For that, the director of the Epilepsy and Sleep Division at the hospital’s Columbia University Medical Center wired a volunteer to Continue reading

Floating On Air

Scientists Replicate Out-of-Body
Experience. Is It All Just an Illusion?

One of the cornerstones of the mystical experience, an essential component of pretty much every tradition of spirituality since immemorial times, is now facing a big challenge: scientists at the University of Geneva claim they have “fooled” research subjects into thinking they were out of their bodies during an experiment.
Using a clever combination of cameras and virtual reality Continue reading

Merry Juana

Cops Seize German Pot Plant
Decorated as Christmas Tree

The holiday cheers, which had an earlier start this year at a household in Montabaur near Koblenz, Germany, are already over. And the place’s main resident, an “old 68er,” which is how Germans call former activists of the long ago peace protests of 1968, is under arrest for drug possession.
It all started when the police got to the house and found about 150g of marijuana, which in most nights, would be enough to cheer up any peace activist, let alone law enforcers with a mandate to book you.
But before they left, they noticed an odd-looking tree in the living room. Under closer scrutiny, the centerpiece of the holiday decoration turned out to be a six-feet tall pot plant on a tree stand, with cute twinkling string lights.
As the now not-so-cheery fellow explained while being led away by the buzzkill squad, the tree was not quite ready for “Silent Night” just yet, and the plan was to add gifts under it. Just like it’s done everywhere else.
And you thought the business of holiday folly is alive and well in Germany. Or buzzkill squads were a thing of the past.