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What Happens While You Sleep and How It Affects Your Every Waking Moment

What Happens While You Sleep and How It Affects Your Every Waking Moment
by Maria Popova “We are living in an age when sleep is more comfortable than ever and yet more elusive.” The Ancient Greeks believed that one fell asleep when the brain filled with blood and awakened once it drained back out. Nineteenth-century philosophers contended that sleep happened when the brain was emptied of ambitions and stimulating thoughts. “If sleep doesn’t serve an absolutely vital function, it is the greatest mistake evolution ever made,” biologist Allan Rechtschaffen once remarked. Even today, sleep remains one of the most poorly understood human biological functions, despite some recent strides in understanding the “social jetlag” of our internal clocks and the relationship between dreaming and depression. Most of us will spend a full third of our lives asleep, and yet we don’t have the faintest idea of what it does for our bodies and our brains. Lions and gerbils sleep about thirteen hours a day. What, then, happens as we doze off, exactly? Donating = Loving Related:  sort

The science of love: How "positivity resonance" shapes the way we connect by Maria Popova The neurobiology of how the warmest emotion blurs the boundaries by you and not-you. We kick-started the year with some of history’s most beautiful definitions of love. But timeless as their words might be, the poets and the philosophers have a way of escaping into the comfortable detachment of the abstract and the metaphysical, leaving open the question of what love really is on an unglamorously physical, bodily, neurobiological level — and how that might shape our experience of those lofty abstractions. She begins with a definition that parallels Dorion Sagan’s scientific meditation on sex: First and foremost, love is an emotion, a momentary state that arises to infuse your mind and body alike. Fredrickson zooms in on three key neurobiological players in the game of love — your brain, your levels of the hormone oxytocin, and your vagus nerve, which connects your brain to the rest of your body — and examines their interplay as the core mechanism of love, summing up:

Technological singularity The technological singularity is the hypothesis that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing civilization in an event called the singularity.[1] Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is an occurrence beyond which events may become unpredictable, unfavorable, or even unfathomable.[2] The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an "intelligence explosion",[5][6] where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human. Basic concepts Superintelligence Non-AI singularity Intelligence explosion Exponential growth Plausibility

Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation by Maria Popova If greater creativity and more mental balance are among your new year’s resolutions, look no further than Zentangle — a type of meditation achieved through pattern-making, created by artist duo Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. Each pattern is built one line at a time, organically combining simple patterns into complex zentangles in unplanned, unexpected ways that grow, change and unfold on the page as you enter an immersive state of flow. Totally Tangled offers a fantastic introduction to the relaxing and beautiful practice through step-by-step instructions and over 100 original tangles. We’re particularly taken with Zentagle because its basic principle — building on simple shapes and combining different patterns into complex creativity — is such a beautiful visual metaphor for our core philosophy of combinatorial creativity. Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr

This Is How You Love An Introvert Make eye contact as frequently as possible. You should learn to know each earthy rim of her irises better than your own, so that when she doesn’t talk, you can at least understand the language of her glare. Ask her questions. Let her play the Call, not just the Response. While you are used to filling the silence with your own anecdotes and her cough-like laugh, still make the effort to hear her stories. They won’t come easy. Touch her. Do not confuse her patience with tolerance. When you fight, do not expect her to crack. Do not start a Cold War; muteness has always been her defense. When she chooses to wear the red scarf instead of the seven other brown, black and grey ones hanging in the closet next to it, let her know how beautiful it is to see her in color. Do not, though, lose yourself for her. When you see her, smile.

35 Surprisingly Useful Websites You Never Knew You Needed The Science of Stress, Orgasm and Creativity: How the Brain and the Vagina Co... “The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy,’” philosopher Alain de Botton argued in his meditation on sex, “the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human being who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” But in his attempt to counter the reductionism that frames human sexuality as a mere physiological phenomenon driven solely by our evolutionary biology, de Botton overcompensates by reducing in the opposite direction, negating the complex interplay of brain and biology, psychology and physiology, that propels the human sexual experience. That’s precisely what Naomi Wolf, author of the 1991 cultural classic The Beauty Myth, examines in Vagina: A New Biography (public library) — a fascinating exploration of the science behind the vastly misunderstood mind-body connection between brain and genitalia, consciousness and sexuality, the poetic and the scientific. Wolf writes:

The Pixel Density Race and its Technical Merits While this has always been an issue that’s been in the background since Android OEMs started releasing devices with display PPIs above the 300-400 “retina” range, recent events have sparked a broader discussion into the value of pursuing the PPI race that is happening between Android OEMs. Within this discussion, the key points of contention tend to center upon the various tradeoffs from increasing resolution, and whether an increase in pixels per inch (PPI) will actually have a perceivable increase. If there is any single number that people point to for resolution, it is the 1 arcminute value that Apple uses to indicate a “Retina Display”. This number corresponds to around 300 PPI for a display that is at 10-12 inches from the eye. In other words, this is about 60 pixels per degree (PPD). While all of these resolution values are achievable by human vision, in practice, such values are highly unlikely. Thus, there are multiple sets of tradeoffs that come with increased resolution.

Scientists Have Simulated Time Travel With Photons Looks like time travel is possible... for particles of light. Using a photon, physicists have managed to simulate quantum particles traveling through time. Studying the photon’s behavior could help scientists understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics. "The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories -- Einstein's general relativity and quantum mechanics," University of Queensland’s Martin Ringbauer says in a news release. "Einstein's theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules." Time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you move relative to another object. In a quantum regime, the authors say, the paradox of time travel can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. The work was published in Nature Communications this week.

The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares by Maria Popova The psychology of our built-in nocturnal therapy. “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind,” Freud argued in his influential treatise The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. “The earth is heavy and opaque without dreams,” Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1940. “In the olden days, people believed that our dreams were full of clues about the future,” Alain de Botton told a little kid who wanted to know about dreaming. But what, exactly, are dreams and why do we have them? In Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep (public library) — best science books of 2012, exploring what happens while you sleep and how it affects your every waking moment, which also gave us this fascinating reads on sleep and the teenage brain — David K. By the time [Hall] died in 1985, Hall had synopses of more than fifty thousand dreams from people of all age groups and nationalities. And yet theories continue to differ.

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