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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Dream-reading machine in the works?
Dream Imagery by PETE
Scientists have applied computer processing to brain scans to find out with some accuracy what images pop up in sleeping people’s heads, according to a new report.
The researchers, at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, arranged for volunteers to report their sleep imagery during brief awakenings. The scientists then compiled large lists of image types and their accompanying brain activity, as read by a brain scanner.
The investigators next checked whether the same brain activity occurred when people were viewing images from the same categories while awake. It turned out this was largely true, they reported.
Next, the scientists “trained” a computer using machine-learning technology to match brain activity to image categories, using the data from the awake volunteers. The computer learning was custom-tailored to each participant.
Finally, the investigators trained the machine on sleeping subjects again, and found out that they could predict what the people had seen with 60 percent accuracy.
The findings provide “a means to uncover subjective contents of dreaming using objective neural measurement,” the scientists wrote, reporting their findings in the April 5 issue of the journal Science.
The brain scanning technology used was functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which measures and maps blood flow in the brain.
Strictly speaking, the researchers didn’t study true dreaming. They instead studied dream-like visual images that occur during the earliest stage of sleep, because this was easier to investigate for practical reasons: “it allowed us to collect many observations by repeating awakenings,” they wrote. This type of dreamlike imagery is called hypnagogic hallucination.
Still, “this is probably the first real demonstration of the brain basis of dream content,” said Robert Stickgold, a neuroscientist and dream expert at Harvard Medical School who was not involved with the study but made the comments in an accompanying article in the journal. He also called the findings “incredibly robust.”
Moreover, “it’s nice to hear that what people report seeing when they’re asleep is at least somewhat accurate,” Stickgold added in the article. “Up until this moment, there were no grounds on which to say we don’t just make up our dreams when we wake up.”
PETE & NIKKI'S COMMENT: This may be a scientific breakthrough, but we also find it rather disturbing, as it may be possible, in the future, to order dreams on demand, and for uncrupulous people to implant dreams into other peoples' minds.
Besides, we feel dreams should remain private and personal.
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THE WONDERS OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY?
By Pete Perry
Remember when the first communications sattelite, Telstar, was launched? Remember how we all Ooohed! and Aaahed! At this achievement?
It was even set down in Pop History, when THE TORNADOS recorded a tune about it, - ask our old mate Dave Barber about that!
Remember how we all gathered around the telly to watch the first live p[ictures from the Moon? Fuzzy and flickering they may have been, - but WOW!!! What an achievement!
They promised us a brand new world, where satellite technology ruled, where we could see things happening in far-distant lands as they happened, - and IT HAPPENED!!!!
OK, - settle down now, and fast-forward to 27th October 2012, when I woke up at 8am, had a shower and went down to see what's happening in the world on BBC NEWS..
I switch on our state-of-the-art flat-screen, HD, 32-inch telly, so see what's happening in the world.
There is a sign on my HD flat-screen state-of-the-art telly.... 'NO SATELLITE SIGNAL IS BEING RECIEVED'
Oh great! Here we are, with Sky-Plus, where you can record programmes whilst watching another, set a reminder for any programme you want, and even pause, and rewind live television.
THE TROUBLE IS, - WHEN YOU GET A LITTLE BIT OF FROST, AS WE DID THIS MORNING, - OR THE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE NOT QUITE RIGHT, - YOU CAN'T DO ANY OF THESE THINGS, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T EVEN GET A PICTURE, OR RADIO, OR ANYTHING ELSE!
DO SKY CARE? Oh no, - THEY WILL STILL CHARGE YOU FOR THE SERVICE, EVEN THOUGH, - AS WAS THE CASE THIS MORNING, - THAT THE TV WAS OUT FROM 8AM, _ AND IS STILL OUT AS I AM WRITING THIS - AT 11.30AM!
Strange that, isn't it? If the milkman couldn't deliver your milk due to bad weather,(yes, we still have our milk delivered!) - he wouldn't charge you for the milk you didn't get, would he?
And yet, with all our state-of-the-art modern appliances, whether it be the TV, mobiles or The Internet, - THEY STILL EXPECT YOU TO PAY FOR A SERVICE YOU'RE NOT GETTING!
WHAT'S YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
Write to me at
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THE GREAT MOBILE PHONE RIP-OFF
By PETE PERRY
Some time ago, my mobile died on me. After checking everything out, I realised that the battery had died, so I went to our local Vodafone shop
'Sorry', said the sales assistant, ' but we don't supply replacement batteries, - you will have to get a new phone...'
Well, being the gullible guy that I am, trusting everyone I meet, - I reluctantly stumped up for a new phone. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as my old one, as I had limited funds.
Then I checked with our old mates, Kev Cooke and Frank Swaine. Both said you could get batteries for the old phone. Kev pointed me towards Amazon.
Three days after putting in my order online, my new battery arrived, and I have my old phone back...
SO WHY COULDN'T THE VODAFONE SHOP SELL ME A NEW BATTERY FOR THEIR PHONE?
See picture at the top of the page, of my old phone (black) with new battery, and the new phone, (silver) above that they sold me.
Nikki has the new one.
SO, MY ADVICE TO YOU IS THIS - DON'T TRUST MOBILE PHONE SHOPS, - THEY MAY PRETEND TO BE THERE TO HELP YOU, BUT THEY ARE REALLY THERE TO SELL YOU A NEW PHONE...
and to rip you off...
Love & Peace
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DANNY TO THE RESCUE!
By Pete & Nikki
In order to enhance The Continuing Adventures of Nikki & Pete, the website, our YouTube videos and our next planned adventure in 2012 (you'll have to wait and see!) we decided to invest in a mutual Christmas present in the form of an HD camcorder.
We went into Maplins Electronics in Park Place Stevenage, and, to our delight, there was a A51KR HD camcorder for sale at HALF PRICE!
So we brought it, and was delighted to discover that it was also capable of stop-motion filming, which is invaluable in capturing time-lapse plant photography and animation.
We also bought a 16 GB memory card while we were at it, so that we would have plenty of memory for filming.
ALAS! When we got home, we tried to film our garden for inclusion in the latest episode of 'Nikki & Pete's Indian Summer Warning', and was distressed to find that, after only ten seconds of filming, the memory was full!
So back we went to Maplins, do discover that we needed to download a programme from the computer in order for the camcorder to recognise the memory card!
Now, we weren't impressed!
HOW DARE A MANUFACTURER SELL YOU SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T WORK?
Well, we tried to download the link that the people at Maplins gave us, but, being the technophobes we are, we couldn't figure out where the downloaded programme had to go, - so off we went, back to Maplins...
This time, we were served by young DANNY CONRAN, (pictured left) who couldn't have been more helpful.
At first, he said that, if he had brought in his lap-top, he could have downloaded the programme for us. But then he remembered that his mobile phone had an internet facility, and, taking our memory card and doing some technical jiggery-pokery that we could never quite understand, he managed to get the camcorder to recognise the memory card! Mind you, it took best part of half-an-hour, and we appreciated the time and effort he put in for us.
So off we went again, and found that we could film to our hearts content. BUT! Then we found that when we went to upload it into Windows Movie maker for editing, the application didn't have the right codec!
OK, OK, we tried to stay calm, and asked the advice of our old pal and Widgeripoo Technical expert, Kev Cooke, who sent us several codec packages, none of which helped unfortunately...
SO - Off we went again to Maplins, and sought out our friend and ally Danny, who told us that what we needed was a AV CONVERTER, which he duly found for us and emailed to me.
To cut a long story sideways, we clicked on the link he sent us, downloaded it to our computer, - AND HEY PRESTO! EVERYTHING NOW WORKS LIKE A DREAM!
THANKS DANNY, AND AS IS OUR CUSTOM, WE HAVE NOW INCLUDED MAPLINS IN OUR RECOMMADS SECTION, WHERE WE ADVERTISE SERVICES AND BUSINESSES ONLY THAT WE HAVE FOUND TO BE OUTSTANDING IN VALUE, SERVICE AND QUALITY...
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A MAMMOTH SCIENTIFIC PROJECT!
By Pete Perry
It has been announced that Japanese and Russian scientists are leading a race to clone the first woolly mammoth!
Recent advances in technology means that either country could produce a baby mammoth with the next FIVE YEARS! Mammoths became extinct on Earth about 8,000 years ago, and may be the first animals to have faced extinction directly at the hands of Mankind. Iin order to clone a Mammoth would involve taking DNA from the bones of woolly mammoths that have been found frozen in Siberia, and then implanting them into the womb of a living African Elephant.
DNA could also be used from the recently-discovered body of a baby mammoth in Siberia.
BUT WHY WOULD WE WANT TO BRING BACK THE MAMMOTH?
Like so many scientific goals, the only reason for doing this is to show the rest of the world that they CAN!
Let's face it, - there is no environmentally-sound reason for bring back a creature that has been extinct for 8,000 years - it is purely to boost the egos of those who are doing it, and the race between Japan and Russia is merely an exercise in political out-manouvering, National pride and Patriotism, which, in my view, is what causes war: Patriotism is the belief that your own country is more superor than another - and that is very outdated and very dangerous.
Patriotism has often manifested itself in the form of scientific races: - Witness the race to invent the pilotless missile (V1 and V2 Flying Bombs), the atomic bomb, and the space race, fuelled by the cold war and mstrust between The USSR and The USA.
Besides, - how is one, lone mammoth going to feel? it will be raised without parents, and live it's life out (probably in a zoo or scientific institute) without ever being able to mate.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE THE ONLY ONE OF YOUR KIND IN EXISTENCE?
ONCE AGAIN, MANKIND IS ACTING FOR PURELY SELFISH REASONS.
WHAT NEXT, I WONDER? - JURASSIC PARK BECOMING A REALITY?
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HOW FAR CAN WE ALLOW 'FRANKENSTIEN SCIENCE' TO GO?
By PETE PERRY
As reported on our Animal Rights page, they are once again tampering with genetic engineering, and produced a cat transplanted with jellyfish genes, so that it glows in the dark. This, supposedly, is to help combat AIDS in humans.
NOW FOR A WARNING - SOME OF THE FOLLOWING PHOTOGRAPHS MAY MAKE YOU FEEL SICK, - BUT I MAKE NO APOLOGIES - I BELIEVE THE PUBLIC HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT GENETIC SCIENCE IS UP TO...
Back in the Nineties, I remember reading about a mouse being used to grow a human ear, and indeed, I wrote a poem about this an other monstrosities of science in an anthology, which you can read on our POETRY PAGE.
CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT KIND OF LIFE THAT MOUSE (pictured right, actual photograph) HAD, EXISTING IN A SCIENCE LAB WITH A HUMAN EAR GROWING ON IT'S BACK?
Genetic engineering is being done more and more often, and genes are being mixed up, not only in plants, but in an assortment of animal/vegetable, sealife/animal, and even human/animal experiments, and you can't tell me it is for the good of human, or indeed, ANY form of life: It is a Frankenstien science which could produce any of these hideous hybrids...
(These are not photographs of actual hybrids, but are intended to illustrate what scientists COULD come up with if not kept in check.)
As Nikki pointed out to me as I was researching this article, - 'surely nobody consented to having their genetic material used in this way?' The short answer is no, - but how do you know what scientists are doing with your genetic material after you agree to having a blood test or biopsy?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT?
IS LIFE TRANSPORTED THROUGH COMETS?
Way back in the fifties, Pete put forward the theory that life, in the form of bacteria, viruses and plant seeds could be transported from one planet to another via comets.
As with many of his theories at that time, people dismissed him as a bit of a crackpot, and warned that he was making a laughing stock of himself, - but, as with many of Pete's ideas, it has since been discussed by scientists that maybe diseases could be spread throughout the universe by comets, as it has been noted that there is often a viral or bacterial pandemic immediately following the sighting of comets.
Well, now our editor-in-chief Pete has added to his theory, suggesting that it may be possible for plant seeds, insect eggs and even amphibian spawn and fish eggs to be transported across the universe in this way.
'When you consider that comets are made up of frozen ice particles, it is feasable that these life forms could be kept in a cryogenic state for years, decades, and even centuries, then deposited on other planets, where favourable conditions could allow them to develop, thrive and multiply' he says.
'It is even possible that bird and reptile eggs could be buried inside a meteor, allowing them to be distributed in this way...'
Could frog spawn, fish eggs, or even reptile eggs be transported throughout the universe?
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Contact us today!
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Coincidentally, volume One of Pete's biographical masterpiece 'Haven Grandiflora!' is called 'The Seeds of Life', and talks of animal and human seeds surviving after death...
SEE TOP OF THI COLUMN
Exciting new Solar System found
A new planet system similar to our own Solar system, which could possibly harbour life, has been found by NASA
A BOOST FOR PETE'S 'SEEDS OF LIFE' THEORY
The following has recently been reported in Science Journals:
A comet passes The Earth on it's journey through space. Could it be distributing life's seeds throughout the Universe?
An asteroid crashes into the sea, and as it does so, it could be spreading The Seeds of Life...