Men get stupider after sharing their bed, ferocious animals get better treatment at an Israeli hospital and a stem cell finding done without federal funding.

Dream Lover, Come Rescue Me
A new study out of the University of Vienna concludes that men recall their dreams best after sex, while women have the best recollection if they’ve slept alone. The results come in the context of a larger study on sleep, where a subject pool of eight unmarried couples slept 10 nights together and 10 nights apart while scientists observed their rest patterns and tested their cognitive skills. The researchers found that while they had better dream recollection, men had impaired mental ability after they’d shared their bed. Men and women alike had more disturbed sleep when they slept with a partner, but women did not suffer the same cognitive deficiencies, which indicates that they were able to reach deep sleep. The level of the men’s impairment was not affected by whether or not they’d had sex the night before. There goes that theory about the source of Einstein’s and Feynman’s brilliance.
(source: BBC)

Animal Shelter
While the human population of the Middle East faces the horrors of war head-on, Israel is offering protection to its carnivorous beasts. The staff of Haifa Educational Zoo has announced that in case the zoo is hit by a Hezbollah missile, their lions, tigers, leopards and bears will be safely locked away in secure, bomb-proof cages. Head keeper Yoav Ratner implied that he is less worried about the safety of exotic species and more concerned about what would happen if a cage were destroyed and lions roamed free in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city.
(source: Reuters)

Viral Mis-Marketing
Despite the best efforts of the media to barrage our youth with frightening images of infectious disease, the kids still don’t have their facts straight. A new online survey of 1,373 US youths ages eight to 18 shows that 61% believe taking antibiotics can help prevent a virus. (It can’t.) More than half of those surveyed believe that a virus requires nutrients to exist (it doesn’t) and lives and dies in the same way as any life form does (again, no). Of kids aged eight to 12 and teenagers 91% and 79%, respectively, say that a virus is a living thing (virologists would beg to differ).

On the upside, while the media has done a poor job teaching kids about disease, it’s done rather well at getting them to remember the names of the viruses that will eventually kill us all. More than 98% of respondents had heard of the common cold, 89% of tweens and 95% of teens knew of HIV or AIDS, and 82% of tweens and 92% of teeens knew of bird flu.
(source: Harris Interactive)

ESPing Away Funding
Scientists at the University of Manchester have designed a virtual reality system with which they will test telepathic ability. Researchers in the university’s School of Psychological Sciences and School of Computer Science will place pairs of subjects in virtual reality simulators located on different floors of the same building. The subjects will see a virtual room with objects in it, and one will be instructed to concentrate on an object and try to transmit it to the other. The researchers say their goal is to achieve the highest level of objectivity, not to prove or disprove telepathy. Nonetheless, they plan to publish their results in early 2007.
(source: University of Manchester)

Location, Location, Location
Sarah Lang, 31 years old of Newport, South Wales, wants to buy a plot on the Moon with her game show winnings of £1 million.

“I have heard that you can buy plots of land on the Moon,” she said. “It might be worth something in a few years.”

Even with the nearest Wal-Mart more than 380,000 kilometers away, now that Stephen Hawking has called for the colonization of other planets, Lang, a self-confessed geek, might be right. However, international space law prohibits the selling of lunar land, as Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co. found out when they were closed last year for trying to sell the moon at 298 yuan per acre.
(sources: AFP, Xinhua)

You Will Experience Déjà Vu
You Will Experience Déjà Vu
Up to 97% of people have endured the unsettling feeling of déjà vu. Now, researchers at the University of Leeds have recreated the experience in the lab using the power of hypnosis. Scientists at the Leeds Memory Group showed subjects 24 words. Then the participants were hypnotized and researchers suggested that when words were presented in a red frame, they would feel familiar, and when they were in a green frame, the subjects would think they belonged to the original list. Words were then presented in frames of several different colors. Of the 18 subjects tested thus far, 10 reported a distinct feeling of déjà vu when words were in red frames. The researchers say they are establishing that there are two separate processes involved in recognition: First, searching through the memory to find if something has been seen before, and second, triggering a feeling of familiarity.
(source: New Scientist)

Thanks For Rubbing It In
On July 19, the day President Bush vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, scientists at UC Irvine announced that transplanting human embryonic stem cells can be safely used as a treatment for acute spinal cord injury. Federally funded researchers will be unable to further research the procedure, which the Irvine team concluded is absolutely harmless. Even in severely injured rats, the federally un-funded human embryonic stem cells were able to improve the outcome of spinal cord injury by forming new myelin tissue. The researchers are working with the Geron Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company (that is not the federal government), to bring this treatment into clinical trials within the next year.
(source: University of California - Irvine)

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Originally published July 23, 2006


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