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Printers and grafts, pass the squirrel, stifling creative juices

Why do nightmares rerun?

" 'We take our problems to sleep and we work through them during the night,' says Rosalind Cartwright, an emeritus professor of neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who has spent nearly 50 years studying sleep and dreams. Her new book, The Twenty-Four Hour Mind, explains that the mind latches on to some thread of unfinished emotional business from the day. Then, in REM sleep (the rapid-eye movement period when most dreaming occurs), it calls up bits of older memories that are somehow related, and melds them together. 'That's why dreams look so peculiar. You have old memories and new memories Scotch-plaided into each other,' she says. 'They are emotional connections rather than logical ones.' Usually, people work through the most negative emotions first, and their dreams become more positive as the night goes on. … But nightmares interrupt that process; people usually wake up before the frightening emotion is resolved, so the dream keeps repeating."

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Printers and grafts

"Hurt your skin? Just print some more," Frank Swain writes in Wired magazine's British edition. "Scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest, N.C., have built an inkjet printer that can 'print' skin grafts. A laser scanner creates a map of the wound, which is used as a guide to where types of cells should be applied. Skin cells grown from the patient are loaded into sterilized cartridges and printed on to the wound. 'The bio-printer drops each type of cell precisely where it needs to go,' explains researcher Kyle Binder. 'The wound is filled in and the cells become new skin.' "

Pass the squirrel

A £500-a-bottle [$800]super-strong ale is to be sold inside the bodies of dead animals, The Daily Telegraph reports. "The stunt has been condemned by animal-rights groups as 'cheap marketing tactics.' Twelve bottles of The End of History Ale have been made and placed inside seven dead stoats, four squirrels and one hare. And at 55 per cent [alcohol]volume, its makers claim it is the world's strongest beer. A taxidermist in Doncaster worked on the animals, which were not killed for bottling the new drink, with some having been killed on the roads. Outfits featured on some of the animals include a kilt and a top hat. BrewDog, of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, created the ale, which is stronger than whisky and vodka."

Stifling creative juices

"As you read this, people in offices around the globe will be having meetings trying to come up with good ideas," Prof. Richard Wiseman writes for BBC Focus magazine. "Researchers have gone to a great deal of trouble to test this technique. … The results suggest that groups actually hinder creativity. … Why is this? Group brainstorming may fail because of a phenomenon known as 'social loafing,' first noticed in the late 1880s by French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann. In one of his studies, people were asked to pull on a rope and lift increasingly heavy weights. When working alone, individuals lifted around 85 kilograms, but managed only 65 kilograms when placed in a group. When people work in a group, they aren't especially motivated to put in the time and energy. After all, they won't receive personal praise if the group does well and can blame others if it performs badly. Group brainstorming seems to stifle, not stimulate, the creative juices."

Tinting profile photos

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"An application that allows Facebook users to whiten their profile pictures has sparked controversy in India," The Sunday Times of London reports. "The unimaginatively titled Transform Your Face on Facebook app is part of a campaign by Vaseline to take advantage of the (₤325-million) market for skin-lightening creams in the country. In a poll of nearly 12,000 people conducted last year by the online dating site, skin tone was considered the most important criterion when choosing a partner."

No reason to visit Idaho

U.S. Forest Service officials in northern Idaho say the rubber-soled decorations that made the "shoe tree" a beloved Priest River landmark also helped fuel its demise, Associated Press reports. Tourists and locals since the 1940s have dressed the tree with hundreds of pairs of shoes, nailing sneakers to its trunk and hanging work boots from its branches. Firefighters found the tree engulfed in flames last Thursday and found the blaze was difficult to extinguish because the sizable cedar was covered in melted shoe rubber. Officials have long discouraged people from adding shoes to the tree, which has become a roadside attraction featured on various websites.

Double whammy

"Having depression," the New Scientist reports, "nearly doubles the risk of dementia later in life, say researchers from the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. Inflammation of brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed might contribute to dementia, suggest the authors."

Thought du jour

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"Something unknown is doing we don't know what."

- Sir Arthur Eddington, astrophysicist

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