I love the science news I come across on the way here to write this column. “Scientists Found a Way to Communicate With People Who Are Asleep And Dreaming.”
Scientists had people sleeping in their labs and used flashing lights, touch, Morse code and I don’t know what all to try to communicate to the sleepers while they were dreaming, and ask them yes or no questions or simple math problems, like how many times did this light flash.
Meanwhile, they had witnesses watching and judging responses. And “Across 57 sleep sessions, at least one correct response to a query was observed in 47 percent of the sessions where lucid dreaming was confirmed by the participant.”
Reminds me of the classic critique of dancing bears: “My two-year-old can dance better than that.”
“It’s not that he dances well — it’s that he dances at all. He’s a bear.”
We’ve got people who can give a correct answer to such tough questions as “Can you speak Spanish?” 47% of the time, while asleep. Let’s give them all scholarships to Yale. Then elect them to Congress.
In other science news, scientists are working out what happened that time around 42,000 years ago when the magnetic north pole went wandering south as far as the Antarctic before coming back home to northern parts. Generally known as “The North Pole’s Big Adventure,” it lasted anywhere from a thousand years to 1,700 years, depending on how many fingers you count with. I’m just kidding; I was just confused by the times mentioned.
Anyway, what matters is the scientists know that at one time during the wanderings of the magnetic pole — earth’s magnetic field, which protects us from radiation — it was reduced to 6% of its usual strength, and they say maybe that’s one of the reasons Neanderthals went extinct.
The article I read didn’t mention it, but it’s also been in the news lately that the magnetic north pole has been currently wandering all over Canada, and has been seen heading toward Siberia.
We can’t seem to get a break. First, we had to worry about global warming, then a global pandemic and, now, a globe-hopping magnetic pole that could collapse our magnetosphere and get us all fried.
Speaking of the pandemic: When vaccines were first rolled out for covid-19, it was thought there could be a lot of anti-vaxxers choosing not to get the vaccine. There are many, I know some of them, but it now seems like there are even more people who are jumping over everyone they can to get it ahead of schedule.
As an old dotard (70-something), I have had my first vaccination and expect to get my second this Friday. I didn’t have to fight anybody for my shot; a team of fire department medics actually just showed up at my apartment building with less than a few hours’ notice and vaccinated everyone over 65. So far as I know, no young people tried to pass as old in order to get a shot. Not in my building.
But in Florida, two women under 45 dressed up to look over 65 and tried to get in line for a vaccination meant only for the elderly. They got caught, but it turns out they both had official cards that indicated they’d already got away with the trick once before. They were trying to get their second shot.
What we have here is a major difference between me and other yahoos. I remember what I was like when I was 40, and I know I was wild enough to pull something like that. But if I got away with it the one time, I would have stood pat. I would have tossed the vaccine card and the disguise and settled for waiting for my “first” shot, happy to know it would be my second. Why double the risk?
I feel similarly about global warming. During the first four years of the Reagan presidency, I had a car that got 7 miles to the gallon. But I was young, and anyway, when I got the chance, I switched it out for a car that got 20-something miles to the gallon. I didn’t want to ruin the environment all the time.
It’s like they say: all things in moderation. And if someone asks you if you speak Spanish while you’re asleep, tell them, Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan.
Read more of the Feb. 24 - Mar. 2, 2021 issue.