What is the difference between dreams and reality?

For those interested in such matters, I just put up a new post on The Three Illusions site.

One obvious answer is that we wake up from dreams but we don’t wake up from reality. But does the dreamed person in our dreams ever wake up from the dream? Or does their ‘reality’ just end for them? One minute they are living inside their reality and the next it just stops. We wake up from that dream. As far as we’re concerned the dream is over. But what does the dream person experience?

Read more.

The “core values” of Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton released a statement on its website Sunday addressing Snowden: “Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”

(source)

So what exactly do the “core values” of Booz Allen Hamilton say an employee should do when they discover that the US government is secretly spying on its citizens? And is “telling the truth” against their “code of conduct”? I, for one, would like to know more.

Curing Religious Feelings, Re-thinking Female Sexuality and Nazis on Meth

stephen merchant for doctor who!

Stories that have grabbed my attention over the last day or so.

Curing Religious Feelings

It’s all about the brain. One day we should be able to use fMRI tools (or their descendants) to identify psychopaths before they hurt someone and offer to cure them. Can we also use neuroscientific tools to help cure religious fundamentalists? I’m not sure they would willingly submit to be cured and we can’t ethically force them. Would you stop believing in imaginary gods and monsters if you could?

An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness.
Kathleen Taylor, who describes herself as a “science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics,” made the suggestion during a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday. In response to a question about the future of neuroscience, Taylor said that “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” The Times of London notes. (source)

Women Are Horny After All

I didn’t need journalist Daniel Bergner to write a book to tell me that my wife has a massive sex drive. She reminds me every day! He’s written the book anyway –  “What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire”. According to the research he did for the book, many popular ideas about women’s sexuality is wrong, wrong, wrong. For example, they aren’t made for monogamy any more than men are. And women become physically aroused to a much wider array of visual stimuli than men, even though they deny it. Read the interview. (source)

Nazis On Meth! 

No, that’s not the title of the sequel to Iron Sky, it’s the story about meth was invented by a German in 1938 and then distributed by the millions to Nazi soldiers. Makes me wonder what impact that might have had on their early successes – and their eventual downfall? We know Der Fuhrer didn’t partake of alcohol or cigarettes, but did he use meth?

…the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” (source)

Gatsby

We saw The Great Gatsby in 3D last night. It wasn’t the complete disaster I expected from the bad reviews and the stories about its troubled production, but I didn’t like it. I’m generally not a fan of Baz Luhrmann. I loved Strictly Ballroom, but all of his films since Romeo + Juliet have been too over-the-top for my tastes. I don’t mind CG effects if they are required – sure, go ahead and use them in The Avengers if you must. I just think character-driven stories don’t need them. We also saw Joe Wright recent adaptation of Anna Karenina a few months ago and I’m sure it also used CG, but it was used much more carefully, enhancing the story rather than over-powering it. That’s my two cents, anyway. Chrissy, on the other hand, loved it.

 

Who Is The New Doctor Going To Be? 

The BBC has announced Matt Smith is retiring at the end of the year. Who will be the new Doctor (no, not John Hurt). My tip is Ben Whishaw

stephen merchant for doctor who!

(he was Q in the latest Bond film), although he might be too big now. Cumberbatch is definitely too big – and he turned it down four years ago anyhow. It will probably be someone totally unknown. If I could choose, it would be Stephen Merchant.

Yeah the last season has been pretty dreary. It’s had a few cool moment (John Hurt) but nowhere near as cool as the first season of Eleven or the first couple of seasons of Ten.

 

How does the CEO of Evernote use Evernote?

Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, shares how he organises his personal install of Evernote.

 As of the time of this answer, I have about 9,000 notes in my Evernote account divided among 45 notebooks. However, the majority of these notes are in my single, default notebook. (source)

A little disappointing to those of us who obsess over getting the right combination of Notebooks & Tags. At least he has more notes than I do (6617).

 

The D-Wave Quantum Computer

I just watched this video on how the crew from D-Wave build their quantum computers.

You haven’t heard of D-Wave? You will.

They sell the world’s only commercial quantum computer, and recently announced an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association. What are they doing together? Research artificial intelligence.

In May 2013, D-Wave published a comparison of their technology against regular top-end desktop computers running an optimization algorithm. Using a configuration with 439 qubits, the system performed 3,600 times as fast as the best algorithm (CPLEX) on the conventional machine, solving problems with 100 or more variables in half a second compared with half an hour.