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Dream On

Can You Craft the Perfect Dream?

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Can you control your dreams through sound? One psychologist says yes, and a new study backs him up.

Professor Richard Wiseman started his career as a magician. Now, he claims he has the power to control your dreams. But there's no magic here--it's hard science. Today, Wiseman is a respected psychologist and has developed a new app, Dream:ON. A study has shown the app helps people craft what they dream about right before waking up, and thus, they rise feeling happy and refreshed."I'd like to think this is my best trick yet," smiles Professor Wiseman, who teaches in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

Put a Ring on It

The Cronut of Space

L. Calçada/Nick Risinger/ESO

Chariklo was discovered in 1997, but astronomers recently discovered its two rings. It’s also likely to have one or more moons.

Saturn’s rings make the planet one of the most beautiful objects in our Solar System. Though the rings look solid, they consist of a huge number of icy particles that reflect sunlight back. Thanks to telescopes and space probes, we also know that other worlds have less showy ring systems: the giant planets Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune have them, along with the asteroid Chariklo(roughly pronounced “KAReekloe”), which was recently revealed to have two narrow rings made of water ice.

Up to a Point

P.J. and the Owl-Monkey Project

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Studies confirm what scientists suspected all along: there’s a huge difference between !!, !!!, and !!!!!!.

Social Science Eats the News… Print journalism is succumbing to “Studies show…”  This is understandable. Real news reporting requires reporters, news, and other expensive stuff. But  “Studies show…” items can be clipped and pasted by…  By people like me. The clippings don’t even have to be news in the sense of new. Daily papers and slick monthlies aren’t reluctant to trumpet “findings” older than New Math. Below are examples gathered over the past six weeks from The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic.

Find Your Niche

Reddit’s Toaster Love & Dragon Sex

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Deep within the Web’s weirdest recesses, hundreds of other fans of monarchism and intercourse with German Panzers are waiting for you. Warning: NSFW photos of avocados.

In case you have missed any of the dozens—hundreds!—of articles on the topic, Reddit has become the de facto center of the Internet. Last month, it had almost 115 million unique visitors, which is a lot—it’s not that far from Facebook, which had 166 million unique visits in February.But despite its popularity, Reddit manages to retain a glorious, dark, unabashed weirdness that positively thrives there. It remains the receptive petri dish to any and all sorts of colonies of humanity that finally managed to find one another.

Flu$h

The Toilet Saving the World

The Daily Beast

Sanergy, a company founded by MIT students, distributes toilets specially designed for crowded areas. The toilets not only help people stay healthy, but they help communities make money.

About half of Nairobi’s 3.3 million people don’t have access to piped water or a sewage grid. Put simply: this is a public health catastrophe that disproportionately harms women and children. Water and sanitation development projects are legion in the informal settlements of Nairobi, and yet the basics of sanitation—access, affordability, and cleanliness—barely exist.Sanergy, a for-profit/non-profit hybrid started by five MIT students in 2011, may change that.

Charged Up

Women Who’ll Design the Future

Marc Bryan-Brown/Women in the World

Charge a cell phone in less than a minute. Recharge electronic devices remotely. Four young women introduced the audience of Women in the World to the up side of disruptive technologies.

When people attending the fifth annual Women in the World summit at New York’s Lincoln Center arrived at the theater where the summit took place this week, they couldn’t get past the lobby without encountering cell phone charging stations, courtesy of AT&T, a summit sponsor. More than one attendee was surely grateful. But what the audience learned if it attended the panel entitled “Women Design the Future” was that by next year those charging stations may be obsolete.

The Cut

Docs, Stop Forcing Circumcision

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The debate is a hot one among parents, and the health benefits are questioned by medical professionals. Some “pro-circers” liken “anti-circers” to anti-vaxxers. Is that a stretch?

As a physician, part of my job is giving my patients and their parents as much information as I can to help them avoid illness and injury. Preventive medicine is a mainstay of quality care, and I would be failing in a major obligation if I didn’t help mothers and fathers make the best decisions they can to keep their children healthy. I talk about bicycle helmets and safety belts and childproofing their homes. And of course, I talk about vaccines.

Whoops

Wrong About Alzheimer’s All Along

Alfred Pasieka/Corbis

Most researchers think the disease is caused by the build-up of beta amyloid. But over 100 drugs targeting it have failed. Have they been focusing on the wrong protein all this time?

If Claude Wischik is right, almost 20 years of drug development for Alzheimer’s disease have been a costly mistake. Wischik, a chair in mental health at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland, is a founder of TauRx, a Singapore-based pharmaceutical company. He’s also one of several scientists loudly questioning the focus of most Alzheimer’s research.Dominating the research field is a protein called beta amyloid, identified by Alois Alzheimer in 1906.

From the Couch to the Curb

My Therapist Dumped Me

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What happens when the man who you entrust with your secrets and feelings suddenly decides he’s no longer interested?

I always thought there were implicit rules to the therapist-patient relationship: patient pays therapist to listen to her yammer on, therapist offers patient insight about her yammering…on and on until the patient runs out of reasons to yammer.Six weeks ago, that understanding changed for me, in a rather radical way. Four words signaled the end: “We’re not making progress.”Let me back up. I started seeing a therapist when I was 17, with an anodyne complaint of insomnia.

Danger

E-Cigs Can Poison Kids

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty

A new CDC study says e-cigarette-related calls to poison control centers has grown substantially since 2010, and 51.1 percent of calls involve young children.

A “healthier” solution to cigarettes may be just the opposite. According to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control Thursday, the number of monthly calls to poison centers for e-cigarette related incidents went from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014.The jump takes the proportion of e-cigarette related calls to poison centers from just 0.3 percent to 41.7 percent.Published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study sheds light on the hidden dangers of what many consider to be a promising alternative to regular cigarettes.

Merica

We’re Number…16?

America isn’t number one this time. Despite having the second-highest GDP on the 132-country list, the U.S. falls shorts on basic human needs, health and wellness, and education.

New Zealand took the number one spot, followed by Switzerland and Iceland in a new global ranking of the world’s most socially advanced countries, according to a new global index released today by a U.S.-based nonprofit, The Social Progress Imperative (SPI). The United States came in 16th. And that’s despite having the second-highest GDP per capita (behind #5, Norway).Created by a team led by Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, the Social Progress Index ranked 132 countries over three categories: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity.

Achy Breaky Heart

Broken Hearts Can Kill You

The Daily Beast

Yes, your heart really can break, and tragic events play a role. A recent study shows a correlation between natural disasters and “broken heart syndrome.”

Day-to-day heartache doesn’t hold a candle to scientifically proven heartbreak—a real thing called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Turns out, your cardiac muscle can temporarily enlarge and weaken, and what’s more, the number of diagnoses is growing, leading a team of researchers to examine the cause. They found a surprising correlation that has the power to impact each and every one of us, even if you think you’ve got heart health on lock.First described in Japan, broken heart syndrome got its name because a diagnosed patient’s left ventricle balloons to resemble the shape of an octopus trap.

Bad Doc

The Danger of “Natural” Medicine

Dieter Spannknebel/Getty

Sure, the idea of natural medicine sounds okay. But when medical doctors “prescribe” pseudoscientific remedies, it becomes dangerous.

“Natural” is such a pretty word. It conjures up all sorts of nice mental pictures: waterfalls, butterflies, the slow return to spring after a long winter. When someone makes reference to nature and all things natural, odds are that’s the kind of thing you’re meant to think of in response. Presumably they’re not expecting you to think of amoebic dysentery.The trouble is that there are horrible things that are also entirely natural. Nobody really celebrates freezing to death in January or being pursued by predators, as natural as they may be.

Shaky

Calm Down, Earthquakes Are Normal

Aldo Solimano/AFP/Getty

The past week has been a shaky one, with earthquakes reported in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Wyoming, and Chile. It seems like a lot, but the data says we have little to worry about.

Over the past month, a spate of earthquakes has captured people’s attention. A magnitude 6.9 off of Eureka, north of San Francisco. A pair of magnitude 4-5 earthquakes in the Los Angeles basin. A magnitude 4.8 near the Yellowstone caldera in Wyoming. And now, a massive magnitude 8.2 off the coast of Chile that even generated a tsunami. Is Earth spiraling out of control? Are end times are around the corner? Far from it.In fact, these earthquakes illustrate a couple of things to bear in mind when it comes to seismicity.

The Cut

Should Circumcision Be Mandatory?

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A new medical review published by Mayo Clinic makes the strongest case yet for cirumcision. Is it time to take the decision out of parents’ hands and make the procedure mandatory?

The choice of whether to circumcise one’s son—a decision both aided and hindered by a deluge of readily available information on the Internet—is an increasingly fraught one for parents. A quick Google search for “Should I circumcise my baby?” retrieves millions of articles, blogs, and academic papers all weighing in on the risks and rewards associated with the surgical removal of a newborn’s foreskin. Now, a new review published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings claims the health benefits of circumcision exceed any risks by at least 100 to 1.

Better. Faster. Stronger.

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6 Sleep Myths to Put to Bed

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Home Screen

Reddit Founder’s 7 Fave Apps

Pow Pow

Video Games Make You (More) Racist

Freeze Me to Life

In this short documentary, go behind the scenes of the Cryonics Institute, which preserves frozen human bodies with the pseudo-scientific hope of one day waking them again.

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Lincoln Center, NYC | APRIL 3-5, 2014

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The fifth annual summit hits New York's Lincoln Center stage April 3-5, 2014. Hear stirring true stories that stretch from war zones to Washington, and learn how you too can get involved. Watch LIVE on The Daily Beast starting today at 6:30PM EST!