Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Uberman Sleep Schedule

Do you find you there is always too much to do and too little time? Imagine if you didn't need to sleep...


The Uberman sleep schedule is a method of organizing your sleeping time to maximize your REM sleep and minimize your non-REM sleep. The goal of the sleep cycle is that you are actively in REM sleep within a couple of minutes of falling asleep and remain in that state until you awaken.

In essence, someone utilizing the Uberman sleep schedule is actively modifying their sleeping habits so that they can immediately jump from waking to a few minutes worth of stage 1 sleep straight to stage 5 REM sleep.

The Sleep Schedule

The Uberman sleep schedule revolves around forcing yourself to rely on six twenty to thirty minute naps spread throughout the day for your daily dose of sleep.

How & Why It Works

Over the course of a normal eight hour sleeping period, your body moves through a continuous cycle of five distinct sleep stages. Of these, stage 5 REM sleep has been found to be the part of the cycle that provides the benefits of sleep for your mind.

Essentially, the trick of the Uberman's sleep schedule is to trick your mind into entering REM sleep as soon as you drift into a sleeplike state. Unfortunately, the only real way to do this is through sleep deprivation of sorts.

Adjusting To The Schedule

Adjusting to this schedule (as you might imagine) will make you feel like you've put your body and mind through a blender for a few weeks. Here are some general tips from someone who has actually adjusted to the Uberman Schedule:

  • Do the adjustment when you are in complete control of your schedule. I converted to the cycle during a three week vacation; it would have been impossible to get through a normal work day while adjusting to this cycle. I was by and large a zombie.
  • Find a large project to work on while adjusting. If you don't keep busy, you will revert to a normal sleep cycle. In my first failed attempt at switching (on vacation more than two years ago), I didn't have an ongoing project to keep me focused. 
  • Use physiological "tricks" to teach your body the cycle. I found that using a dawn simulation trick worked nicely. Every time I went to lay down, I set my monitor to wait thirty-two minutes, then begin running a program that had a strobe effect along with some excessively loud music. I also used two alarm clocks, and during the day I would adjust my blinds such that the sun would start shining in my face roughly a half an hour later. These would force me to become somewhat conscious for a while, which was all I needed to keep going.
  • Days 3 to 10 are the hardest and least productive. I spent the adjustment period working on two projects, one involving programming and another involving writing. At the start of day three, I stored a backup of these projects because I knew that my thought processes were starting to become nonsensical and bizarre. For the next week, I continued to "work" on the projects, but utterly failed to make any sensible progress (interestingly enough, the fiction I wrote in this period was entertaining in a Thomas Pynchon meets The Electric Company kind of way). Don't expect to be hugely useful during the actual forced adjustment to compressed REM sleep.
  • Convert to a more nutritious diet. I've found that drinking a great deal of orange and apple juice makes the Uberman schedule easier to follow, as does eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding fatty foods like the plague.

Side Effects

The side effects are largely unknown, but most who have adjusted report very intense dreams and also having total recall of their dreams. Several people have reported having larger appetites and craving particular foods which they had never craved before.

There may be other side effects, though. I'll leave it to you guys to discover them.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Chara's hit on Pacioretty

Basically, Chara hit Pacioretty when he didn't have the puck, right into the piece of glass between the two benches. Pacioretty was out cold for a few minutes and fractured one of his vertebrae. If you watch the video, it looks like Chara looks up, knowing where he is on the ice, and purposely hits Pacioretty into the glass knowing he will be hurt.

So Chara got suspended right? Nope. He got kicked out of the game. But no suspension, no fines, nothing. And Pacioretty will be out for the rest of the season and playoffs at the very least.

So what do you guys think? Should Chara have been given a bigger punishment? Or was it an innocent interference play? Personally, I think Chara is a lumbering goon, I mean Bruin, who injured Pacioretty on purpose. If it were my decision, I'd fine him and kick him out for ten games.

Sorry for posting a sports video, but I think this raises an interesting safety question. Why wasn't that piece of glass padded? It wouldn't detract from the game at all. It would hardly cost anything, especially compared with the cost of treating an injury like Pacioretty's. If the glass was padded, the debate wouldn't even exist. Pacioretty might have gotten a minor concussion at worst.

So I think the NHL has messed up on two counts. They need to step up safety measures in the rink, and issue suspensions for acts with evident mal-intent.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Imaginary Time - The self-contained universe proposal

There have been many models of the universe in past centuries, but today we now know that the universe is expanding and has been expanding since the Big Bang. But what caused the Big Bang? And what happened before the Big Bang itself? Stephen Hawking has theories, as it turns out, that could answer both questions.

And, as it turns out, his theory involves complex numbers and is derived from quantum mechanics (see my last blog post). The "imaginary time" he refers to is the component of time that has an i attached to it. A brief overview was given in an interview with the BBC:

SUE: To oversimplify your theories hugely, and I hope you'll forgive me for this, Stephen, you once believed, as I understand it, that there was a point of creation, a big bang, but you no longer believe that to be the case. You believe that there was no beginning and there is no end, that the universe is self-contained. Does that mean that there was no act of creation and therefore that there's no place for God?

STEPHEN: Yes, you have oversimplified. I still believe the universe has a beginning in real time, at the big bang. But there's another kind of time, imaginary time, at right angles to real time, in which the universe has no beginning or end. This would mean that the way the universe began would be determined by the laws of physics. One wouldn't have to say that God chose to set the universe going in some arbitrary way that we couldn't understand. It says nothing about whether or not God exists - just that He isn't arbitrary.
 So basically, Hawking proposes that the universe in imaginary time is self-contained. That is, the question of "when did it begin?" or "what happened before?" makes no sense physically.

 Real time, as we know it, makes far less sense. But then again, as Einstein proved, time is all relative anyway. Everyone has their personal time, (ex. someone in orbit around Earth would age slower relative to someone on Earth). So, perhaps imaginary time makes more sense in the respect too.

It's something to think about anyway.

Stephen Hawking

Monday, 7 March 2011

Complex numbers, i swear this is interesting.

i = sqrt(-1)

OK, so what? Well for one thing, using complex numbers allows engineers and physicists to make real world approximations using the complex plane.

Above: The complex plane

Complex numbers also connect the sinusoidal functions, sine and cosine, to the exponential function, e. The relationship between the two is critical to most modern day engineering problems. Try to puzzle through Euler's formula below.
 Now for the really cool stuff. The complex plane is used to make fractals, like the ones seen below.

And finally, complex numbers can be used to puzzle your nerdy friends. What is the fourth root of 1?

i of course.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Romulus: The Legendary Founder

Every great civilization has its humble beginnings!

Legend says that Rome was founded by Romulus, twin of Remus, who then became the first King of Rome. I won't elaborate on the legend since it has very little historical foundation. As a matter of fact, Romulus may not have existed at all, as we will see at a later date when I talk about the historicity of events in the Republic.

One thing that seems certain is that Rome was founded on the Palatine Hill, possibly by an individual named Romulus.  When Romulus completes his city he names it Roma after himself. Then he divides his fighting men into regiments of 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry, which he calls "legions". From the rest of the populace he selects 100 of the most noble and wealthy fathers to serve as his council. He calls these men Patricians: they are fathers of Rome, not only because they care for their own legitimate citizen-sons but because they have a fatherly care for Rome and all its people. They are also its elders, and are therefore known as senators. Romulus thereby inaugurates a system of government and social hierarchy focused on the patron-client relationship.

Thus, according to legend, Romulus established the very principles on which the entire Republic is based! And all of this around 750 BC.