Corante

Corante: technology, business, media, law, and culture news from the blogosphere
<$MTBlogName$> OUR PUBLICATIONS:
Corante Blogs

Corante Blogs examine, through the eyes of leading observers, analysts, thinkers, and doers, critical themes and memes in technology, business, law, science, and culture.

The Press Will Be Outsourced Before Stopped

Vin Crosbie, on the challenges, financial and otherwise, that newspaper publishers are facing: "The real problem, Mr. Newspaperman, isn't that your content isn't online or isn't online with multimedia. It's your content. Specifically, it's what you report, which stories you publish, and how you publish them to people, who, by the way, have very different individual interests. The problem is the content you're giving them, stupid; not the platform its on."
by Vin Crosbie in Rebuilding Media

Travels In Numerica Deserta

There's a problem in the drug industry that people have recognized for some years, but we're not that much closer to dealing with it than we were then. We keep coming up with these technologies and techniques which seem as if they might be able to help us with some of our nastiest problems - I'm talking about genomics in all its guises, and metabolic profiling, and naturally the various high-throughput screening platforms, and others. But whether these are helping or not (and opinions sure do vary), one thing that they all have in common is that they generate enormous heaps of data.
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Disrobing the Emperor: The online “user experience” isn't much of one

Now that the Web labor market is saturated and Web design a static profession, it's not surprising that 'user experience' designers and researchers who've spent their careers online are looking for new worlds to conquer. Some are returning to the “old media” as directors and producers. More are now doing offline consulting (service experience design, social policy design, exhibition design, and so on) under the 'user experience' aegis. They argue that the lessons they've learned on the Web can be applied to phenomena in the physical and social worlds. But there are enormous differences...
by Bob Jacobson in Total Experience

Second Life: What are the real numbers?

Clay Shirky, in deconstructing Second Life hype: "Second Life is heading towards two million users. Except it isn’t, really... I suspect Second Life is largely a 'Try Me' virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited. The pattern of a Try Me virus is a rapid spread of first time users, most of whom drop out quickly, with most of the dropouts becoming immune to later use."
by Clay Shirky in Many-to-Many

The democratisation of everything

Over the last few years we've seen old barriers to creativity coming down, one after the other. New technologies and services makes it trivial to publish text, whether by blog or by print-on-demand. Digital photography has democratised a previously expensive hobby. And we're seeing the barriers to movie-making crumble, with affordable high-quality cameras and video hosting provided by YouTube or Google Video and their ilk... Music making has long been easy for anyone to engage in, but technology has made high-quality recording possible without specialised equipment, and the internet has revolutionised distribution, drastically disintermediating the music industry... What's left? Software maybe? Or maybe not."
by Suw Charman in Strange Attractor

RNA Interference: Film at Eleven

Derek Lowe on the news that the Nobel Prize for medicine has gone to Craig Mello and Andrew Fire for their breakthrough work: "RNA interference is probably going to have a long climb before it starts curing many diseases, because many of those problems are even tougher than usual in its case. That doesn't take away from the discovery, though, any more than the complications of off-target effects take away from it when you talk about RNAi's research uses in cell culture. The fact that RNA interference is trickier than it first looked, in vivo or in vitro, is only to be expected. What breakthrough isn't?"
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

PVP and the Honorable Enemy

Andrew Phelps: "Recently my WoW guild has been having a bit of a debate on the merits of Player-vs.-Player (PvP) within Azeroth. My personal opinion on this is that PvP has its merits, and can be incredible fun, but the system within WoW is horridly, horribly broken. It takes into account the concept of the battle, but battle without consequence, without emotive context, and most importantly, without honor..."

From later in the piece: "When I talk about this with people (thus far anyway) I typically get one of two responses, either 'yeah, right on!' or 'hey, it’s war, and war isn’t honorable – grow the hell up'. There is a lot to be said for that argument – but the problem is that war in the real historical world has very different constraints that are utterly absent from fantasized worlds..."
by Andrew Phelps in Got Game

Rats Rule, Right?

Derek Lowe: "So, you're developing a drug candidate. You've settled on what looks like a good compound - it has the activity you want in your mouse model of the disease, it's not too hard to make, and it's not toxic. Everything looks fine. Except. . .one slight problem. Although the compound has good blood levels in the mouse and in the dog, in rats it's terrible. For some reason, it just doesn't get up there. Probably some foul metabolic pathway peculiar to rats (whose innards are adapted, after all, for dealing with every kind of garbage that comes along). So, is this a problem?.."
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Really BAD customer experience at Albertsons Market

Bob Jacobson, on shopping at his local Albertsons supermarket where he had "one of the worst customer experiences" of his life: "Say what you will about the Safeway chain or the Birkenstock billionaires who charge through the roof for Whole Foods' organic fare, they know how to create shopping environments that create a more pleasurable experience, at its best (as at Whole Foods) quite enjoyable. Even the warehouses like Costco and its smaller counterpart, Smart & Final, do just fine: they have no pretentions, but neither do they dump virtual garbage on the consumer merely to create another trivial revenue stream, all for the sake of promotions in the marketing department..."
by Strange Attractor in Total Experience

The Guardian's "Comment is Free"

Kevin Anderson: "First off, I want to say that I really admire the ambition of the Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free. It is one of the boldest statements made by any media company that participation needs to be central to a radical revamp of traditional content strategies... It is, therfore, not hugely surprising to find that Comment is Free is having a few teething troubles..."
by Kevin Anderson in strange
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

The Loom

« Beware of Crickets Bearing Gifts | Main | Chronicle of a Death Foretold »

November 07, 2005

The Long, Long Sleep

Email This Entry

Posted by Carl Zimmer

brancusi.jpgAs a father of two dawn-loving children I don't get as much sleep as I used to, which makes me wonder sometimes why I crave it so much. A number of scientists who share my curiosity have turned to sleeping animals to find an answer. Sleep appears to be an ancient behavior, perhaps 600 million years old or older. But it may not exist "for" any one purpose. Instead, sleep can serve many functions, as animals are shaped by evolutionary tradeoffs. I've written an article about the evolution of sleep for tomorrow's New York Times where you can read more. (And for those interested in some of the the gorey technical details, here's an interesting new review in Nature that's free.)

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution


COMMENTS

1. coturnix on November 7, 2005 11:00 PM writes...

I have already blogged about this...

Permalink to Comment

2. coturnix on November 8, 2005 03:58 AM writes...

I have commented on this already.

Permalink to Comment

3. James Graham on November 8, 2005 09:30 AM writes...

Dr Zimmer:

One possible explanation for the purpose (or one purpose) of sleep which, as Dr Lima says in your article, is " ... so stinking dangerous ... " is that something else -- also "stinking dangerous" -- is going on inside the animal's body when the animal is sleeping: cell division.

Now that we know about cellular oncogenes we know that ordinary mitosis - which occurs in humans billions of times every 24 hours - has the potential to initiate a mutational event that could lead to lethal cancer.

Enforced physical quiescence induced by our brains ensures that rigorous activity, which might interfere with mitosis, is virtually eliminated.

The fact that humans sleep most when we are undergoing rapid growth (not only in infancy but in early adolescence) and lots of mitosis is one of the facts in support of this idea.

A further hint: since my book was published researchers have found that the immune system plays a role in triggering sleep.


Permalink to Comment

4. Carl on November 11, 2005 11:03 AM writes...

I wonder what role light and dark play in sleep. We live and a night versus day world. Being active during the wrong time might not be adaptive in terms of interactions with predators and even competitors. It would be interesting to look at taxa that have evolved in the absence a light cycle (deep sea, caves) and see if the sleep cycle is maintained.

Permalink to Comment

5. coturnix on November 11, 2005 09:52 PM writes...

Actually, sleep-wake cycle does not persist in subterranean, deep oceanic and cave creatures. Circadian rhythms of other stuff (biochemical and physiological, not behavioral) persist, though.

Well. Mostly. As in everything in biology there is a spectrum of cases. In some cave animals (some salamanders), the activity cycle can be reinstated by exposure to light-dark cycles. Animals that go out (bats, oilbirds) have strong sleep-wake cycles and there is some evidence that daily activity of bats keeps the activity cycles of some cave invertebrates (roaches) from devolving away.

Permalink to Comment

POST A COMMENT




Remember Me?



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Talking at Woods Hole
Invisible Gladiators in the Petri Dish Coliseum
Synthetic Biology--You are There
Manimals, Sticklebacks, and Finches
Jakob the Hobbit?
Grandma Manimal
Hominids for Clinical Trials--The Paper
The Neanderthal Genome Project Begins