Since I was about 15 or 16, I’ve had something of a passing interest in Lucid Dreaming, particularly acquiring the ability to be able to bring one on by choice. A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming, and this awareness allows them to be “in control” of the dream and manipulate what occurs. It is said to be a very rewarding and incredible experience if one can bring them on regularly. I believe that I have had one such dream in my lifetime that I can recall (which was the one that originally sparked my interest) – in which I was able to fly as if I was “swimming” through the air (hard to explain), and I proceeded to fly around my school for a while. Whether this was truly a lucid dream, or it only felt like one is difficult to ascertain, but either way it piqued my interest.

Recently I’ve been revisiting this interest and doing some reading on the subject. Most lucid dreaming methodologies suggest keeping a dream journal, wherein you write down everything you can remember about the dream you were last having when you wake up – in effect “training” yourself to remember dreams and be more aware of them. I may start keeping one shortly to see if anything eventuates from it. The next step is usually to create “anchors” in real life – these are habitual “tests” to see if you are dreaming or not. Common examples include counting the fingers on your hands, or looking at a clock, looking away, and looking back to see if it changes. Such tests have a reasonable chance at failing if carried out in a dream (where real-world rules don’t apply) – and by making them habit in a waking state, they can become something that the subconscious might perform in a dreaming state, thereby allowing the dreamer to realise they are dreaming and enter a lucid dreaming state.

Something else I came across in my reading was Calea Zacatechichi (otherwise known as Dream Herb). This is a legal (to grow, sell and consume) plant that supposedly increases the frequency, memorability, and vividness of dreams. While it’s available in pill and dried/crushed form, I would prefer to have a crack at growing and preparing it myself. I was unable to find it for sale anywhere in New Zealand as a plant, but to my surprise there is someone selling cuttings on TradeMe (for a pretty high price, mind you). I’m seriously contemplating purchasing a cutting and giving it a go. Follow-up post if anything comes of it.

Space travel

So it seems that Obama has finally decided (roughly) what to do with the future of NASA.

The new budget scraps the Constellation program (meaning direct funding won’t be going into an Apollo-recreating moon mission), but it does give funding to development of truly new concepts and technologies, where the Constellation program was more aimed at repeating old science. Hopefully this scientific innovation not only contributes back to society in much the same way that many of the advances of the Apollo program did, but also works out as more useful in the long run for space colonisation and general space presence.

The funding also shifts the focus toward privatisation of space flight. Private companies and prize pools are already showing great promise, and we will likely see the first humans in space through these programs in a matter of years. Such a funding shift makes sense, and will likely accelerate the development of commercially viable spaceflight in a way that NASA would simply be unable to achieve.

Obama is also pushing to extend the International Space Station (ISS) program till 2020, which I think is another valuable step. It strikes me as a step backward to remove our only permanent space habitation from orbit.

The next 10 or so years will be very interesting indeed.

The circle of leaf

Via BuzzFeed.