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OpenLearn Live: 7th January 2016

Updated Thursday, 7th January 2016

We continue to march forward into 2016 - and have a quick look back at 2015.

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OpenLearn Live brings together the world of free learning and the worlds you live in. This page will be updated during the day.

Yesterday, we heard about how Michigan approaches cybersecurity, looked for missing kings and queens, and explored some canals.

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

Lucid dreamers and the brain

Lucid dreamers - people who can exert some control over what they experience when asleep - might have value for the rest of us - especially in understanding how the brain works:

recent study  that asked participants to report in detail on their most recent dream found that lucid (compared to non-lucid) dreams were indeed characterised by far greater insight into the fact that the sleeper was in a dream. Participants who experienced lucid dreams also said they had greater control over thoughts and actions within the dream, had the ability to think logically, and were even better at accessing real memories of their waking life.

Another study looking at people’s ability to make conscious decisions in waking life as well as during lucid and non-lucid dreams found a large degree of overlap between volitional abilities when we are awake and when we are having lucid dreams. However, the ability to plan was considerably worse in lucid dreams compared to wakefulness.

Read the full article What can lucid dreams tell us?

The virgin's disease

Helen King unpicks the history of a time when virginity was seen as injurous to women's health - and the cure? The cure was what you might expect:

If you had the “disease of virgins” your skin colour was thought to be a very unattractive hue, often greenish, or very pale – which didn’t do anything for your chances of getting married. This is one possible reason why the condition was also called “green sickness”. Or perhaps it was so named because it affected those who were “green” in the sense of sexual inexperience.

While physicians issued dire warnings of the consequences of not marrying as soon as your periods started, by the 18th century ordinary people told jokes about the “disease of virgins”. In the 1705 ballad Enfield Common a sufferer is cured by a “lusty gallant” who manages to “ease her, and fully please her”. 

Read the full article The obscure history of the virgin's disease

Best of 2015: People

Each week, our first item on OpenLearn live follows a theme - it's something we call our "start-up segment". Before we get going in 2016, we're just taking a quick pause to look at some of the varied subjects that made it in for 2015.

Start / Continue java code Creative commons image Icon Barney Moss under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license

Yesterday, we revisited some place. Today, we're going to catch up with some people.

In August, we profiled some of the Japanese winners of Nobel Prizes across various fields:

We met a group of scientists who also are highly successful musicians as well:

Marking Black History Month, we featured some Europeans who are blazing a trail in their fields:





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