Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Dolphins Can Sleep One-half of Their Brain At a Time Say Researchers

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the we-don't-need-no-stinking-sleep dept.

Science 139

An anonymous reader writes "Looks like the evolution in multi-core computing is something nature has already figured out. Dolphins will sleep one core while the other remains vigilant, running background tasks necessary for survival. From the article: 'The scientists wrote: "From an anthropomorphic viewpoint, the ability of the dolphin to continuously monitor its environment for days without interruption seems extreme. However, the biological, sensory and cognitive ecology of these animals is relatively unique and demanding. If dolphins sleep like terrestrial animals, they might drown. If dolphins fail to maintain vigilance, they become susceptible to predation. As a result, the apparent 'extreme' capabilities these animals possess are likely to be quite normal, unspectacular, and necessary for survival from the dolphin's perspective."'"

cancel ×

139 comments

why is this new? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700101)

This is known long ago... this is also an adaptation because dolphins breathing is not a reflex, so half the brain has to be always awake to remember breathing.

Re:why is this new? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41700409)

I'm pretty sure there's a joke in there somewhere.

Re:why is this new? (5, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41700475)

Blonde listening to tape saying, "Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale..."

Re:why is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702327)

Is this why yoga's a hit with the ladies?

Joke in there somewhere. (4, Funny)

fox171171 (1425329) | about 2 years ago | (#41701175)

I'm pretty sure there's a joke in there somewhere.

Only a half brain operating? I know people who...
...drive like that.
...talk like that.
...code like that.
...make decisions at Microsoft like that.
...decide to buy Apple products like that.

and so on...

Not news... (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41702765)

This is known long ago... this is also an adaptation because dolphins breathing is not a reflex, so half the brain has to be always awake to remember breathing.

In fact, here's [nationalgeographic.com] a 2009 article in National Geographic on the exact same topic from 2009. It was not the first, either.

Re:why is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702791)

yes, please delete this article. this is no news.

Susan Membrane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700115)

Kinda like the fictional Susan Membrane that the Space Marines have in WH 40K then? If so sweet!

Wrong headline (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700155)

The news is that they can stay awake for 15 days at a time. Scientists have known for 30 years that dolphins can sleep with one hemisphere.

Re:Wrong headline (5, Insightful)

Jstlook (1193309) | about 2 years ago | (#41700431)

That isn't even what the article indicates. The article indicated that US Military tested a dolphin named Say for 15 days before a storm halted their experiment. The only other notable information in the article is that the dolphin achieved a 99% accuracy throughout the course of the experiments. That's better than your average (burger) flipper.

Re:Wrong headline (4, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 2 years ago | (#41700497)

Hell, that's better than your average software developer!

Re:Wrong headline (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41702769)

... tested a dolphin named Say ...

Steven Wright: I named my dog "Stay". He gets confused whenever I call him: "Come here, Stay."

So. Don't name your pets after verbs - or children: "Stand up, Neal..." (Am I a Noun or a Verb?)

Re:Wrong headline (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41700853)

The news is that they can stay awake for 15 days at a time.

BFD. Hell, Rick James used to do that twice a month.

That's nothing (3, Funny)

matunos (1587263) | about 2 years ago | (#41700175)

Republicans have been doing that for years.

*rimshot*

Re:That's nothing (4, Funny)

marcle (1575627) | about 2 years ago | (#41700221)

Republicans, hell. I'm a hippie, and most of my brain is asleep most of the... What were we talking about?

Re:That's nothing (1)

poly_pusher (1004145) | about 2 years ago | (#41700489)

Oh, um..., the storming of the bastille. Please continue.

Re:That's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701493)

TIL there were actually no political prisoners in the Bastille at the time when it was stormed. Oops.

Re:That's nothing (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#41701651)

Marquis de Sade was political, non?

Republicans have brains? (1, Flamebait)

kawabago (551139) | about 2 years ago | (#41700293)

They sure hide it well!

Re:Republicans have brains? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700559)

They just don't have any hearts.

Finally! (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 2 years ago | (#41700177)

A GM trait I'd be interested in acquiring.

Re:Finally! (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41700553)

A GM trait I'd be interested in acquiring.

For a moment there I thought you were talking about General Motors, and I was intrigued by the prospect that after decades of being half asleep at the wheel they might have produced something people are interested in acquiring. False alarm.

Re:Finally! (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#41700581)

I'd be interested in this too, I sleep at the wheel a lot, being able to have half the brain awake would be a boost to my driving potence.

Already known? (2)

Cronock (1709244) | about 2 years ago | (#41700179)

Hasn't this already been well known or quite some time?

Re:Already known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700449)

Ya pretty sure I leard this in high school bio. like 15 years ago.

Re:Already known? (2)

kwerle (39371) | about 2 years ago | (#41700471)

Yeah. My first thought was "doesn't everyone know this already?"

Here's a site with data sources in 1990 that explain this:
http://www.dolphinear.com/data/dolphins.htm [dolphinear.com]

"news"

Yeah.

So Can I ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700215)

o/* takes a toke o/*

Evolution (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41700243)

The real question is: Why is sleep needed in mammals in the first place? We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time, apparently without any significant reduction in cognitive ability or any significant change in neurological functioning. It's been investigated my the military for quite some time now.

Evolution says the reason for sleep is that it improves a creature's ability to adapt... but what does sleep adapt us for? Why the downtime? Even here with mammals where never going to sleep is a survival necessity... nature kept it intact and instead segmented the brain so parts of it could sleep. Something about sleep is very, very important... but be damned if we can figure out what.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700317)

Perhaps its was an energy conservation technique? It costs a lot of calories to keep a warm-blooded body warm and active.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700459)

That, and if you look at it from psychological perspectice:

The preservation of the Ego from the Id.

The Ego shows the Id fantasies to satisfy it.

The Ego is our rational mind, and the Id our instincts. Any drug that suppressed the Id would remove the need for sleep.

Re:Evolution (4, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#41700891)

That doesn't explain why Dolphins didn't just turn sleep off, since they are warm and active throughout all time. Was it just so fundamental to the brain architecture that the segmenting was needed, or is sleep providing something else that dolphins still need?

Re:Evolution (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41701017)

That doesn't explain why Dolphins didn't just turn sleep off, since they are warm and active throughout all time. Was it just so fundamental to the brain architecture that the segmenting was needed, or is sleep providing something else that dolphins still need?

Bingo. The one question that everybody missed, because they were too busy making jokes or talking about Dolphins to realize that this evolutionary development can shed a lot of light on our own. Don't mod this up, no siree, we like our science dumbed down and sprinkled in apple sauce here! deeeerp. :(

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701459)

> Don't mod this up, no siree, we like our science dumbed down and sprinkled in apple sauce here! deeeerp. :(

Totally unnecessary.

Re:Evolution (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700427)

We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time, apparently without any significant reduction in cognitive ability or any significant change in neurological functioning.

Link please, otherwise I'm calling bogus. The official world record for going without sleep is 18 days.

Look up 'Fatal Familial Insomnia' in which death follows (as best as anyone can tell) from lack of sleep.

Re:Evolution (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41700819)

And that 18 days was in a rocking chair competition, not exactly a cognitively demanding task, and one with lots of opportunities for microsleeps.

Re:Evolution (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700435)

Those drugs can keep you alert for extended periods, but then you need an inordinate amount of recovery time for the missed sleep and performance never seems as good as normal. The increased uptime, as it were, isn't free. Yes, I've studied some brain chemistry with regards to drugs such as modafinil.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700501)

The real question is: Why is sleep needed in mammals in the first place? We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time.

Months?! Oh that's just false. Utterly false. Another poster in this thread is correct - the world record is something like 18 days.

Re:Evolution (4, Interesting)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#41700531)

Memory consolidation [wikipedia.org] , occurs more efficiently during sleep. That alone is worth it's evolutionary cost of sleep. Sure, Nature could have stumbled upon a memory consolidation scheme that do not involved sleep but it did not and evolutionary wise it seems that having a solid long term memory is more beneficial than not having to sleep. BTW if the drugs you talk about are orexin activator/recapture inhibitor/supressing enzyme inhibitor, only one: Orextin-A, is currently without know side effects. If those drugs you talked about do not act on the orexin transmitter up regulation, please tell me about them !

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701607)

Any way to stimulate my ability to sysnthize orexin (or do I have to start doing abominable things to rats in order to isolate the few thousand cells capable of... yeah, never mind, even I'd draw the line there). How do I enroll in a clinical trial involving things that inhibit its reuptake?

I've been interested in GPCRs for a while, and there aren't enough hours in the day to read all the papers I need to invest in biotech.

Best coding while I slept (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700555)

Back in my coding days, whenever I hit a stumbling block, I would put it away. That night, I would keep a pad of paper by the bed. Usually, I would dream the scenario and wake up with the answer. Jot down some notes, and the next morning, I was working on the next problem.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700601)

Why is sleep needed in mammals in the first place?

No one knows; there are many hypotheses as well as many problems known to occur due to lack of sleep.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700715)

The whole point of replicators (us in this case) is to create offspring. So all the resources/food, we only need it to survive long enough to create offspring. In the wild, there is a limitted amount of food, competition for it is fearse, thus evolving an ability where you use up very little energy is needed. That is sleep, what you feel, tiredness... all of it, is a signal to get you to move towards a safe place where you can go and conserve energy until morning. The same thing is pain, triggers you to remove your hand from a stove... it's just an encoding internally decoded for a particular action, and then the brain, whose job is to piece together the information we process and make it into a temporally cohesive (because that allows us to make judgmenet, and also easier to store when temporally sorted) storyline... The goal of evolution is not to create something that can be productive or think... but something that can simply live long enough and be as effecient as possible with energy, and create as many offspring as possible, everything else are side addaptations further needed to make good use of the time to get more food to create more offspring to survive... Those that did not sleep needed more energy, if they were just as good, competition wise, as those that did sleep... they starved because they used more energy than their sleeping equivelents... Basically, sleeping, unlike resting, requires/forces you, to find a safe place, and thus save more energy.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701475)

That's one theory, but dolphins are a good counterpoint. Evolutionarily, it's better to be optimized for day or night and conserve energy for the rest of the time. Or that's the case for land mammals. Dolphins need to stay vigilant so they developed a complex method of sleeping rather than dispensing with it entirely. It's evolutionarily easier to lose traits (e.g. sleep) than gain new owns, so apparently there's a pretty big advantage to sleeping.

IOW, why we need to sleep remains a mystery. There are about ten plausible theories, energy conservation being one of them, but all are incomplete and flawed. For example, here are some more flaws with the energy conservation theory: In REM sleep your body uses more energy than when you're awake. Humans don't naturally sleep 8 hours contiguously, that's come into style only in the past couple hundred years or so (and there are some places which never switched). Sleep deprivation is fatal, and it's not from starvation.

Re:Evolution (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about 2 years ago | (#41700867)

We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time, apparently without any significant reduction in cognitive ability or any significant change in neurological functioning.

What drugs are those, exactly?

Re:Evolution (4, Interesting)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41701101)

Evolution says the reason for sleep is that it improves a creature's ability to adapt... but what does sleep adapt us for?

Most creatures don't live long enough to have a need to adapt as an individual, but they adapt as a species over generations.

Humans probably have the greatest need to adapt as individuals. Every day:

  • laws are changing. Today: Gay Marriage Legal! Tomorrow: Gay Marriage Illegal and Unconstitutional because the 40.46% [wikipedia.org] of the electorate said so! Next Friday: Bingo at the Supreme Court!)
  • religions are changing. Today: Earth is the Center of the Universe and Stoning Pregnant Women for Sex Out of Wedlock is Good! Tomorrow: Earth Not the Center of the Universe and Abortion is Evil. Next Friday: Earth is the center of the Universe every third Thursday during certain seasons, check local listings or pastors for details.
  • food sources and taboos are changing. Today: steel cans lined with BPA keep your family's food fresh! Tomorrow: BPA in bottles bad, but we're OK with BPA in cans! Next Friday: FDA outlaws all estrogen-mimicking substances including Richard Simmons.
  • business and personal relationships are changing. Today: Great work, Invaluable Employee/Loving Wife! Tomorrow: You've been replaced by someone cheaper/someone cheaper! Next Friday: Special Rates at the Chapel of Love for Couples Marrying Each Other for the 3rd Time!
  • even the side of the street [wikipedia.org] you may park on is changing on a regular basis.

You have to be able to adapt because society ensures that someone is constantly moving your cheese [wikipedia.org] , and in return for this, you as an individual get to live longer than wild animals do.

One theory [wikipedia.org] about why we need to sleep is that we need to filter out all the crap from the stuff we need to save. During REM sleep the neurons are subjected to spontaneous, chaotic activity, strengthening memories whose neuronal substrate is already sufficiently established, and disintegrating those that are weaker. Ever built a sandcastle by the water line at the beach? The walls that are not tightly packed get washed away when the water hits them, but the ones that are tightly packed survive and seem to actually be strengthened by the encounter. In a way, that's what REM sleep may do for our memories. Without that, it's all just an unstable jumble, and you can't adapt to all the crap in your life without the clarity to know what day it is or where the heck you're supposed to be.

Re:Evolution (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41701145)

I don't know what gay marriage, the FDA, mail-order girlfriends, and violations of space-time causality, and sandcastles by the beach have to do with the importance of sleep... but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that having read your post, you are a case study in what happens when someone doesn't get any. Please man, go to bed. The internet, such as it is, will not want for a missed opportunity for you to post to slashdot.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701711)

I found the post insightful and clearly from a person who grasps a slice of the crazy world we live in

Re:Evolution (1)

gentryx (759438) | about 2 years ago | (#41702503)

Epic post!

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702889)

Do you know how humans adapt to this?

By ignoring it. That's what the brain does when it deems a type of information irrelevant.
(or it chooses a believe to stick by to conserve energy)

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701349)

How did this get modded "interesting"? There's so much bullshit in this one post.

Why is sleep needed in mammals in the first place?

No, the real question is why did consciousness evolve?

We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time...

Utterly false.

Evolution says the reason for sleep is that it improves a creature's ability to adapt...

Not at all true, and I'm convinced you don't know the first thing about evolution.
1) Sleep is likely for growth, healing and memory consolidation.
2) "Adaptation" is an evolutionary term. Therefore, it occurs over generations, not in an individual's lifetime. Sleep has no effect on "ability to adapt" at all.

Re:Evolution (2)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41701433)

Sleep has no effect on "ability to adapt" at all.

It just might. I find that I need more sleep when I enter a new situation or environment (for example, starting work at a new location or school, moving to a new place to live).

Re:Evolution (2)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 2 years ago | (#41701523)

Yeah those drugs work great until suddenly everyone around you is a cop, and you can't get the ants out from under your skin.

Re:Evolution (1)

lennier (44736) | about 2 years ago | (#41701767)

We've already found drugs that can keep a person going without sleep for weeks or months at a time, apparently without any significant reduction in cognitive ability or any significant change in neurological functioning. It's been investigated my the military for quite some time now.

Moving on, in completely unrelated news, there's also been a huge spike in mental health problems in currently deployed US soldiers. Officials say this is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. Now for a word from our sponsor. Sleep-No-Mor(Tm), one capsule a day and those eight wasted night hours are yours again!

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701937)

Gosh this is already well known.

You need to recharge your neurons because they deplete chemical charge and build up toxins during usage.

That's why dolphin can keep up only half brain, they still have to recharge somewhat.

Re:Evolution (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41702501)

We sleep because there is a Day and Night. Sun = More Energy & More Visibility. It leads to cycles of activity, which leads to traits which take advantage of these cycles. It's not a mystery. Activity and Rest cycles exist because that's how cells work at the chemical level... It would be like saying: "Daisies and many plants close up after the sun goes down, but WHY!?! It's a mystery!" Protip: Plants don't think; There is no reasoning with plants.

Re:Evolution (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#41702731)

I've asked myself the same question, and one night the answer came to me in a dream.

Too bad I forgot the dream so now I still don't know.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702985)

When we sleep we run simulations on systems with variations of the data we have experienced, also known as dreaming. This seems like a good way to train neural networks faster, wouldn't you say?

Douglas Adams was right! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41700253)

We are indeed inferior to dolphins, brain-wise. Makes you wonder what the mice can pull off!

Re:Douglas Adams was right! (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41700629)

We are indeed inferior to dolphins, brain-wise. Makes you wonder what the mice can pull off!

Depends on whether you're talking about Pinky or The Brain.

Re:Douglas Adams was right! (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 2 years ago | (#41700701)

They already created the Earth, what else do you want?

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_characters_from_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Frankie_and_Benjy_Mouse)

Re:Douglas Adams was right! (1)

AdamWill (604569) | about 2 years ago | (#41701247)

And so was Iain M. Banks, who had a minor character in Consider Phlebas who'd got gene-modified to do this (he had both halves of his brain awake for 8 hours, then left half for 8 hours, then right half for 8 hours). Wonder if he'd heard about this dolphin thing at the time (others say this isn't really news...)

we've known this for decades... (2)

AcousticWolf (1456807) | about 2 years ago | (#41700285)

As a former dolphin researcher at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory of the University of Hawaii I can say that we've known about split brain sleeping for at least three decades. I had always wanted to run an experiment looking for an acoustic equivalent to Rapid Eye Movement in dolphins. It could still be called REM sleep just substituting Eye with Echolocation. Since you really don't want to attach EKG leads to a swimming dolphin we'd have needed a set of directional hydrophones arrayed around the tank who's data would be correlated with the dolphin's head position as it swam. Perhaps this could be tackled now but back in the day it was beyond us.

Re:we've known this for decades... (1)

HJED (1304957) | about 2 years ago | (#41702899)

Surley if dolphins had REM it would still invole their eyes, rapid echolocation would be a huge evolutionary disadvantage as predators could detect it and it would disrupt their navigation if they where doing the half awake thing?

brain vs. body (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#41700353)

Does that mean that a body doesn't need sleep - only the brain? Or have their bodies adapted in some special way that ours hasn't?

Re:brain vs. body (2)

the biologist (1659443) | about 2 years ago | (#41701311)

Your body might suffer from your brain not sleeping, for instance when you drive into a wall, but there is nothing in particular the body needs sleep (different than rest) for. From the perspective of your body, you sleeping is just a reduction in the amount of talking your brain does. That said, the body can handle lots of things the brain can't. Some desert mammals (goats, in particular) can let their body heat up way past what would be fatal for their brains, while using some nifty plumbing to keep their brains cool enough to survive.

Re:brain vs. body (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41702817)

Does that mean that a body doesn't need sleep - only the brain? Or have their bodies adapted in some special way that ours hasn't?

I'm 49 and I have stayed up for 36 hours straight, at work (system programmer/admin), several times this year alone. Even after 10 hours of sleep I feel like crap the next day with headache and lethargy, like I'm dehydrated or *really* hung over (though I'm neither). My body has otherwise felt fine.

I thought I read/heard/saw (like on Discovery Channel) that the brain uses chemistry during waking periods that can only be replenished during sleep periods. If so, this would explain a lot, especially people dying from lack of sleep.

Developers developers developers developers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700393)

This is also how Steve Ballmer gives keynotes

John Lily liked them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700405)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Lilly
http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/dolphin-info.htm

Conscious breathing. Don't anesthetize them.

Big deal. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#41700451)

Big deal.

I perfectly of that.

am capable doing too .

Humans can too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700467)

Unfortunately it's when their on the Internet, watching TV, and some are capable of shutting down half their brain or almost the whole thing on a regular basis involuntarily. I am actually publishing a study on this and trying to get the medical community to adopt a name for this disease it is called Stupidous Idiotus and it is still debatable at this time whether or not this is contagious.

Re:Humans can too (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41700973)

So there is some truth to the saying "Arguing on the Internet is like the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still a retard."?

Do The Dolphins Know They're Half Asleep? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41700479)

Most people don't know that they're half asleep, but they are. All the time. At least the dolphins seem to turn both cores on every now and then.

Perhaps we could have the dolphins vote on our behalf next month. And if they elect a dolphin, it might not be such a bad thing, so long as their choice is 35 or older and born within U.S. territorial waters. We won't care what color dolphin they choose. Think of all the money we'd save collectively by not donating to campaigns that are just going to scream garbage and lies at us. Think of all the extra things we could do if we didn't have the distraction of being bombarded with that stuff and having to sort it out. Republicans will go for this because a dolphin won't be able to raise taxes. Democrats will go for this because a dolphin won't be able to cut services. The only ones who would lose out would be the networks that depend on expensive campaign ads... Fox news might go out of business. This is starting to sound like a very good idea.

Re:Do The Dolphins Know They're Half Asleep? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700595)

If it works, I'll try to get it happening in Canada too!

Dolphins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700525)

You gotta loop it through Jones Neo, er..I mean Johnny.

I have to tell my wife about this. (3, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41700551)

Now when she asks why I don't listen to her, I can just explain that the half of my brain running the audio is shut down to conserve energy.

politicians sleep whole brain 100% of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700587)

politicians sleep whole brain 100% of time

So do birds. (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41700615)

This is old "news". (Can we call it "olds"?)

Supposedly when you see a row of birds standing on a cable, all the ones in the middle are asleep, and the two on the end have half a brain awake so that their outside eye is paying attention.

More recent result is that even in humans, 'asleep' isn't a boolean proposition. Different parts of your brain may go to sleep at different times. Sometimes leads to "normal" sleepwalking, sometimes to horrid behavior because the impluse-suppression part is asleep and most of the rest isn't. See the overview article in a recent issue of Scientific American. (Current or previous issue, IIRC.)

Re:So do birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41700979)

This would explain why, when I hear an unusual noise during the night I'm usually instantly awake, even though according to my partner I am a very deep sleeper.

Re:So do birds. (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#41702923)

This would explain why, when I hear an unusual noise during the night I'm usually instantly awake, even though according to my partner I am a very deep sleeper.

I have rather strong maternal instincts, so whenever I am sleeping I wake up instantly if I hear a small child crying, no matter how deep the sleep I am in. On a similar note my dog is still a puppy and in many ways resembles a small child and as such he raises these instincts in me: whenever my roomie is at home and keeps an eye on the dog I sleep just fine, but if my roomie isn't at home I wake up to even the tiniest out-of-the-ordinary sound made by the dog. It's quite a fancy thing how your hearing mostly turns off while you sleep and is tuned in to only certain kinds of sounds.

Re:So do birds. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41700991)

+1 for "olds"

Re:So do birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702797)

This is old "news". (Can we call it "olds"?)

You must be new here!

Re:So do birds. (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41702903)

And anyone who thinks that the brain is inherently capable of only doing one thing has never driven long-distance.

Has *anybody* never had that experience where you are driving along thinking and then suddenly realise you've just navigated the past 20 miles, through traffic, round corners, through junctions, with gear-changes, etc. without remembering doing so?

Your brain is more than capable of doing those tasks - and alerting you to problems just as quickly as when you're concentrating on the task - in the background without you knowing. (What scares me most about them is not the fact that it happens, but that I assume I stopped at red lights, followed traffic signs, didn't ram someone off the road, etc. and have to quickly recall events that I seem to have taken no conscious part in!)

I've also had the (strange) privilege of knowing someone with multiple-personality-syndrome. This is extremely similar - one personality is at the fore but the others are there, in the background, observing events and doing things, just out of mind at that moment. In fact, in MPS, it's just a more pronounced version triggered by certain psychological problems (lots of abuse cases, lots of a very particular type of psychiatric therapy that seems to "trigger" MPS in vulnerable individuals - and is STILL practised in the one part of America where most MPS cases come from!).

Your brain is not a single thing. It's a collection of billions of things, each with their own job. They group and work together but they also can separate off (otherwise you would have to "think" about how to move your arm rather than just passing it off to a group of brain cells that do that all day long) and even divide your consciousness in two in perfectly ordinary people with no mental health issues.

And, like others have said, have you never had that thing late at night where you wake up because of an odd (and quiet) sound despite the fact that every other night you slept like a baby. How do you think that works? The brain is always awake, in some fashion, it's just a matter of whether it decides something is a threat or not (otherwise every predator would just wait until your were asleep because you'd be an easy target), and then "presses the emergency button" to get the rest operational very quickly.

The dolphin thing is well-known. And any idiot with a cat knows that it doesn't really "sleep" for 18 hours a day, it's always aware and very, very rarely in an actual complete sleep (for the first time in 12 years, I manage to "scare" my cat the other day because it was completely, 100% asleep and didn't hear me come in, didn't feel me approach, until I stroked its fur - I actually thought it was dead, it was so deep in sleep).

And every driver will tell you that they have driven on a kind of "automatic pilot" including some of the most complex observation, judgement, quick-reaction and motor skills that the average person will perform in a day, while they were thinking about what to have for dinner.

Humans are animals. Animals have brains. Brains are a collection of groups of cells that, by their very nature, are inherently malleable, ever-changing and independent. It's no shock that dolphins can do this. What's more interesting is that humans seem to have lost the ability/need to do this so much.

So basically... (-1, Troll)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41700915)

What they are saying is, dolphins are republicans?

Re:So basically... (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41700995)

Whats really amazing is that, despite the claims that the right is the party of hate, it always seems to be the left calling us names.

Stay classy slashdot.

Re:So basically... (2)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41701057)

It is not name-calling, it is pointing out facts. Huge difference there.

Re:So basically... (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 2 years ago | (#41703151)

I guess that's why the party of hate (Republicans) gives much more to charity than that other party.

Just pointing out the facts. Can you handle the truth?

That's nothing... (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 2 years ago | (#41701047)

That's nothing... There are plenty of people on the NY Thruway who can do this and drive at the same time!

Miami (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701477)

Miami Dolphins fans are all-too-aware of this phenomenon.

Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701551)

So the service processor selects a core to go to sleep, it activates and verifies the threat monitoring system on that core
and makes sure it has a session with the sonar subsystem. Then it asserts DOLPH_HALFBRAINED_SLEEP whereupon
the core enters SLEEP state S3. When the "sleeping" core has completed it's housework / reorganization it notifies the
service processor. The service processor then reboots the core and then the process is repeated with the next core
until all cores signal MAX_SLEEP_REFRESH. If during the sleep process TMS (threat monitoring system) reports a
hazard condition, the sleeping core is immediately rebooted and concurrently the SWC sonar weapon controller (yep Dolphins
have a sonar weapon that can kill you by burning you with ultrasound) is instructed to power up while the sonar subsystem
acquires target coordinates and the navigation module plots possible attack and retreat routes.

Sure animals are just machines let's turn them into computers.

You Know Where This is Going Right (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41701837)

Just a matter of time before we have dolphin-centric questions on the SATs. And of course, the schools will be teaching echolocation to the test...

Dolphins are jerks! (1)

steak (145650) | about 2 years ago | (#41701877)

And this explains how they have so much time to be jerks; although I could be thinking of porpoises.

Re:Dolphins are jerks! (1)

xlsior (524145) | about 2 years ago | (#41702383)

Does make you wonder -- if half their brain shuts down at alternate times, does that also mean that their personality changes for those periods?

Laurie Anderson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41701989)

Laurie brought this info to light many many years ago. Not news.

Attention editors (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41702521)

"Sleep" really doesn't work like that as a verb.

Re:Attention editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41703143)

In other words, "to sleep" is intransitive [wikipedia.org] .

thats no news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702783)

guys, I do not know where the author or those "scientist" live but this fact IS NOT NEW. Hence, that's why these animals haven't evolved for the last 2.000.000 years. Because they have perfectly adopted to their environment. I mean, it is not fish we are talking about,is it ? misleading article ...

Don't we do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702815)

How is this qualitively different from what humans and most other animals do? We are alert, to some extent, even when asleep - we wake up in reponse to noise, sudden changes of light etc. My pet rats sleep with their eyes half open, ready to beg for a treat from anyone who passes within range.

Perhaps dolphins do it to a greater extent, but it doesn't seem significantly different.

Researchers Can Sleep One-half of Their Brain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702915)

Researchers Can Sleep One-half of Their Brain At a Time Say Dolphins

I know /. is slow on news sometimes but common... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41702939)

It's like they just got wind of something that happened 30 years ago! Maybe there's a time traveler working as an editor?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...