Twice in the last week I've seen exhortations to read five new magazines, magazines you would normally never pick up, and that doing so will spark creativity. I wholeheartedly believe it; I just haven't had the opportunity.
Today at my grandparents' house, without meaning to, I perused two different magazines and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.
First, the Scientific American Mind. The August/September issue was lying around, and the main headline caught my eye: "Shhh. I'm Getting Smarter. How the sleeping brain builds memories and solves problems." I flipped through the magazine, and--no joke--every article was read-worthy. I did have to skim the very scientific and medical parts, but other than some technical jargon and hard science, the articles were easy to read. Here's a sample:
- "Call Me Sleepless" - how using a cell phone right before bed can cause up to 30 minutes of insomnia. Evidently, the brain tries to block the electrical interference in brain circuits caused by the cell phones.
- "Ease Anxiety, Curb Cravings" - scientists at the National Institute of Health blocked a protein in mice, which curbed the mice's alcohol cravings. I know it really shouldn't be funny, but the idea of mice getting drunk makes me laugh.
- "Mass Appeal" - incense as an anti-depressant. Middle Eastern incense contains a resin, better known as frankincense, which reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms in mice. (More poor mice.)
- "Down in the Dark" - this time it's rats. Neuroscientists kept rats in the dark for six weeks. They found that the rats suffered brain damage. The scientists "observed neurons that produced norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin... in the process of dying." What I took from this is that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is like dying. I liked that as a story idea.
- "Depressingly Easy" - no mice or rats. This time the author was inspired by reading Little House on the Prairie to her daughter. (I'm loving this magazine more and more.) Her theory is that we're inspired and motivated by creating something meaningful and tangible. (Cross-stitch, here I come!)
- "The Hidden Power of Scent" - According to a 2005 study, people can determine appropriate partners of sexual orientation by smell. The researchers asked heterosexual and homosexual men and women to wear cotton gauze pads under their arms for three days. (Ewww.) Then, they asked 80 volunteers, men and women of various sexual orientation, to smell the pads. (Another ewwww.) Evidently, heterosexual men and women and lesbians preferred the odor of heterosexual men and women to that of gay men. Gay men favored the odor of other gay men.
Next up, Newsweek.
- "Required Reading" - Review of How Fiction Works by critic James Wood. Gee, I wonder why that caught my eye.
- "The Techie in Chief" - editorial on how John McCain says that he's a computer illiterate, and he's never gone on-line. There was also an interesting juxtaposition about how Abraham Lincoln pushed for telegraph lines across the U.S., and how he used this new technology to communicate with his generals during the war. Cool.
I don't know what I'll do with all that information (other than a possible story idea), but I certainly have plenty of food for thought. And from a place I didn't expect.