Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm not dead yet!

I think I'll go for a walk now...
I feel happy! I feel happy! I... *thump*

Hey DNI isn't the only thing I've neglected. I haven't even had time to sit down and do my bills, which I realized when my electricity abruptly shut off yesterday at 11am. Whoops!

So just a quick wave hello and a thinking point.

Sleep researchers have been quietly warning about the proliferation of electronic devices (further) damaging our sleep habits. How? Well, we're wired to get sleepy as the sun goes down - less light leads to more melatonin. Light to melanopsin expressing ganglion cells in the retina (and some rods and cones) to the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus (where pacemaker cells reside) to the pineal gland to some rockin melatonin release.

Increase the length of daylight and you stay up late because, after all, the length of the day varies throughout the year. Deprive rats of light and their schedule drifts into what scientists now call the "Grad Student Sleeping Schedule", or around the equivalent to a 26-28 hour day length. Add light and the rats lock back on to a 24 hour schedule.

Why am I mentioning this? The iPad. Touted as the end all be all of ebook readers, the one place it ironically falls short is when you can read it. Not only are LCDs notoriously tough to read in direct sunlight, but reading before bed means exposing this light sensitive circadian rhythm pathway to a slab of light. The iPad is no worse than staring at a computer screen, but E-Ink clearly has a niche here. Sure you need light to read, but a single LED book light isn't anywhere near the number of lumens as the the iPad's screen.

If you do have an iPad, fear not. Most ebook reading apps have come ability to adjust colors or brightness, so be cognizant of the idea, since most people, including myself, love displays with high contrast ratios.