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Talking Points: A really big bird, full-moon effect, real-life Inception

PUT A BIRD ON IT: A giant blue cock by German sculptor Katharina Fritsch has been installed on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, where it cheekily mocks the statues of great males – Lord Nelson, George IV and the generals Henry Havelock and Charles James Napier – that surround it. “Humour is always a big thing for me,” the artist told the Guardian. The sculpture, called Hahn/Cock, will be in the London square for 18 months. It’s sure to inspire plenty of jokes while it’s there. Noting that it has been “erected” in the square, the Guardian added that “no double entendre is too good for it,” which is hard to argue with.

Andy Rain/AP

Welcome to Talking Points, a daily roundup of digital miscellany


Plenty of anecdotal evidence over the years has suggested that the lunar cycle messes with our sleep. A new study published in the journal Current Biology suggests that while it may not make you howl, the full moon might in fact make you toss and turn in bed. Using data from a sleep study that looked at 33 volunteers over the course of three years, Swiss researchers found that, on average, it took people five extra minutes to fall asleep on the three or four nights surrounding a full moon and they slept for 20 fewer minutes, Time reports. They also had lower melatonin levels, lower EEG activity related to deep sleep and reported feeling less refreshed the next day. The study's authors said it is the "first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans."

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In a landmark study that will likely lead to a better understand of how memories are formed and just might inspire a rodent version of Christopher Nolan's movie Inception, researchers at MIT have successfully implanted false memories in the brains of mice. Researchers were able to manipulate neurons associated with memory formation and retention so that they are activated with a flash of light. By doing so, researchers were able to convince mice they had been electrically shocked, even though they hadn't. Researchers said they hope the study helps legal experts understand how memories can be unreliable. The "mind-blowing" results show that memories are "really just activities of different cells," Sheena Josselyn, a neuroscientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, told MIT Technology Review. The study was published in the journal Science.


"You just flew across the country in four hrs, shut it."


Air Canada pilot Yannick Charland responded with this tweet to a passenger who had flown from Vancouver to Toronto and, after landing, complained on Twitter about waiting on the tarmac with no updates for 20 minutes. Likely fearing a reprimand, Charland subsequently deleted the tweet.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More


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