Ahh! The future has arrived early. PhD candidate Aleena Garner and a team of researchers have been experimenting with implanting false memories into the minds of mice. The researchers have been using "cellular manipulation" to give the critters fictitious memories that parallel factual ones. In the most laymen's explanation of the project, Garner's team is taking the mice's memories and reactivating them at a later time. So the mice may be remembering eating a delicious piece of cheese several hours after they actually had. The team thinks that this may be the first step, in a long process, of implanting the brain with made up recollections.
Fake memories? That is so Total Recall! The other aspect to the experiment saw the researchers exposing the mice to various levels of shock treatment. After activating certain neurons, it was found that the mice's memories could be conditioned to recall one level of shock versus another.
So fake memories and maybe (possibly?) the ability to forget the memories you already have? Now we're not just talking Total Recall, that's about 100 other sci-fi movies you can't name off the top of your head.
If Garner and her team are successful, what does that mean for humans? It's a fantastic notion, falsifying memories, and one that we never thought we would encounter in this lifetime. The what-ifs are just too stimulating for us to not ponder. What type of made-up memories would you wish for, or, rather, what memories would you wish to forget?
After giving it a considerable amount of thought, here goes:
Memories We Would Like to Forget
I know we swore that we would "never forget," but gosh I bet many of us wish we could. When the Twin Towers fell the world changed, not for the better. There was a period of solidarity in this country that is worth noting, but who wouldn't trade that bit of patriotism for a chance to see those planes be diverted by the air force or never have had the opportunity to take off? There are so many horrific images associated with that day; we would be fine to not remember any of it.
Why did Woodstock '99 happen? If it was for the sole fact that it was a 30-year anniversary of the original and authentic Woodstock, that is not a good enough reason. Did you know anyone that went? I only knew three people who attended, and they were all douchebags. Stories they retold were of giant mud pits, excessive heat, acid, Jamiroquai and Fred Durst. Does any of that sound appealing to you? This event was completely unnecessary. We already had a big, overpriced outdoor festival called Lollapalooza and by 1999 it, too, was being filled with terrible post-alternative rock bands. I wasn't even at Woodstock '99, but I would like it to be erased from this culture's consciousness.
I have a very strong feeling that even if the concept of shoulder pads were to be erased from every human being's mind, eventually they would emerge as a "good idea." This has already happened twice in my lifetime. However, I would like to sit a spell and fantasize that they never existed.
The Three and a Half Years I Dated Dan Waldron
Okay, this is more of a personal request, but a relatable one. We have all had that one (or three) relationship that we regret, and how nice to think that we could wipe the whole thing from existence. It would be like Eternal Sunshine For the Spotless Mind, but we would not make the same mistakes over and over again, with the same exact guy anyway. There is probably a memory or two of your worst relationship worth saving, but so many more worth forgetting. The incessant lying, obnoxious high-pitched laugh, the weird infatuation with the movie Dragonheart, the biweekly drunken 3 a.m. runs for Jamaican Beef Patties, the never-ending pursuit for the Bills to win the Super Bowl in Madden NFL for PlayStation; these are memories no one needs to have.
The Challenger Disaster
There are few moments in history that impact an entire cohort at the same time. When the Challenger blew up, an innocence in this country was destroyed and its influence over the youngest generation of the time, whom some call Gen X (but we hate labels, man), was paramount. Wide-eyed tots watched the space shuttle's launch in their elementary school classrooms. There was a societal childlike delusion that this was just the beginning. Soon, you too could be going up into space. Sadly, this hope was a bubble that burst on the television screens of thousands of innocent children. How different might things be without this collective memory? Fake Memories We Would Like To Have
Al Gore As the 43rd President
If America, and the rest of the world, could cooperatively be conditioned to remember the outcome of the 2000 election differently, how might this impact everything that has happened since? It would be like that movie Sliding Doors; one outcome makes life wonderful and recession-free, while the alternative is our current state affairs and the untimely death of Gwyneth Paltrow (in the movie). I don't pretend to understand how a memory of Al Gore winning the election, which some of us already think happened, would affect the space-time continuum, but surely the world would be a different and greener place to be.
Seeing Ghostbusters 3 With Chris Farley In It
For years it has been rumored that there will be a third movie in the Ghostbusters franchise. As the rumor goes, Chris Farley was slated to play one of the 'busters but his shocking death occurred before any production began. As of late, the movie is still a go and surrounded with possibilities, but the idea that at one point an iteration of one of the funniest movies of all time could possibly star one of the funniest comedians of all time is a memory to kick all memory's butts. I would like to have this one plugged into my brain with a bucket of buttery popcorn and sour patch kids.
Seeing the Moon
How thrilling must it be to step on the moon? The trip through space alone could be exhilarating enough. That vision of Earth from the far distance and taking the first step on the cratered surface seems imaginable. That being said, the whole process of getting up there sounds terrible, cramped living quarters, peeing in a funnel, waterless showers and have you ever eaten Astronaut Ice Cream, that stuff's nasty. It would be so much easier to just have the memory of going to the moon implanted in your brain and save yourself the schlep.
Eating that Piece of Chocolate Cake
What piece of chocolate cake would you want to remember? All of them. How much easier and slimmer would life be if rather than stuffing our faces with calories, you could just think that you did. Conversely, for those of us that desperately turn sweets down to save our figures, how nice would it be to give our brains a quick zap and hello, that tiramisu was to die for!
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All Of Our Mistakes Before We Make Them
They say history repeats itself. In life, love and war this appears to be true. It is also true with work, friends and every time you trip over that same step rushing out the door. How much easier would life be if we remembered our mistakes but never made them? Should you go out on a date with that guy you met at 2 a.m. at the bar? Well, your brain is telling you that you've already been there, done that, and all you wound up with were bed bugs and HPV. An incredibly wise man once said, "Knowing is half the battle"; wouldn't you rather know what you are up against, especially if you are up against your own poor, poor decision-making skills?