Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
It’s important to acknowledge that float center owners without a scientific background probably shouldn’t be running experiments on floaters willy nilly. It should also be noted that Graham and Ashkahn aren’t scientists, despite being huge fans of self-experimentation.
There has been a lot of talk recently, however, of float centers collaborating with student researchers to help run experiments, though. Graham and Ashkahn discuss (with a fair amount of levity) what it might take to properly run experiments in a float tank, which they understand is no easy task.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Oh boy.
Ashkahn: Welcome everybody.
Graham: Hello, this is the Daily Solutions podcast.
Ashkahn: That’s right. This is Ashkahn.
Graham: I am Graham.
Ashkahn: And quick announcement before we jump into the question. This is very close to the end of our discounted early bird tickets for the Float Conference. Discounts end July 19th, so if you’re coming out to the Float Conference and you don’t have tickets yet, get them. Get them now.
Graham: Yeah, don’t be a late bird.
Ashkahn: Yeah, a late bird.
Graham: They go up by a decent chunk, too, just because this is the point where we have to get everything ordered and get everything straightened away so that it actually becomes a little harder for us after this point to get everything set. So, do us a favor, do yourselves a favor, do the world a favor. Go get your Float Conference tickets.
Ashkahn: Yeah, and if you haven’t gotten your hotel room, July 16th is the cut-off for that as well, in terms of getting them at a discounted price. So, FloatConference.com, or also FloatConference.com/Hotels where you can get hotel information.
Graham: Yep, and make sure to request that you actually bunk specifically with me and Ashkahn, and they’ll put you in the room with us.
Ashkahn: That’s right. Yeah. We will have pillow forts and everything set up for you.
Graham: All right, should we get on to the actual meat of the show?
Ashkahn: Yeah, what’s the question?
Graham: Maybe even some potatoes? So that is a good question in itself.
Ashkahn: Think you can answer it?
Graham: Yeah, I think I can answer it. The question today is, “What equipment should be used for before/after/during scientific tests on floaters? Things like blood pressure monitoring equipment, heart rate monitoring equipment, EEG sensors, etc.”
Ashkahn: Who sent-
Graham: These are all anonymous, I can’t-
Ashkahn: Is it just like a float center sending this in? Or is this some sort of rogue scientist that they are like trying to-
Graham: Or maybe Justin Feinstein.
Ashkahn: This sounds like Justin. He’s been wondering those questions for a while now.
Graham: Yeah, so I guess first of all if you’re thinking about running your own experiments on your paying clients, maybe keep in mind-
Ashkahn: Don’t tell them. Don’t tell your customers. Secret experiments is the way to go.
Graham: That’s right. Don’t tell anyone in fact, because that sort of thing can get you in trouble. The law doesn’t look too kindly on rogue scientists turning around doing experiments on their customers.
Ashkahn: Here’s what you need, you need some electroshock machines, I think is going to be important.
Graham: Car batteries, I think, is what you call them.
Ashkahn: Car batteries.
Ashkahn: Needles, lots of needles.
Graham: Preferably rusty. And you know probably just a low-fi video camera so you can document everything. Kind of duct tape around the corner of the room-
Ashkahn: Tape their mouths. Otherwise, it’s going to destruct other floaters.
Graham: All right, so there’s kind of two parts to this question. One is unstated, which is should I run experiments on my floaters, I guess. If I’m just a float center. No, is the answer-
Ashkahn: You probably shouldn’t, unless you really know.
Graham: Yeah, this whole-
Ashkahn: If you really know what you’re doing.
Graham: There’re whole procedures you have to go through. You need to figure out how to run experiments. Let’s just assume that this is someone who knows what they’re doing, and is a scientist. They’re getting funded by their college, or they’re a grad student doing research for someone, or something like that. But they have permission to run these experiments, it’s not illicit-
Graham: Yeah, it’s consensual. It’s consensual.
Ashkahn: Okay. All right.
Graham: And legal. That’s still an interesting question because the salt water does break down most of the things that you would want to use to run these experiments.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I mean it’s only until very recently that EEG sensors have been able to really be used well, actually while someone is floating.
Graham: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not until very recently, is that what you mean?
Ashkahn: Yeah, what did I say?
Ashkahn: And then we lost the technology. We can’t do it anymore. If only! Yeah, as far as I know Tom Fine did some stuff back in the day where he put an EEG sensor on people’s foreheads and half the time it broke from the saltwater.
Ashkahn: I know Justin had a hard time getting EEG sensors that would actually keep working under those conditions.
Graham: Yeah, and that was a lot of the collaboration between him and Ricardo Gil-Da-Costa. The cost just came out of this difficulty in finding EEG sensors that could take readings when someone is floating.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so Ricardo runs a company called Neuroverse that actually makes these kind of, I think they describe them as nanotechnology, with sticker things you put on your head. The EEG sensor connects to and actually kinds of wirelessly transmits it, but it also is waterproof. I think it’s what Justin’s been using for the last little bit here to actually get live EEG readings from people while they’re floating.
Graham: And it’s really cool. Ricardo has some good talks from the conference from past years. Of course, Justin can talk about that at length during his talks and show cool pictures of the EEG sensors and stuff like that. But suffice it to say, without going to some pretty extreme lengths, actually getting equipment like EEG readings specifically inside the tank-
Graham: Is not possible even really-
Graham: Or certainly not easy.
Ashkahn: And there’s a talk from I want to say 2016 Float Conference, I think, where Colleen Wohlrab, who works at the Laureate Institute for Branding Research actually does a talk on the equipment they use, and how they found stuff that works in float tanks.
Graham: Yeah, so that’s a-
Ashkahn: That’s a pretty good answer to this question.
Graham: Yeah, go listen to people who know way more than we do-
Ashkahn: Yeah, because we don’t know.
Graham: Is kind of the answer here.
Ashkahn: Here’s what I do know is it seems to be better now than it was before, because there’s also these funny old pictures from Tom Fine and John Turner when they were doing research back in the early 80s-
Ashkahn: Where they literally had float tanks with holes cut into the side of them so that people could stick their arms out mid-float and they could do blood pressure readings on them.
Graham: Which is super cool. Those are some of my favorite early float history photos. I love them.
Ashkahn: But I gotta imagine it’s a little disrupting to the float, you know?
Graham: And if you want it, they’re in the About Float Tanks guide, too, if you want to check those out if you haven’t already. It’s really good. It’s a good photo. So yeah.
Ashkahn: I think now LIBR has wireless EKG readers and blood pressure cuffs, too, wireless blood pressure cuffs. I think those are the main things that they have on people while they’re in there floating.
Graham: Yeah, and they’ll measure breath rate as well mid-float.
Ashkahn: Mm-hmm, right. With right kind of sensors in the tank itself.
Graham: Yeah, I think they might even measure it with the little buoyancy shift in the water. But don’t hold me to that. I can’t remember exactly how they measure the breath.
Ashkahn: Yeah, clearly we are not the people who should be answering this discussion.
Graham: But breath is something they measure. If you’re not a rogue scientist, or running legitimate science, and you want something to measure breath, it might be a good one.
Graham: That’s all I’m saying.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I mean for sure. I mean in that news report that came out-
Graham: See? It’s on the news.
Ashkahn: A month ago.
Graham: I know what I’m talking about.
Ashkahn: The guy was talking about one of the things they told him at LIBR when he did his float was that he had two exhalations in a minute or something when he was at his deepest state of relaxation.
Graham: What else? I don’t know, I’d be curious about susceptibility to brainwashing, so anything that you can kind of gather in terms of that sort of data would be great. Ways to kind of sneak in membership pitches mid-float-
Ashkahn: Yeah, subliminal messaging.
Graham: Yeah, yeah. I guess low tone speakers maybe install in there.
Graham: Okay, we’re straying away from a serious answer again. I can feel it coming on.
Ashkahn: Oh yeah? What tipped you off?
Graham: Giant smile across my face, and talking nothing but nonsense, I guess, was one of the first indicators today.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I mean it’s hard. If you’re talking about actually measuring things while people were floating, it’s pretty hard. That’s why you see a lot of research is pre and post-float.
Ashkahn: I mean there’s a lot of people taking surveys pre and post-float. There is more recent stuff where they’re taking FMRI scans pre and post-float.
Graham: And even basic physiological tasks doing those pre and post-float. Obviously getting EEGs and stuff like that pre and post is so much easier than getting it mid-float.
Ashkahn: Right, and what was the deal with the cortisol studies back in the day, when Tom Fine and John were doing? They were taking blood samples-
Graham: They were talking some mid-float-
Ashkahn: While they were doing the same thing.
Graham: Yeah, that’s the arm hole thing. Yeah.
Ashkahn: So they’re taking blood as well, actual blood samples.
Graham: Which just sounds like if you’re testing a stress response, you’re in the middle of a float sticking out your arm and having blood taken just sounds-
Ashkahn: Yeah, you can’t see what’s happening. You’re just sticking your arm out into a void and someone’s going to stab you with a needle.
Graham: It sounds like a pretty quick way, and they still showed greater relaxation during that that than normal. Like, a plus I guess, you know? Yeah, good luck with your studies. Definitely stay in touch. Send us your findings unless they’re illegitimate, in which case don’t include us in any further correspondence we don’t want to know about.
Ashkahn: You’ll probably see it on the news.
Graham: La-la-la-la. But thank you for the question. This is a really fun one to get and answer.
Ashkahn: If you have other questions just like this one, or possibly more sane, go to FloatTank-
Graham: If we don’t question your sanity-
Ashkahn: We don’t question your sanity. We don’t question your sanity.
Ashkahn: That much. So go to FloatTankSolutions.com/podcast. Send in a question.
Graham: We can’t wait. We’re very excited over here.
Ashkahn: That’s right. All right, we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Graham: Bye everyone.
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