The carpet is sticky and the smell of hotdogs mingles with sweet popcorn. The trailers are rolling. Even though person’s knee from the seat behind jabs into my back, I don’t care. The summer blockbuster is about to start and I’ve heard great things about it…
But two hours, a bursting bladder and numb bottom later, I leave disappointed.
Everyone hates wasting time and money watching cinematic drivel. If I (or a friend) were to recommend a film to you, would you go and watch it? With dozens of online review websites, no longer must we ‘take a punt’ on a movie. So, it would be safe to assume that all this information makes us better at picking good movies. Oddly enough, it doesn’t. Like a flock of sheep, we ignore good advice. Like lambs to the… Continue reading
It’s now officially Games Over. Gone is the excuse to bunk off work to catch five minutes of of dressage or synchronised swimming. And as our love affair ends, normal life must resume. The real challenge now begins: to stay true to those keep-fit resolutions.
One of the tricks to stay motivated may be, quite literally, music to your ears. ‘Music has received very little attention among sports scholars’ wrote one author in 1993 in the Sociology of Sport Journal. Since then, much has changed. Long distance champ Paula Radcliff swears that her playlist during training – insisting it helps to keep her going. Yet Usain Bolt is denied such an indulgence.
Taking a perusal trough the latest research, we’ll explore what is known about the power of music to get you fired up and heading down the gym. Even when The X-Factor is on… Continue reading
Although I can rarely follow my employer’s ‘good ICT policy’ – fastidiously filing every email into a named subfolder (I never know where to put ‘Today’s Lunch Offer’), most days I click each email just long enough for it to be marked as ‘read’. Few of my colleagues manage this. I guess working part-time has some benefits.
Relentless work emails and calendar invitations that materialise from the electronic ether is the norm for many. This incessant distraction is a drain and – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out – probably drains productivity. The phone is dead: the majority of interactions are now done digitally. Could we sever our digital ties and survive at work without the emails? One group of workers did just that – for one week they went without emails. Researchers watched what they did and remotely monitored their stress levels. How did they cope? Surprisingly well… Continue reading
It is said that during our twenties we spend our time worrying about what other people think . In our thirties, we blame our parents for all our problems. In our forties, we finally realise that no one was really paying us that much attention and all our issues aren’t our parent’s fault after all.
Not so very long ago, a certain Sir Michael rather publically lamented today’s teachers – accusing them of being a group of whinging bums (I paraphrase). One commenter wondered whether it was just his age getting the better of him. She questioned whether there is any research about age-related ‘grumpiness’. In today’s post, you will find out whether there really is any truth to the “grumpy old codger” stereotype – and whether we are all destined to get grumpy as we get old… Continue reading
Science can be great for answering life’s little questions – you know, the sort of thing you ponder whilst sitting on the toilet or waiting for the number 49 bus. Does chewing gum take seven years to digest? No. Will eating bread crusts make your hair curl? You should be so lucky. Will eating an apple a day keep the doctor away? Probably not, but it might do you some good. Once in a while, there’s a question that is a bit harder to prove one way or the other.
Take celery. I was recently asked whether eating it caused you to lose weight. Sounds crazy, but the logic behind it is half plausible. It goes something like this: Celery has hardly any calories in it (6 calories per stalk) and the process of digesting food burns energy. Because celery is quite a bulky, fibrous plant it’s going to take a lot of chewing and digesting. Surely that’s more than those meager six calories? If true – eating celery will help you loose weight.
After a bit of digging into the scientific literature, I think I may be able to resolve the negative calorie food debate once and for all… Continue reading
Forget twitter, Facebook and social networking. If you want real followers – the physical ones – just get yourself a roll of yellow labels. Come early evening when supermarkets start reducing short-dated produce, a rabble of anxious-looking shoppers will invariably tail staff members as they mark down food. It seems many of us are ravenous for bargains in this age of austerity.
If you’re someone who loves snapping up deals – take some advice: avoid the high street on a sunny day. Blue skies are great for lifting the mood, but as recent research shows – it also impairs your ability to spot a shrewd bargain… Continue reading
Freud told us that dreams are the ‘royal road to the unconscious’. Many religions say that dreams are a way to hear from a higher power. But how many of us in today’s secular culture actually believe that? More than you might expect.
If you thought most people ignored their dreams – you would be wrong. Imagine that you were warned of an impending disaster – what would it take to make you do something? What if you dreamt last night that something terrible was going to happen today? As irrational as it sounds, most of us, it seems, value our night-time ruminations much more than our waking ones… Continue reading
The dreaded hangover – headaches, fatigue and nausea are normal Sunday morning sensations for many a Saturday night reveller. Dehydration is frequently said to be the reason for hangover symptoms – and some swear that a pint of tap water before bed thwarts any alcohol-induced ill-effects. But given the amount of fluid drunk during a night on the town, it sounds like quite an odd idea.
So just how dehydrating is alcohol – and can lack of water really explain a hangover? The data is difficult to find: no-one seems very interested in researching hangovers these days. It’s therefore time to blow the digital dust of a seventy year-old research paper to find an answer… Continue reading
If you want to do some headline-grabbing research it doesn’t get much better than this. Recent research published in the Journal of Sex Research (yes, I was surprised it existed as well) from the University of Ohio tries to give the most accurate-to-date answer to the age old stereotype of whether men really think about sex more than women.
In a slightly more risque blog post that normal (I don’t particularly want to be found on Google searches relating to ‘sex’, for obvious reasons), It nevertheless seemed important to explore such a relevant issue – well, a friend asked me to comment on said research – so that’s good enough.
Sex researcher Terri Fischer (with the help of two obliging students) concluded that men do think about sex more than women – but not by much. If her results are to be believed, it’s a far cry from the claim that ‘men think about sex every seven seconds’. Intriguingly, she also concludes that there are some factors that make women more likely to have erotic preoccupations… Continue reading
The official report on the reasons behind last year’s riots in the UK will be published tomorrow. It concludes that half a million families in the UK aren’t getting the support they need. It also points the finger at poor parenting, and materialism brought on by advertising. But perhaps there is a more basic, scientific and primitive urge that triggered the rioting? One man thinks that boredom may have been the cause. And he’s not the only one – and has some compelling science to back up his claims.
It sounds an outrageous proposition, but the notion that being ‘fed up’ causes rioting is the put forward in a forthcoming documentary by Canadian film producers, Elevator Films (for release May 2012). The documentary, led by director/producer Albert Nerenberg (of ‘Laughology’ fame), explores the idea that widespread boredom across the UK (through unemployment and poor-schooling) was a key factor in the wide-spread looting of otherwise ‘normal’ English men and women. The film travels the globe, interviewing some of the world’s top thinkers on boredom research. They also asked me to give an opinion. Continue reading
Last week I received an odd request from a local radio station. They phoned to ask if I would take part in an on-air discussion about parenting issues – I was more than a little bemused. Having no experience of parenting (babysitting doesn’t count) – I felt ill qualified. But I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in a fiery radio debate: In the league table of dinner party topics to avoid, the rights and wrongs of parenting ranks at the top. (possibly only just pipped to the post by a discussion of body odour problems).
The latest progeny-raising hot-potato to leap out of the pram is that of spanking: should smacking, hitting and spanking our precious bambinos be outlawed? Advocates and apologists are so irreconcilable – it would seem to be easier to get Richard Dawkins to convert to Catholicism than to get parents to agree.
The Welsh Assembly have just decided to ban smacking and spanking. So – why not take the opportunity to enter the debate – blog style? Does smacking harm a child?, Does it help discipline?, Is it a parent’s right to spank? Dipping into the wealth of research data, the two opposing views thrash it out… (in a non-physical way, of course).
The ‘doctrine’ of an inborn intelligence seems to be ingrained in academic thinking. If I had an apple for every time a student told me “I failed because I wasn’t clever enough”, I could probably quit lecturing and go into the cider-making business.
The truth is, the very idea of IQ, ‘intelligence’ and being ‘clever’ is hugely controversial. Did you know that the IQ test was developed and popularised by the Nazis? Fascist Germany used the test as a way to ‘ethnically cleanse’ less desirable out from their society.
Sadly, many of the early inaccurate, racist and pejorative assumptions about the IQ (“Intelligenz-Quotient”) test are still believed by many people today… Continue reading
Over the past 20 or so years, millions of dollars (pounds, Yen and Euros) have been invested by governments, charities and professional bodies in an attempt to break down misunderstandings about science within the wider public. Much of it has been done in vain and the successes have been small. When you look at actual data, it makes for some quite shocking reading; the general ‘educated’ public remain frighteningly misinformed about the fundamentals of science…
So is anyone to blame and what the Higgs can we do about it? Continue reading
News agencies have been buzzing with reports that the discovery of the fabled ‘God particle’ is close at hand. But who really knows what this enigmatic thing actually is? What difference is it really going to have to Joe-public? Research shows that despite the lab-coat wearer’s best efforts most people just don’t ‘get’ science.
So here is an attempt to redress the balance (albeit in a tiny way). This is a delightfully simple 4 minute guide to everything you need to know about the Large Hadron Collider, the Higgs boson, the ‘God particle’ and particle physics. I’m no particle physicist, so hopefully it will be easy to understand – and shouldn’t get you feeling too nauseous… Continue reading
Picking shades with proper UV protection is an absolute must. Wearing poor quality sunglasses could be doing you much more harm than good. But if you thought that splashing out on expensive sunglasses would save your vision, then you’d be wrong. Today’s blog shines some light on the darker side of being out in the sun (with some images that aren’t for the faint-hearted)… Continue reading
UPDATE (5th August 2011): Following the interesting debates and discussions arising from this piece, a follow up article has been written “Time to Change of view of ‘Nuclear Power’” – which was also published in the Tampa Tribune.
Before the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, opinion surveys showed that most people thought it was. But as radiation seeps from the stricken Fukushima power plant, the world suddenly seems a very different place…
Fossil fuels are running out and we all want safe, clean and affordable power for this generation and the next. But is this an impossible dream? Today’s post describes how it is possible: It can be done with a hitherto little known type of nuclear power (yes, you read that correctly) – called the Thorium Reactor.
A ‘Thorium Reactor‘ is completely different to the Fukushima power plant design: A Thorium reactor doesn’t produce radioactive waste that lasts a thousand years, it won’t ever have a Chernobyl-like ’melt-down’ and it can’t be used to make an atomic bomb… And here’s the Sucker Punch: We’ve known about this super-efficient green technology for over 50 years! Continue reading