Every blogger has his inspiration, and mine has in part come from the amazing science channels on YouTube. To escape the old “wall of text with pictures” habit, here is a sampling of fun videos. Check out each channel for more science awesomeness.
Since the 1980s, gaydar has become a common word in the English language. A combination of “gay” and “radar,” Merriam-Webster defines it as “the ability to recognize homosexuals through observation or intuition.” Clearly, the idea is ridiculous (not to mention insulting to gay people). But what if I told you not only that gaydar exists but that it is a scientifically documented phenomenon? Enter one of the weirdest and most fascinating series of studies this blogger has ever seen.
In 2008, Dr. Nicholas Rule of the University of Toronto (then a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University) began to investigate the idea of using visual cues to determine someone’s membership to a perceptually ambiguous group (i.e. one without clear physical identifiers, such as religion or sexual orientation). Rule and fellow researchers gathered headshots of individuals and removed hairstyles, piercings, makeup, tattoos, or any other cultural markings. In a series of experiments, they flashed the bare faces for five hundred milliseconds and asked subjects to determine whether their sexual orientation. The results were shocking.
I know how you feel. You have a burning, insatiable desire. Nothing can satisfy it except for the one thing you want—no, desperately need. You can’t hold it in anymore, you just have to know: is sex addiction real?
Addiction, while often thrown around colloquially, is a real medical condition. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.” That’s their short-definition—you can read their long definition here. (Also: how the word “spiritual” can appear in any medical definition is beyond me, but that’s for another post.). So what does this actually mean?
A massive study released last week found that brain games and training can help slow the cognitive decline that comes with aging. The study, funded by the National Institute of Health and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is the first to find long-term benefits associated with brain games.
Researchers placed subjects in groups receiving speed-based tasks, memory exercises, reasoning games, or nothing at all. Sessions lasted about an hour and took place over six weeks. Testers evaluated subjects immediately following the trials and at intervals throughout ten years. At the end of the study, 71 percent of participants who received speed training performed at or above their level from the start of the study compared with 48 percent in the control group. Those who participated in reasoning games showed improvement as well, with 74 percent performing at or above their initial marks compared with only 62 percent of the control group. The memory games had no effect on performance. Continue reading
Part 2 in a series. Click here for Part 1: 5 mind-bendingly awesome optical illusions
A while back I posted about some awesome optical illusions. The last few posts have been text-heavy, so I’m going to shake things up a bit with some pictures and videos. These are some of my favorite mind-tricks on the web. Share your favorites and let me know which one’s you’d like me to explain. Enjoy!
5. The Walking Men Illusion
These men are the same size. Seriously. Grab a ruler and check for yourself.