All work and no play makes you far worse than just dull

Tuesday, 29 July, 2014

A degree of playfulness, as opposed to playing the fool, and we are talking about in adults here by the way, is far from a bad thing, in fact being possessed of a… spirited nature may have health and well being benefits.

What Proyer and the other researchers who have recently moved to fill that gap are discovering is that playfulness, as a personality trait, is not only complex but consequential. People who exhibit high levels of playfulness – those who are predisposed to being spontaneous, outgoing, creative, fun-loving, and lighthearted – appear to be better at coping with stress, more likely to report leading active lifestyles, and more likely to succeed academically. According to a group of researchers at Pennsylvania State University, playfulness makes both men and women more attractive to the opposite sex.

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Yes, we have different blood types, but why?

Friday, 25 July, 2014

People have different blood types. That much we all know. What’s not so certain is exactly why there are varied types of blood in the first place:

Being type A is not a legacy of my proto-farmer ancestors, in other words. It’s a legacy of my monkey-like ancestors. Surely, if my blood type has endured for millions of years, it must be providing me with some obvious biological benefit. Otherwise, why do my blood cells bother building such complicated molecular structures?

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Being depressed… how does it actually feel though?

Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

A number of London based depression patients discuss their day to day experiences of the disorder… it’s one thing to understand the symptoms of depression, but another to know how it must actually feel.

Depression for me is not liking yourself, having no confidence in yourself, seeking reassurance, hanging onto anything that you can, pretty much anything emotionally, get your hands on. Lacking courage.

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Geniuses usually sleep eight hours, unless the world worries them

Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

The sleeping habits of geniuses… twenty-seven of them to be precise. I was hoping to find something that I might be able to take advantage of, and it looks pretty straightforward, seven to eight hours sleep seems to be the norm among smart people.

Then again no fewer than one hundred and fifty items, problems in the world and the like, may also be keeping the same people awake at night.

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Longevity may soon be something we’re able to take at face value

Friday, 11 July, 2014

A facial recognition technology variant may soon be able to predict how long someone might live, by scanning and studying the signs of ageing on their face:

The technology involves using a computer to scan a photograph of a face for signs of ageing. Factoring in the subject’s race, gender, education level and smoking history – all known to affect longevity prospects – it would analyse each section of cheek, eye, brow, mouth and jowl looking for shading variations that signal lines, dark spots, drooping and other age-related changes that might indicate how the person is doing compared with others of the same age and background.

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Can health problems be diagnosed by way of credit card statements?

Thursday, 10 July, 2014

Medical professionals who are able to view your credit card transactions may be able to anticipate the sort of ailments you could be afflicted with, based on your spending habits – I guess they’d be looking for purchases that incorporate alcohol, high fat foods, and the like – and can begin devising an appropriate course of treatment

Information on consumer spending can provide a more complete picture than the glimpse doctors get during an office visit or through lab results, says Michael Dulin, chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research at Carolinas HealthCare. The Charlotte-based hospital chain is placing its data into predictive models that give risk scores to patients. Within two years, Dulin plans to regularly distribute those scores to doctors and nurses who can then reach out to high-risk patients and suggest changes before they fall ill.

All very commendable I’m sure, after all there’s nothing more important than our health, but I can see some potential privacy concerns here.

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Sleep paralysis as a portal to out-of-body travel? Not sure of that…

Monday, 7 July, 2014

I’m not sure I’d regard the sleep paralysis experience as being a “portal to out-of-body travel and lucid dreams”, unless that’s how you see the sensation of having what feels like an elephant sitting on while you lie, unable to move a muscle, in what seems like a wind tunnel, a dark wind tunnel at that.

The experience can be terrifying. Trapped in your paralysed body, you might sense the presence of a malevolent intruder in the room or a pressure on your chest, squeezing the breath out of your lungs. Hallucinations can jangle the senses: there are ominous voices, supernatural entities, strange lights. You feel as if you are being touched or dragged, bed covers seem to be snatched from you, and you are helpless to grab them back.

Then again, what is actually happening quickly becomes apparent, so as disconcerting as a sleep paralysis episode is, the knowledge that it will be relatively short lived is reassuring. So why not view it as positively as possible…

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For a healthier future should we eat like our Paleolithic ancestors?

Wednesday, 25 June, 2014

While we don’t need to send civilisation as a whole back to the Stone Age, there may be some benefit in adhering to the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors, one that consisted mainly of meat, fish, nuts, and berries:

The argument for the so-called “Palaeolithic diet” goes like this: the human body adapted to life during the Stone Age, and as our genetics has changed very little since then, this means biologically speaking we are far better-suited to the hunter-gatherers’ diet that existed before there was any agriculture. Details vary from diet to diet, but on the whole they advocate eschewing all dairy products, grain-based foods like pasta, bread or rice, and in some versions lentils and beans aren’t allowed. Proponents argue modern disorders like heart disease, diabetes and cancer have arisen primarily from the incompatibility between our current forms of diet and our prehistoric anatomy.

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But who watches the hand washer watchers?

Monday, 23 June, 2014

Men wash their hands less frequently than women after a visit to the bathroom, says some US research into the subject. While that may be so, it was the way that the study was conducted that caught my eye

For one day, between 10am and 4pm, a male researcher secreted himself inside one of three cubicles in a gents toilet facility at a US University. For optimal observational purposes he chose the cubicle adjacent to a row of three urinals. Nearby, in a similarly designed female toilet facility, a single female researcher positioned herself in one of the three cubicles available. Don’t worry, both researchers were provided with a “customised wooden bench” for comfort.

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Hacking the nervous system… a good thing or a bad thing?

Monday, 2 June, 2014

Might it be possible to hack, or take some sort of external control, of the central nervous system? While the prospect sounds perilous, the right sort of manipulation might make the treating of certain disorders a little easier:

Inflammatory afflictions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease are currently treated with drugs – painkillers, steroids and what are known as biologics, or genetically engineered proteins. But such medicines, Tracey pointed out, are often expensive, hard to administer, variable in their efficacy and sometimes accompanied by lethal side effects. His work seemed to indicate that electricity delivered to the vagus nerve in just the right intensity and at precise intervals could reproduce a drug’s therapeutic – in this case, anti-inflammatory – reaction. His subsequent research would also show that it could do so more effectively and with minimal health risks.

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