News for Nerds - The 'Check Engine' Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 8/2/2013 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The 'Check Engine' Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we learn why going out to lunch zaps your mental focus, we take a look at a cool new tech toy, and we uncover even more bizarre research about the ways the moon is messing with us. But first, here are your headlines.

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Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars, so it seems reasonable to think we'd have pretty good command over that space.

Alas, we do not. A new British survey shows that 98 percent of drivers don't fully understand the most common dashboard warning lights (things like tire pressure, fog-light indicators, etc.). Ninety-eight percent! What's more, 48 percent of participants couldn't identify their brake warning light, and 35 percent weren't familiar with airbag warning lights.

Some of this can be attributed to our short attention spans and overall laziness, but some of it also can be pinned on car manufacturers. In many newer-model cars, the sheer number of warning lights is overwhelming. Take for example the Mercedes Benz E-Class -- a fine vehicle, to be sure. But does it really need 41 different dashboard lights?

Furthermore, there isn't much uniformity across makes and models. Of the 99 different types of dashboard lights identified in the study, only 12 of them were common across all vehicles. That can leave many drivers wondering just what that flashing hexagon with the lightning bolt and the frowny face means, anyway.

And while this may seem like a distinctly first-world problem, it can jeopardize drivers' safety -- and their wallets, too. Motorists who understood and responded immediately to a dashboard warning light paid, on average, $129 for repairs; those who waited longer faced repair costs of $303. We can only hope that in a worst-case scenario, if the dashboard melted you'd still have the radio.

- from LiveScience

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Are you a night owl or an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type? Turns out that there are significant differences in the intelligence and effectiveness of those types of people . . . and not in the ways you might expect.

Researchers at the University of Madrid followed nearly 1,000 teenagers and found that night owls are stronger in areas linked to general intelligence -- things like inductive reasoning and analytical thinking. This corresponds with an earlier study from the U.S. Air Force which showed that late-risers are superior in what they call "lateral thinking". And yet another study found that late-risers made more money, drove better cars, and had nicer homes.

What's most interesting about this is that there seems to be a time-delay effect. Early birds tend to outperform sleepyheads in school by 8 percent, which is a pretty substantial number. It's not until later in life that the equation flips. Once into adulthood, night owls begin to demonstrate traits that lead to more challenging careers.

It's hard to say exactly why, but one professor has a theory. He says, "Evening types tend to be the more extroverted creative types, the poets, artists, and inventors, while the morning types are the deducers, as often seen with civil servants and accountants."

But fear not, early birds. If you think you're getting a raw deal here, take note: a separate study published last year showed that morning people are happier than night owls. So you've got that going for you, which is nice.

- from Medical Daily

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And here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:

  • Having a weekday lunch with friends might be a nice stress-reliever, but it might also negatively affect your afternoon performance back at work. More research is needed, but studies seem to show that going out to lunch zaps you of the mental focus needed to make rapid decisions. Must be the breadsticks.
  • When it comes to watching TV and videos, or even listening to music, the landscape has changed very quickly. Many people (myself included) already stream content to their televisions from devices like Roku or Apple TV. But Google has just introduced a competitor called the Chromecast, and some experts think this could be real game-changer.
  • And finally, in last week's News for Nerds we talked about how lunar cycles positively affect patients' heart surgeries and recovery times. But wait! It seems that a full moon isn't always a good thing. Research shows that it is sometimes responsible for a bad night's sleep. Goodnight, moon!

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

1 Responses to "News for Nerds - The 'Check Engine' Edition"
  • Denise S. Morris August 7, 2013 6:04 am
    Dom! All stuff I love! Mercedes Benz, (I own an R-500, Drag Race at Bandimere in Morrison, CO & am sponsored by Benz of Westminster :), Night Owls, Afternoon work focus, & heart health. Wonderful News for Nerds! Thank You!

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