News for Nerds - The 'Men are Forgetful' Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 2/7/2014 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The 'Men are Forgetful' Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! Ths week I'll explain why your memory is unreliable, I'll show you some of the coolest video you've ever seen, and I'll ask a very important Would You Rather question. But first, here are your headlines.

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Men are from Mars, and women are from . . . wait, how does that go?

A study out of Norway has uncovered an interesting new wrinkle in the differences between the genders. It seems that men are more forgetful than women -- and by a large margin.

More than 48,000 people took part in the study, which included nine questions about how well people think they remember things, whether they had trouble recalling names and dates, and so on. Men reported higher rates of forgetfulness for eight of the nine questions. It was also interesting to note that while memory starts fading for both sexes after age 60, men between the ages of 30 and 60 are roughly the same when it comes to drawing a blank on, say, the name of your co-worker's husband who he's met several times, including at the Super Bowl party just last weekend.

A few other interesting tidbits from this study: People who are highly educated have better memories than those who are less educated, and people of both sexes who suffer from anxiety or depression forget more than other people.

As for why this is the case? It's not clear. Or else I just can't remember.

- story from the Sydney Morning Herald, photo from Mav via Wikimedia Commons

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If you're concerned that your weight-loss goals take a tumble during the long cold months of winter, fear not. New research shows that shivering for just 10 minutes can burn as many calories as an hour of moderate exercise. Weird, huh?

The catalyst here seems to be something called 'brown fat', which was once thought to only be present in babies. Now it seems that adults can also generate this 'brown fat', whether through exercise or shivering, and that those with more of it are slimmer.

"We identified two hormones that are stimulated by cold - irisin and FGF21- released from shivering muscle and brown fat respectively," said study leader Dr Paul Lee, from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research. "These hormones fired up the energy-burning rate of human brown fat cells in the laboratory, and the treated fat cells began to emit heat, a hallmark of brown fat function."

Just 10 or 15 minutes of shivering resulted in as big a rise in irisin as one full hour of exercise. And in the lab, irisin and FGF21 together transformed white fat cells into brown fat cells over a period of six days.

Of course this doesn't mean you should ditch your workout routine in favor of freezing yourself. But it certainly is interesting.

- story from The Daily Mail (UK), photo from Michel Septfontaine via Wikimedia Commons

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Here are a few other cool science stories you may enjoy:

  • If you've ever watched a single episode of CSI, Law & Order, or even Hill Street Blues, you probably know that an eyewitness to a crime is often an unreliable source of information. Maybe that's because our memories rewrite the past and edit it with new experiences. Blame the hippocampus.
  • In the interest of serious, high-concept scientific inquiry, I'd like to direct your attention to this article from Popular Science, which probes the universal question that has been haunting mankind for centuries: is it worse to be licked, or sneezed on?
  • And finally, you may remember last year's wildly insane skydive from space, where daredevil Felix Baumgartner fell to Earth from 23 miles up. Well, this week the world got a look at some never-before-seen footage, and it's jaw-dropping stuff. Take eight minutes and just watch. You'll be glad you did.

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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!

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