News for Nerds - The Perfect Playlist Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 1/17/2014 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The Perfect Playlist Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll mend a broken heart, we'll learn which movie psychopaths are most true-to-life, and we'll give you some good news about monkeypiling. But first, here are your headlines.

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In an era of iPods and smartphones -- and I suppose dating back to the Walkman -- it's pretty commonplace to bring your music with you when you workout. Many people even build special playlists specifically for their daily exercise. I'll bet you do, too.

But what music is most suitable for a given workout? Sports psychologists at London's Brunel University were curious, so they conducted an in-depth study on the matter. Analyzing 6.7 million workout playlists on the music-streaming service Spotify, they compared the different beats per minute (bpm) to those in various workouts.

What they found is that different activities call for different genres. Hip hop is well-suited for running or jogging, because the typical bpm in a rap song correlates pretty well with the average strides per minute of a runner. It's also likely that the often-aggressive lyrics in rap music lend themselves to an amped-up feeling that helps keep you motivated while exercising.

Meanwhile, dance music is good for strength and weight training, pop music is good for aerobic workouts and warm-up/cool-down, and rock music isn't very good for workouts at all (because, say the researchers, the tempos shift too often, disrupting your rhythm).

And to take it all one step further, the London team created what they say is the optimum playlist, featuring a lot of music that I play regularly on Mix100, and a lot of music that I've never even heard of. You can check out their selections right here. What's your go-to workout song? Feel free to comment below.

- story from The Daily Mail (UK); photo by Khaosaming via Wikimedia Commons

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With any given topic related to education, there are about as many divergent 'expert' opinions as there are students. Frankly, there are plenty of things about the way we structure our schools that are as outdated as the agrarian school calendar, but getting those things changed . . . well, hey, good luck with that.

One issue that has baffled me for years is the early start time for most schools. And I'm not alone. There is now yet another study showing that kids simply aren't wired to wake up early, and that forcing them to do so has a negative effect on the way they perform in school.

A psychologist and sleep expert from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center studied a group of high school students, delaying their school start time from 8:00 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. during the winter term. Even that modest shift -- a mere 25 minutes -- had a big impact. The percentage of students who received eight or more hours of sleep jumped from 18 to 44 percent.

What's more, daytime sleepiness, depressed mood, and caffeine use were all significantly reduced by delaying the school's start time. And it had zero effect on the number of hours that students spent doing homework, playing sports, or engaging in extracurricular activities.

Says study author Dr. Julie Boergers, "If we more closely align school schedules with adolescents' circadian rhythms and sleep needs, we will have students who are more alert, happier, better prepared to learn, and aren't dependent on caffeine and energy drinks just to stay awake in class." So this is a change we should probably make . . . and I'm not holding my breath.

- story from Science Daily; photo by Batholith from Wikimedia Commons

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

  • My daughter-in-law is an ER nurse, and she has an amusing habit of recommending super glue for just about any cut, scrape, or similarly-related injury. Well, she must be on to something, because a recent major medical breakthrough involves a special glue that seals heart defects.
  • One of the great archetypes of cinema is that of the vicious, evil psychopath -- the kind of guy that invades your dreams. But how realistic are those characters? Is Hannibal Lecter a plausible character? What about Norman Bates? This article from Science News breaks down the most (and least) realistic psychopaths in movie history. You might be surprised.
  • And finally, a story about how sex affects intelligence -- and vice versa. (Hint: there's good news and bad news.)

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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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