News for Nerds - Work Smarter, Not Harder
- 5/23/2014 |
- 10:00 am
Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll learn about the largest dinosaur species ever discovered, we'll get a jump on this weekend's potentially spectacular meteor shower, and we'll explore the mysteries of mice running on wheels. But first, here are your headlines.
* * * * *
What's the best way to learn something?
A new study indicates that 'learning is more effective if a lesson or experience is deliberately coupled with time spent thinking about what was just presented.' In other words, taking a few minutes to reflect on what you just learned makes a huge difference.
In one lab study, participants completed a math brain teaser under the pressure of time. Afterward, one group wrote about their strategy for solving the problem while another group did not. The former out-performed the latter in a second-round test by 18 percent. And in a similar field study, customer service agents who were given time to reflect on their job training scored 23 percent better on their end-of-training assessment than those who were not.
Whether you write down a summary, dictate your thoughts into a phone, or spend a few minutes teaching someone else, it seems that carving out a few minutes for reflection is a smart way to retain new information. Don't forget.
- story from The Atlantic, photo from Lourdes S. via Wikimedia Commons
* * * * *
And now for something completely different. Let's talk about why an octopus never gets tangled up in its own limbs.
It's a fair question, right? If you think about it, any water-based animal with eight bendy, stretchy arms is bound to get tangled up like the cord on your earbuds after they've been in your pocket. But apparently that's not true for the octopus. And now researchers think they know why.
It has to do with skin excretions. In a variety of tests using both real and fake octopus limbs, scientists found that each individual octopus will produce a chemical that is unique to its own limbs. If the octopus then stumbles over that limb -- whether it's intact or amputated -- it knows not to grab onto it, but to let it go instead.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to octopus limbs. Did you know that these limbs can live on for hours after being amputated? That they operate independently? That each one has hundreds of suckers, which can be used to open screw-top jars or peel apart oysters?
Now you do. Hooray for the octopus.
- story from LiveScience; photo from Llez via Wikimedia Commons
* * * * *
Here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:
- A team of paleontologists in Argentina has discovered the largest dinosaur species ever. Still unnamed, the species was 40 meters high and weighed 80 tons. To put that in perspective, its length is equivalent to two semi-trucks, and its weight is the same as 14 African elephants. Whoa.
- Today and tomorrow, Earth will pass through the leftover remnants of the tail of a comet -- someone should write a book about that! -- and the result will be something called the Camelopardalid meteor shower. Astronomers say that this might be the 'best celestial spectacle' of the year.
- And finally, a team of scientists in the Netherlands have gotten to the bottom of a very serious question. They've done research, conducted experiments, and it turns out that mice actually like running on wheels -- it's not just the neurotic behavior of a caged animal. So that settles that.
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!