Your Coffee Habit, and How to Kick It #newsfornerds
- 8/22/2014 |
- 10:00 am
This week's News for Nerds batch:
- Your coffee habit is an actual habit
- Five cool new ways that science is driving ID technology
- How to operate on zero sleep (for one day, at least)
- Twitter helped identify some sketchy restaurants in Chicago
- A 16-foot tall fart machine (yes, really)
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More than 80 percent of American adults drink coffee. Some days it probably feels like all of those people are in front of you in line at Starbucks.
But the truth is that for many people, the very first cup of the day comes at home, in the kitchen, and not courtesy of your local barista. The process of preparing that first cup -- water, filter, cream, and so on -- may have as much to do with your coffee habit as the caffeine.
So says some emerging science which indicates that the power of repetition (and of ritual) drives many of our strongest habits. That may be because our brains are wired with a 'habit circuitry' that treats the many elements of a routine behavior as one single unit. "It's like how we remember certain things, like the alphabet or phone numbers," says neuroscientist Kyle Smith of Dartmouth. "Not digit by digit, but in chunks of digits."
Sure, your body has a physiological relationship with the steady stream of daily caffeine. But that first cup in the morning may have much more to do with habit than addiction. And that's probably true for dozens of other things in your life, too. If you want to kick any of these habits, you'll probably need more than simple self-control. Your best bet is to identify the reward behind the habit, and then find a different way to get there. Read the full article to learn more.
- story from Fast Company, photo from Andres Nieto Porrass via Wikimedia Commons
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How do you identify yourself to strangers or authority figures? Chances are, it's usually a driver's license or some other form of photo ID. But the business of personal identification is growing more and more important, and the science behind it is really interesting.
Maybe you've seen some of the fancy, high-tech ID technologies that are beginning to show up in airports and other public buildings: iris scanners, fingerprint scanners, and more. But my friends over at LiveScience are reporting on five cutting-edge technologies that might just be the next wave.
Body Odor - That's right, B.O. is your friend. Recognition rates for body odor are already at 85 percent using current biometric sensors, and that number is likely to keep growing.
Phones - It's not just the NSA that's keeping an eye on your phone. Researchers from Palo Alto to Dresden are working on sophisticated tracking and identification methods for your smartphone.
Heartbeats - The electrocardiogram waves emitted by your heartbeat are unique, and one startup has created a bracelet which can read those ECG waves and use them to do everything from activate your bluetooth to open your hotel room door.
Veins - A different startup has created a 'vein scanner' called the BiyoWallet. From LiveScience: "The machine recognizes unique vein patterns when an individual's palm is set over the device's scanner. Once an individual has been identified, the device can automatically deduct money from the customer's account." Wow.
Thoughts - Some very smart people are at work on a technology that would replace passwords with 'pass thoughts'. The idea is that they would record your brain waves while you think about something very specific -- like, say, singing a particular song. That recording could then be used to authenticate you later on. Spooky.
- story from LiveScience, photo from Colin Davis via Wikimedia Commons
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Here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:
- If you're like me, you regularly operate on so little sleep that your doctor would wince if she knew about it. But have no fear. A team of sleep researchers has come up with the optimum schedule to get through a day on absolutely no sleep. Don't try this at home.
- Ah, Twitter. So silly, but so useful. The Chicago Department of Health designed a Twitter bot to help sniff out cases of food poisoning in local establishments, and it led to the identification of 133 restaurants for inspections. Twenty-one of those restaurants failed their subsequent inspection outright, and another 33 passed with 'critical or serious' violations.
- And finally, I give you my favorite story of the week. A British plumber/inventor created a 16-foot fart machine, and then pointed it directly at France. Watch out for head winds, I guess.
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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!