Author: Jen Martin

Blame it on the full moon

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Astronomy / Health / Myths / Psychology

Tomorrow is Halloween, which leads to thoughts of ghosts, witches, vampires and scary pumpkin faces. But year round, many people believe a full moon is linked with other spooky stuff. Crime rates, psychiatric hospital admissions, emergency room visits, dog bites, sporting injuries and hyperactivity in kids are all said to increase during a full moon. Is there any truth to the rumours? Bad moon rising Also known as the Transylvania Effect, the idea that people […]

Why you (probably) can’t multitask

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Myths / Psychology

How many different things are you trying to do right now? Reading this blog post while listening to a podcast, posting on Instagram and checking email? It’s easy to think you’ll be more productive by doing lots of things at once. But it turns out for almost all of us, effective multitasking is an illusion. You’re not really multitasking With the possible exception of texting while driving, you probably think multitasking is something to aspire […]

The who, why and how of Stonehenge

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Anthropology / History / Myths

Legend has it Stonehenge was created by the wizard Merlin with the help of giants. Meanwhile, scientists have been studying the monument for centuries. What do we know about who built Stonehenge, and why? Giants and aliens Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain, is the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.  It was built around 5,000 years ago by people who left no written record. As a result, it’s become one of our favourite mysteries: there are […]

Songs on repeat

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Myths / Psychology

We all do it: find a new favourite song that then gets heavy rotation on our playlists. Mine’s currently a Postmodern Jukebox’s 50s prom style cover of Closer by The Chainsmokers. Tara Bautista on the science behind why we choose to play songs on repeat and what happens when we do.   Play it again, Sam Sixty percent of participants in a study last year admitted they immediately re-listen to their favourite song, some even […]

How super is your superfood?

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Health / Myths

Chia seeds, goji berries, kale, blueberries, turmeric, green tea, quinoa, açaí (which I’ve now learned is pronounced ‘ah-sah-ee’). There’s no shortage of so-called superfoods. But what does that term mean, and are superfoods worth your money? All in a name Need to lose weight? Want to slow down ageing? Want to minimise your risk of cancer and other diseases? These days you could be forgiven for thinking all you need to do is eat the […]

The low down on the sunk cost fallacy

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Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Waiting in line at the grocery, you hesitate to move to another counter when it opens up. Even though you’re not looking forward to seeing it, you head to a movie you’ve already paid for. You stay in a career or relationship that no longer ‘sparks joy’. Tara Bautista asks why we cling on when we should let go. Going down with the ship Humans are weird creatures. We prize our supposedly unrivalled ability to […]

The truth about early birds

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Anthropology / Biology / Evolution / Genetics / Health / Myths / Psychology

We all know the saying ‘The early bird catches the worm’. But are there any real benefits to being a morning person? What determines whether you’re an early bird or a night owl anyway? And can night owls become early risers if they want to? Tick tock Your body has an internal clock. It’s located in the base of your brain, in the hypothalamus. You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm: this is the natural […]

Emojis at face value

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History / Myths / Psychology

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with emoji and have used them in an 📧, or text. How did this visual ‘language’ come about and how will it impact communication in the future? Tara Bautista explores the history and 🔬 of emojis. Smiley faces “How r u?” “I’m OK.” How many of you have received a reply like this and wondered what OK meant? It could mean anything from “Life’s all good” to […]

Nature as medicine

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Anthropology / Medicine / Myths / Psychology

For years, people have flocked to cities for greater job prospects and convenience. Tara Bautista explores why something in our psyche still yearns to escape the urban jungle and is soothed by the great outdoors. A few years ago, when I was struggling with some mental health issues, I realised that the cramped city apartment I was living in was not doing me any favours. The walls were painted a calming pale green that was […]

What if practice doesn’t make perfect?

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

You know the saying: practice makes perfect. But how much practice? If you believe the ‘10,000-hour rule’, you can become an expert at most things with 10,000 hours of practice. What’s the catch? Grand Masters Think about a skill you’d love to master: maybe chess, soccer, cello or speaking Spanish. What would it take for you to be truly exceptional at your chosen activity? Is raw talent essential? Perhaps early nurturing of natural talent makes […]