We’ve all used rock-paper-scissors to resolve a dispute. Is there a foolproof winning strategy? The earwig and the elephant When all else fails, rock-paper-scissors (also known as RPS) is an excellent way to make a decision. The rules are simple. At an agreed moment – usually after two or three ‘primes’ to get in sync, two people each make a symbol with their hand. The symbols are rock (closed fist), paper (flat hand) and scissors […]
Sherpas – sometimes called superhumans – are extraordinary mountaineers who are at home in the peaks of the Himalayas. What is it about Sherpas that enables them to power on at such high altitude? The top of the world Standing at 8,848 m above sea level, the peak of Mt. Everest is not a welcoming place for humans. We need oxygen, and up there, oxygen levels are only a third of those found at sea […]
Love spicy food? Find certain songs calming? You started developing preferences for flavours and sounds while you were still in the womb. And it’s not just us: many animals begin learning about the world around them before they’re even born. Listening from the inside Before you were born, you had a lot to listen to. There was the regular thumping of your mother’s heart, the blood whooshing through her body, and even the rumbling and […]
You’ve probably heard of echolocation. Whales, dolphins and bats all use it to find their way around when their eyes just aren’t up to the task. But did you know some blind humans have learned to do it too? Seeing with sound In the late 1700s, Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani surgically blinded bats in an attempt to work out how they navigate when flying in the dark. He was amazed to discover blind bats could […]
Think back to how you behaved as a teenager. Are you cringing? Many of us feel very different to the person we were ‘back then’. But are you different? And what will you be like in old age? Who are you? Have you ever done a personality test? I have: I was intrigued to find out if answering a few dozen questions could give an accurate picture of who I am. Whether Myer-Briggs, the Big Five, […]
Making eye contact with someone is powerful: at the very least, it shows you’re listening attentively. But how long before holding someone’s gaze starts to feel uncomfortable? And why is it hard to maintain eye contact and think at the same time? Can’t take my eyes off you From birth, we prefer looking at faces that look directly at us. And from a very early age, our brains respond more to a face looking […]
Are you an optimist? Quite likely – more than three-quarters of us are. And it’s a good thing to be: optimists are healthier and live longer. But there’s also a dark side to optimism.
We all smile. We smile when we’re happy, but also when we’re sad, embarrassed or in pain. If someone smiles at us, we can’t help but smile back. But is it true even a forced smile will make you feel happier?
How often do you lie? If your answer is ‘hardly ever’, I reckon you’re lying right now. We all lie. Often our lies are harmless and may have been told for a good reason. But the point is, we all say things that aren’t true. Why is lying so common and at what age do we begin to tell fibs? Secrets and Lies Lying is more common than you might think. According to one study, most […]
Is it a bird? Or a plane? No, it’s a baby. When we think of babies, it’s easy to focus on all the things they can’t do – walk, talk, look after themselves, or think like we do. But there are also plenty of things babies can do that we can’t. And few of us are aware of the ‘superpowers’ we’ve lost. Seeing is believing Are you good at remembering faces? Most of us do a decent […]