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 […]
Imagine every time you hear the word chair, your mouth fills with the taste of strawberries. Or to you, Tuesdays are red and the letter T is male, light blue, trustworthy and loyal. Sound strange? Welcome to the fascinating world of synaesthesia. Blended senses If someone scratches a blackboard with his or her nails, I taste iron. The intro of “Time” by Pink Floyd is golden yellow and blue. One synaesthete’s experiences Scientists have […]
Are you irresistible to mosquitos? We all know someone who gets covered in bites every time they venture outside. Why are some of us so much tastier than others? The deadliest animals Only female mosquitos bite: they need the protein that comes from a blood meal to make their eggs. But there are thousands of species of mosquito, and they have different ideas about who and what is tasty. Some prefer birds, some frogs, some […]
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 […]
A couple of weeks ago I asked students in one of my classes whether they were early risers or night owls. Almost all identified as one or the other. But is either being up at dawn or burning the midnight oil simply habit, or is something else going on?
Why call a valued assistant a ‘right-hand man’? Why does an awkward dancer have ‘two left feet’? And why, in times gone by, were left-handers thought to be possessed by the devil? Throughout the ages left-handers have been stigmatised and persecuted. But it turns out ‘handedness’ is determined before you even leave the womb.
The clergymen of Överkalix, Sweden, kept meticulous records of births, deaths, family linages, and crop harvests for generations. Using their data, scientists have discovered that your DNA can depend on your ancestor's gluttonous excesses or frugal famines.