The costs of fads – Pokemon Go

With fads such as “Pokemon Go” hitting smart-device screens, social researchers at Wisconsin Society Administration have evaluated the indirect costs. The figures are alarming.

“If we take the first level of indirection – lower productivity – we see that this, in the Wisconsin area alone, comes to an average of just under 30 minutes per working day lost to ‘screen time’. This comes out to the order of over 15 million dollars per day in lost productivity,” says Sarah Erstman, fellow at the WSA, “That it alarming by itself. We deliberately ignored time off for accidents caused by looking inattention, since the causality for this would be too hard to associate with our study, yet you can consider this figure to rise if we included it.”

She goes on to say that there are many knock-on effects, such as a drop in the quality of work, unsafe workplaces resulting in higher rates of liability and time off for employees. She says to expect higher incidents of food poisoning along with neck, hand and eye complaints, rises in personal liability premiums and telecommunication bottlenecks.

“The figure (of 15 million per day) is conservative. If we include level two factors, the cost can be estimated at somewhere between 40 to 50 million. This is a significant loss and the effects will be felt for years to come,” she says, “We are still waiting on the official results from our sister study, based upon traffic flow, but the current consensus is that trains and busses are being delayed, traffic is more congested. I would expect to double that figure for tertiary effects.”ChesterLogoSmall

Radiation Link Crystal Clear

The wealthy who have more crystal glasses, pitchers and chandeliers in their house are less affected by background radiation and therefore have fewer health problems, says Doctor Merkel Van Der Gerber of Trondheim Medical Research Centre.

In a study involving data from over two hundred households, his team demonstrated that those houses with more lead crystal had consistently lower readings of Beta and Gamma radiation. In some cases, those households without crystal could have as much as 700% higher readings than those with.

“It is surprising to me. I would not have thought that such a correlation would be so apparent. We have seen previous studies that look at the air-conditioning units and how those with higher air-flow have more heavy elements, leading to higher levels of background radiation, but simply having the presence of crystal seems to be a significant factor,” he says, adding a warning, “But this is no substitute for clean living. We still advocate dusting regularly to remove dust-borne metals, and to keep air-conditioner use at a minimum.”

The type of crystal is significant, he adds. Higher lead content has a better blocking capacity. Glass with heavy metals like Uranium glass also contribute. The lower radiation reveals a lower rate of radiation related illnesses among the inhabitants.

“You can imagine that your crystal acts like a kind of sponge, soaking up high energy particles and isolating them. As a result of this study, I will certainly be investing in a crystal cabinet not only for looks but for my health as well.”ChesterLogoSmall

Man, it’s hot today!

“It wouldn’t be so bit if it were a dry heat. It’s the humidity that does it.”

The only thing more annoying than a rhetorical complaint is an unwarranted response according to Social Ventures researcher, Jackie Marzden. While designing a new ‘annoy-o-meter’ for their social science research, they developed a system to test it, and came up with various scenarios that people find annoying.

“It’s very difficult to quantify how annoying someone or something is. Quite often the results are skewed depending on the environment, context, people and situations. For example, someone clicking their nails abstractedly might not bother someone on any other day but, given that they recently gave up smoking, their response can be overwhelming,” she says, “The scale is logarithmic in nature, which comes as no surprise. The real challenge lies in getting test subjects to feel annoyance.”

Jackie says that social niceties and politeness masks the true level of irritation a person feels. To mitigate these factors, her team lets the participants score their annoyance anonymously. The early results are interesting.

“The overall level of irritation is like a leaky bucket. The more refreshed, relaxed and comfortable a person is, the holes are in the bucket to allow irritation to dissapate. If someone is sleep deprived, undergoing major stresses or in an unfamiliar environment, their irritability increases exponentially, despite what their outward disposition is like.”

More than this, her team showed that annoying factors have a compounding effect and that ‘irritant-combos’ are exponentially more effective at annoying a subject than any single source of irritation.

Jackie explains, “We found that even the most severe irritants, such as being sneezed upon, scored a less than a combination of lesser irritants. For example and unhelpful complaint, such as those about the weather, scored about a 1 on our ire-scale, while an unhelpful response to that complaint drew an ire of 3, which is 100 times more annoying than the original irritation.”ChesterLogoSmall

Edgar Allan Poe’s darker secret

While the literary works of Edgar Allan Poe are macabre and mysterious, investigations into his personal life reveal an even darker side: At least two of his famous works may actually have been inspired by real and, shockingly, personal events.

“It would seem that elements of ‘The Telltale Heart’ and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ coincide with actual unsolved police cases, one a murder, the other a disappearance, suspected foul play,” says Ryan Ng, Researcher and Literary Analyst.

The revelations come to light after Ryan tracked the historical movements of Poe and compared them against police records. What he found has convinced him that Poe is guilty of more than just stealing our imaginations.

Twenty years after The Telltale Heart was published, renovations at a seaside manor in New Jersey uncovered the corpse of an elderly man from under the floorboards. The date of death was officially determined as being twenty-two years earlier which, Ryan demonstrates, is precisely the time when Edgar was known to have ‘visited a friend’ in that area.

“The timing is almost perfect. Also, in Virginia, there was a wealthy businessman, Kieth Hitchcock, who disappeared after attending a masquerade ball. The grounds next to the ball was a construction site, known to have been visited by Poe and his friends during a holiday from University. I would be keen to see if there are any skeletons buried inside those walls,” says Ryan, “If we look at the progression from killing a cat, then old men, then wealthy businessmen, we see a very real pattern of psychopathic behaviour.”

Publishing his stories is an sign of Poe’s restrained regret, Ryan says, whereas the details placed within the story, specifically highlighting the cleverness of his crimes smacks of the egotistical mind of a genuine serial killer.

“I’m currently investigating the Pit and the Pendulum to see if there are any crimes of torture to which he might be linked.”ChesterLogoSmall

Ghost Hunting a Science

Following on from television shows like ‘Ghost Hunters‘ and books like ‘Paranormology‘, the hunt for ghosts and research into the spiritual realm is set to lose its pseudoscience badge in favour of a degree.

Students at the University of Mount Gambier in South Australia can now choose to become official Paranormologists. With the aim to make Paranormology as commonplace as geography or astronomy, the University is trialing the course over the next few years.

“The first few subjects deal with scientific methodology, the importance of thoroughly recording observations and peer review. Once the students have a grounding in the accepted practices, they then move on to equipment, practical training and observation techniques,” says Doctor Sue Rochester, “The word ‘ghost’ doesn’t even appear in any recommended text books until the third year.”

Unproven methodologies such as clairvoyance and seances are not part of the curriculum, says Sue, although they are addressed in the subjects of hoaxes.

“As a scientist working in a field that naturally attracts charlatanism, it’s important to know how to remain objective, how to spot human interference, how to use scientific analysis to rule out trickery.”

The Paranormology course is being piloted with a view for expanding into other fields, such as Cryptozoology and Ufology.

Flashing Personality

A remarkable discovery has been revealed from a ten month long investigation into cars and personalities. The speed of a car’s indicators reflects the personality of the owner.

“We have found that the rate of flash is proportional to the impulsiveness of the driver. More cautious drivers tend to have a slower flash rate,” says Freda Ghert, Lead Officer of the study at Long Beach Market Research.

In a bid to see what motivates customers to buy certain cars, Freda and her team have been probing in the psyche of vehicle owners and pairing the data with facts about their car.

“If I were a salesman, I’d look very carefully at the results of this study. Many of the findings are intuitive, many more are not,” she says, “The indicator speed is not the only correlation discovered, but it certainly is up there with the most surprising.”

Long Beach Market Research is looking to apply their new knowledge to develop an app to quickly determine the likely type of car a customer may want to purchase.ChesterLogoSmall

Gossiping Stars

The Hollywood variety are known to be chatty, and it turns out that the interstellar variety are as well.

Stars are ‘talking’ to each other, according to research performed by leading Astronomer Franz Keg at Munich ASL Observatory.

“It has taken over a decade, for the delay of communication is still governed by the speed of light. We have recorded a conversation between our star and one of the nearest, Barnard’s Star,” he says, “It is still up for analysis whether there is a proper grammar and structure.”

The report says that the ‘hot topic’ is a supernova that happened 150 years ago – yesterday in solar terms. Flares, sun spots, and strong magnetic fields send out an enormously complex signal that is being received, in a decade or so, by other stars.

“While we have only discovered three parts of a conversation, we expect there to be more as the years go on and our research continues. Alpha Centauri was has been too complicated, as the triple system is too noisy, much like a gaggle of geese,” he says, “As the Earth travels through the solar wind, it is like sitting on the telephone wire, listening in to the gossip.”ChesterLogoSmall