Smells like Family Bonding

In what may come as bad news for obsessive cleaners, researchers in Portsmouth have demonstrated that families whose members wash infrequently are more closely bonded and less troubled than families who wash daily.

“We’ve ruled out a pheromone cause. It seems more to be the case that members identify with the signature of the family, the overall smell caused by each member,” says Associate Professor Ruben Trunnel, “The more one washes, the less a defining signature can be established. This leads to discomfort, distrust and dysfunction.”

While stinky families are not guaranteed to be cohesive, the smell factor does play an important part, says Professor Trunnel. He goes on to state that while many studies focus on smell and pheromones in terms of sexual relations, odour is more prominent and powerful in other social factors like identity, trust and acceptance.

“We can see, for example, when a child comes along, there is a level of adjustment as that child’s odour profile is added to the overall signature but, once it is accepted, removal of the scent is detrimental. Likewise, when a family member leaves or dies, it takes longer for families to grieve as the scent lingers in clothing and walls, ” he says, “We are looking now to see if there is any influence of smell in the workforce, such as your ability to get hired or get a raise, or how accepted you are in a team.”

The results highlight a need for families and societies in general to get back to their primitive roots, he goes on to say, to rediscover what it is to be a sociable human.

“I’m not advocating a lack of hygiene. Technology is having too much of an impact on our lives, and not always for the better. Returning to family values is being hindered by too many creature comforts.”ChesterLogoSmall

Don’t Hold It In

A suppressed flatus or ‘fart’ can lead to many health complications, such as anxiety, depression, nausea, constipation and even hives. Studies show that not letting a flatus manifest, or ‘passing wind’, increases levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’.

“Those with existing conditions or predispositions to hypertension, depression or irritation can find that these symptoms exacerbated,” said Petre Anderson of NAWO, Norway, “Flatulence is such a commonplace occurrence. It should be as acceptable as any other bodily function. Therein lies the problem. Social etiquette shuns (farting) and there has been a rise of allergy-like symptoms as a direct consequence.”

Evidence is being gathered to assess whether habitual resistance to passing wind causes chronic or permanent conditions. If found to be the case, Petre suggests that training would be required to desensitise patients from their social predicament to prevent a fart-induced epidemic.

“Such training would be beneficial just from a psychological level. What I would prefer to see, though, is a general acceptance for (farting) and (farting) related illnesses. For this we can expect to see greater resistance and slower change than at a personal level, but with today’s social media and a high quality marketing campaign, I hope to see (farting) elevated to the same status as other expulsions such as coughing or sneezing.”ChesterLogoSmall

I See (Infra) Red!

In a bid to aid special services soldiers, military scientists in France have developed a ‘heat-vision’ serum. Up until now, the only way for spotters and scouts to see out into the inky blackness was to use heavy light amplification goggles or infra-red goggles.

Sérum de vision thermique, or SVT, is being tested on subjects to determine its efficacy for low-light operations.

“This is not light amplification. This serum works to replace the chemicals within the rods of the retina. They become sensitive to lower frequencies, specifically infra-red. This gives the user the ability to detect form, movement and contrast in pitch black environments,” says Jacques Clauzel, Chef Chirugien Optique in charge of the research, “It’s a temporary effect, lasting about two hours before the chemicals are metabolized.”

Preliminary results are positive, he says. While refining the serum, hallucinations were common among subjects. ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Anomalies’ were cause for concern, however these were shown to be actual hot-spots in the testing area.

“It can be unnerving seeing the invisible without the aid of equipment. With training, the soldiers can come to grips with it.”ChesterLogoSmall

Inserting USB an emotional rollercoaster

The frustration associated with inserting a USB plug can be used to measure emotional maturity. When assessing a candidate’s EQ, researchers are often frustrated by skewed results that arise from questionnaires, situation modelling and the like. New research into the effect of physical associative emotional responses, or PAERs, reveals a reliable indicator of how an individual can deal with conflict.

“We found that the common problem of finding the right way to insert a USB elicits predictable responses in candidates. We find anticipation, disappointment, frustration, resignation, relief and even pleasure,” says Marcus Ryan, psychological researcher at Farnham and Associates.

By using electrodes placed on the subject’s scalp, the researchers are able to detect ‘micro-emotions’ that arise as physical situations develop. By measuring the length of time, amplitude and appropriate sequencing of the response, researchers can more accurately measure a subject’s ability to cope with their environment.

“The results scale fairly well. We’re trialling other physical situations, like waiting for toast to pop up from a toaster, or a turning a key that is a bit stuck, or navigating a web page with a mouse that doesn’t track properly. If all goes to plan, we may have our subjects reliably analysed before they even finish their orientation.”ChesterLogoSmall

Biological Computers

Move over Intel, the new wave of micro-processors are about to hit the shelves. Colonies of yeast can be genetically engineered to form complex logical pathways which, when applied with particular stimuli, form incredibly powerful computations.

“It’s not an exact replica of a microprocessor. There are no hard wires or transistors. There are, however, complex cellular structures that responds very quickly and very accurately. We can use these to solve amazingly complex problems in the twinkling of an eye,” according to Ron Hamrick of Dubuque, “We calculated pi to one billion digits in less than twenty minutes with only half a teaspoon of sugar and a modest colony.”

While the bio-processors are hardly suitable for watches and computers, they do have a distinct advantage over commonplace silicon-based processors: they can grow.

“As the need for more processing power rises, we can increase the size of the colony. It seems that the processing power increases according to many factors, such as cell count, sugar content, surface area and oxygen / carbon dioxide ratios. The whole concept is scalable.”

After an exhausting set of trials, Ron and his team have settled upon a particular strain to serve as a bench-mark for future trials.

“We may see in the future that genetic engineering and microprocessing join forces to create ultra-complex pathways in living creatures. Who knows what the limits are?”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

Good Vibrations

The air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink all play a part in affecting our health. Now scientists are looking at vibration frequencies and how they affect our bodies.

“We know that certain frequencies can positively and negatively affect our bodies, from blood flow, to muscle development, even brain function. We have seen that there are some stimulus and response ‘notes’ that, when hit, resonate certain parts of our bodies,” says Deak Gorbon, curator of the study.

It was shown that certain low frequencies affect the heart rate of participants, along with blood sugar levels, mental aptitude and problem solving capabilities. On the flip side, higher frequencies can result in reduced oxygen levels at the extremities.

Of particular note are certain rates around the 50 to 60 Hertz, common worldwide for AC electrical systems and transmission, which was shown to affect brainwaves, with a notable decrease in Beta waves and increase Alpha waves, mimicking a sleep-like state.

“Environment affects every aspect of our lives. It’s only natural to expect that vibrations, possibly the most fundamental natural phenomenon, has an effect on our body as well. It appears that the resonant frequencies of various geometric structures in our bodies cause these reactions. We are looking to see how we can apply this in a medical way, such as to decrease healing time, or aid a patient’s paranoia.” ChesterLogoSmall