Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving: Some Scientific Facts

Wow...hard to believe this is my fourth Thanksgiving post.

It's that time of year again for us Americans to cook for 18 hours, then stuff ourselves in under 15 minutes, and then unbutton the front of our pants in order to pass out in front of a football game.
In the meantime, enjoy some of the lesser-known scientific Thanksgiving tidbits that I've gathered:

That big dude sucking down the turkey and stuffing isn't the only one that could possibly suffer a coronary. Turkeys can have heartattacks too! Decades ago, when the Air Force was conducting tests involving jets breaking the sound barrier, turkeys below would have heart attacks and keel over.

The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey is 86 lbs - which was weighed-in at the annual "heaviest turkey" competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989.

More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving. I wonder how much Beano or Gas-X is served afterwards.

A spooked turkey can run at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. A wild turkey can also burst into flight approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds. That's one fast butterball!

Studies done by the University of Georgia show that the average person eats between 2,000 and 3,000 calories at a holiday meal. That is more calories than the average person needs on a daily basis. I'm betting that the number of gym memberships skyrocket too.

As I had posted back in 2005, tryptophan (an amino acid found in turkey) is often blamed for that Thanksgiving Coma many of us experience. Truth is, we get sleepy from consuming all of those starchy carbs. That, and many of us partake in the consumption of alcohol too.

Finally...

46 million turkeys will be eaten on Thanksgiving. And I personally plan on contributing to that statistic.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving...and I'm so very thankful to all you continue to visit my little blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Synchronicity: Dialing True Love

One of my favorite life mysteries is the study of Synchronicity. It's the fundamental question in the film Forest Gump. Is life a box of chocolates? Or is there such a thing as destiny? Are coincidences - as amazing as some are - simply the human brain searching for a pattern among random events? Or are there some coincidences proof of some things just being meant to be?

Without getting into Quantum physics and such, the topic is fascinating.

I'm going to share some very incredible stories of synchronicity. Some are incredibly funny, others are tragic. All of these stories share one theme: they rely on the power of coincidence.

Last year, the story of David Brown of England made headlines. His run-in with synchronicity begins innocently enough: from a dream. One morning in 2002 after David had been out partying at the pub the night before, he awoke with a phone number in his head. It stuck with him all morning, so he decided to send a text message to this haunting phone number.

Michelle Kitson, who lived 60 miles away, got his message. It read:

"Did I meet you last night?"

Michelle was dumbfounded. She replied with a text of her own: "Who are you and where are you from?"

David explained his whole weird situation and Michelle found it strange, but intriguing. They had NOT met the night before, and easily concluded that they had never met. They text back and forth, and David reached out to her the old fashioned way - he sent her a letter with his picture. Michelle likey! She summoned the courage to finally call him. Although they were strangers, they agreed to meet. They picked a particular spot between their homes to finally meet face-to-face.

Nevermind that the dude could be some deranged serial killer.

David had gotten there first. He called the phone number once again, only to see a young woman approaching as she answered her phone. It was Michelle. "It was love at first sight for me -- I loved everything about her," David said.

They fell in love, and five years later - in 2007 - got married. Even to this day, David can't explain how destiny brought true love to these two strangers.



"I've no idea how I ended up with her number in my head,"said David.

You can bet David and Michelle's single friends are now getting wasted at the pub and hoping to wake up with a hangover and the phone number of their next true love. Alas, the closest thing to finding true love was one of his buddies getting a bad case of crabs after a night of revelry with some brunette with fake eye lashes.

Interestingly, Michelle recently dreamt a mysterious phone number herself, and after dialing it she discovered the number belonged to a divorce lawyer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

James Bond Stronger Than Phonagnosia?

From the journal Neuropsychologia is an article about a woman that suffers from phonagnosia. This is a very rare neurological disorder where the patient is not able to recognize anyone's voice. This might not sound like such a big deal, but imagine if you could not make out a loved one's voice EVER.

People who suffer from phonagnosia usually do so as a result of a stroke or brain damage. But this lady, only identified as K.H., has had the strange disorder since birth.

When she picks up the phone, she cannot recognize her family or friends, so they have to use a series of codes so she can identify them.

Recently, Dr. Brad Duchaine and Lucia Garrido of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience did several interesting tests with K.H. to understand her disorder more. One test involved distinguishing emotional sounds - achievement/triumph, amusement, anger, disgust, fear, pleasure, relief, sadness and surprise.

K.H. could identify the emotional state of the person speaking 80%of the time, just like the control group. K.H. also did well on all music tasks, identifying famous tunes and discriminating between instruments. K.H. even says that she is able to enjoy and appreciate music, though she usually doesn’t recognize singers.

How weird is that?

Another test involved the group listening to famous people speak and identifying them. K.H. could only identify ONE voice - not Margaret Thatcher, David Beckham, or a bunch of other famous people from the U.K....just one person could still somehow etch their vocal magic onto K.H.'s brain:



The manly voice of 007 himself, Sean Connery.