Archive for the ‘Guide’ Category

  • Odd one out: The science of exceptions

    Jan 31, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide22 CommentsRead More »

    February is a month of exceptions. All months have at least one full moon … except certain Februaries. All months begin and end on different days of the week … except certain Februaries. And all months straddle five seven-day weeks … except certain Februaries. These anomalies are easy to explain, but they still appear in violation of the rules responsible for establishing them — namely, those of the Gregorian calendar. So too in life, sombunall seemingly bizarre phenomena are actually extrapolations of the conditions under which they were established. In other cases, unexplainable occurrences are often indications that you’re using the wrong models to assess them. That’s how exceptions drive exploration and innovation. Want to make sense of life’s little Februaries? Science has you covered. The information in this guide was gleefully garnered from scientific studies and data. It reflects generalizations, and, in some cases, generalizations about generalizations. Take exception to that? You can track down the original research using the information here. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not single out your five senses to explore exceptions?     Sight Although it’s been proven that women are better at discriminating among colors than men, both sexes see the same world through the same colored lenses. That’s because we’ve all got similar sets of cones —  photoreceptors in the back of our eyes —

  • Sad to say: The science of depression

    Jan 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide14 CommentsRead More »

    Once holiday hubbub and hoorahs taper off, we fanciful folks are left staring down the barrel of overzealous resolutions, credit card debt, and either a hefty hangover or an overly resilient cold — maybe both — to say nothing of the dismal weather forecast. Gloomy propositions and premonitions abound, but that’s no reason to stay down in the dumps. Want to mangle or at least manage your melancholy? Science has you covered. The information in this guide was dutifully drawn from scientific studies, data, and reports on said scientific studies and data (and, in some cases, reports on said reports on said scientific studies and data). It’s been summarized and edited into sound-bite-style prose for easy perusal, although, if you’re looking for the cold, hard facts, you’d be better served by examining the original data yourself. Some of this information can help brighten your blues. Other tidbits only serve to further refine your moody color palette for comparison’s sake. With any luck, the observer effect will be ever in your favor. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not drag your five senses through the mud to make yourself feel good about feeling bad?   Touch Feeling touchy lately? That’s not just a metaphor; depression can actually lower your pain threshold. That’s because a chronic bad mood or attitude dampers the level of neurotransmitters, including

  • Winter thyme & holly daze: The science of holidays

    Dec 6, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide16 CommentsRead More »

    Excitement and frustration. Happiness and anger. Side-splitting comedy and heart-wrenching drama. Holidays have a habit of provoking extreme reactions and ambient ambivalences. Many variables are outside your purview, but there are several arenas in which you can take charge. Want to rein in the holiday chaos? Science has you covered. The information in this guide was carefully culled from scientific studies and data. Granted, the care with which it was extracted pales in comparison to the care in which the information was derived in the first place. Reading these tidbits is kind of like getting candy via the mail: Some of the contents may’ve broken during shipping, but the flavor remains unaltered. Unless the package spent the night outdoors. And then it snowed. And then a small mammal poked, prodded, and picked at it. And then a large mammal … well, you get the picture. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not break out your five senses to festoon your holiday festivities?   Taste Are you lusting after visions of sugarplums? If so, you might want to try eating cheese before bedtime. But not just any cheese. Certain kinds of cheese tend to produce certain kinds of dreams, according to a study from the British Cheese Board (no, seriously, the British Cheese Board) released in November. Stilton causes crazy dreams; cheddar instigates celebrity cameos

  • Moveable feasts & excess excesses: the science of indulgence

    Nov 1, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide25 CommentsRead More »

    I’d like to begin this introduction with a quote from the wife of a great American entrepreneur: “Nothing exceeds like excess.” Hard to argue with a statement like that, right? (Or any tautology, for that matter.) Whether celebrating the end of a workweek, visitors, holidays, or visitors leaving, we all enjoy enjoying ourselves. There are plenty of menial maxims and brave bromides about this: “Work hard, play hard”; “Have a good time”; “No, I don’t think I ‘have a problem.’ I’m just a social drinker”; etc. It’s hard to talk about limits in a culture that measures fun in terms of barrels. But if you’ve ever wondered how much of a good thing really is too much, then get ready for a brainy brimful. Science has you covered. The information in this guide comes from scientific studies and, to a lesser extent, recapitulations of those studies. Some of the details may’ve been omitted from the original reports. Others may’ve been omitted from the reports about those original reports. Still others may’ve been omitted by this reporter reporting about reports about those original reports. And, let’s be honest, I’ve already shown bias on the subject by indulging in pop culture references, hackney writing tropes, and use of the first person. In short, take this information cum grano salis, but in a salt-has-many-uses-and-,-historically-speaking-,-has-the-potential-to-help-or-harm kind of way. You experience the world through sight,

  • Fear & more fear: The science of scary things

    Oct 1, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide5,517 CommentsRead More »

    Upon taking the presidential oath of office on March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech that included an oft-quoted aphorism: “The only thing we have to fear is … fear itself.” And, indeed, fear is worth fearing. No, not that “unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat in advance” — that’s pretty much just fear of failure. We’re talking about that incisive, inexorable feeling of dread, horror, and doom that puts sweat stains in your shirt and brown streaks in your drawers. We’re talking about the kind of fear that inspires italics. We’re also talking about the kind of fear that, in a pinch, just might save your life. If you want to know what to expect when you’re expecting … fear, fear not. Science has you covered. The information in this guide was extracted and clarified from medical and scientific studies. It’s been simplified to inform and entertain, which means (hopefully not-so-important) details have been omitted. As such, don’t take this overview as gospel. If there isn’t enough information to slake your thirst for knowledge here, by all means, pick up a book. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not use those five senses to tame and train the awful, awe-inspiring emotion of fear.   Sight Acute fear often evokes the so-called “fight-or-flight” reaction which, among other

  • Rusty gates & falling leaves: The science of decay

    Aug 30, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide17 CommentsRead More »

    You say decay like it’s a bad thing. Just about every organic thing that’s ever been or will ever be undergoes decomposition — even you. So why revile it? Why, excuse the pun, refuse it? Sure, it’s convenient to harangue a process that literally describes and metaphorically refers to the decline and diminishing of a stable entity. But, at its core, decay is a process of transformation by which the very components of life are repurposed and reincarnated. Like most things in life (and death), it’s a matter of perspective. If you need an attitude adjustment on the subject of decay, science has you covered. The factoids sprinkled throughout this guide are the results of genuine, bona fide scientific research. They have, however, been simplified to ease consumption by the casual reader (and to ease writing by the casual writer). If you’ve got a question about this or that datum, it’s up to you to crawl the Interwebs in search of an answer. Or open a book, assuming you can find one that’s not passed its shelf life. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not submit those five senses to the inexorable march of time to better understand decomposition?   Sight Every year, as temperatures drop and the weather turns, deciduous trees loose and lose their leaves. Elementary (and elementary school) science tells us

  • Air & Space Per Diem: The science of space

    Jul 30, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide479 CommentsRead More »

    Gravity is an inescapable facet of life on Earth. Flora and fauna have developed in tandem with it, but, while scientists can quantify and describe its effects, the mechanism that facilitates “action at a distance” remains a mystery. If you manage to escape the Earth’s roughly 9.8-meter-per-second-squared pull, though, you’ll gain a new perspective on things. With variable and zero gravity some activities are easier, some are harder, and some are just different. We know this because of a handful of brave pilots and astronauts (and test(y) animals) who’ve braved extreme conditions and returned to tell about it. Some of these effects are discernible on an airplane, but many require a literally extra-terrestrial experience. Want to know what it’s like to be in space? Science has you covered. The information in this guide is just a smattering of highlights from numerous scientific studies and papers on the topic. (Incidentally, Mary Roaches’ “Packing for Mars” is a wonderful primer. Make sure to read the footnotes.) Details and caveats have been omitted for the sake of clarity, conciseness, and, in some cases, caprice. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not flex those five senses to experience space?   Sight The majesty of space —second-hand knowledge for all but a tiny percentage of people alive today — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Reports of headaches,

  • With Libertines & Just Us Fatales: The science of women

    Jun 27, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide5,785 CommentsRead More »

    People recognized differences between the sexes long before “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” was published in 1992. There are sociological components to these distinctions, but some of them are also rooted in biology. Separating these influences is difficult, if not impossible, but researchers don’t necessarily have to do that — all they’ve got to do is describe the mechanisms by which they occur. Without reference points, it can be difficult to discuss the inherent and inherited differences between women and men, but science has you covered. The scientists who conducted the studies cited in this article would likely balk at the over-generalizations and omissions committed here in the name of infotainment. Just remember, this guide is intended to engage, entertain, and incense the reader to seek out additional information. The editor of this section has set aside this paragraph for an exhaustive list of apologies regarding the bifurcation of the sexes and conflation of sex, gender, and identity seemingly, though not intentionally, implied in this article. The word count of this errata, however, exceeded that of the entire publication, and was thus omitted. Sorry guys. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not peak through the window of those five senses into the world of women? Touch Women tend to have a better sense of touch than men. In science-y terms, they

  • Weathering Kites & Sun Blockage: The science of fun

    May 30, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide17 CommentsRead More »

    Want a better memory? And more restful sleep? Plus a healthier heart? How about a stronger immune system? Inside a trimmer body? That’s going to live a longer life? You could scour your email spam for miracle drugs, brain training regimens, or the latest self-help knockoff of “The Secret.” Or you could just let down your hair and put up your feet. Having fun (or “engaging in multiple enjoyable activities,” as described in some scientific literature) reduces stress and is associated with myriad health benefits. It’s also, um, fun. Whether you’re looking for an excuse to whistle while you work or unwind after hostile negotiations, science has you covered. The information in this guide (mostly) draws on (mostly) scientific studies. Note that the results of such studies usually require qualification. Also note that such qualifications have been omitted here in the interest of less-cumbersome-than-this-paragraph-much-less-this-clause prose. Having fun can be serious business, but there’s no need to get carried away. After all, these ideas are just for fun. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not fire up those five senses to finagle yourself more fun?   The monotony of a 9-to-5 job can put anyone down in the dumps. Lighten your load — and enhance your performance — by enjoying pictures of kittens and puppies. That’s right: Photos of adorable baby animals boost people’s performance

  • Mobs, Maypoles, & Multitudes: The science of crowds

    May 7, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Guide18 CommentsRead More »

    It’s getting warmer and the denizens of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt are migrating outdoors. Tourists, too. They’re collecting and congregating, herding and hording, forming flocks and attending functions. Given the multiplicity of events, you’re bound to find yourself amongst a throng of thong-clad folks. As individuals, each is a beautiful, unique human being. En masse, however, they’re mindless sheep. You’ve got choices: Join the crowd, navigate through it, or, if you’re feeling sprightful, control it. Whatever your druthers, science has you covered. The information below draws on scientific studies, data, and the accumulated knowledge of man(and woman (and womon))kind. Some details have been omitted for the sake of clarity and conciseness. Other details have been omitted for the sake of alliteration and assonance. Crowds can accomplish a lot. They can spur revolutions and shifts in collective consciousness. They can also form mobs and perpetuate groupthink. Don’t let your assembly become an army. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not use those five senses to master the masses?   Sound It’s well established in pop culture and bookie circles, but the so-called home field advantage at sporting events and its relation to crowd noise has only recently come under serious scientific scrutiny. Experimental studies of it are often criticized for low external validity, i.e. scant relation to real-world conditions, while observational studies

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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