My friend and Wired
writer extraordinaire Gary Wolf has been researching people who self-experiment . He recently discovered a fascinating "champion of self-experimentation" named Seth Roberts, an emeritus professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.
Does standing up a lot during the day reduce susceptibility to colds? Go ahead and doubt it; I did. But Roberts has data to back it up, and while it would be foolish to believe that standing up a lot during the day would eliminate colds across an entire population -- foolish, that is, without experiments to prove it -- Roberts' own practice of standing up a lot has a lot more empirical back-up than many of the more "sensible" things we naively believe.
Here's anther one: for a long time Roberts had a problem with his sleep. He woke too early, could not go back to sleep, and then was tired in the morning. He tried different ways to cure this problem until, through a combination of coincidence, experiment and analysis of the data, he discovered an expected correlation: his problem disappeared when he skipped breakfast. He cured his early awakening by not eating until 11 a.m.
The idea that skipping breakfast may reduce early awakening was, wrote Roberts, "a new idea in sleep research." Strangely, Roberts was not hungry in the wee hours when he was troubled by early awakening, which lead him to suspect that it was not discomfort that roused him, but rather some glitch in his sleep cycle caused by anticipation of food.
You can download a PDF of Roberts' paper, Self-experimentation as a source of new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight
Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many “best book” (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all. Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted […]
Our solar system is awesome.
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]