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7 Baffling Office Mysteries, Solved by Science


Image: Flickr, Simon & His Camera

Mysteries aren’t exclusive to the Bermuda Triangle or the Loch Ness Monster. If you think about it, there are puzzling aspects of life we overlook each and every day. These mysteries can be found in even the most mundane of places – the office.

We delved into the science behind your home away from home. Why is it so hard to resist those free donuts? What’s the psychology behind the work crush? What’s the deal with coffee only staining your favorite mug at the level of the brew?

Fear not! We’re here to make office life less baffling. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of the jargon – we’ll have to circle back on that by EOD, once we get the ball rolling.

Trainer’s Side-By-Side Photos Prove A Bad Angle Makes Anyone Look Overweight

Social media is a fickle bitch.

To begin with, theres no way to escape from it, whether youre on it for work orpleasure. If you want to upload a photo of you and your pet cat canoodling, your boss will definitely see it.

And thats just the average person. If youre a model, influencer or someone who generally receives a paycheck for being good-looking, then an imperfect Instagram is the ultimate no-no.

Take, for example, fitness expert Jen Widerstrom. The trainer might be best known for training on NBCs The Biggest Loser, but in everyday life, shes just another woman lifting weights and trying to feel her best.

In a recent Instagram post, Widerstrom took a break from body perfection to show her 180,000 followers exactly how easy it is to get caught in an unflattering pose, no matter what your body mass index may be.

Just two frames showed Widerstrom with two surprisingly different body types: a muffin top and six-pack abs.

Looking at these photos, Im immensely grateful for a series of increasingly stern middle school band teachers and ballet instructors who shrieked, Posture is everything!

The photos, shot just two minutes apart, were inspired by yet another fitness guru spreading the message of self-love.

Widerstorm attributes her idea to Australian trainer Emily Skye, who recently posted her own take on the importance of posture in seeing what your body actually looks like.

Scary, right? Maybe youve had six-pack ab muscles all this time, and you just didnt know.

Hold on, let me stretch and nope. I definitely dont have them. But a girl can hope, right?

Skye added,

Good posture makes all the difference! No only do you feel better & have less aches & pains but you look better & more confident too!

Aches and pains are something we could all stand to have fewer of. A body confidence boost doesnt hurt, either.

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Poor Physical Fitness In Middle Age Linked To Smaller Brain Size Later In Life

As people age, certain brain regions decrease in volume, resulting in a decline in cognitive capacity. This extent to which this occurs is highly variable between individuals and can be influenced by a wide range of factors including ones level of physical fitness in middle age, according to a new study.

Appearing in the journal Neurology, the research paper outlines an experiment thatsought to determine how differences in participants cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, and heart rate might affecttheir brain size later in life. Spanning a period of two decades, the project involved more than 1,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 40 at the start of the experiment.

The first phase of the study took place between 1979 and 1983, during which time participants were recruited to perform a running task on a treadmill while researchers monitored their heart rate and blood pressure in order to calculate their exercise capacity. This provides a measure of the maximum rate at which the body is able to consume oxygen.

Then, from 1998 to 2001, participants were revisited and asked to repeat the task, before undergoing an MRI scan in order to examine their total cerebral brain volume (TCBV).

Although researchers did not calculate subjects exercise capacity during this second round of tests, they were able to identify certain correlations between baseline fitness levels and TCBV 20 years later.

The average exercise capacity of participants at the start of the experiment was 39 millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass, although those who performed below this level were found to have smaller brains by the time the MRI scans were conducted. More precisely, the study authors report that a reduction of 8millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body massin baseline exercise capacitycorresponded to aTCBV decrease equivalent to one additional year of brain shrinkage at the end of the two decades.

Of all the variables measured, heart rate was found to have the greatest impact onTCBV, with those who had a higher heart rate at the startof the experiment being most likely to exhibit accelerated brain shrinkage later in life. Though this reduction in size was noted across the brain, it was found to be most pronounced in the frontal lobe. This is significant since degeneration in this part of the brain is often associated with dementia, suggesting a possible link between poor cardiovascular fitness in middle age and greater cognitive decline in old age.

However, the study authors point out that their research is merely observational, and that while a link between lower exercise capacity and decreased TCBV is identified, no evidence is provided regarding the actual effect of poor cardiovascular fitness on cognition. Furthermore, because MRI scans were not conducted at the start of the experiment, the research only provides information about total brain size at the end of the two decades, butdoes revealhow much brain shrinkage each participant actually suffered over that period.

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First-Borns May Have Higher IQ But Sibling Bonds Are What Really Shape Our Future

First-borns are responsible, middle children are people pleasers and the youngest are attention seekers, we often hear. But scientists have failed to find any real evidence for a link between birth order and personality.

Now a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and based on data from 20,000 individuals, concludes that birth order does matter when it comes to IQ with the oldest having slightly higher IQ than their younger siblings. However, the difference is small and it is likely that the relationships we have with our siblings have a much bigger influence on what we are able to achieve later in life.

The Science Of Siblings

Most children have siblings and, apart from twins who are usually born within minutes of each other (but still squabble about who is older), will fit into a birth order. The first-born usually has the undivided attention of their parents for some time but is also subject to first-time experimental caretaking while the new parents explore what works and what does not. When brothers or sisters arrive, attention needs to be divided by the parents, leaving the first-born child dethroned.

Whether birth order matters has occupied scientists for centuries. Francis Galton found that first-borns were over-represented among English scientists in the late 19th century. Alfred Adler, the philosopher and psychoanalyst, believed that comparisons to siblings may make us feel inferior. He postulated (but never tested) that the first-born receives the most attention but also has the highest burden to look after younger siblings. Adler, the second child in a family of six, suggested that this may make them more neurotic. In contrast, the youngest would tend to be overindulged, leading to poor social empathy while the middle child was neither burdened nor overindulged and most likely to be well adjusted.

Evolutionist Frank Sulloway believed that birth order reflects disparities in age, size and power. Because of this, he suggested, the best way to reduce competition and facilitate cooperation would be for siblings to find niches that enhance the fitness of sibships much like Darwins finches. So the roles within the family may shape our personality, for example, the eldest might be more dominant and less agreeable while the later born would compensate by being more sociable and thus extroverted to compete within the family.

Listen to me, it is safer to walk here. ISchmidt/Shutterstock

Studying the effects of birth order sounds simple but it is not. Siblings differ in age, sex and number across families. Cohort studies, those that follow children born at a certain time from birth, usually only follow one child from each family. That means that birth-order effects have previously been compared between families rather than within families.

The new study used data from three longitudinal or panel studies in the US, UK and Germany, allowing for replication across studies and between and within family comparisons. All studies assessed intelligence with standard general or verbal ability tests in childhood (two studies) or adulthood (one study). Personality was assessed in all studies in adulthood (when siblings were usually living apart) with different versions of the so-called Big Five personality trait scales: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness.

However the researchers looked at it, first-borns had, on average, an IQ of 1.5 points higher than second-born siblings, who in turn had a 1.5 higher IQ than third-borns and so on. Indeed, earlier-born siblings also evaluated their own intellectual abilities in relation to younger born siblings as more favourable such as being able to quicker understand things.

This small advantage may be because parents had more time to invest in the early cognitive and language development of the first or earlier-borns (the social-rank hypothesis), or because older siblings profit intellectually from being teachers to younger siblings. Furthermore, older children are born when mothers are younger and with each pregnancy maternal antibody levels tend to increase and may affect brain development (the gestational hypothesis). Evidence so far has been most consistent with the social-rank hypothesis.

Although this is a robust and statistically significant finding the IQ difference is small. It means that in six out of ten cases the older sibling will have a higher IQ than the next youngest sibling. Conversely, it also means that in four out of ten cases younger siblings have a higher IQ.

Contrary to Adlers or Sulloways predictions, no differences in personality traits was found indicating there is very little evidence to support claims that birth order makes us different in our personality from our siblings.

The Power Of The Sibling Bond

But it may not be birth order that matters but rather how we relate to our siblings older and younger. Siblings play an important role in each others’ lives as companions, teachers, and caregivers. This means they can also significantly influence one anothers development and adjustment.

Positive sibling ties and interactions can facilitate cognitive development, provide emotional support, and buffer siblings from adverse life events, including marital conflicts or poor peer relationships.

Cain Killing Abel, 1618-1620. wikimedia

Sibling relationships, however, are not always harmonious and supportive. Severe sibling jealousy and rivalry have been documented since ancient times, most notably through the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel. Sibling bullying, when there is repeated aggression, either physical or psychological, is frequent with up to 40% of them involved in it every week.

What is most surprising is that the effects of physical assault and verbal abuse between siblings and their effect on personality and mental health has been mostly ignored, perhaps because it is so common. But there is now increasing evidence that being bullied by siblings doubles the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorder into adulthood. Some have been tormented by their siblings in such a way that they wished they had never been born.

This surely supports the view that the quality of the sibling relationship rather than the actual birth order has significant influence on mental well-being. In particular, reducing bullying between siblings is likely to have a significant influence on population mental health, and sibling relationships should be considered as much as parent-child relationships in research and mental health settings.

Dieter Wolke, Professor of Psychology, University of Warwick

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‘Can’t be unseen’: The 2014 World Cup logo looks kinda familiar [pic]!/3rdStrike/status/477265878698840064

Do you see it, too?!/MeredithFrost/status/477222276866142210

We’ve gotta agree.!/1sttimewatchers/status/477262943394873344!/Herkolaos/status/477426384889847808

There’s just one difference:!/OlympedeGouges/status/477372585513336833




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Viral Fitness Mom Is Doing Insane Workouts Just Weeks After Giving Birth

If there’s one thing fitness mom Chontel Duncan loves almost as much as her 6-week-old son Miah, it’s bludgeoning the wrists off her spotter in the gym with her rocket legs.

Less than two months after welcoming her first child, Duncan is Muay Thai-ing her ass off while the rest of sit here with halves of bagels hanging out of our mouths, scrolling through our Twitter feeds.

Anyone who feels deeply ashamed of his or herown half-assed attempts at fitness (me) while watching Duncan’s workout probably deserves to (I do).

She captioned the Instagram photo,

First Muay Thai session back @hiit_australia after giving birth to baby Miah a short 6 weeks ago. Felt so good to hit those pads, just need to build up that fitness again.

Meanwhile, baby Miah is spending his time like the rest of us,minus the plaguing laziness guilt.

Chontel canup that fitness all shewants, but shealready hasa major head start on the rest of us.

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