Sure, science has extended our lifespans to the point where our ancestors would consider us Highlanders, and it's brought us closer than ever to eradicating human misery ... but when will it tackle the real problems? You know, like making sure we don't bump into furniture at night, or helping us eat a damn burger without it falling apart on our plate?
Actually, there are already easy, science-based solutions to those and other common annoyances; it's just that no one bothered to tell you. Until now, that is ...
It's a well-rehearsed annoyance -- you awaken in the middle of the night with a raging need to piss and haphazardly shuffle toward the bathroom in the dark, navigating solely by the sonar deflections from the cursing and meowing as you bash your toes into credenzas and tread on sleeping cats every step of the way. And the Legos. Oh dear lord, the Legos.
There's a much better way to get around at night than winging it, though. This is going to sound like we're trying to trick you into walking into a wall, but we swear it's true: Simply don't look where you're going. Point your eyes elsewhere, and let those usually murky images on the periphery of your vision guide you.
How the hell does that work? Well, human vision relies chiefly upon the combined effort of two types of light-sensitive cells in the retina: cones and rods. The six to seven million cones in your eye are awesome at detecting colors and finer details, while the 120 million or so rods ... aren't. However, to compensate for getting shortchanged on the "resolution" and "ability to discern color" fronts, the rods have night vision and ultra-sensitive motion detection. There are millions of tiny Daredevils living in your eyes, basically. More specifically, around the sides:
Cones mainly populate the middle area of your vision to offer the best resolution of whatever you're staring at, while rods are concentrated in the peripheral areas. Therefore, by not looking where you're going in the dark, you activate your body's natural night vision and rough shape-detection capabilities, allowing ninja-like evasive skills as you glide between coffee tables and litter boxes with nary a stubbed toe on your way to the toilet.
Many variables affect quality of sleep, be it background noise, diet, the oppressive miasma of despair that pervades your every waking moment, etc. Some factors are out of your control, but you can easily improve your sleeping experience by ... sticking a foot out from below the covers. Wait, won't this just leave you colder? Yep. That's the idea.
Science has found that cool temperatures foster better sleep and recommends a range between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with a thermal G-spot of 65-68 degrees. Since we're (typically) less active at night, a drop in temperature signals to your body that you're about to get some Z's. That way, it can help you sleep instead of being a dick and making you lay there, thinking about that time you farted in front of your crush in 7th grade.
But why does it help to expose your foot, specifically, to the cold? Well, the high surface area and extensive vascularization of the foot makes it one heck of a heat-dumping unit. A juncture of veins and arteries called an arteriovenous anastomosis allows for easy heat transfer, and arteries can increase heat loss by dilating to bring blood closer to the skin surface. Also, said skin is a lot less hairy* than in other parts of your body, so that helps.
This knowledge is embedded deep within your reptile brain, which is why you'll sometimes wake up to find that a foot or leg has broken free of the covers and is now precariously hanging over the edge. That, or said foot was fleeing from your farts. Just like your crush did that day.
Heartburn is one of the most annoying ways your body can betray you. Sure, you can combat the problem at the source by losing weight or attending multiple hypnotherapy sessions, but it's a free goddamn country and what you want is a quick palliative cure. What you want is bubble gum.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid escapes its gastric prison and invades the esophagus, the long muscular tube that transports Twinkies on the first leg of the journey from mouth to toilet. The acid is supposed to be held safely in check by a sphincter at the end of the esophagus, which normally only opens to accept food or reject Four Lokos. Occasionally (or not so occasionally, depending on your diet), this esophageal sphincter slacks and allows a liquid reflux fart -- hence that pesky burning sensation in your chest.
Enter bubblegum. Scientists didn't think it would work, but administering gum to heartburn sufferers alleviated symptoms. Chewing gum not only stimulates the production of alkaline saliva to neutralize acid, but the act of mastication also physically pushes fluid back into the stomach. Centuries from now, people will assume we invented chewing gum specifically for this problem (as opposed to looking cool while ruining our teeth).
And if you're in a situation where chewing gum isn't that practical (maybe you're trying to fall asleep, or performing some other activity in bed), you can ameliorate the burn by laying on your left side. Your esophagus skews slightly to your right as it snakes down to the stomach, so sleeping on your left will raise it above acid level, and voila! Problem not even remotely solved, but we can forget about it for a while, and that's good enough.
Swallowing a pill might seem like literally the easiest thing in the world to some people, but to about one in three, it's a living hell. The thing gets stuck there, and you can feel it in your throat ... Ugh.
There are a few common methods of getting around this problem, like putting the pills in food, grinding them up, or not taking them and letting your ailment carry you into the afterlife. However, for those too dignified to resort to the same techniques used to sneak deworming pills to their dog, there's a better solution. A study in Annals Of Family Medicine tested two alternatives to the conventional tilt-and-swig approach. First up is the "lean-forward" technique, which works best with capsules: You take a sip of water, then tilt your head forward before swallowing. Since capsules are less dense than water, they'll float up to the back of your mouth and will be Splash Mountain-ing down your throat before you know it.
Annals of Family Medicine via Harvard
Then there's the "pop bottle" technique, which works best with tablets. You pop the tab in your mouth, tilt your head down, form an airtight seal on the bottle with your lips, and then forcefully suck while squeezing the bottle. Yeah, this one's less Dr. Oz, more "Guantanamo."
Annals of Family Medicine via Harvard
But it works! After the experiment, 85.6 percent of volunteers said they'd happily integrate the new methods into their daily life, leading researchers to recommend them both. Erring on the side of worried grandmas, Harvard suggests getting checked for preexisting swallowing conditions before adopting these techniques to your daily arsenal (if you're swallowing terribly for other reasons, this might make it worse).
Two things separate us from the animals: pants and temperature control (OK, that's arguably one thing). Central heating is a huge convenience during those months when it's so cold that your nipples could be classified as weapons, but it's not without its downsides. It can be expensive, it's a pain in the ass to repair, and more importantly, the thermostat is over there and we're all the way over here. Ugggggghhhh.
Luckily, there's a way easier and cheaper method of heating your home, and it's hanging above you right now. Here it is:
Yep, we did mean "heating." This is one of those things that some of you have always known and others will think is witchcraft.
Most ceiling fans can reverse their rotation, usually through a switch on the fan itself or a button on the wall controls. The majority of fan owners are either unaware of this function or possibly too scared to engage it, fearing it will produce a black hole that will suck up their entire living room. Maybe you accidentally triggered this once, thought "Huh, that's dumb," and never did it again. "Is this so it can cool the ceiling?"
However, this feature isn't there as a pointless Easter egg. Usually, fan blades run counterclockwise to generate a downdraft, pushing air toward the floor to cool you down during those sweaty, stinky summer months ...
Reversing the spin, though, results in a clockwise movement that does the opposite, lifting air towards the ceiling. This forces the warmer air cuddled up above to come down, enveloping your body in all its toasty, frugal radiance.
Fan speed plays a role as well. Slower rotations will still circulate the air to balance temperature, but won't create such a balls-shrinking breeze. Note, however, that this method won't work so well if your fan is hanging more than ten or so feet above the floor. Apologies to all our readers living in arctic cathedrals for getting your hopes up.
Let's start with the absolute hell of trying to eat an overstuffed restaurant hamburger. As you bite into it, the contents spill on the table like passengers escaping the Titanic. Every goddamn time. It's almost like they designed it to look good in a commercial, regardless of whether it could be conveniently eaten.
Luckily, three scientists hired by a Japanese TV show utilized particle physics modeling to find the best way to hold a burger (though the solution they came up with sounds a lot more like common sense than science). People tend to hold burgers with four fingers on top and thumbs supporting the bottom bun, but the uneven pressure from below jeopardizes the burger's structural stability.
To counter this, place your pinkies on the underside beside your thumbs (to hold the bottom of the burger closed, essentially) and enjoy an objectively better life.
To celebrate your newfound mastery over burgers (and, conceivably, all sandwiches), you decide to have a beer and make bogus pledges to PBS, as per your weeknight routine. Tragically, all the beers are warm and Antiques Roadshow starts in 20 minutes.
Science to the rescue once more. To quickly cool your beers, stick them in a bowl full of salty ice water. Water transfers heat much more efficiently than air (i.e., sticking it in the freezer), and the salt lowers water's freezing point. Alternatively, wrap a wet paper towel before putting that sucker in the freezer -- the water's evaporation will keep heat away from the bottle and the far more important, life-giving liquid inside of it.
Uwe Keim via Stack Exchange
You deserve a treat after a busy evening drinking and yelling at the shopping channel, and fortunately, there's a leftover slice of cake in the fridge. Unfortunately, the non-iced parts of the cake (the bit that was on the interior before it was cut) have dried out, and no one deserves dry cake.
To avoid this grievous inconvenience in the future, there's a better way to slice cake that minimizes the delicious interior's exposure to air and thus prevents dryness. It was devised in 1906 by Englishman Francis Galton -- statistical mastermind, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, and proof that man is still evolving.
You start by taking the first horizontal slice across the middle, making everyone in the vicinity think you've gone utterly mad. But then you take the two remaining pieces and push them back together, creating something like an uncut cake again. Do it again going the other direction, and you'll have four triangular pieces you can push back together once more (we guess for the final step, you need to eat all four slices).
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