6 Silly Questions That Actually Got Serious Answers
Everyone's heard the old saying "Ask a stupid question, commission a detailed study until you arrive at a scientifically sound and objectively correct answer." What, you say that's not how it goes? Well then how did I get definitive solutions to all these very stupid questions, smart guy?
What Is The Absolute Best American Road Trip?
Thanks to researcher Randal Olson and writer Tracy Staedter, you can embark on the most efficient possible road trip through America. Because nothing enhances what's supposed to be a relaxing, carefree adventure like a mathematical solution you must adhere to at all times.
The route hits all 48 continental states and 50 major landmarks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Liberty Bell, and the White House, while also minimizing the traffic you should encounter. With this approach, America can be seen from sea to shining sea in a leisurely two to three months, although the route could theoretically be completed in as few as nine and a third days if you don't mind peeing in jars. Plus, in the true American spirit, this plan ensures that you don't have to learn a single thing about another country or culture.
Does It Take Large Animals Longer To Pee?
Bigger animals, like elephants or horses, must need more fluids to fuel their larger bodies, and they must have bigger bladders to accommodate that need. Logic follows that it would take a while to drain the tank, right?
Scientists had to know, if only to justify their YouTube history. So using "high-speed videography and flow-rate measurement" from the Atlanta Zoo, they carefully studied the bathroom habits of mammals that weigh more than three kilograms (26.5 McDonald's Quarter Pounders). They found that "duration of urination does not change with body size." All creatures great and small average 21 seconds of hoping nobody sidles up next to them at the urinal, and it all comes down to flow. Larger animals have larger urethras, while smaller critters "are challenged during urination by high viscous and capillary forces that limit their urine to single drops." So now you know, and have been saddened by the phrase "challenged during urination." You're welcome.
What Is The Most Pleasing Human Voice?
There's a reason that dramatic movies aren't advertised with a bubbly squeak, and that basketball announcers don't have the dry tone of a proper English butler. But is there a voice for all seasons? The Platonic ideal of trying to sell you a mattress on a podcast? Sheffield University thought so, which is why they conducted a study in 2008 wherein participants were asked to rate 50 voices.
The most appealing speaking voice proceeded at a calm 164 words per minute. That voice's sentences would also drop in pitch at the end, and they would offer a 0.48-second pause in between sentences. Participants also appreciated "deep gravely tones," because those vocal traits were associated with trust and confidence. So if you want to be taken more seriously, start talking like Batman all the time.
Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons were cited as famous examples of the ideal man's voice, while Dame Judi Dench and Honor Blackman performed well for women. Irons and Dench will no doubt be announcing their new podcast, 90 Minutes Of Surprisingly Soothing Squarespace Commercials, any day now. Meanwhile, we'll just leave this right here ...
What Is The Perfect Amount Of Criticism?
People talk a big game about wanting constructive criticism, but what we all really want is endless praise to reassure ourselves that we're incredible and never have to change a single thing. Well, good news: Research suggests that the ideal ratio is 5.6 positive complements to every one negative comment, so your salt will come with plenty of butter.
Researchers looked at 60 different teams that all did the same work within a large information processing company, then looked at how effective they were in terms of financial performance, customer service ratings, and internal metrics. The best-performing teams had that 5.6:1 ratio of positive to constructive feedback, while mediocre teams hovered around 1.9:1, and the worst teams were trapped in a joyless, sarcastic mire of 0.36:1.
The takeaway here isn't that managers need to carefully count compliments like they're trying to cheat a Care Bear casino, but that it's important to maintain a generally positive environment while still avoiding complacency. "You're doing a great job, but I do see an area where you could be more efficient" is more effective than "Start sucking less, you dumb piece of shit. By the way, nice haircut." Positive feedback motivates people to keep working hard, which you need if you want them to actually care about your criticism. Incidentally, a nearly identical ratio seems to hold true for marriages, so find something nice to say about your partner's towel-throwing technique before you tell them to pick it up from the damn floor.
Which Puppy Is The Cutest?
Researchers wanted to see if puppies used their cuteness to encourage humans to care for them, so they had test subjects rate the "attractiveness" of puppies ranging from birth to seven months of age.
They found that all three breeds they tested peaked in attractiveness at around the time they'd be weaned from their mothers.
This doesn't mean that dogs are secretly master manipulators, tricking you into loving them when they're at their most vulnerable, but rather that dogs have a potent capacity to form bonds that humans are more than happy to reciprocate. And we're especially open to bonding with dogs at around the eight-week period, although attractiveness also spiked at the age of 30 weeks, for reasons that haven't yet been determined. We have a theory: All dogs are good. Rating dogs is like rating ice cream on a scale from tasty to delicious.
Is There A Perfect Height For A Romantic Partner?
When it comes to dating, people bring up height a lot. There isn't a specific height that's ideal for heterosexual relationships, like "at least six feet" or "tall enough to reach the shelf at the grocery store with the good cookies," but rather an ideal ratio.
That ratio was found by a study that asked men and women to determine which outlined couples of various heights represented their ideal, and it's 1:1.09. So a 5'2" woman would seek out a man around 5'8", while a 5'8" woman would be more drawn to a 6'2" man. The theory holds that this is part of an evolutionary drive which helps people find partners who will have a high fertility rate and produce ideally sized children. That's also why the ratio breaks down at the extremes -- a very tall man will ideally want a short woman, rather than a tall woman, to help bring balance to nature instead of producing a race of giants who will dominate us all. Of course, romance is complicated, and trivialities like "personality" also factor in, which is why our rom-com screenplay about a circus performer finding true love through the strategic use of stilts holds up so well.
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