4. Faraway Objects Are Tougher to See
The Study: "Why is it easier to see someone close than far away?" Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Feb. 2005
The Findings: To clearly explain the relationship between blurriness and distance, University of Washington psychologist Geoffrey Loftus showed 24 student volunteers fuzzy images of George W. Bush, Julia Roberts and other famous faces. Then Loftus manipulated the size and clarity of the images and noted at what distance participants recognized them. "We found that blurring the [image] is an appropriate way of simulating details you'll lose by standing far away and by how much," he concludes.
Why Bother? "I like to quantify things," Loftus explains. "It makes me feel more secure." Beyond that, his tests, which were funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, yielded a mathematical formula that precisely correlates blurriness to distance. Loftus, who has been called to trial as an expert witness on the reliability of perception, says his equation can serve as a tool to help jurors at criminal trials simulate the accuracy of eyewitness accounts.
5. The Beer-Goggle Effect is a Bona Fide Phenomenon
The Study: "Science of Beer Goggles Revealed," Bausch & Lomb press release, Nov. 2005
The Findings: Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder, suggests an analysis by an optometrist at the University of Manchester in England. The researcher was the first to scientifically quantify the alleged beer-goggles effect, wherein a drinker's diminishing visual acuity can impair his or her ability to make sound judgments about a potential date. The optometrist quantified the phenomenon in an equation that accounts for variables such as amount of alcohol consumed, smokiness of the room and quality of eyesight. One finding: A nearsighted, sober person who isn't wearing his or her glasses can experience a beer-goggle effect equivalent to drinking eight pints of beer.
Why Bother? Presumably, to sell more contact lenses. Bausch & Lomb and Speed Dater, a U.K. dating service, who co-commissioned the analysis, claim it shows "how the right visioncare solution can improve your lifestyle" and dating success.
6. Swallowing More Than One Magnet is Dangerous
The Study: "Multiple magnet ingestion alert," Radiology, Nov. 2004
The Findings: In fall 2004, after conducting a clinical review of multiple magnet ingestion, Cincinnati Children's Hospital radiologist Alan Oestreich was himself presented with a rare case. An abdominal x-ray of a 12-year-old patient who complained of bellyache and fever revealed a number of small, dense objects lodged in his bowels. They were magnets, and the surgeons who removed them said they had aligned in formation through opposing walls of tissue, bounded off loops of guts, and caused swelling, necrosis and perforation. After witnessing the dangers firsthand, Oestreich wrote an urgent, all-doctor alert to the journal Radiology.
Why Bother? Eating metal intuitively sounds like a bad idea, but 80 percent of swallowed foreign objects pass right through you. Magnets, however, pose a serious danger. "Urgent surgical consideration is required," Oestreich wrote.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.