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The Science of ‘Beer Goggles’

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Oh yes, we’ve all been there.

You knock back a few pints, maybe a few jager bombs and the party really gets started. You think maybe it’s the dimly lit dance floor, or maybe its because you have no idea what time it is, but that girl (or guy) your are dancing with suddenly seems a lot more attractive.

Colloquially, it is known as the Beer Goggle effect. Alcohol is making everyone in the room seem more attractive than if you were sober. It is a well documented effect, and psychologists are trying to nail down what exactly is happening to our brains when this happens.

A study recently published in the journal Alcohol (they have a journal for everything these days, even *guh* homeopathy) may shed some light on whats going on here.

Many studies have shown that when humans rate a person’s face as “attractive”, this is largely due to high levels of symmetry in the person’s face. For example, their nose isn’t crooked (like mine) or their eyes aren’t at different heights, things like that. Any asymmetries will cause attractiveness scores to fall.

So the way this study worked was the experimenters went to a bar after everyone had a chance to down a few drinks. They showed 64 students a series of pictures, some of whom were sober (the control group), and some were intoxicated. The students then rated a series of photos of faces, symmetric and some asymmetric, as attractive or not attractive.

The conclusion was that alcohol worsens our ability to detect symmetry in a peoples faces, consequently making them appear more attractive (not surprising).

What WAS surprising about this study though, was that alcohol affected women’s abililty to detect symmetry more than men. So women actually have a stronger “Beer goggle” affect than men. Crazy.

Of course, guys tend to get much more rambunxios when they are drinking than women, so that’s why this result may be surprising.

But cool stuff. Next time at the bar if you are worried about bringing home an ugo just make sure you look at them in bright light, before turning out the light.

Cheers everyone!

My Old Prof Found Buckyballs in Space!

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I went to the University of Western Ontario (UWO). Its a great school, I had lots of fun. I also studied physics occasionally while I was there.

Physics and Astronomy Building at UWO

And one of my old professors just made headlines!

Dr. Jan Cami, an astronomer at UWO, recently published a paper in Science reporting that they have found ‘buckyballs’, carbon molecules made up of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a sphere, in a planetary nebula known as Tc 1.

Buckyball, also known as Carbon-60

This is an important discovery because buckyballs have long been suspected of absorbing light from distant objects. They were able to find the buckyballs by studying the light from a white dwarf star within the nebula, and spotting the signature of Carbon-60 and Carbon-70.

The chemical signature from the dust of the planetary nebula matched exactly with the fullerenes C60 and C70. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/J. Cami, University of Western Ontario/SETI Institute)

So congrats to Dr. Cami! I recall he postponed a meeting with me once so that he could buy tickets to see The Police. And I respected him more for it.

You are a great prof and a great guy. You work hard and this is the payoff.