Category: Null Hypothesis

Does bungee jumping make your eyeballs pop out?

BungeeAdventure sports such as abseiling and skydiving attract enough scare stories, and bungee jumping is no exception. Everyone’s probably heard about the lady killed whilst jumping from a 60m high bridge in Australia because she’d accidentally been tied to a rope 80m long. Or the newly-weds that tried a tandem jump on their honeymoon, but didn’t hold on tightly enough on the way down and cracked face-first back together at the end of the rope. Fortunately, most of these are urban myths and survive only due to their pub-gossip potential rather than their accuracy.
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Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

MenMarsThe main supposition of John Gray’s hypothesis, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, seems to be that the two sexes followed largely independent evolutionary paths on Earth’s planetary neighbours before migrating to their current terrestrial territory. The theory has come to be known (well, by us at any rate) as the multi-planetary hypothesis for the origin of sexual dimorphism. This resettlement was very recent on an evolutionary timescale, so that neither males nor females have had sufficient time to re-adapt to the new conditions, and so retain many behavioural and morphological phenotypic traits that were adaptations to the original environments of their ancestral homes. Here, we critically analysed this claim that each gender’s ancestral home predetermines attributes of their personality.

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The Joy of Text

TxtonymsDespite its ubiquity, text messaging is still infuriatingly fiddly. Mobile buttons seem to have been designed for only the nimblest of virtuoso-pianist fingers, and a hurried txt often results in a confused mess of superfluous letters. Even if every care is taken over precision-pressing, there is still the spectre of the predictive text synonym (coined here as the textonym or ‘txtonym’) to contend with – the set of words in English that are made up of the same sequence of key-presses. For example, pub and rub are both ‘spelt’ 7‑8‑2.

Here, an exhaustive search of all possible txtonyms is performed, in order to warn people of the worst pitfalls to be avoided as well as show up some of the more humorous coincidences.

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Why the Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

grassSummer is rubbish for two fundamental reasons. One: wasps set about stinging everything with two legs without doing anything useful with their time like making honey or pollinating stuff. Two: girlfriends always want to go off on picnics. Avoiding having to eat al fresco was the sole reason our ancestors stopped messing about in trees and found some good caves instead. Picnics are inherently stressful; the apple juice invariably leaks into the bag, the Sports section blows away, and it is always always impossible to find a spot good enough to settle down on. The problem is that as soon as you approach that idyllic lush area of grass you spied from afar it starts looking nasty and patchy. The grass really does seem to always be greener on the other side, or at least further away.
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A Toast-based argument for a malevolent God

toastWe’ve all experienced it. It’s Monday morning, you’ve slept through your alarm and are now in a hopeless rush to get in on time. The toast comes out of the toaster, you give it a quick sweep of butter, or in these more health-conscious times, margarine, and pick it up to take over to your newspaper on the kitchen table. And then it happens. Whether it simply slips out of your fingers, or it burns slightly and you subconsciously release it, the toast begins to drop towards the filthy floor. You watch in dismay as the toast falls, neatly performing a half-turn and landing flat on the floor, butter-side down in the grime. You don’t even know why you tentatively hoped for the toast to land otherwise – the Universe seems out to get you as far as free falling toast is concerned.
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