Unusual Studies: From Butt Size to Sports Withdrawal, Scientists Have You Covered

Bobby Miller

When we hear the term “scientist” or “researcher,” we tend to picture an academic in some dry setting reading books and looking at a computer, or perhaps testing some chemical properties in a white lab. Their findings will contribute to medical research, to physics, or some other field in such a way that we don’t really understand. After all, it’s not like the average person flips through academic journals in their spare time.

Yet, there’s a great deal of scientific research that’s not only relatable and easy to understand, but also downright funny. Even the scientists themselves might look at their own findings with a grin. And what may sound like a forgettable study could yield surprisingly practical results.

Let’s take a look at unusual research studies scientists performed in the last few years.

Sperm Can’t Take the Heat

Conrado Avendano, a biochemist from the Nascentis Center of Reproductive Medicine in Cordoba, Argentina, led a team of medical researchers in studying how Wi-Fi signals affect sperm. They have found that, the stronger a laptop’s Wi-Fi connection is, the weaker a nearby man’s sperm is.

Specifically, according to CNET.com, the team placed semen from nearly 30 donors, 3 centimeters under a laptop connected to a Wi-Fi network. This resulted in 25 percent of the sperm losing their swimming abilities and 9 percent suffering from notable DNA damage. A laptop that wasn’t connected to Wi-Fi didn’t cause quite the same amount of abnormality, though the heat still killed a great deal of sperm.

So, it’s possible that a man may want to turn off Wi-Fi when he’s trying to impregnate a woman, though studies have yet to show how close a Wi-Fi emitter needs to be to affect sperm. But what is clear is that a man concerned about his reproductive powers should keep direct heat away from his scrotum. Dr. Larry Lipshultz of the Baylor College of Medicine explained to MensHealth.com that “hot tubs, heating pads and heated car seats—basically anything that will put direct heat to the scrotum,” should be avoided.

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Credit: Indyposted.com

One study from the State University of New York found that laptop computers sitting atop a man’s lap could increase his scrotum’s temperature by 66 degrees Fahrenheit. This puts all sorts of little swimmers at risk since a European fertility study once found that a temperature increase of 33 degrees Fahrenheit could reduce a man’s sperm count by nearly 40 percent, as MensHealth.com reported. Plus, the electromagnetic frequency emitted by a cell phone could also be bad for sperm if the phone itself is on a man’s lap.

Science has spoken: men should be careful what they put on their lap if they’re trying to have children.

Big Butts Don’t Lie: They’re Helpful for Staying Alive

Do fat-bottomed girls make this rockin’ world go ‘round? Scientists haven’t tried to answer that, but they do know that people who carry their fat in the buttocks region are healthier than those who store it in their stomachs.

A research team led by professor Konstantinos Manolopoulos of the University of Oxford found that people storing their fat in their backsides “have lower levels of cholesterol and glucose,” according to EliteDaily.com. Since pear-shaped individuals can metabolize sugar more efficiently than apple-shaped ones, they’re less likely to have diabetes, heart disease, or other obesity-linked conditions. Dr. Robert Kushner of Northwestern Memorial Hospital explained to ABC News that fat stored in a person’s posterior releases fewer cytokines, small proteins that may contribute to insulin resistance, and thus, diabetes.

Nvate farts and flying health and big butts research research studies romantic movie counseling sports withdrawal Wi-Fi signals affect sperm

Credit: WomensHealth.gov

Other benefits may exist as well. According to EliteDaily.com, researchers have found that large rumps are often the result of omega-3 fatty acids, “which have been proven to catalyze brain development.” Women with wide hips also tend to give birth to smarter, healthier children.

However, scientists are unsure if some extra fat in your fanny is better than just being thin. Plus, there’s no way to control where your fat goes—genetics decides that. But remember, if someone asks you, “Do these pants make my butt look big?” you’re actually complimenting them if you tell them yes.

Flying? Let the Farts Fly

Inspiration comes from many different places. For example, popular folklore holds that Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity first popped into his head when an apple landed on his head. But we know for a fact that five researchers from Denmark and Britain were inspired to investigate farting on airplanes after enduring “a particularly foul flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo,” according to NYDailyNews.com.

As the researchers explained, flying at high altitudes makes the air pressure change frequently, so people are more likely to develop gas. Although common courtesy tells us to hold it in, we may cause ourselves “pain, bloating, [indigestion], [heartburn]” and other “abdominal symptoms,” the researchers said. To free ourselves from these stomach problems, we should let our gas out freely.

Nvate farts and flying health and big butts research research studies romantic movie counseling sports withdrawal Wi-Fi signals affect sperm

Credit: Health.com

To help combat the scent that would accompany such a gassy policy, the researchers believe that seat cushions on airplanes should be embedded with charcoal. If you want to take the initiative yourself, then you could use charcoal in pants, underwear, or blankets.

And if other passengers find your noise disturbing, then support yourself by citing these findings, which the researchers first published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. It’s for the sake of your health.

Treating a Common Sports Injury: Withdrawal

Flatulence isn’t the only seemingly silly topic researchers have written about. In particular, Dr. Angelos Halaris of the Loyola University Medical Center feels the need to discuss football withdrawal after each Super Bowl. His discussion can apply to any sport or activity that a person will be unable to enjoy for a long time, though.

You see, when a person enjoys an activity, this releases the chemical dopamine to the brain. The pleasurable feeling this produces ends, though, when the activity comes to a close. This can be especially difficult for football fans who have gone through an exciting season, but suddenly realize it’s over for another year. Halaris compared this to the post-holiday blues. Thankfully, as a psychiatrist, Halaris suggests how to combat sports withdrawal.

To begin with, you could wean yourself off the sport until next season by watching YouTube clips of famous plays. You could also “share your feelings of withdrawal and letdown with a friend or spouse,” he suggested. However, his primary piece of advice is to “buck up” until the next sports season begins. After all, as he warned, letdown sports fans shouldn’t resort to antidepressants, drugs, or heavy drinking to escape their feelings of grief. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.

But unfortunately, some people don’t live to grin and bear it. According to Eurekalert.org, Dr. Robert A. Kloner researched the stress associated with seeing a person’s home team lose the Super Bowl. He and his group, consisting of experts from the Heart Institute, Good Samarian Hospital and the Keck School of Medicine at USC, looked at the number of heart-related deaths following two Los Angeles Super Bowls.

Specifically, after the Los Angeles Rams lost the Super Bowl in 1980, men were 15 percent more likely to experience a circulatory death, and women were actually 27 percent more likely to suffer the same fate. So in all seriousness, rabid football fans may want to practice relaxation methods before and after big games or temporarily take heart medicine. Spouses of devout fans should probably be ready to handle more stress as well.

Couples Counseling with the Cinema

On a lighter note, though, a University of Rochester study published in January found a unique means by which couples can strengthen their marriage. It’s as simple as watching a romantic movie together and then discussing it. Led by psychologist Dr. Ronald Rogge, a research team explored how making couples watch and discuss five movies about relationships within a month’s time could trim divorce rates.

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Compare your relationship to those of stories for a more thorough understanding of where your love stands.
Credit: Rochester.edu

For a long time, relationship advice has focused on helping couples deal with disagreements, often through active listening and through paraphrasing the partner’s words “to ensure the message has been properly understood,” as ScienceDaily.com explained. There is also “compassion and acceptance training,” which is true to its name by promoting kindness and empathy between couples.

This study, however, encouraged controlled discussion about relationship-based movies. For instance, some participants watched the 1967 romantic comedy “Two for the Road,” whose story spans 12 years of a couple’s marriage. The researchers provided 12 questions about the movie’s marriage for each participating couple to discuss. For example, when handling arguments, “Were they able to open up and tell each other how they really felt, or did they tend to just snap at each other with anger? Did they try using humor to keep things from getting nasty?”

After each question, the participating couple considered how the movie relationship was “similar to or different from” their own. Once this initial movie and 45-minute discussion time were over, couples were sent home with a list of 47 suggested romantic movies to choose from. Each couple had to watch one movie a week for the next month.

For the study, 174 couples were examined in the long term as they underwent conflict management training, compassion and acceptance training or the new romantic-movie discussion technique. One control group had no training of any sort.

The researchers were shocked to find that all the intervention methods worked equally well. Three years later, the control group saw a divorce-and-separation rate of 24 percent, whereas all the other groups saw only 11 percent of couples split up. Not even Rogge and his team thought that one month of movie-watching and open discussion could cut the divorce rate in half.

His team notes that the movie-watching method is more fun, more convenient, less stressful, less stigmatizing and less expensive than typical couples therapy. It makes me wonder if other types of relationships, such as parent-child relationships, could benefit from similar types of story-based discussion.

By the way, WebMD shared that couples therapy is usually the most effective before fractures appear in the relationship. This gives couples the strategies necessary to keep a relationship healthy before it’s sick. Similarly, it would probably be best for couples to watch relationship-oriented movies and discuss them before problems surface so that the relationship can be closely monitored.

Visit the University of Rochester website for a list of suggested movies and the discussion questions used in the study.

Even though these research studies may seem unusual, there is certainly a great deal that we can learn from them. If you’re ever on an airplane and see a fat-bottomed couple letting out gas while watching a romantic film—as opposed to football—on a laptop situated far from the man’s scrotum, you’re looking at the scientific picture of health, happiness and love.

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