Personal Space

     Print Edition: Nov 25, 2012

How many times have you struggled to find a seat at an airport terminal. Many travellers place bags on seats near them as a subtle sign for others to give them space or so they can avoid being disturbed on a long journey.

But why do they do this? Esther Kim, a researcher at Yale University, identified three reasons for this. She says chief among them is that travellers are often uncertain about strangers intentions. Also, she found many are aggravated over the lack of privacy while in cramped spaces like an airplane or train. Finally, she identified that sheer exhaustion from being on long trips can force one to create marked personal boundaries.

There are many subtle behaviours that travellers use to create such personal space. And there are simple ways to frustrate them. Bags can be moved aside quickly, so some go to the extreme of spreading personal items on the seat next to them that will take time to clean up. This would dissuade all but the most determined seatsearcher.

Some pretend to sleep while others listen to loud music to drown out requests to move up a bit.

It's generally a good idea to respect a traveller's personal space. You'd often want the same yourself. But if none is available, don't feel shy to ask for the seat and don't grumble if you've been asked to move your bag.

New sources for stem cells
Stem cell treatments are advancing rapidly and are on the verge of emerging as cures for various cancers, brain and spinal cord damage and other lifethreatening diseases. Stem cells are a type of cell that can develop into any other kind of cell. For example, scientists hope to one day engineer 'spare parts' or artificially-developed organs from stem cells. These can range from simple joints to muscles or even complex organs such as kidneys. While most stem cells are today harvested from bone marrrow and umbilical cords at birth, new sources are being found. Most recently, body fat extracted by liposuction was also found to contain stem cells.

Sick building syndrome
A colleague walks in sneezing and sniffling. Two days later, you and three others call in sick. You are the victim of a virus, but it may not be only your colleague's fault. The building you work in itself may be an occupational hazard. Especially if, like most older office buildings, it is poorly ventilated. Air conditioners aren't enough to keep out germs and bacteria. In fact, few air conditioners can filter out bacteria effectively from the outside.

Worse, most simply recycle air that is already in the room, which means if your colleague brought in a bug it will keep going around the building, helped by air conditioning, until it dies of 'natural causes'.

Thankfully, a number of companies have figured out this potentially deadly flaw in building design and have begun to manufacture dedicated, portable air purifiers. You can place these near your desk or in your home so that you can be sure the air you breathe is filtered and clean.

These air purifiers use multiple filters to extract everything from smoke and chemicals to toxins and bacteria from the air around you. Think of them like your water purifiers. Get one soon if you find yourself often falling victim to airbone diseases and ailments. Your lungs will thank you.

Exercise or diet: What's best?

Conventional wisdom suggests our obesity epidemic is partly because we gave up our once active hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Researchers decided to test this hypotheses by comparing total energy expenditure of the Hadza tribe from Tanzania with office goers in the US and Europe. Amazingly, they found that people of a similar size and age group spent the same amount of energy whether they worked at a desk or chased down deer for dinner. How is that possible? The answer is twofold: your diet and your basal metabolic rates, or your metabolic rate while resting. Hunter gatherers had lower heart and breath rates, which meant fewer calories burned while resting. They also ates no processed foods, which are full of sugar and fats. In other words, the best way to control weight is not just an active lifestyle but also healthy eating. One without the other simply will not work.

Tune Up Your Workout

If you watched the London Olympics, you'd have noticed several athletes listening to music before competing. Researchers say the right music can make you work harder, block tension, reduce perceived effort and improve endurance. Here's how to get the most from your soundtrack.

  • .. Choose tracks that are energising and upbeat. People who exercise to music improve endurance by up to 15 per cent because of the steady beat.
  • .. Try and pick songs that you associate with ideas like endurance and strength. Eye of the Tiger, from the movie Rocky, is a popular at gyms for this reason. .
  • .. Finally, don't forget to shuffle your playlist and restock it every now and then so you don't get bored listening to the same songs and diminish the benefit you get from the music.

Youtube
  • Print

  • COMMENT
BT-Story-Page-B.gif
A    A   A
close