"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

This 715-Song Playlist is Scientifically Verified to Give You the Chills, Thanks to “Frisson” (Big Think)

If a song has ever given you the chills, you’ve experienced a moment of “frission”. The term, which refers to that moment when a song launches you into a sudden emotional response, not only applies to musical revelation but also to the feeling that one might experience in nature, or when staring at a great piece of artwork. To scientists, frission is a mysterious phenomenon, being poorly understood and with an unclear evolutionary benefit. To some thinkers, the contrast between a period of relative uncertainty giving way to an emphatic, positive chorus or solo can trigger this emotion. To others, it’s the uprooting of expectations, such as when the Beatles begin to shout after the breakdown in “Twist and Shout”. For Spotify users, a playlist designed to elicit feelings of frission is included with this article. Read more…

Why New Jersey and Oregon Still Don’t Let You Pump Your Own Gas (CNN)

In 48 US states, drivers are mostly expected to pull up to a gas station, get out of their vehicle, and operate the pumps themselves. Try that in New Jersey, however, and you might be slapped with a $500 fine. Why do the states of New Jersey and Oregon still adhere to the practice of full-service gas, today seen as something of a quaint mid-century practice in all of the other US states? In the low-margin world of gasoline sales, any measure that saves money is quickly adopted. Thus, a battle between full-service stations, which focused on friendly service, and self-service stations, which emphasized low prices, became quite fierce and led to bans on self-service stations in 23 states by 1968, over fears that the unskilled pumping of gas was more dangerous. Ultimately, changes in the industry made self-service gas the clear profit winner, and bans were overturned — except in New Jersey and Oregon, where, because of safety concerns or legal red tape, full-service gas remains the law of the land. Read more…

Astronomers Reimagine the Making of the Planets (Quanta Magazine)

For some time, astronomers have known that planets coalesce from revolving discs of gas and debris in orbit around their parent star or stars, which seems obvious given that the planets in our own solar system orbit on the same plane and in the same direction as one other. However, the differences seen in Earth’s neighbors — inner planets that are small and rocky, outer planets that are enormous and far less dense — raise questions about the nature of the planet-forming debris and why it wasn’t more evenly distributed across the different celestial bodies. While many theories have been proposed, it’s only now, with the development of much more accurate telescopes capable of detecting faraway proto-solar systems, that we can form a more accurate model. High in Chile's Atacama Desert, a telescope called ALMA showed that planetary discs are irregular instead of smooth, with large bands, swirls, or clumps of material. This article lays out how the new theories of planetary formation attempt to square themselves with what we now know. Read more…

Why Are Watches Usually Set to 10:10 in Advertisements? (Real Clear Science)

For many years, watches and clocks have been sold with the hands set to 10:10. This aesthetically pleasing arrangement showcases the face of the watch in an appealing way and to ensures that the hands are clear of the central logo, allowing space for brand names like Rolex or Omega to show. However, 10:10 is not the only position in which the hands of a clock might show off a beautiful design, and so a team of researchers went looking for an alternative explanation. What they found, in a 2017 study, was that test subjects evaluated the position of hands at 10:10 — moderately elevated on both left and right sides — to be more pleasurable than other time settings. According to further research, this might stem from the similarity of upward facing hands to the human smile. Read more…

How Long-Term Space Missions Change the Brain (Big Think)

Prolonged periods of microgravity change the human body in various ways, causing muscles to atrophy and organs to shift locations. What happens to the brain, however, in the absence of Earth’s familiar gravitational pull? According to a new study conducted across 50 or so American, Russian, and European space travelers, the brain swells and cerebrospinal fluid begins to build up. It was also discovered, however, that American astronauts differed from their international counterparts in that regions of the brain responsible for deep sleep were swollen beyond normal proportions. This swelling seemed related to vision problems reported by the American astronauts after returning to Earth. It’s thought that the particular exercise routines carried out by American astronauts, or perhaps their diets, are to blame. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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