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SOCIAL STUDIES Add to ...

Waiting

an hour

Your mother's advice to wait an hour before swimming is supported by science, writes Rin Simpson in BBC Focus magazine. "Just after you eat, the parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates digestion, overrides the orders of the sympathetic nervous system, which brings the body into physical activity mode. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases your blood pressure and slows your heart rate, so it's better to wait an hour before you exercise."

Cars and the law

Recent U.S. news:

High-speed police pursuits resulted in 343 deaths in the United States in 2004 -- a 39-per-cent increase compared with 1984, reports Popular Mechanics. This year, the Los Angeles police department will begin testing an air-powered launcher that fires a GPS tracking tag onto a suspect's car. "In a best-case scenario, the launcher would be aimed with a laser sight during a traffic stop, allowing the tag to be fired the instant the suspect hit the gas. The tracking tag, which is embedded in an epoxy that hardens to resist dislodging attempts, radios location co-ordinates to a central computer, allowing police to use roadblocks or other low-speed interdiction tactics."

"Could the day be coming when every driver is checked for drinking before starting a car?" writes Jayne O'Donnell in USA Today. "Widespread use of ignition interlock devices that won't allow a car to be started if a driver has had too much alcohol, once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. . . . New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009. And auto makers, already close to offering the devices as optional equipment on all Volvo and Saab models in Sweden, are considering whether to bring the technology here. Manufacturers are perfecting technology that could detect alcohol on the skin surface, eliminating the need for the current, cumbersome, blow-in-a-tube breath-analyzing systems."

Economic science

"It seems that the more macho a man is -- at least, according to his hormones -- the more the sight of an attractive woman will affect his judgment," reports the on-line site news.nature.com. "Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium asked men to play an ultimatum game, in which they split a certain amount of money between them. High-testosterone men drove the hardest bargain -- unless they had previously viewed pictures of bikini-clad models, in which case they were more likely to accept a poorer deal. . . . For these men, even handling a bra was enough to sap their resolve, report economists Bram Van den Bergh and Siegfried Dewitte, who publish their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B."

Defeating burglars

"If you want a tip from the professionals, hide your jewellery in the children's bedroom and leave the dog at home when you go out," says The Sunday Times of London. "According to a new study in which 50 persistent burglars disclosed their tricks of the trade, children's bedrooms are rarely searched while criminals consider a noisy dog more of a deterrent than a burglar alarm."

Thought du jour

"When you get right down to the root meaning of the word 'succeed,' you find that it simply means to follow through." -- F. W. Nichol.

 

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