Just sleep on it.

Can anything compare to the feeling of laying your head down on a soft square of cotton, closing your eyes, molding your body into the depths of a mattress and letting the sweet flow of semi-consciousness set in? My answer is no. In an age where we work past dinner, chill in bars till 4 am and hit the gym at midnight – yet still rise and shine for work the next day –  how is this lack of sleep affecting us?

Well, let’s start off simple. We know sleep is a good thing.  And, when we are deprived of it, we feel lousy. This occurs for 2 simple reasons:

Physically sleep repairs your body, working the immune system at full capacity.  Mentally though, it does a whole lot more. Without adequate sleep, your judgment, mood, and ability to learn and retain information are weakened. You can become an incoherent, irritable monster.  In fact, 72 hours of no-sleep can make a man go temporarily insane.

So I guess the more sleep you get,  the more intelligent and healthy you are… Let’s examine this theory across species in the animal kingdom.  Below is a list of some typical animal sleep cycles, in order of longest to shortest sleep times per day:

  • Brown Bat (19.9 hours)
  • Giant Armadillo (18.1 hours)
  • Python (18 hours)
  • Owl Monkey (17 hours)
  • Tiger (15.8 hours)
  • Squirrel (14.9 hours)
  • Lion (13.5 hours)
  • Rat (12.6 hours)
  • Cat (12.1 hours)
  • Cheetah (12.1 hours)
  • Dolphin (10.4)
  • Chimpanzee (9.7 hours)
  • Human adult (8 hours)
  • Pig (7.8 hours)
  • Guppy Fish (7 hours)
  • Sheep (3.8 hours)
  • African Elephant (3.3 hours)
  • Horse (2.9 hours)

Pythons sleep for 18 hours, yet elephants (those memory-rich, emotional vertebrates) sleep for only 3.3 hrs. The giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal (between 10 mins-2 hrs in a 24 hr period, averaging 1.9 hours per day) yet giraffes sleep 5 hours less than your  household goldfish. Based on these numbers, sleep and intelligence don’t appear to be dependent on one another.

So, why do some animals require more sleep than others?  Perhaps it’s not intelligence, just evolution.

When it comes down to sleep and survivability, a predator-prey relationship exists: Animals at the top of the food chain, such as the King of the Jungle, tend to  get longer and deeper shut eye than, say, your average vigilant  squirrel. Humans fall somewhere in between, but this doesn’t explain how we have sleep patterns most closely related to pigs, or why armadillos sleep a whole lot more than cows.

Hibernation draws the same complexities. Certain species of moth hibernate just as long as polar bears. Some toads can even hibernate  for up to four years. So this evolution thing, with animal size and the potential of being eaten, doesn’t seem to hold up either.

Perhaps it’s not who is sleeping, or how often you sleep… but where you sleep that matters?

Sloths have long been known to be the ‘nappers of the wild.’ Even their name is  a synonym for lazy.  A 2008 study, reported by BBC news, involving brown-throated, three-toed sloths, found that when in captivity (where they are safe and fed well) sloths sleep for more than 16 hours per day and live quite long lives. But the same study noted that sloths only slept for 9.6 hours in the wild. So where you sleep, and how happy you are while getting that shut-eye,  has a huge impact on the success of your sleep session.

Where can we find happy sleepers?

  • Overcrowded US high schools, where shifts are required,  report that those students who slept in and start two hours later,  consistently scored higher on exams and report cards than those poor teens who had to wake up at the crack of dawn.
  • Google has nap rooms for its employees, and based on the company’s  success and productivity, it seems to be working for them.
  • Einstein slept for 10 hours a day and he came up with the Theory of Relativity.
  • Winston Churchill and George Washington napped regularly, and accomplished some pretty cool things.

Unfortunately, humans have been getting 1.5 hours less sleep on average throughout the last 50 years… So I’m here to tell you one thing: SLEEP. Sleep hard and sleep often; that 6-8 hourrs of recommended sleep is for the birds (literally).  If you need more sleep – do it! If you need to nap – do it! If you need to make a pit stop in your car – do it!

Next time you find yourself drowsy and incoherent, don’t reach for a Starbucks, reach for an REM frappucino!  Lay your head down  on your pillow and smile. Because great things are not accomplished by stressed-out overworked sloths –  they are accomplished by people who get their sleep.

Three Woofs for Pawzz!

Woof, woof hooray! Woof, woof hooray! Woof, woof hooray! Big cheers go out to our barkingly awesometacular Featured Contributor of the Week, Pawzz. A Category Supervisor of Dog Breeds (and the bulk of its subcategories), Pawzz aspires to volunteer at an animal shelter and own a dog of her own one day soon. Until then, you’ll find her digging up awesome things in the fields of Answers.com. Woof hoo!

What is your Answers.com user name and the history behind it?

I’m called Pawzz. It’s basic, simple, easy to remember and related to dogs.

Are you a Floating or Category Supervisor?

I am the Category Supervisor of Dog Breeds, a majority of its subcategories, Dogs, Cats, Cat Breeds and Warriors Book Series.

Do you have any companion animals?

Yes, I have a tank of tropical fish at home including Platies and Harlequin Rasboras. I would love to have a dog or a cat, but I live in an apartment that does not allow them.

What are your key areas of knowledge, interest or expertise?

My main interests include dogs and science. I’ve always been a dog lover and appreciate their strong devotion towards their owner and the way they give unconditional love and affection; hence the saying “dogs are man’s best friend”.

I wasn’t interested in science until last year. In fact, I used to think that it was boring for more than six years! I started to enjoy it when I did this topic on animals in science class last year, then I realized that this subject is actually very interesting. To me, science is like a dark, endless tunnel towards the understanding of the world around us.

Do you have any collections or hobbies?

I enjoy drawing, especially pictures of animals in digital media and paper. However, I’m terrible at digital art, and I don’t like art as a “formal” subject. I also collected stamps and shells although I haven’t added anything new to my collection for quite a while.

What do you like to do for recreation?

I am a great fan of books, so I am most likely to be reading. My favourite series includes Warriors and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And of course, I use the Internet.

What are a few random facts about yourself?

I love dark chocolate!

How would you describe yourself or personality?

Passionate, enthusiastic, energetic (though bad at sports) – and of course, constantly thinking and overanalyze everything!

What keeps you coming back to Answers.com?

To share knowledge, as they say, “knowledge is power!”

What is your favorite Answers.com activity?

Interesting question. I don’t have a favourite Answers.com activity! What I do here depends on the mood I’m in and what I come across.

Do you want to be interviewed for the Contributor corner? Just leave a comment below and we’ll get to work.

WikiAnswers All Natural Val

It seems everywhere we turn nowadays people are talking about organic foods, healthy lifestyles and green products. It’s about feeling good and getting back to basics. Well over on WikiAnswers we learned a long time ago that the best things in life are all-natural. In fact, one of our all-time greatest Contributors is the one and only Natural Val. When asked about his user name, Val had this to say “I have been fascinated by all things natural ever since I can remember. I enjoy being outside and feel the greatest calm and contentment when I am in nature.” Val has been a dedicated WikiAnswers Contributor and Supervisor since early 2007 focusing mainly on science and health-related topics.

Here’s more on this preservative and additive free star wiki-er:

Are you a Floating or Category Supervisor (which categories)?

I supervise: Biology, Human Anatomy and Massage Therapy. I also like to answer questions in the sciences and health related areas.

What other badges do you hold on WikiAnswers?

I am a Silver Contributor, getting close to Gold, with almost 15,000 contributions. I was awarded a medal for 1,000 Trust Points and I was in the Top Twenty AnswerThon Charity Edition.

What is your first name?

My full first name is Valentin, a variation of Valentinius, one of three Roman Emperors. The names Valentine and Valentino are also variations of the name depending on which part of Europe you originated from.

Would you care to tell us about your family?

I have two older sisters. I am single, never married.

Where do you live, how long have you lived there and why do you like the area?

I live in North Carolina and just moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’ve been here for about 4 years. Before that I lived in San Diego, California for about 16 years.

Where did you grow up and what are some special memories of your childhood?

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Most of my memories are about how different I was from the other kids because I was born in what used to be Yugoslavia, now Serbia. After we moved to the US when I was six, I encountered a lot of embarrassing moments when other kids would make fun of me because of my unusual name and that my parents both spoke English with a heavy European accent. My earliest memory of this was my first Halloween. All the kids had costumes and I had no idea what was going on. I was at my friend Greg’s house. And since he had Muscular Dystrophy, he didn’t go out Trick-or-Treating. So we stayed inside and gave out candy instead.

What educational information would you like to share?

I have a Bachelors Degree in Photography and Cinema, a Masters Degree in Art, emphasis in Photography and Video Production and a Holistic Health Practitioner Certificate for Massage Therapy.

What are some of your past and/or present occupations?

I am mostly an educator and teach Massage Therapy Courses. I also teach Continuing Education Courses for professional Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers.

What is/are your key area(s) of knowledge, interests or expertise?

My area of knowledge in Human Anatomy is a result of teaching the topic for many years. The reason I enjoy being a part of WikiAnswers is because it gives me a chance to expand my knowledge on the subject and also practice my teaching skills by answering questions.

Do you have any collections or hobbies?

All my hobbies and collections are directly related to teaching massage therapy. I have a small collection, mainly decorative items from Thailand. I have made three trips there to study Thai massage, and I have brought back with me tapestries, singing bowls, gongs and other items to decorate the space when I teach to make it feel a bit more like Thailand.

What do you like to do for recreation?

I enjoy yoga, chi gong and martial arts.

What are a few random facts about yourself?

I have had a mustache since I was 16. I am a bit OCD when it comes to locking doors. Sometimes I check, and double check them before I leave my apartment or car. I have 6 pair of the same shoes. I have been called ‘Mr. Practical’ by family members ever since I gave my mother a can opener for Christmas when I was 8-years-old.

Do you have any special talents you’d like to share?

I have a unique ability to ‘read’ people. With my skills that I have acquired in my years of teaching and giving professional massage, I have heightened my senses to be able to find ‘spots’ of tension in people. At a demonstration I did at a Massage Therapy Convention where I was teaching a course on Bodymind Therapy, I located the source of a woman’s pain in about a minute. It brought her to tears when I gently touched it to bring her awareness to the trauma that was locked inside.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

Working at the Deaf Community Center in San Diego and teaching ASL, and reading and writing English to pre-literate deaf people from around the world.

What are your special goals or dreams?

To continue teaching massage therapy until I retire and move to Thailand.

How would you describe yourself or personality?

Most people find my outer personality to be a bit ‘anal-retentive’, but I am mostly a quiet person, even shy at times. I truly let myself out when I teach. I get very animated and enthusiastic. My shyness disappears and I am in the moment, the zone, and my whole focus is on helping others become more of who they want to be.

What brought you to WikiAnswers?

I found it on the web and answered a few questions. Then I got a message from WikiAnswers Community Coordinator, Crystal, that she really liked my answers and invited me to be a Supervisor.

What keeps you coming back to WikiAnswers?

The love of answering questions. It’s the teacher in me. I’ve always wanted to help other people ever since my sister, Ofelia, taught me to tie my shoes when I was three. Her act of kindness sparked something in me that I’m sure was already there, it just gave me so many feelings of gratitude that it grew into a strong feeling and I felt that I had to do the same for others.

Back Away from the Blonde: Animals with Warning Colors

ferrari‘Ooh I love it!’  My friend screamed in the middle of the car dealership. Although we all know they are a target for the cops, she was instantly taken by the  glitzy red Ferrari. ‘It’s so pretty and shiny and exciting, I want it!’

As we rolled down the block for a test drive,  pedestrians left and right turned their heads to the car. ‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought.  But, I couldn’t help stare at it myself. Humans are wired to be attracted to bright things.

Marilyn MonroeThe casinos in Vegas draw us in like a fly to a fluorescent light.  An ice cream cone doesn’t look quite the same without those colored sprinkles.  Take a walk down 5th Ave and watch the heads turn at the Tiffany’s window – diamonds and 14 karat gold sparkling everywhere (guys, don’t tell me that you don’t take a quick glance at the latest Rolex models). Rainbow Brite would not have been so popular if she were named ‘Rainbow shades of Black and Grey’.

And hey, let’s be honest- I’m not saying blondes have all the fun, but study after study shows they do get much more attention than the average brunette.

Yet, in the animal world, the exact opposite occurs. Bright colors are synonymous with danger. Animals are trained to stay away from pretty, shiny, glowing creatures. Phosphorescence is a clear warning sign ‘poison up ahead’. Spots and bold patterns mean ‘back off buddy.’

Blu ringed octopsTake the Blue ringed octopus of Australia for example: one bite can kill 26 humans. The Coral snake of North America has funky bands and stripes on its body to warn of it’s neurotoxic venom.

You know  that cute little  arrow dart frog that looks like porcelain and fits in your hand? It secretes a chemical, Homobatrachotoxin, 500 times more potent than morphine. Non-coincidentally,  scientists just discovered that a bright black and orange  bird from New Guinea, called the Hooded Pitohui, actually carries this same toxin in its feathers.

Need I even mention the infamous Monarch butterfly; How many innocent lizards have met an ill fate ingesting one of these flying candy canes? RIP, my little dinosaur friends.

monarch and mimic

Heck, it’s so effective to be obnoxiously beautiful, different species try to mimic the same aposematic color patterns of their toxic friends.  In the biological world this is known as Batesian Mimicry; blonde hair dye anyone?

So, If bright colors are dangerous, why are humans drawn to them while most species know to stay away? Maybe we should take a hint from our animal counterparts instead of learning it the hard way, as one WikiAnswers user asked:

Are blonde girls more likely to break your heart?

Yes they are.

Their yellow hair stands out in a crowd. Blondes pretty much know the power they have over men and women. Don’t be fooled.

So, there you have it, all you need in life to stay happy and safe is a brunette.brunette

He IS Quirkyquantummechanic!

win-answerofyear-co

There’s a little bit of quirkiness in all of us – you know; some little oddity that makes each of us, who we are – our little quirks. But how many people have the unique distinction of proclaiming that they’re not only quirky, but Quirkyquantummechanic? We know of only one! And lucky for us, he happens to be an out-of-this-world WikiAnswers.com contributor and Supervisor. You might know him as Quirky, The Mechanic or even QQM. All other names aside, he will forever be the Quirkyquantummechanic -an enigma in his own right.

Here’s more from the legend himself:

How do you participate on WikiAnswers.com?

In case you’ve wondered, my user name is derived from frustration attempting to find one that wasn’t in use already. I’m a Floating Supervisor here on WikiAnswers.com, and have been one for a bit over a year. I’ve opted to avoid a specific Category because I then have the freedom to rove the length and breadth of the Community to answer and edit questions. (One other Supervisor suggested I might be a bit of a Ranger at heart, and his insight is probably dead on target.) I’m not involved in any other activities (save Mentoring) directly, like the WikiGuides, Vandal Patrol, WIT, Bug Catchers or the like. But when I encounter a vandal or bug, I usually act to help get things back on track. I’m certainly always ready to help a Contributor by answering questions or advising on issues as regards WikiAnswers. And I can’t imagine any Supervisor who is not.

Please share some random facts about yourself, special thoughts, etc.

Though I am “petless” at present, I am a critter person deep down. I’ve had dogs, cats and many other pets all my life. The neighbor’s cat, the beast that leaves white hair on almost everything I wear, can attest to the fact that I’m critter friendly. She probably spends as much time here as there. I’m familiar with the outdoors, having been raised in Colorado. It could be said that I grew up in the hills and mountains as my family camped or hunted often. This makes me comfortable in wilderness settings and the out of doors in general. I am a vet from the Viet Nam era, and served on nuclear submarines.

What is your key area of knowledge or expertise?

My work here, which is largely in the Science area, speaks to my technocratic nature. I’ve always worked in a technical capacity, often in electronics engineering. I’m deeply interested in what makes the universe work, and I often read through articles and posts to “keep up” with the advancements in science. I’m a lifelong learner, and believe everyone should be. In contrast to my scientific bent, I’m a believer in a higher power I call God. (Read anything you like into that-or not.) There is no conflict in my belief system and my understanding of the way the world works, and my posts in Science and in Creation suggest this.

What do you like to do for recreation?

As a resident of the left coast, I’ve come to like the scenery as well as the weather. Soccer is big here, and I’ve played, coached, and officiated soccer matches aplenty. I’ve been “off” for a while, and I need to get back out and referee a bit before I forget how. (With games numbering in four digits under my belt, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch, should it?) The game, the officiating, affords me the opportunity to give back to the sport that my two children (who are grown) and I enjoyed so much. And giving back is why I’m here on WikiAnswers.com. I had superb teachers, coaches and mentors growing up, and even on the job as a “working adult” in the real world. What I know and share here is as much a tribute to and a way of honoring their efforts as anything else.

What brought you to WikiAnswers.com?

I originally came to WikiAnswers.com when searching for something technical. It was electronic in nature, and, though I cannot recall specifically what it was, I found an answer here that pointed me in the right direction. That answer was not quite what it “might be” as it was posted, and I created an account and edited it. My memory had been refreshed, and I shared my understanding (and appreciation) with the Community in the form of the edit. I was hooked. Since then I’ve applied my knowledge and my modest writing skills to making the site a better one. A few awards and badges on my Bio Page speak to the small successes I’ve had and accomplishments I’ve made here. I appreciate the recognition, but perhaps not as much as I treasure the compliments of peers. But anyone who knows me from notes and posts knows I’m not here for awards or Recommends. I’m here to help by sharing what little I know while expanding my own knowledge.

In post after post I attempt to turn on the lights and roll back ignorance-including my own. In sharing knowledge, I find that there is a lot of incorrect information floating around. When we post to enlighten and correct less-than-current knowledge, it is important for us to present what is “correct” and “true” as best we understand it. That includes admitting what we don’t know, too. Does that sound like teaching? We sometimes hear that you never really know a subject until you teach it. I’ve taught it, and there is more than a kernel of truth in that axiom. I’ve written lots of labs and outlines and such, and it is probably through those activities that I was able to hone my English skills. More than a couple of individuals have complimented me on my ability to write. I’ve done a bit of creative writing (though I don’t want publication), and that and the teaching have allowed me to make the best of the language skills I gathered in school (again, with the help of good teachers and professors).

What is your favorite WikiAnswers.com activity?

What I like here most is answering and editing questions, particularly in the Science category. I also do a lot of Recategorization, which is important. Certainly I’m willing to help others improve their abilities to make the Boards better, and as a Mentor, I can share what I’ve learned with new Supervisors. I report bugs and get involved in efforts to curb vandalism, and I’m more than ready to do that and any other tasks that need doing. But I have limited my involvement in “other things” here to do what I seem best at, which is answering and editing questions in Science. Certainly I’m not “too good” to take on other chores; I clean around the house because I’m best at it. But here I tend to cruise Science and hammer the Q&A there because I like it, and because of all the things I can do to help, my skills are probably a “best fit” there.

What keeps you coming back to WikiAnswers.com?

WikiAnswers isn’t about me. It never has been. It’s about you. At this point I’d like to share my gratitude. I’d like nothing more than to thank the other Supervisors here for their support. You are uniformly bright, powerful and empowering individuals, and I care about you more than my simple ability to express it. And a big thanks to the Community Advisers and those working behind the scenes to improve and expand WikiAnswers, too. We almost never hear about all the ground you cover in your assignments. My hat is off to you all. Lastly, I’d like to thank the Contributors here. And not because the Contributors are least important. Quite the contrary. It is the Contributor that makes the Community what it is. And we are all, in the end, Contributors, are we not? That’s why I’m here.

May you all find your true path, and the courage and strength to walk it. See you on the Boards.

the Mechanic

Why does a curve ball curve?

beakersThe American Heritage Dictionary defines science as: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Cool. There are so many interesting things out there that Answers.com went out and got a whole collection of Q&As to explain your scientific conundrums. 

Riffle through The Handy Science Answer Book. There are loads of questions to stimulate your scientific mind. Fascinating!

Here’s to science on WikiAnswers.

In the last week I noticed that there were a lot of science-related questions being asked by bloggers of all different stripes. Here’s a sampling:

Thanks to all the bloggers who keep the Science and Technology category busy!