Every once and a while, researchers will announce a discovery that so dumbfounds you, you just want to smack your forehead and say: “Why didn’t I think to get a job that pays me big bucks to announce things that everyone already knew?”
For example, one of the most recent dispatches from “The Department of Blindingly Obvious Scientific Results” is the discovery that teenagers sleep in on weekends because… they don’t get enough sleep during the week.
The study, conducted in Denver, Colorado, also proved one very important theory: that researchers don’t actually have teenagers of their own at home. Otherwise, they could easily provide answers to what I know will be the questions in their next study: that is, WHY don’t teenagers get enough sleep during the week. I will bet money that they’ll discover that:
1. Teenagers stay up too late talking to friends on the phone.
2. Teenagers stay up too late talking to friends on the Internet.
3. Teenagers stay up too late talking to friends at the mall.
4. Their teachers are really rude and keep waking them up in class.
Okay, you laugh, but in doing so you miss the really, really important discovery of this study: in order to get these results, a group of adults somehow managed to get more than 700 teenagers to say something other than “mmph.” If we could duplicate their technique, it would change family dynamics around the world.
Meanwhile, scientists based in New Hampshire and Montreal have learned that when babies babble, they are actually trying to learn how to talk. Apparently, before now, researchers believed that baby babbling was just mouth exercise. (Known in scientific circles by the technical term, “flapping your gums.”)
The study authors came to their conclusion by observing that babbling babies opened the right side of their mouth more than their left. Your right side is controlled by your left brain hemisphere, which is in charge of speech, ergo, their conclusion. My question is, how do you open the right side of your mouth more than the left? Also: Just what the heck does ergo mean, anyway?
What this new theory proves is that researchers don’t actually have any babies at home either. Now I think it’s highly significant that scientists don’t seem to have either babies or teenagers. This means we have no hard data on whether there’s a connection between having babies and having teenagers and so we can’t prevent another outbreak.
Possibly the best study of all though, was the one released from the University of California, that said that dogs are actually smarter than we thought.
First, there is the shocking news that dogs can probably count. Having been owned by two Brittany Spaniels at one time, I can verify these results. Early in their puppyhood, Rusty and Taffy established a mid-morning snack that involved not one, but two biscuits. Each. If I gave out only one apiece, they would look at me adoringly with their big brown eyes before dragging me off to the kitchen by the ankles for a refill.
The other finding was that dogs may actually be trying to convey different emotions when they bark. Imagine! As luck would have it, the Japanese toy maker Takara has just unveiled a gadget that translates dog barks into one of six human emotions. I obtained one of these gadgets and went out to interview the neighbourhood dogs. The translations:
Bow wow? – (Confused) Hey, where’s my biscuit?
BARKSNARLSNAP!! – (Angry) Who said you could walk on the grass?!!
Zzzzzzzzzzz – (Sleepy) [I didn’t ask this dog any more questions. You know what they say about letting sleeping dogs lie.]
WOOFWOOFWOOF! – (Happy) Let’s-play-fetch-let’s-play-fetch-let’s-play-fetch
Ruff. Sniffle. Ruff. – (Sad) Bummer. I just had a bath.
Bwahahahahahaha! – (Laughter) Didn’t all those humans reading that column look funny trying to open just the left side of their mouth?