For the most part, each generation of humans has had it better than the previous one. We’re living longer and have amazing things at our fingertips. At the same time, we have nagging little things we need fixed, like making sure we don’t bump into furniture at night, or helping us eat a burger without it falling apart on our plate. As it turns out, there are already easy, science-based solutions to those and other common annoyances; it’s just that no one bothered to tell you.
Make Your Ceiling Fan Move In Reverse
Central heating is a huge convenience during those months of freezing weather, but it’s not without its downsides. It can be expensive, it’s a pain to repair, and the thermostat is over there and we’re waaaaaaay over here. Ugh.
Luckily, there’s a way easier and cheaper method of heating your home, right above your head. Most ceiling fans can reverse their rotation, usually through a switch on the fan itself or a button on the wall controls. The majority of fan owners are either unaware of this function or too scared to engage it, fearing it will produce a black hole that will suck up their entire living room. However, this feature isn’t there as a pointless Easter egg. Usually, fan blades run counterclockwise to generate a downdraft, pushing air toward the floor to cool you down during those sweaty, stinky summer months. Reversing the spin, though, results in a clockwise movement that does the opposite, lifting air towards the ceiling. This forces the warmer air cuddled up above to come down, enveloping your body in all its toasty, frugal radiance.
Fan speed plays a role as well. Slower rotations will still circulate the air to balance temperature, but won’t create a huge breeze. Note that this method won’t work so well if your fan is hanging more than ten or so feet above the floor. Apologies to all our readers living in arctic cathedrals for getting your hopes up.
You Sleep Better By Sticking A Foot Out Of The Bed
Many variables affect quality of sleep. Some factors are out of your control, but you can easily improve your sleeping experience by sticking a foot out from below the covers. Wait, won’t this just leave you colder? Yep. That’s the idea.
Science has found that cool temperatures between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit foster better sleep, with a thermal G-spot of 65-68 degrees. Since we’re less active at night, a drop in temperature signals to your body that you’re about to get some Z’s. That way, it can help you sleep instead of being a jerk and making you lay there.
But why does it help to expose your FOOT to the cold? The high surface area and extensive vascularization of the foot makes it one heck of a heat-dumping unit. A juncture of veins and arteries called an arteriovenous anastomosis allows for easy heat transfer, and arteries can increase heat loss by dilating to bring blood closer to the skin surface. Also, said skin is a lot less hairy than in other parts of your body, so that helps.
This knowledge is embedded deep within your reptile brain, which is why you’ll sometimes wake up to find that a foot or leg has broken free of the covers and is now precariously hanging over the edge. That, or said foot was fleeing from your farts.
Beat Heartburn By Chewing Gum
Heartburn is one of the most annoying ways your body can betray you. Sure, you can combat the problem at the source by losing weight or attending multiple hypnotherapy sessions, but it’s a free country and what you want is a quick palliative cure. What you want is bubble gum.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid escapes its gastric prison and invades the esophagus, the long muscular tube that transports Twinkies on the first leg of the journey from mouth to toilet. The acid is supposed to be held safely in check by a sphincter at the end of the esophagus, which normally only opens to accept or reject food. Occasionally (or not so occasionally, depending on your diet), this esophageal sphincter slacks and allows a liquid reflux fart – hence that pesky burning sensation in your chest.
Scientists administered gum to heartburn sufferers and it alleviated symptoms. Chewing gum not only stimulates the production of alkaline saliva to neutralize acid, but the act of mastication also physically pushes fluid back into the stomach. Centuries from now, people will assume we invented chewing gum specifically for this problem (as opposed to looking cool while ruining our teeth).
And if you’re in a situation where chewing gum isn’t that practical, you can ameliorate the burn by laying on your left side. Your esophagus skews slightly to your right as it snakes down to the stomach, so sleeping on your left will raise it above acid level.
Swallow Pills More Easily By Tilting Your Head Back Or Forward
Swallowing a pill might seem like the easiest thing in the world to some people, but to about one in three, it’s a living hell. The thing gets stuck there, and you can feel it in your throat … Ugh.
There are a few common methods of getting around this problem, like putting the pills in food, grinding them up, or not taking them and letting your ailment carry you into the afterlife. However, for those not so inclined, there’s a better solution. A study in Annals Of Family Medicine tested two alternatives to the conventional tilt-and-swig approach. First up is the “lean-forward” technique, which works best with capsules: You take a sip of water, then tilt your head forward before swallowing. Since capsules are less dense than water; they’ll float up to the back of your mouth and slide down your throat easily.
Then there’s the “pop bottle” technique, which works best with tablets. You pop the tab in your mouth, tilt your head down, form an airtight seal on the bottle with your lips, and then forcefully suck while squeezing the bottle. Yeah, this one’s less Dr. Oz, more “Guantanamo.”
After the experiment, 85.6 percent of volunteers said they’d happily integrate the new methods into their daily life, leading researchers to recommend them both. Erring on the side of worried grandmas, Harvard suggests getting checked for preexisting swallowing conditions before adopting these techniques to your daily arsenal (if you’re swallowing terribly for other reasons, this might make it worse).
Science Has Solved Lots Of Common Food Annoyances
Let’s start with the absolute hell of trying to eat an overstuffed restaurant hamburger. As you bite into it, the contents spill on the table like passengers escaping the Titanic. Every freaking time. It’s almost like they designed it to look good in a commercial, regardless of whether it could be conveniently eaten.
Luckily, three scientists hired by a Japanese TV show utilized particle physics modeling to find the best way to hold a burger. People tend to hold burgers with four fingers on top and thumbs supporting the bottom bun, but the uneven pressure from below jeopardizes the burger’s structural stability.
To counter this, place your pinkies on the underside beside your thumbs (to hold the bottom of the burger closed, essentially) and enjoy an objectively better life.
To celebrate your newfound mastery over burgers, you decide to have a beer and make bogus pledges to PBS. Tragically, all the beers are warm and Antiques Roadshow starts in 20 minutes.
Science to the rescue once more. To quickly cool your beers, stick them in a bowl full of salty ice water. Water transfers heat much more efficiently than air (i.e., sticking it in the freezer), and the salt lowers water’s freezing point. Alternatively, wrap a wet paper towel before putting that sucker in the freezer – the water’s evaporation will keep heat away from the bottle and the life-giving liquid inside of it.
You deserve a treat after a busy evening drinking and yelling at the shopping channel, and fortunately, there’s a leftover slice of cake in the fridge. Unfortunately, the non-iced parts of the cake (the bit that was on the interior before it was cut) have dried out, and no one deserves dry cake.
To avoid this grievous inconvenience in the future, there’s a better way to slice cake that minimizes the delicious interior’s exposure to air and thus prevents dryness. It was devised in 1906 by Englishman Francis Galton – statistical mastermind and half-cousin of Charles Darwin. You start by taking the first horizontal slice across the middle, making everyone in the vicinity think you’ve gone utterly mad. But then you take the two remaining pieces and push them back together, creating something like an uncut cake again. Do it again going the other direction, and you’ll have four triangular pieces you can push back together once more (we guess for the final step, you need to eat all four slices).