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Dear Field Notes Guy ... 

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Is it true that women talk more than men? According to the cover of the first printing (2006) of the book The Female Brain, by neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, "A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000." The publisher removed the claim from later editions, but not before it was reported on just about every news show in the country. Not only does it offend common sense -- was she imagining a bunch of dumb guys standing around looking stupid while the gals yakked away about lipstick and Brad Pitt? -- it's wrong. University of Arizona psychologist Matthias Mehl and his team analyzed data from 396 participants wearing voice recorders (sampling 30 seconds of conversation every 12 minutes) and found that women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.

Does red wine slow aging? Put down the Pinot Noir, Pierre. Like Dr. Brizendine, Harvard University biologist David Sinclair became an instant talk-show celebrity five years ago when he claimed that a substance in red wine, resveratrol, extended life spans ... in mice. According to Sinclair, mice lived 15 percent longer when they consumed resveratrol in high doses (at the human equivalent of five grams a day, or about 80 pills). Later experiments were less encouraging, and the scientific consensus now is that resveratrol has a negligible impact on aging in humans. This hasn't stopped advertisers from quoting, or rather misquoting, Sinclair on the benefits of taking daily resveratrol. More at:

Are days getting longer? Yes, by nearly two milliseconds per century. Since 1972, the world's timekeepers have added 24 "leap seconds" to our official time, to keep atomic clocks in sync with Earth's rotation. Corals leave a record (analogous to tree rings) as they go through daily growing cycles. By examining coral fossils, we know that in the early Carboniferous Era, 350 million years ago, a day lasted about 23 hours, for a 385-day year. Our planet isn't rotating as fast today as in the past for the same reason a car slows down when you take your foot off the gas pedal: friction. In Earth's case, the friction comes mostly from ocean tides, caused by the moon and, to a lesser extent, the sun.

Why do we have pubic hair? Lots of theories here:

(1) Smell: Pubic hair helps us retain natural pheromones produced by glands to entice the opposite sex and encourage reproduction. (Pheromones are produced by apocrine glands in our hairy regions, especially underarms and pubis.)

(2) Protection: We've got delicate tissues in our nether regions -- which is perhaps why our pubic hair is usually thick and wiry compared to the hair on the rest of our bodies.

(3) Heat regulation: Warm genitals are happy, well-functioning genitals ... especially before the invention of clothing.

(4) Visual cue: Pubic hair shows that someone has reached puberty, so is capable of sexual reproduction.

Barry Evans' ([email protected]) days may be numbered, but they're getting longer. Check out Eureka Books for his publications, including Field Notes.

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About The Author

Barry Evans

Barry Evans

Barry Evans lives in Old Town Eureka with his girlfriend (and wife) Louisa Rogers, several kayaks and bikes, and a stuffed gorilla named “Nameless.” A recovering civil engineer, he is the author of two McGraw-Hill popular science books and has taught science and history. His Field Notes anthologies are available... more

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