Livin' on the MDedge

If you’ve got 3 seconds, then you’ve got time to work out


Goffin’s cockatoo? More like golfin’ cockatoo

Can birds play golf? Of course not; it’s ridiculous. Humans can barely play golf, and we invented the sport. Anyway, moving on to “Brian retraction injury after elective aneurysm clipping.”

Hang on, we’re now hearing that a group of researchers, as part of a large international project comparing children’s innovation and problem-solving skills with those of cockatoos, have in fact taught a group of Goffin’s cockatoos how to play golf. Huh. What an oddly specific project. All right, fine, I guess we’ll go with the golf-playing birds.

A cockatoo uses a stick to make a putt Goffin Lab

Golf may seem very simple at its core. It is, essentially, whacking a ball with a stick. But the Scots who invented the game were undertaking a complex project involving combined usage of multiple tools, and until now, only primates were thought to be capable of utilizing compound tools to play games such as golf.

For this latest research, published in Scientific Reports, our intrepid birds were given a rudimentary form of golf to play (featuring a stick, a ball, and a closed box to get the ball through). Putting the ball through the hole gave the bird a reward. Not every cockatoo was able to hole out, but three did, with each inventing a unique way to manipulate the stick to hit the ball.

As entertaining as it would be to simply teach some birds how to play golf, we do loop back around to medical relevance. While children are perfectly capable of using tools, young children in particular are actually quite bad at using tools to solve novel solutions. Present a 5-year-old with a stick, a ball, and a hole, and that child might not figure out what the cockatoos did. The research really does give insight into the psychology behind the development of complex tools and technology by our ancient ancestors, according to the researchers.

We’re not entirely convinced this isn’t an elaborate ploy to get a bird out onto the PGA Tour. The LOTME staff can see the future headline already: “Painted bunting wins Valspar Championship in epic playoff.”

Work out now, sweat never

Okay, show of hands: Who’s familiar with “Name that tune?” The TV game show got a reboot last year, but some of us are old enough to remember the 1970s version hosted by national treasure Tom Kennedy.

Exercise equipment in a mostly empty gym Edith Cowan University

The contestants try to identify a song as quickly as possible, claiming that they “can name that tune in five notes.” Or four notes, or three. Well, welcome to “Name that exercise study.”

Senior author Masatoshi Nakamura, PhD, and associates gathered together 39 students from Niigata (Japan) University of Health and Welfare and had them perform one isometric, concentric, or eccentric bicep curl with a dumbbell for 3 seconds a day at maximum effort for 5 days a week, over 4 weeks. And yes, we did say 3 seconds.

“Lifting the weight sees the bicep in concentric contraction, lowering the weight sees it in eccentric contraction, while holding the weight parallel to the ground is isometric,” they explained in a statement on Eurekalert.

The three exercise groups were compared with a group that did no exercise, and after 4 weeks of rigorous but brief science, the group doing eccentric contractions had the best results, as their overall muscle strength increased by 11.5%. After a total of just 60 seconds of exercise in 4 weeks. That’s 60 seconds. In 4 weeks.

Big news, but maybe we can do better. “Tom, we can do that exercise in 2 seconds.”

And one! And two! Whoa, feel the burn.


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