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September 15, 2010

"The dance moves that make men attractive to women"

Up top, the headline of an article in the September 8, 2010 issue of The Economist.

It reports on recent research published in Biology Letters that concluded that the most attractive movements were those that had "variability and amplitude" in the head, neck and trunk.

Above, a video from the study demonstrating the moves of a good dancer.

Here's the Economist piece.

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The need to identify a suitable mate is such a strong biological urge that the animal kingdom has spawned a bewildering array of courtship rituals. Hippo males fling their faeces; flatworms have penis-jousting contests; and humpback whales sing and leap above the ocean surface. Such competitive displays depend on the speed, strength and size of an animal, which is why they convey a measure of reproductive fitness.

Dancing is popular among animals for similar reasons. Scorpions and sandhill cranes, for instance, dance to impress. Humans also use dance as part of courtship, but it has been difficult for scientists to pin down exactly what it is about a dance that appeals to members of the opposite sex. This is because factors such as facial attractiveness, height and even social status tend to confound any attempt to judge the relative merits of a person’s gyrations. 

Nick Neave of Northumbria University in Britain decided to try to answer the question using motion-capture technology, as used to make films like “Avatar”. Thirty students were recruited, none of whom was a professional dancer. They were covered in reflective markers, which allowed cameras to capture their dancing moves. A constant drum beat was provided and the students were asked to dance, but not told how.

The motion-capture data were used to animate a humanoid avatar that was featureless and gender-neutral. Heterosexual women were then asked to judge the quality of the dancing. The results, published in Biology Letters, were intriguing: the most attractive movements were those that had “variability and amplitude” in the head, neck and trunk.

Dr Neave explains that humans move in three planes. You can nod your head backwards and forwards, side to side or twist your neck to look over a shoulder. The women rated big movements in these three planes for both the head and the trunk as the most attractive. However, there was an additional factor, says Dr Neave. Head-banging (sorry, Motörhead fans) was simply not attractive: although it would show a large amplitude of movement in one plane it would not show the variability of movement that seems to appeal to women. Choreographers have told Dr Neave that movements in these three planes comes from strength and suppleness, so they would help to indicate a genetically fit male.

One curiosity was that, statistically, the speed of movement of the right knee also appeared to be important in signalling dance quality. Dr Neave, however, believes this may simply result from 80% of men being right footed, and so tending to place more weight on their left foot in order to demonstrate leg-waggling prowess with the right one.

Kristofor McCarty, a scientist who was also involved in the study, believes the work is the first scientific step towards understanding the biology and culture of dance. The scientists think that the core moves of an attractive dance may be universal, but that many cultures will have variations. For instance, in places where folk dances require the torso to be rigid, one would expect to find more emphasis put on the movement of the feet or head.

As for Dr Neave, he says that at 46 his dancing days are over. Nonetheless he remains interested enough to suspect that physically attractive males are better dancers and also wonders whether it is possible to detect a person’s age from the quality of their dancing. If he can recruit enough gay men, he would also like to see if they make better dancers.

And then there are the sexual signals from female dancers to explore. Dr Neave has started to look at women in high heels (in the scientific sense) and ask whether high-heeled avatars are more attractive to men. Some have speculated that the attractiveness of high heels is down to the youthful gait it gives women; others reckon it simply makes a woman’s bum wobble. Avatars, having no wobbly bits, should therefore be able to solve that perpetual male mystery: why do women buy shoes that they cannot walk in?

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Below, a video demonstrating the moves of a bad dancer.

Below, the  abstract of the paper published in Biology Letters.

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Male dance moves that catch a woman's eye

Male movements serve as courtship signals in many animal species, and may honestly reflect the genotypic and/or phenotypic quality of the individual. Attractive human dance moves, particularly those of males, have been reported to show associations with measures of physical strength, prenatal androgenization and symmetry. Here we use advanced three-dimensional motion-capture technology to identify possible biomechanical differences between women's perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ male dancers. Nineteen males were recorded using the ‘Vicon’ motion-capture system while dancing to a basic rhythm; controlled stimuli in the form of avatars were then created in the form of 15 s video clips, and rated by 39 females for dance quality. Initial analyses showed that 11 movement variables were significantly positively correlated with perceived dance quality. Linear regression subsequently revealed that three movement measures were key predictors of dance quality; these were variability and amplitude of movements of the neck and trunk, and speed of movements of the right knee. In summary, we have identified specific movements within men's dance that influence women's perceptions of dancing ability. We suggest that such movements may form honest signals of male quality in terms of health, vigour or strength, though this remains to be confirmed.

September 15, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Washboard Tie

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Even if you can't get the abs, there's always this consolation prize.....

From the website:

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Wear it, play it, work it.

All-steel washboard tie is a fashion statement and a musical instrument. 

Set of two thimbles included so the rhythm is always at the wearer's fingertips. 

Memorable. Useful. Genius. 

Attaches to shirt with clip.

16"L x 3½"W. 

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There's something very Dilbertesque about this.

$27.95.

September 15, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

App Store Instant

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From appletell: "You've no doubt noticed that Google recently switched on their instant searching feature on the Google hompage. It's so cool that it's almost compelling me to start searching from Google.com instead of the Firefox search bar. If you're equally intrigued by this idea, then I'm certain you'll enjoy App Store Instant  from App of the Day.

"It works just like Google's instant search bar. Just start typing and it starts searching. It's really quite slick. It even formats results in a very pretty way. I'm impressed.

"Now, before you go saying, 'Why the heck do I need search results instantly?,' let me explain. One of the reasons that you might prefer this kind of search interface is that you can continue to refine the search by typing more words if a general search isn't getting you the results you want. You might also just hate hitting return; I know I do."

[via TeleRead]

September 15, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spink (never SPill another drINK)

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From the website:

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Why do you always seem to spill drinks at the worst possible time? 

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You've got important papers on your desk and then someone or something knocks over your drink and creates a giant mess when you least have time to deal with it. 

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But who doesn't love having a coffee on their desk while they work? 

Or want to have a water bottle handy?

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Whether it's your favourite takeaway coffee or a glass of juice, Spink simply sticks to your table and holds your drink so it can't be knocked over. 

Made with a shock-resistant shell and a lever-powered suction cup to lock your drink in place.

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• Fits all sizes of drinks, from a can of Coke to your favorite takeaway coffee cup or mug

• Customize it with your own cover, add photos, decorate it, draw on it

• Finger and handle grooves let you easily grab your cup or mug

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Black, White or Red.

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$19.95.

September 15, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

World's largest chocolate bar unveiled in Armenia

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According to a September 14, 2010 Washington Post story, "The Guinness World Record folks certified that the largest bar of chocolate [above and below] was created by the Grand Candy Factory in Yerevan, Armenia."

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The nearly five-ton (9,702 pounds) bar is 18.7 feet long, 9.2 feet wide, and 10 inches thick.

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Bonus: "The chocolate will be served to the public next month."

September 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kiss the Devil Chili Pepper Wine

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"Made from 30 varieties of peppers. Better for basting than tasting."

I'll drink to that.

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$15.

September 15, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

5 For Sports — "World class athletes share their favorite workout music"

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Wrote Rachel Saslow in yesterday's Washington Post, "The site, created by Adidas and headphones manufacturer Sennheiser, includes a tool that creates playlists based on one's running speed and favorite musical genre."

September 15, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Steampunk iPhone Dock: iRetrophone

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From the website:

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Hand-cast in urethane resin, then hand-sculpted and hand-painted by artist Scott Freeland.

The iRetrofone Base is a fully-functional stationary iPhone dock with working handset and complete compatibility with USB cable.

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The iRetrofone base is made of heavy-duty half-inch thick urethane resin, creating a stable, functional work station that routes voice communications through the included handset.

Designed to be compatible with the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4G, it accommodates sync and charge functions via a USB cable (not included).

The iRetrofone base also helps eliminate concerns about radiation.

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$350.

[via Nuclear Toast

September 15, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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