In this month’s Science Mitten, we look at studies from around the state of Michigan focused on the effectiveness of naps, fictional gunplay, and robots’ carbon footprint. Read more about them below.
Naps don’t really help after all
Taking a nap can be immediately restorative or a good way to put off pressing tasks. What it’s not, according to Michigan State University researchers, is an effective way to make up for a lack of proper sleep at night. The study, published in the journal Sleep, found that 30- or 60-minute snoozes “did not show any measurable effects” on overall sleep deprivation, says study author Kimberly Fenn, director of MSU’s Sleep and Learning Lab. That’s because nappers don’t stay down long enough to get adequate slow-wave sleep, the type that allows the body to restore itself. There was no difference between sleep-deprived nappers and non-nappers in performing a series of cognitive tasks.
Fictional gunplay takes a toll on kids
The entertainment industry has long pushed back against the notion that children are desensitized to violence by what they see in video games, on TV, and in movies. Yet a study co-authored by University of Michigan psychology researcher L. Rowell Huesmann and published in the journal Aggressive Behavior found that exposure to both real and fictional gun violence “predicts more gun use or threatening to use weapons, and normative beliefs that gun use is acceptable.” The research followed second, fourth, and ninth graders in Flint for 10 years.
These robots won’t save the planet
All those automated vehicles running around on sidewalks and on the roadways bringing shoppers their wares may make life a little easier and reduce delivery costs, but their carbon footprint is roughly the same as the old-fashioned human delivery method. The findings, published in a paper for the journal Environmental Science & Technology, assessed the emissions impact of 12 “suburban delivery scenarios.” “The advantages of better fuel economy through vehicle automation were offset by greater electricity loads from automated vehicle power requirements,” says environmental engineer Gregory Keoleian of the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.
This story is featured in the October 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.