Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This just in: sleep is good

I once read a biography about Francis Galton (Charles Darwin's half-cousin, tropical explorer, all-round over-achieving nineteenth century nerd, etc.).

Invented the system of finger printing, he did, as well as a few other tidbits like created the first weather map and came up with the phrase 'nature vs. nurture' (as well as pioneering the concept of eugenics - whoops).

Despite this last monumental lapse of good manners and shocking disregard for those of us more on the dysgenic rather than the eugenic end of things, Galton was a rather interesting chap, and I am, despite his less charming characteristics, a bit of a fan.

Why? Because Francis Galton had a foolhardy determination to prove his scientific hypotheses by conducting experiments on himself.

Amongst his more endearing experiments were his investigations into whether you can change breathing from an involuntary to a voluntary process (yes), and whether you can read the newspaper for long under water (no).

Why you would do these things, I don't know, but I thought tonight I would try a Galton-esque experiment of my own.

My hypothesis: That it's possible to change the need for sleep (involuntary) to a voluntary process.

My method: To drink enough coffee and slap my cheeks enough times to stay the hell awake (with the larger purpose of finishing four pieces of work due Wednesday and to study for an exam on Thursday).

My findings:

1. Lying down on the couch at 11pm "just for 10 minutes" is not conducive to finishing work.

2. Waking up at 2:30am and finding no work has magically been completed while you slept is disappointing, and surprising.

3. Plaiting, un-plaiting then re-plaiting your hair will not aid in the process of idea generation.

4. Wishing you were somewhere else doing anything else will not make it so.

Incidental findings:

5. Vegemite toast tastes 63% better between midnight and 4am than at any other time of the day.

And what erudite conclusions can I draw from these vigorous investigations? That:

1. Messing with sleep is bad,

2. Going to bed is good, and

3. Galton was a very silly man.

Revelatory, I know. I've certainly learnt something today.


Ramon Insertnamehere said...

finding no work has magically been completed while you slept


Now you tell me!

squib said...

That's funny because I've recently read a book about Galileo, Kettle and what has he to do with Galton you ask? Nothing but I like to change all topics to Galileo. I even bought LittleSquib 'The Starry Messenger' (I mean a kid's version, right) and the other day, just as we arrived at the school footpath (I was in the middle of reviewing what we had learnt that week about the motion of the earth and the evilness of Rome), LS begged me to shush in case her peers heard me

PS. Your magic elves need to sign a workplace agreement (just don't let Ramon know)

Kettle said...

It was a surprise to me too, Ramon. I suspect this magic work only happens if you're a CEO, and if you are a CEO and still nothing happens when you're asleep, then it might be time to throw your magic elves out the window and get yourself some squirrels (just don't let them join a union).

Squib you've got to be one of the world's top three coolest mums. Frankly I think LS should count her lucky stars (what chapter is that in the Galileo book? Maybe you should skip ahead to it).

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Squib, Kettle,

A representative of the "Fairies, Imps, Elves, Pixies and other Magical Creatures Union" will be visiting you both shortly.

Kettle said...

I'm not worried, Ramon, our operation is spotless and in ship-shape condition (or else it would be if that dratted Cinderella would do more cleaning and less aggravating, I say).

Just said...

Fascinating post. I'd never read anything about Galton before, so in addition to learning something, you have educated me. Thank you!

Kettle said...

Ah Just! Galton is fun to learn about, isn't he? I do like a good Victorian polymath, and I imagine Galton would be very nice to share a cup of tea with.

If you have a list of top 10 favourite nutbar nerds, do pass them on; I'm always looking to widen the net.