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The Cute Couple That Saved Baseball

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Biology

We have all experienced it. Sometimes when you’re peeing you suddenly feel an icy shiver run through your body like you just stepped into a freezer. But why do we sometimes shiver when we pee and why is it not every time?

Sadly, the true answer is… we don’t know. There have been no peer reviewed studies on the pee shivers, but some online forums have given the phenomenon the scientific name, post-micturition convulsion syndrome. Although we don’t know what exactly causes us to shake in the stalls, some specialists have a theory.

The act of urination requires the body to relax which is caused by messages sent through our parasympathetic nervous system. At the same time, the act of urination subconsciously makes us feel vulnerable and triggers our sympathetic nervous system that controls our fight or flight instincts. The combination of the relaxation of the parasympathetic nervous system and the alertness of the sympathetic system causes our bodies to relax then suddenly shiver to keep ourselves alert. Kind of like snapping your head up when you start to fall asleep in class.

Next time you’re in the stall and feel a chill down your spine, don’t worry. Its not a ghost just an on going battle between your subconscious mind.

Neuroscience for Kids

The Urinal Game

History

Graffiti is everywhere across the world and its origins can be traced back to the colosseum in ancient Rome. Today graffiti is part destruction of property and part work of art but not too long-ago graffiti as an art didn’t exist and instead it played an important part in the daily life of America’s most underserved community.

In the early 1900’s there was a whole class of migrant workers in America that would travel from town to town picking up odd jobs to make a living. These traveling workers were called “Hobos” and they were most famous for hopping on the back of train cars to get to the next town. Today we consider hobos to be homeless and unemployed people but in the early 1900’s being a hobo was a career.

One important part of being a hobo was looking out for other migrant workers who were just trying to make a living. On their travels hobos could be arrested, ripped off, or stranded somewhere with no work so the community of hobos developed a system for sharing information with one another.

Hobos began using chalk to draw pictures that would let other hobos what to expect when they came into town. They would draw pictures that had certain meanings. For instance, a picture of a cat meant that there was a friendly old lady and a picture of handcuffs meant that the police were strict in town.

The graffiti that hobos drew for each other created a community that looked out for each other and looked after other hobo’s best interest. These images helped hobos know what to expect when they came to a new town and helped them thrive throughout some of the toughest economic conditions in American history.

Examples of Hobo Signs

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Train Hopping

Sports

Major league baseball (MLB) features 30 teams in two divisions that each play a total of 162 games throughout the season. Together, the entire MLB plays a total of 2,430 games which include a set number of divisional games, league games, and interleague games. Most would assume that the MLB has a complicated computer program to organize all 2,400 games for each season but for the longest time it was all done by hand.

In 1981, the MLB’s schedule had become too complex for the league to create on its own. They sought help from big tech companies that could create a computer program that was able to create a schedule that met all of the team’s special requests (like Boston playing at home on marathon Monday) while still maintaining a balanced schedule. Many of the largest technology companies pitched their most complex solutions but none of them were able to check all of the boxes that major league baseball wanted. Enter Holly and Henry Stephenson.

Holly and Henry Stephenson are a married couple living on the remote Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. They understood the complex scheduling issues that the MLB was facing and proposed a solution that used part computer algorithm and part pencil and paper to create a schedule that met all of the leagues requirements.

From 1982 to 2006 the couple spent six months out of the year creating the MLBs 2,400 game schedule in their small cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. They included factors like venue availability (some teams share stadiums with other sports teams), travel times, and team advertising deals in their schedule making process. Every year they would turn out nearly perfect schedules that made the entire league happy.

The Stephensons created the schedule for nearly 25 years before the technology to create the schedule caught up to them and put them out of business. Their method for generating the schedule were kept private and are no longer used by the MLB.

If you grew up going to baseball games, chances are that the Stephensons are responsible for bringing your favorite team to the ballpark that day. To this day, the Stephensons are not appreciated for their contribution to the game and they definitely deserve a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This Week in History

On this day in 1945, an American bomber known as the Enola Gay dropped a 5-ton nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The blast was equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT and reduced four square miles of the city to rubble instantaneously. The bombing was one of the most devastating attacks in human history leaving nearly 140,000 people dead and many more injured. The bombing was followed by a subsequent bombing of Nagasaki, Japan and eventually led to the end of WWII.

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