Inverse Daily

The science of sea shanty fever

Yes, there's a reason we're all waiting for the wellerman.

Vintage sailboat

Today is the anniversary of Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, when the LA Raiders trounced the team now known as the Washington Football Team by a lopsided score of 38-9. While some may remember the tremendous play of running back Marcus Allen, tech enthusiasts likely remember the game for a very different reason.

Moving past its commercial failures with the overpriced business computer Lisa, Apple had found itself in a heated battle for supremacy of the computer market with IBM, a company with deep roots in technical excellence. "Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?" Steve Jobs asked the crowd in 1983. Apple was excited about its new computer, a cheaper model called the MacIntosh meant more for personal use.

But to stand out, they needed a big statement. An ad company thought it was worth highlighting what many were in the upcoming year, a connection to George Orwell's dystopic classic, 1984. Impressed with the idea, Apple got in touch with Ridley Scott, who had gotten everyone's attention with Blade Runner.

And he got people's attention again with the ad that ran during Super Bowl XVIII, Apple's iconic "1984" ad, which features a woman breaking free of the control of Big Brother by throwing a sledgehammer through the screen as mindless drones (skinheads Scott had found near the set in London) stare dumbfounded. Widely seen as one of the greatest ads of all time, it has recently been parodied against Apple by the game Fortnite.

Our question of the week is all about codes. With encrypted apps like Signal on the rise, we were wondering, do you have any favorite code systems? I'm a bit of a cipher nerd, from Atbash to Vigenére. Have you ever written a coded letter or used some form of misdirection to transmit a message? Your secrets are safe with us at (and all our readers, of course).

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for January 22, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Let's get physical — 6 benefits of exercising in cold weather

Winter weather can make it tempting to skip your workout and spend the day bundled up, but the cold can actually be a boon for exercise. Outdoor workouts in the cold can also help stave off the winter blues, making it even more important to keep up the habit. If you're looking for a little more motivation to keep moving, here are six benefits of cold weather exercise.

What they're saying: “When we do prolonged or cardiovascular exercise in a cold environment, we can better regulate our temperature and not overheat, improving performance — particularly for cardio.” — David Rogerson, sports nutritionist and strength conditioning expert at Sheffield Hallam University, to Inverse.

It beats sitting around the house

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Woof - Study reveals why bad dog behaviors are hard to shake

The parallels between dogs and their owners tend to the physical — studies show overweight owners tend to have overweight dogs, while other research shows complete strangers can match dogs to owners, suggesting there must be some truth to the adage that dogs resemble their humans.

Now, a new study suggests the similarities go beyond the physical. Owners’ personality may play into your best friend’s behavior, too — specifically, their ability to unlearn bad behaviors, including separation anxiety, aggression, and nervousness.

Beyond giving owners a clearer idea of what’s driving their dog’s behavior, the findings also give vets a better understanding of the relationship between a dog and their human. Ultimately, the findings enable vets to give more targeted advice to pet parents in the future, making positive behavioral changes more attainable.

What they're saying: “This was a surprising result, which was in some ways at odds with the findings from a previous study.” — Lauren Powell, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before you blame your dog for their bad behavior, take a look in the mirror

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Stay hungry — Intuitive fasting: Why this "third way" of living could be better

Intermittent fasting is one of the few diets with some hard science behind its claims of boosting health and longevity. While the evidence base remains small and much of the research is in mice rather than humans, studies have shown how intermittent fasting could help prevent metabolic conditions, safeguard brain health, and even stave off the ill effects of aging. (It does not, however, seem to cause people to lose weight, according to one randomized clinical trial.)

Just as intermittent fasting has risen in popularity, becoming the darling of celebrities, influencers, and the bodybuilding world, intuitive eating, too, has garnered the attention and praise of nutritionists as preferable to other dietary trends, like keto.

What if there was a third way to combine the benefits of both food plans and reap the rewards?

Enter intuitive fasting.

What they're saying: “I wanted to eliminate the strict dogma that can sometimes be associated with intermittent fasting and bring in concepts from intuitive eating that allows a person to really lean into what works best for them during different periods of their life.” — Will Cole, functional medicine expert, to Inverse.

Learn the secrets of the third way

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Coming soon ...

From Mister Miracle to Green Lantern, Tom King has brought a singular vision to comics, one unafraid to deal with complex issues but one also showing moments of true warmth and intimacy between characters. King has also brought that vision to, well, The Vision, his Eisner-winning take on Marvel's android superhero who desperately wants to be human. And now that WandaVision is out, King's influence is more apparent than ever. Coming soon on Inverse, an interview with comic author Tom King.

Shine bright — 99 million-year-old fossil reveals why these strange animals glow

It's like something out of Jurassic Park. A scientist discovers an ancient insect preserved in amber, and the discovery changes the scientific world forever.

The ancient insect in question is the beetle Cretophengodes azari, found exceptionally well-preserved in Myanmar within 99 million-year-old amber. According to research published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the beetle is part of a newly discovered insect family from the mid-Cretaceous period.

The beetle is also shifting our understanding of the original purpose of bioluminescence. Analysis suggests the insect's light production evolved as a defense mechanism — much like modern-day fireflies (a distant relative of the ancient beetle) use light to ward off predators. Today, bioluminescence is used for purposes ranging from mimicry to attracting mates, but in one of its earliest forms, it very likely kept creatures alive.

What they're saying: “The unique combination of characters in Cretophengodes is unknown in any currently defined beetle lineage.” —Yan-Da Li and fellow co-authors

Glowing with a purpose

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Wellerman — TikTok's sea shanty obsession reveals how music can hijack your brain

More than 10 months stuck at home is enough to give anyone wanderlust. On TikTok, the urge to be out in the wilds is manifesting in an unexpected way: a viral obsession with sea shanties.

Written to be sung while hauling ropes or trawls on the deck of tall ships with sea spray misting your face, these addictive tunes detailing sailors' woes, passions, and fraught relationship with home and sea have become TikTok's meme du jour. Some creators are even reimagining modern songs, like Smash Mouth's "All Star," as lilting sea ballads.

The obsession may not last on TikTok, but the science behind why these kinds of songs become ear worms so endemic to pop culture their popularity transcends the centuries reveals a fundamental truth about our relationship with music.

Rhythmic tunes — whether they be songs to haul ropes to, call-and-answer gospel, or even trance-inducing dub — hijack our brain chemistry.

What they're saying: “[Sea shanties have] the potential to enhance interpersonal motor coupling.” —the authors of "Lost in the Rhythm: Effects of Rhythm on Subsequent Interpersonal Coordination," a 2015 study

There was once was a ship...

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That's it for the Daily! If you're looking for more, check out our recommendations for five great sci-fi movies on HBO Max.

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