Friday, February 09, 2007

The Science of Beer Goggles

When not become hot:

The effect can reportedly be traced to the nucleus accumbens. When you're looking at another human being, the nucleus accumbens is the area of the brain that decides how attractive that human being's face is. If you look at, say, George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, this area of your brain probably experiences increased neural firing. In other words, it's stimulated. As it turns out, alcohol, all by itself, stimulates the nucleus accumbens. So when you've have a few drinks, and you look at a face you may have judged as unattractive when you were sober, your brain, under the influence of alcohol, tells you that this face is in fact somewhat attractive. And the increase in perceived attractive seems to be directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed.

In a more recent study, this one conducted by researchers at England's Manchester University in 2005, scientists actually came up with a mathematical formula to calculate the extent of the "beer goggle" effect on a given individual in a given situation. Their reasoning for creating this formula is that alcohol is not really the only factor affecting the drunken perception of beauty. Other factors, according to their research, include:

How brightly lit the area is
The observer's eye-sight quality
The amount of smoke in the air
The distance of the observer from the observed
The formula goes like this:

β =

(An)2 x d(S + 1)
√L x (Vo)2

An is the number of servings of alcohol
S is the smokiness of the area on a scale of 0 - 10
L is the lighting level of the area, measured in candelas per square meter, in which 150 is normal room lightning
Vo is Snellen visual acuity, in which 6/6 is normal and 6/12 is the lower limit at which someone is able to drive
d is the distance between the observer and the observed, measured in meters

The formula works out a "beer goggle" score ranging from 1 to 100+. When β = 1, the observer is perceiving the same degree of beauty he or she would perceive in a sober state. At 100+, everybody in the room is a perfect 10.


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