What type of drinker are you?


RMIT University researchers have studied thousands of alcohol drinkers to reveal four “drinking types”, in a project funded by VicHealth.

The types of drinkers give insights into the links between personality, cultural influences, and drinking to excess.

The Drinking Related Lifestyles report will inform a new campaign with the State Government to examine Victoria’s drinking culture, start a community conversation about alcohol and offer alternatives to getting drunk.

The research, funded by VicHealth and led by RMIT’s Associate Professor Mike Reid, was conducted in two parts.

Researchers first held in-depth interviews with an online community of drinkers, followed by an online survey of 2,500 Victorians about the factors that influenced their drinking behaviour.

The team analysed the emerging common themes and came up with four categories of drinkers: the initiator, the follower, the moderator and the protector.

The results of the survey have been transformed into an interactive online quiz and website to help Victorians see where they fit in the spectrum.

Associate Professor Reid, from the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, said the enduring conclusion from their investigation was that rather than blaming people who drink to excess, we should instead empower responsible drinking.

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“Our deeply ingrained drinking culture makes people think they need a reason not to drink rather than a reason to drink,” he said.

“Of the four drinking types our research identified, ‘initiators’ and ‘followers’ are clearly the most problematic – one pushes the boundaries and drinks too much, while the other follows, thinking if they don’t they will be seen in a negative light.

“Effective change requires people to have socially permissible ways to participate in our culture without drinking to excess. Drinkers need to be provided with tools and resources to empower them to drink responsibly with a reassurance that they will be socially accepted.

“We need a multi-pronged approach to addressing the social role of alcohol and this project lays the foundation stone for the long road ahead to change our attitudes towards harmful drinking and ultimately improve the health of all Victorians.”

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the research puts Victoria’s alcohol culture under the microscope to examine – in a non-judgmental way – people’s motivations for drinking, and why alcohol was such a central part of our lives.

“This research shows that heavy drinking is viewed as acceptable in almost all social situations, from weddings to sports matches, and even at funerals and baby showers,” Ms Rechter said.

“We want to take positive steps towards a culture in Victoria where drinking too much isn’t seen as the thing to do, but currently there is little encouragement for people who do choose moderation.

“We are not saying don’t drink, but we are saying it’s time to have a frank and honest community discussion about the place of alcohol in our lives.”

Take the Drinking Types quiz and see the full Drinking Related Lifestyles report.

Drinking Types

The Initiator (40 per cent of survey sample):

Outgoing and the ‘life of the party’

Drinks to have fun

Likes to be a source of information on alcohol brands, types of drinks and places to go out

The Follower (13 per cent of survey sample):

Fun, social and easy-going

Influenced by social and cultural pressures

Gets swept up in the moment and enjoyment of social situations

The Moderator (26 per cent of survey sample):

Self-disciplined and self-sufficient

Knows when to say ‘no’

Likes to have a drink or two but that’s it

The Protector (21 per cent of survey sample):

Controlled and conscientious

Looks out for others when out socialising

Happy to abstain while others are drinking

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New way to predict power faults.


Melbourne researchers have invented and patented a way of detecting and locating potential electrical faults along large stretches of power line before they occur.

The invention was inspired by a boyhood interest in electric fishes, such as the black ghost knifefish.

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The patented detection system, already being employed by local electricity companies, could help prevent the major discharges that lead to sparking and blackouts, says Dr. Alexe Bojovschi, a post-doctoral fellow in electrical and computer engineering at RMIT University.

“Internationally, this is very important. Last year, blackouts left 620 million people in India without power for a couple of days and cost the US economy more than US$120 billion. Electric sparking has been blamed for major bushfires in Australia.”

Alexe is one of 12 early-career scientists unveiling their research to the public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Australian Government through the Inspiring Australia initiative.

He says he got the idea on how the electromagnetic signatures of potential faults could travel in the power networks from the ability of electric fishes to transmit and receive electromagnetic radiation.

Our power networks, many of which were built at least 50 years ago, are ageing and deteriorating just at the time when they are being overloaded with new appliances, Alexe says. “All it takes is a salt deposit or a build-up of lichen to provide a conductive path on an insulator, and you enhance the likelihood of electrical discharges.”

The patented wireless sensing technology can be mounted to the power poles to detect the discharge signature in the power network. The sensors can be used to locate the fault point by translating the time of arrival of the signature into a measure of distance.

Alexe and his project managers Associate Professors Alan Wong and Wayne Rowe have established a company, IND Technology (www.ind-technology.com.au), to commercialise the system.

At present, IND Technology is offering the technology as an early-fault-detection service to electricity companies in Victoria online 24 hours a day. “The system provides a dynamic picture of the health of their power networks,” Alexe says. “But this is a worldwide issue, so the company has the potential to expand globally.”

Source: http://www.sciencealert.com.au

Scientists discover true function of appendix organ.


It has long been regarded as a potentially troublesome, redundant organ, but American researchers say they have discovered the true function of the appendix.

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The researchers say it acts as a safe house for good bacteria, which can be used to effectively reboot the gut following a bout of dysentery or cholera.

The conventional wisdom is that the small pouch protruding from the first part of the large intestine is redundant and many people have their appendix removed and appear none the worse for it.

Scientists from the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina say following a severe bout of cholera or dysentery, which can purge the gut of bacteria essential for digestion, the reserve good bacteria emerge from the appendix to take up the role.

But Professor Bill Parker says the finding does not mean we should cling onto our appendices at all costs.

“It’s very important for people to understand that if their appendix gets inflamed, just because it has a function it does not mean they should try to keep it in,” he said.

“So it’s sort of a fun thing that we’ve found, but we don’t want it to cause any harm, we don’t want people to say, “oh, my appendix has a function”, so I’m not going to go to the doctor, I’m going to try to hang onto it.”

Attractive theory

Nicholas Vardaxis, an associate professor in the Department of Medical Sciences at RMIT University, says the theory put forward by the Duke University scientists makes sense.

“As an idea it’s an attractive one, that perhaps it would be a nice place for these little bacteria to localise in, a little cul-de-sac away from everything else,” he said.

“The thing is that if we observe what’s been happening through evolution, the higher on the evolutionary scale we are and the more omnivorous animals become, then the smaller and less important the appendix becomes and humans are a good example of that.

“The actual normal flora bacteria within the appendix, as well within our gut, are the same, so we’ve lost all of those specialised bacteria.

“So it doesn’t have that safe house type of function anymore, I don’t think.

“It’s a vestige of something that was there in previous incarnations, if you like.”

Koala appendix

Unlike the human, the koala is famous for having a very long appendix.

It is thought to aid digestion on a diet made up exclusively of eucalyptus leaves.

Professor Vardaxis says that is not likely to change any time soon.

“Unless of course we have a massive blight and we get the eucalypt on which the koala thrives dying, then we may find some mutant koalas out there perhaps that will start eating other things, and as they start to eat other things, then over generations and hundreds of thousands of years of time, then surely, yes, the koala’s appendix will shrink as well,” he said.

Professor Vardaxis says it is possible that at that point, koalas might be afflicted by appendicitis and have to have it taken out at times.