The Quantified Self Movement and how butter makes you smarter

What if butter made you better at maths? Of course, if you are reading this right now, you are probably skeptical – which would be normal. So what is this butter story?

Self-tracking technologies and the Quantified Self

Seth Roberts, Emeritus Professor at Berkley, California, used to do arithmetic every morning to keep his brain nimble. He started tracking the effect of butter on his math performance, and came up with interesting results. Eating half a stick of butter each day made him complete his math test 30 milliseconds faster than if he didn’t eat any butter.

Today, people have access to amazing technology allowing them to track their own data on a daily basis. You can track your sleep cycle with your iPhone, know exactly how much calories you loose when you go for a bike ride and even track your heartbeats with a simple necklace. The Quanditifed Self movement, which Seth Roberts belongs to, considers that self-tracking and self-experiments can improve our daily lives. Thanks to smartphones apps, sensors and captors, anybody can “quantify” themselves, carry small self-experiments and then change their habits to make their life better, thanks to numbers.

Crowdsourcing, the future of Science?

Entrepreneur and Singularity University Faculty member Greg Biggers saw Seth Roberts present his butter experiment at a Self Quantified meetup in San Francisco about a year ago. He was so skeptical about and fascinated by Seth’s presentation that he suggested organizing a group experiment to test Seth’s hypothesis. This is how he created Genomera, an open group experiment platform. Over 40 volunteers participated in the 21-day “Butter Mind” experiment. The results were presented at San Francisco Sciences Hack Day, and it turned out they did confirm Seth’s hypothesis.

Beyond the fun one can find in eating butter and taking math tests for 3 weeks, Genomera and the Quantified Self movement are slowly leading the way to what we can call “open source science” and “crowsdourced experiments”. Surely, health is a touchy topic and the QS movement will face quite some resistance out there. But it may also be the start of a whole new model for clinical and scientific tests and research. So, do you science?

Genomera community manager Eri Gentry recently gave a speech at TEDxSoMa. Watch It Here.

This article was originally published on l’Atelier.net

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