As if our crowing cousins across the Ditch needed any more material to use against us, there's now scientific evidence to say Australians stand higher than we do.

New research led by scientists from Imperial College London and using data from most countries in the world tracked height among young adult men and women between 1914 and 2014.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, put Kiwi men as the 29th tallest in the world on average, while Kiwi women were the 24th tallest.

But we're still shorter than Aussie blokes and ladies, who are respectively the 18th and 15th tallest on the planet.


If it's any consolation, both of our countries are still short of the homes of the loftiest: the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Denmark for men and Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Serbia for women.

Although the height of Kiwis has shifted about 9cm in a century, Iranian men have grown taller by an average 16.5cm and South Korean women are now 20.2cm taller than they were 100 years ago.

Beats benefit beer drinking

Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer.

Their findings suggest that a range of multisensory information, such as sound, sensation, shape and colour, can influence the way we perceive taste.

The Brussels Beer Project collaborated with UK band The Editors to produce a porter-style beer that took inspiration from the band.

The ale had a medium body and used an Earl Grey infusion that produced citrus notes, contrasting with the malty, chocolate flavours from the mix of grains used.

This taste profile was designed to broadly correspond to The Editors' latest album, In Dreams.

Then, a team of researchers led by Dr Felipe Reinoso designed an experiment involving 231 drinkers to see if the influence of music and packaging design would result in a more positive tasting experience.

"We have been able to see that people tend to feel more pleasure when experiencing beverages along with sounds that are part of the beverage's identity," Reinoso said.

"It seems that the added pleasure that the song brought into the experience was transferred into the beer's flavour."

Hypnosis changes your brain activity

Your eyelids are getting heavy, your arms are going limp and you feel like you're floating through space.

The power of hypnosis to alter your mind and body like this is all thanks to changes in a few specific areas of the brain, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered.

The scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions similar to those that might be used clinically to treat anxiety, pain or trauma.

Distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity while someone is hypnotised, allowing the researchers to pin-point them.

"Now we know which brain regions are involved, we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone's capacity to be hypnotised or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems like pain control," the study's senior author, Dr David Spiegel, said.

Researchers have previously scanned the brains of people undergoing hypnosis but those studies have been designed to identify the effects of hypnosis on pain, vision and other forms of perception, and not the state of hypnosis itself.

How traffic jams can help you think

It's an odd thing to tell a traffic-weary Aucklander, but there's research to show that regularly spending time on the road can actually be a good thing.

In her new book, Drivetime, Professor Lynne Pearce, of Lancaster University, draws upon a rich archive of British and American literature from the "motoring century" to explore the sorts of things we think about when driving and has discovered surprising psychological benefits to being behind the wheel.

Whereas sensations of exhilaration and escape have been associated with driving from its earliest days, less attention has been paid to the ways in which cruising - at a moderate speed or even crawling in traffic - can afford drivers of all ages and social classes an invaluable opportunity for problem-solving.

"Although driving is now more commonly associated with road-rage than relaxation and the car is facing necessary extinction on environmental grounds, evidence of the ways in which driving can positively direct and structure thought raises interesting questions for our driverless future," she said.

Lions, tigers, bears ... and us

Bears, wolves and other large carnivores are frightening beasts but the fear they inspire in their prey pales in comparison to that caused by the human "super-predator".

A new study by Western University demonstrates that smaller carnivores, like European badgers, that may be prey to large carnivores, actually perceive humans as far more scary.

Globally, humans now kill smaller carnivores at much higher rates than large carnivores do, and these results indicate that smaller carnivores have learned to fear the human "super-predator" far more than they fear their traditional enemies. The researchers experimentally demonstrated that smaller carnivores that may appear to be used to humans because they live among us, are actually experiencing elevated levels of fear - living in fear of people in human-dominated landscapes.

"Our previous research has shown that the fear large carni- vores inspire can shape ecosystems," the study's author, Liana Zanette, said.

"These new results indicate that the fear of humans, being greater, likely has even greater impacts on the environment, meaning humans may be distorting ecosystem processes even more than previously imagined."