Twelve Days of Quizmas: Test your knowledge of these brain filler facts from the past year of Sussex research
By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Friday, 17 December 2021
2021 has been another year like no other. But throughout the constant adaption of living with Covid, researchers at the University of Sussex have continued to diligently turn out amazing papers and make new discoveries.
In the news this year, our research has revealed that bats are drawn to wind turbines, how much dark matter might weigh, the dietary habits of foxes and the staggering true cost of using fossil fuels.
There have been more than 3,000 pieces of media coverage reporting on our research in newspapers, magazines, online news sites, radio shows and TV programmes.
But how well do you remember our big news research stories of the past year? Test yourself with our #ResearchWithImpact Twitter quiz and check your answers below.
1. Research by the University of Sussex Business School in May disproved one of the oldest myths about the restaurant trade. But which myth did the research bust?
2. Professor Ed Hughes in the School of Music, Arts and Humanities composed a musical score to mark a special anniversary for the South Downs National Park but which one?
3. Dr Gianluca Memoli of Engineering and Informatics developed the Sonoblind panel to try and reduce noise on hospital wards and aid patients’ recoveries. But what very loud noise have researchers found some hospital wards to be as noisy as?
4. What scientific first did University of Sussex physicists discover about black holes this year?
5. UK Trade Policy Observatory researchers calculated the total hit to the UK economy in lost imports and exports with the EU since Brexit. How many boxes of After Eight mints would this figure buy?
6: Back in June research led by School of Global Studies academic Prof Julian Murton found some of the world’s oldest permafrost. But how many years old is it?
7. Which parliamentary Bill did law researcher Cassandra Wiener help to reform this year?
8. Kelp forests once stretched 40km along the Sussex coast, but since the Great Storm of 1987, approximately how much has been lost?
9. In April a major new report led by Prof Peter Newell in the School of Global Studies called on policy makers to target the polluter elite to trigger a shift to more sustainable behaviour. But what percentage of the growth in world emissions between 1990 and 2015 can be attributed to the wealthiest 5%?
10. Through the Covid pandemic, researchers in the School of Education and Social Work have been asking parents of children with SEND about their experiences of lockdown learning. But what percentage of parents said that their children had less anxiety and stress with home schooling?
11. University of Sussex psychologists Prof Jamie Ward and Prof Julia Simner appeared on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind programme earlier this year to talk about their research into misophonia. But what is it that can cause distress in sufferers of misophonia?
12. In a study of 37 mammal species which small UK mammal was found to be in the fastest decline, with numbers halving in 50 years?
Question 1 ANSWER: The research debunked the myth that the second cheapest bottle of wine in a restaurant is always the worst value
In May, research by University of Sussex Business School economist Dr Vikram Pathania skewered the urban myth that the second cheapest bottle on a restaurant wine list is a rip-off created by restaurant owners exploiting naïve diners too embarrassed to choose the cheapest option.
The research found that the mark-up on the second-cheapest wine is significantly below that on the four next most expensive wines on the list.
Diners were instead advised to avoid selecting from the middle of the list as the median wine tends to have the heftiest mark-up.
In advance of 2021 World Music Day on June 21, Prof Ed Hughes of the School of Music, Arts and Humanities released a classical musical score, recorded in a socially distanced session with the New Music Players.
While 2020 marked a decade since the South Downs National Park was created, the piece was designed to mark the ten years of the park being fully operational with the melodies and rhythms directly reflecting Prof Hughes’ own experience of walking the South Downs Way.
The piece was also set to moving images of the South Downs, including bluebell woods, sunflower fields and star-studded night skies.
In the summer, Dr Gianluca Memoli of the School of Engineering and Informatics unveiled a pioneering material that gives unprecedented control on sound and noise which could help give recuperating patients a more relaxing stay in hospitals.
The technology allows scientists to turn plastic sheets into powerful noise-cancelling panels with the same noise-reduction effect of as two inches of plywood but weighing four to six times less.
And, because they are easily moveable, the panels can transform a noisy living room and open office space or silence a busy hospital ward.
Professor Xavier Calmet and Folkert Kuipers in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences revealed in September that they had discovered that black holes exert a pressure on their environment, in a serendipitous scientific first.
In 1974 Stephen Hawking made the seminal discovery that black holes emit thermal radiation. Previous to that, black holes were believed to be inert, the final stages of a dying heavy star.
The University of Sussex scientists showed that they are in fact even more complex thermodynamic systems, with not only a temperature but also a pressure.
Last month, UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) members at the University of Sussex calculated that the terms of the EU-UK trade deal caused UK exports to the EU to fall by 14% and trade in the opposite direction to fall by almost a quarter in the first seven months of its enforcement.
The reduction in trade brought about an estimated combined hit to the UK economy of around £44 billion with £32.5 billion lost in potential imports to the UK and £11 billion in exports to the EU, according to the UKTPO analysis produced for the Channel 4 Dispatches series.
In June, research led by Prof Julian Murton from the University of Sussex School of Global Studies found the ancient permafrost at a remote site in northern Siberia known as the Batagay Megaslump is at least 650,000 years old and therefore the oldest known permafrost in Eurasia.
The study also revealed that the permafrost had survived multiple warm episodes known as ‘interglacials’, including exceptionally warm and wet conditions during a ‘super-interglacial’ 420,000 years ago and even survived warmer-than-present conditions about 130,000 years ago, when summer air temperatures in the Arctic may have been as much as 4–5°C warmer than during the last 11,700 years.
Cassandra Wiener, a specialist in the law relating to domestic abuse and coercive control, helped to close a legal loophole relating to post separation abuse, whilst working in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology.
Cassandra provided evidence to government of the need for a change to the definition of a connected person, highlighting how vulnerable to abuse by their ex-partners victims of coercive control were, with the Domestic Abuse Bill failing to provide legal protection once the victim had left their partner and were no longer living with them.
A campaign led by Survivors of Economic Abuse, which relied heavily on academic evidence given by Cassandra, was successful in providing greater protections for victims of post-separation abuse, with amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill tabled in March this year.
Over 96% of kelp in Sussex waters has been lost since 1987, with trawling suspected of playing a key role in inhibiting local recovery.
Following a trawling ban, University of Sussex researchers in the School of Life Sciences, Dr Mika Peck and Dr Valentina Scarponi, conducted a baseline survey this summer to assess the health of the seabed and provide a picture of what species are currently inhabiting Sussex seas.
Using eDNA, underwater baited remote video and bioacoustics, they’ll be surveying each year to monitor the health of the seabed, and the impact of the trawling ban.
In April, a new report led by Professor Peter Newell in the School of Global Studies called on policy makers to target the UK’s polluter elite to trigger a shift to more sustainable behaviour.
The report found the responsibility to change individual behaviours to address climate change was not currently evenly shared with nearly half of the growth in absolute global emissions between 1990 and 2015 due to the richest 10%, with the wealthiest 5% alone contributing over a third.
The polluter elite needed to make the most dramatic changes to their lifestyles to keep the 1.5C target alive the report recommended, reducing their emissions by a factor of at least 30 by 2030.
Some pupils with SEND have thrived in a home schooling environment away from the pressures of school, a survey of hundreds of parents of children with SEND by Dr Jacqui Shepherd and Dr Christina Hancock in the School of Education and Social Work revealed in March.
Half of parents responding to the survey said their children with SEND had less anxiety and less stress in lockdown education conditions compared to their pre-pandemic routine while one in five said their child was learning more at home than when they had previously been at school.
The academics recommended that children with SEND should be given the opportunity to continue with a more flexible approach to primary and secondary education even after all pandemic precautions and restrictions were removed.
In May, a team of University of Sussex psychologists detailed their research investigating the phenomenon of “misophonia” which is where sounds like chewing, gulping or biro-clicking can trigger intense irritation, anger or distress in some people.
Scientists believe that one in five people suffer from the condition to varying degrees, with less than one percent of people experiencing the most extreme symptoms. Researchers still have much to discover about misophonia, which is little-understood compared with other conditions.
The University of Sussex team, led by Psychology professors Jamie Ward and Julia Simner intends to find new ways of identifying misophonics, and understanding why some people are vulnerable to developing the condition.
Prof Fiona Mathews at the University of Sussex School of Life Sciences in collaboration with the Mammal Society and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology found that small mammal numbers are in alarming decline in the UK in research published at the end of last month.
The weasel was found to be the worst affected species, shrinking in occupancy (area of land where they are present) by an average of 4.2% each year.
Researchers noted that this decline is enough to justify it being reclassified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ under the IUCN Red List.