Twerk it with science! Researchers discover the best way to bust a move

science dance moves nick neave research  4 of 21
It’s a thing feared by anyone who has ever stood awkwardly to the side of a wedding dance floor, pretending to be fascinated by the cheese platter: scientists are coming up with objective measures for the attractiveness of our dance moves.

In a new paper published in Scientific Reports, psychologists at Northumbria University in the U.K. reveal the most alluring dance moves for females. The work builds on a previous study, in which they did the same thing for males.

For the latest paper, 39 female college students danced to a pop song, while kitted out with motion capture sensors. Their moves were then scanned into a computer, mapped onto a featureless avatar (so as to remove details which could affect the study’s outcome) and ranked by participants — with the findings then turned over to a biomechanists and statisticians to analyze.

In the previous male-centric study, high quality male dance was found to be signified by larger and more variable movements of the upper body, which the researchers concluded was an indicator of male strength. “One of the things we drew from that paper was that when males dance they’re not necessarily signalling to females, so much as they are signalling their dominance, strength, and masculinity to other males,” study co-author Dr. Nick Neave told Digital Trends. “That’s something that makes sense if you look at behavior in the animal kingdom.”

In the new female-centric study, good quality dancing was principally associated with hip swing, as well as asymmetric thigh movement and moderately asymmetrical arm movement.

“If you’re dancing and your arms are both doing exactly the same thing, that looks quite strange and robotic,” Neave continued. “The same is true if they’re completely divergent and you’re swinging them around wildly. There’s an optimal level in the difference of movement between the two arms and two legs. That seems to indicate high quality female dance.”

Here, for your interest, is a highly-rated female dance performance:

And here’s a less appreciated one:

But while Neave and his colleagues continue to speculate about what all of this means from a genetic point of view, he noted that the work does have some practical applications. One possible use-case (as unlikely as it may sound) is using this typed of research, in conjunction with other data sets, to help predict certain physical traits.

Neave said that the team has been working to cross-reference footage of males walking with information about their aggression, frustration tolerance, and testosterone levels to see if a neural network could potentially pick out troublemakers based on the way — to quote Saturday Night Fever — they use their walk.

“We think there could be a 70 percent chance of being able to do this,” he noted, saying that security CCTV cameras could be given this information.

So does this mean future revellers could one day be pulled off the dance floor because their moves are correlated with those of previously rowdy individuals?

“I think there’s a more serious side to it,” Neave said. “The dancing research is fun and lighthearted. What it’s done is to give us the methodology that we can now take forward to apply to more serious research.”

Personally, we’d just be happy with a wearable device that alerts us when we’re embarrassing ourselves on the dance floor! There’s got to be a Kickstarter project in there somewhere…

Cars

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.