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Researchers have figured out why return trips always seem to go by more quickly
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If you've been one of the brave folks who took a long road trip or (gasp!) a plane flight this summer, you probably reacquainted yourself with the strange phenomenon known as the return-trip effect.

It's the feeling that the trip coming home was shorter than the outbound journey, although they actually took the same amount of time.

This feeling is so universal that it was even felt by Alan Bean in 1969 when he went to the moon as the lunar modular pilot on Apollo 12. "Returning from the moon seemed much shorter," Bean said.


The common reason given for the return-trip effect is that the journey home is less novel because we've already seen the remarkable sights on the way to the destination. Niels van de Ven, a psychologist at Tilburg University in the Netherlands believed the recognition of landmarks, "might help to increase the feeling of speed, of how fast you travel."

So van de Ven and his team set out to test that theory. One experiment they did was conducted on people riding bikes to a fair. He asked each person to ride the same way to the fair and then split up the bikers for the return trip.

The researchers asked one group to take the same route back that they took to the fair, and another to take a different route of the same distance.

If the familiarity explanation for the return-trip effect was correct, then the group that took a different route home would report that it felt like it took the same amount time as the journey to the fair.

But both groups reported that the journey home felt faster. So the researchers settled on a new hypothesis: the feeling of length is related to our expectations.

"Often we see that people are too optimistic when they start to travel," van de Ven said according to NPR. So when people begin their outbound trip it feels like it takes longer because of the excitement.

On the return home, the optimism is replaced by the pessimism that accompanies taking a long journey. "So you start the return journey, and you think, 'Wow, this is going to take a long time.'"

"It's really all about your expectations — what you think coming in," Michael Roy, a psychologist at Elizabethtown College and a co-author of the study, told NPR.

Psychologist Richard Block believes that it's all about focus and situation.

"When you have a destination you want to be there on time," Block said. "But when you go back home (return trip) it does not matter that much. Thus, when you are going there, your attention is more focused on the target and not distracted." In this case, being distracted makes the trip seem shorter.

In the report, the authors pin the phenomenon down to our personal expectations.

"Instead, the return trip effect is likely due to a violation of expectations," the report reads. "Participants felt that the initial trip took longer than they had expected. In response, they likely lengthened their expectations for the return trip. In comparison with this longer expected duration, the return trip felt short."

The study just goes to show how our attitudes can affect our very perception of reality, in this case, time. So the next question the researchers people should tackle is: does time fly when we're having fun? From this research, it seems the opposite may be true.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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