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The Saint Joseph's Dinner Party

Looking to break the ice at your next dinner party or social gathering? Share one of these interesting facts, courtesy of Saint Joseph’s faculty.

Written by: Paige Verrillo Total reading time: 4 minutes
Fact One

FALLing Asleep

The sudden feeling of falling as you fall asleep is a result of 'REM-intrusion.’ It’s a burst of REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep that includes dreaming and muscle paralysis soon after falling asleep. It’s often a sign of not getting enough sleep.

- Jodi A. Mindell, PhD Department of Psychology
illustration of a falling pillow
Fact Two

Bite-Sized Exercise

‘Exercise snacks’ may help offset the health risks of prolonged sitting. Exercise snacks are about two minutes of standing and moving around during periods where one is sitting a lot such as at work, watching TV, etc. This is one time when snacking is a good thing!

- Lora Packel, PT, MSPT, PhD Department of Physical Therapy
orange chair illustration
Fact Three

Scent-sory Overload

Prolonged exposure to indulgent scents may activate your diet goals and therefore cause you to consume less. Smelling those cookies baking in the oven may help you avoid succumbing to their temptation if you have a preexisting diet goal.

- Ernest Baskin, PhD Department of Food, Pharma and Healthcare
illustration of a nose
Fact Four


Neutron stars are the compact remains of stars that were originally around twice the mass of the sun and then exploded in violent supernova bursts. Though incredibly heavy, they are unimaginably dense. Thus, they are surprisingly small – only about six miles in radius. If the center of a neutron star was located on Hagan Field, its outer edge would just about reach City Hall in central Philadelphia.

- Paul Halpern, PhD Department of Physics
illustration of Red superstar with orange glow around it
Fact Five

Invisible Concussions

A concussion is a metabolic injury, not a structural one. In other words, there is no damage to a specific area of the brain, so there will be no findings on a CT scan or MRI. However, there are changes in the way the brain metabolizes energy and that is why people experience symptoms.

- Philip Schatz, PhD Department of Psychology
Invisible Concussion MRI scan illustration
Fact Six

Masters of Multitasking

Urban K-12 principals average more than 80 types of distinct tasks in one school day — that’s a new task every six minutes in an eight-hour day — such as academic issues, budgeting matters, student engagement and more, thereby highlighting the complexity of this important role in K-12 schools.

- Aimee Terosky, EdD Department of Educational Leadership
illustration of clock with task icons replacing the time
Fact Seven

A Predetermined Demise

Florence Harding, first lady from 1921-1923, had to arrange three funerals for her husband, Warren Harding, who died suddenly in San Francisco 100 years ago this August. The biggest funeral was in Washington, D.C., which followed a 96-hour trip carrying Harding's body across the country.

Interestingly, it was Florence whom doctors had expected to die on that trip that had taken them out West; a coffin had been packed for her in preparation for her demise, as she had been ill for years with kidney disease. But Florence outlived Warren by more than a year.

- Katherine Sibley, PhD Department of History
illustration of a coffin in a train
Fact Eight

Blind Cheese

Holes found in cheese, such as Swiss Emmentaler, are known in the industry as ‘eyes’ and are caused by gas bubbles. A cheese without any holes is referred to as a ‘blind cheese.’

- Tenaya Darlington, MFA Department of English, Writing and Journalism
eyes for holes in swiss cheese illustration
Fact Nine

Another Dimension

In 1992, the term ‘metaverse’ was first coined in the book ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson as a place ‘where humans, as programmable avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.’ In 2022, the global metaverse market size was valued at $100.27 billion.

- David Allan, PhD Department of Marketing
illustration of VR headset
Fact Ten

Feel-Good Medication

While most people think that depression is caused by low serotonin levels in the brain that are increased by SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) medications, people with depression do not actually have low levels of serotonin. Evidence suggests that SSRIs help people overcome depressive episodes by increasing something called ‘behavioral activation,’ which includes activity levels, engagement and exploratory behavior.

- Joseph McCleery Department of Psychology
illustration of pile of blue pills and one yellow one with a smile on it
Fact Eleven

The Ick Factor

Disgust sensitivity measures can be divided into those who focus on contamination aspects of disgust (wanting to avoid touching things like money or being where someone died) and those more focused on core disgust reactions to things like wounds, roaches, dead animals, poop and the like. After comparing disgust sensitivity measures between undergraduate students in the U.S. and in Ghana, the Ghanaian students’ levels of disgust sensitivity were moderately higher than the American students. However, when comparing measures of just contamination-related disgust, the Ghanaians were almost double the level of disgust sensitivity compared to Americans.

- Alexander Skolnick, PhD Department of Psychology
scorpion illustration with green background