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'Pantsdrunk' and the Finnish art of relaxing

Drinking home alone in your underwear just might be what you need to be as relaxed as the Finnish.

'Pantsdrunk' and the Finnish art of relaxing
Big Think art department / Finnish tourism department
  • Päntsdrunk is the latest trend to come out of Northern Europe and it involves drinking alone at home.
  • Finnish writer Miska Rantanen outlines the philosophy in his newest book titled: Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation.
  • Kalsarikänni is a word in Finnish that literally means "drinking at home and alone in your underwear."

It seems like you can always count on the Nordic people for coming up with the most novel of lifestyle trends. Päntsdrunk is the anglicized term for the Finnish word Kalsarikänn, and it's a philosophy and way of life that many Finns swear by. The concept is something most young adults can get behind, no matter where they are in the world.

Päntsdrunk consists mostly of being alone, drinking alcohol and doing whatever you please in the comfort of your home. That might mean binging on Netflix, staring mindlessly at the wall or your phone, or just getting some well-needed rest and recuperation.

It's no surprise the Finns have come up with something like this. After all, they are also one of the most relaxed nations with the least stressful educational systems.

Previous notable trends from Scandinavia 

Finland Via Getty Images

A long line of trends have continually trickled down from the Nordic countries. They've all been based around one simple mantra – to concentrate on yourself, loved ones, and make life a little less stressful or at least more tolerable.

It's a simple and humble enough goal that all of Scandinavia has been able to put in practice in one way or another. Take Sweden and Norway for example, they put this into practice by the concept of lagom: a saying and precept that means "in moderation," or "in perfect balance."

Lagom is a state where everything is in balance and proportion is maintained. This crosses over to all areas of life. But whereas lagom can start to feel like a bit like a puritan aphorism – where all things must be in moderation, the Danish are well known for their less stringent hygge.

Hygge is the quintessential and picturesque feeling where you'll find yourself sitting beside a ornate fireplace, sipping a warm mug of cocoa and basking in the glow of luxuriant sense of repose.

Author Miska Rantanen finds all of these modes of relaxation all well and good, but feels that pantsdrunk is the most suitable for people all over the world. He states:

"Hygge is the glossy image we've all seen on the pages of interior design magazines and lifestyle blogs. And this is its failing: not all of us have the means to lie by a brick fireplace burning birch logs on stormy autumn evenings. In the Nordic palette of survival strategies, the Finn relies not on lagom or hygge but on kalsarikänni: the primeval yet surprisingly cosmopolitan concept of "pantsdrunk." It can be adapted to every corner of the world, regardless of circumstance, milieu, or mood."

The rest of the world got wise to this phenomenon a few years ago when Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs designed a round of emojis and pictures to describe a number of Finnish words and concepts, like Nokia phones, saunas, and heavy metal (there are more heavy metal bands per capita in Finland than anywhere else in the world). You can download the full emoji set here.

Päntsdrunk is part philosophy and part national pastime 

Nokia phone and alcohol in Finland

Pxhere

As a lifestyle choice, pantsdrunk stands out as one of the most straightforward ways of recuperating. It should be noted that it doesn't encourage binge drinking or alcoholism of any sort. Some research has shown that having a drink once in a while might be an excellent way to reduce stress.

There is no stigma attached to some good alone time, drinking and ultimately trying to reach states of mind that encourages comfort and peace. Pantsdrunk doesn't worry about artificiality or superficial premises. It is an authentic mode of relaxing that doesn't require you share it to the world. Rantanen says that:

"Pantsdrunk is the antithesis of posing, performing, or pretense: one does not post atmospheric images on Instagram while pantsdrunk."

Kalsarikännit isn't as demanding as other supposed relaxation techniques. It doesn't require you to spend a fortune on photogenic furniture or parade your lifestyle around online to show everyone just how "relaxed" you are. It's the closest thing the Finns have to their own personal zen.

Grab your drink of choice. Slip on those baggy clothes and do whatever. It's that simple.

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Steinberg is a co-author of a study just published in the journal Nature that presents a series of clever experiments that allowed researchers to measure the amount of time it takes tunneling particles to find their way through a barrier. "And it is fantastic that we're now able to actually study it in this way."

Frozen rubidium atoms

Image source: Viktoriia Debopre/Shutterstock/Big Think

One of the difficulties in ascertaining the time it takes for tunneling to occur is knowing precisely when it's begun and when it's finished. The authors of the new study solved this by devising a system based on particles' precession.

Subatomic particles all have magnetic qualities, and they spin, or "precess," like a top when they encounter an external magnetic field. With this in mind, the authors of the study decided to construct a barrier with a magnetic field, causing any particles passing through it to precess as they did so. They wouldn't precess before entering the field or after, so by observing and timing the duration of the particles' precession, the researchers could definitively identify the length of time it took them to tunnel through the barrier.

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With the wall prepared, a second laser nudged individual rubidium atoms toward it. Most of the atoms simply bounced off the barrier, but about 3% of them went right through as hoped. Precise measurement of their precession produced the result: It took them 0.61 milliseconds to get through.

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Scientists not involved in the research find its results compelling.

"This is a beautiful experiment," according to Igor Litvinyuk of Griffith University in Australia. "Just to do it is a heroic effort." Drew Alton of Augustana University, in South Dakota tells Live Science, "The experiment is a breathtaking technical achievement."

What makes the researchers' results so exceptional is their unambiguity. Says Chad Orzel at Union College in New York, "Their experiment is ingeniously constructed to make it difficult to interpret as anything other than what they say." He calls the research, "one of the best examples you'll see of a thought experiment made real." Litvinyuk agrees: "I see no holes in this."

As for the researchers themselves, enhancements to their experimental apparatus are underway to help them learn more. "We're working on a new measurement where we make the barrier thicker," Steinberg said. In addition, there's also the interesting question of whether or not that 0.61-millisecond trip occurs at a steady rate: "It will be very interesting to see if the atoms' speed is constant or not."

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