July 1, 2010

Are These Fossils of the Earliest Known Multicellular Life?
A new study out in Nature identifies fossils from Gabon in Africa that date back 2.1 billion years. The organic material is long gone, but the scientists say these are the oldest multicellular organisms ever found. (Andrew Moseman, 80beats, Discover)

Money Can Buy One Form of Happiness
“Yes, money makes you happy—we see the effect of income on life satisfaction is very strong and virtually ubiquitous and universal around the world,” said Ed Diener, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Illinois who led the study. “But it makes you more satisfied than it makes you feel good.” (Rob Stein, The Washington Post)

Is There a Link Between Infectious Disease and IQ?
Building and maintaining the brain requires 87 percent of all the body’s energy in newborns and 44 percent in 5-year-old children. Fighting infection also takes enormous amounts of energy, so children may struggle to do both at the same time. (Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist)

Proverbs Help Men Avoid Facing Their Flaws
Familiar proverbs reinforce our threatened egos by insisting the offense we just committed, or mistake we just made, wasn’t really so terrible after all. And according to new research, they work—for men. It appears women’s consciences aren’t so easily assuaged. (Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune)

No Good, Very Bad Hair Day
A bad hair day isn’t just a minor hassle for a few minutes in the morning, but can affect mood and possibly even productivity throughout the day. (Ellen Byron, The Juggle, The Wall Street Journal)

Why Lightning Often Strikes Religious Symbols
While the Rev. Pat Robertson and many others see signs of God’s will in natural disasters, science has another take on it. The real answer as to why Jesus statues, churches, and other religious buildings and monuments are often struck by lightning is simply that they reach high into the sky. (Benjamin Radford, LiveScience)

Good News Out of Oklahoma
Michael Zimmerman: The bottom line is that an Oklahoma student raised a problem with the way young-earth creationism found its way into his biology course, pushing aside evolutionary theory, and the situation was resolved in favor of mainstream science. (The Huffington Post)

Another Summer at Camp Quest
Started in 1996, Camp Quest emphasizes critical thinking and the scientific method. Counselors lead philosophical discussions about topics such as the nature of happiness. (Meredith Heagney, The Columbus Dispatch)

Category: Field Notes


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