November 24, 2010

Feeling Grateful
“The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table,” says Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and a pioneer in gratitude research. And, he notes, “with the realization that one has benefited comes the awareness of the need to reciprocate.” (Melinda Beck, Health Journal, The Wall Street Journal)

The Happy Couple
According to a study in the latest issue of the American Psychological Association’s journal Developmental Psychology, a person’s individual happiness is closely tied with that of their spouse—at least when it comes to long-term married couples. (Diane Mapes,

Tilting Your Head Can Make You Seem More Attractive to the Opposite Sex
Women are more alluring if they angle their head forward so they have to look slightly upward. In contrast, men become more masculine if they tilt their head back a bit and look slightly down their nose, according to scientists. It is believed this difference is down to the usual height differences between men and women. (The Telegraph)

When the Universe Was Like a Super-Hot Liquid
Scientists working at the world’s largest particle smasher—the Large Hadron Collider at CERN—have found that an exotic soup more than 10 trillion degrees Celsius in temperature was created immediately after the birth of the universe. This sticky, gloopy substance, known as a quark-gluon plasma, behaved like a hot liquid, according to their results. This provided the perfect environment for the first particles and atoms to form. (Richard Gray, The Telegraph)

Why Risk Is Subjective
David Ropeik: It would have been smoother for everybody, and more efficient for security, if the TSA had taken the public’s perception of risk into account before rolling out the new scanners and pat down procedures. Whatever the true danger, in cases like this, what matters is how that risk feels to the public—in the end, perhaps risk perception, as much as the physical risk itself, determines where people will accept the line between protection that’s enough and protection that’s too much. (TIME)

Mistaken Ideas
Earlier this week, Richard Thaler posted a question to selected Edge contributors, asking them for their favorite examples of wrong scientific theories that were held for long periods of time. You know, little ideas like “the earth is flat.” (Jennifer Welsh, Discoblog, Discover)

Resolution Banning the Defamation of Religion Passes Again—but by a Smaller Margin
A U.N. General Assembly committee once again voted to condemn the “vilification of religion,” but support narrowed for a measure that Western powers say is a threat to freedom of expression. The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and opposed by Western countries, passed by only 12 votes in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, 76 to 64 with 42 abstentions. (Louis Charbonneau, Reuters)

A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

This lovely video is a collaboration between TEDTalks and animator Andrew Park, who illustrates Denis Dutton’s provocative argument about beauty—that art, music, and other beautiful things, far from being simply “in the eye of the beholder,” are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins. (GrrlScientist,

Category: Field Notes


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