January 12, 2011

What Causes Some People to Act on Their Violent Impulses?
People are often confronted with feelings of disappointment, frustration, and anger as they interact with government officials, co-workers, family, and even fellow commuters. Most can control their actions to the extent that relatively few of these interactions end in violence. The attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords shows, however, sometimes the cognitive control mechanisms required to guide one’s behavior are either nonexistent or ignored, with disastrous consequences. (Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American)

Young People Highly Value Boosts to Their Self-Esteem
Given the choice, young bright college students said they’d rather get a boost to their ego—like a compliment or a good grade on a paper—than eat a favorite food or engage in sex, a new paper suggests. The researchers question whether the so-called “me generation” of baby boomers has spawned a nation of self-absorbed young people hooked on their own self-esteem. (Tara Parker-Pope, Well, The New York Times)

How a Predisposition for Religion Could Spread Quickly
Religiously observant people have more children than other people do, according to demographic studies. Assuming there’s a genetic predisposition for religion, this means the religion gene could spread relatively quickly throughout a population. Research using new mathematical models demonstrates just how quickly this could happen. (Wynne Parry, LiveScience)

You’re Hot Then You’re Cold
It’ll be another couple of years before the European Space Agency’s Planck probe delivers its baby picture of the universe, but in the meantime, the long-wavelength surveyor has pinpointed thousands of hot spots (and cold spots) worth watching. (Alan Boyle, Cosmic Log, msnbc.com)

Size Matters
It was the 2005 discovery of Eris, the “dwarf planet,” that led to Pluto losing its full-fledged “planet” status, after it looked as if the newcomer was bigger. But new observations of Eris reported as 2010 came to a close suggest the two frozen worlds are the same size, about 1,440 miles wide. (Dan Vergano, USA Today)

Category: Field Notes

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