January 31, 2011

Could Watching Your Team Lose Kill You?
New research has shown that watching your heroes lose in stressful sporting events can be bad for your health. They found that death rates due to heart disease and stroke rose for the two weeks following a defeat by on average 20 percent. In older pensioners, it increased even more—to 22 percent, according to the research by the University of Southern California. On the other hand, if your team wins there is a tiny reduction in the chances of you having a heart attack or stroke. (Richard Alleyne, The Telegraph)

Why Creative People Might Be More Inclined to Cheat
Across five experiments, each of which used between 71 and 111 people, researchers discovered an association between outside-the-box thinking and unethical behavior. It appears the cognitive gymnastics that boost creativity are simultaneously a burden on honesty, as they foster the development of “original ways to bypass moral rules.” (Misty Harris, Postmedia News)

People Are More Likely to Believe in Global Warming When They Feel Hot
The researchers attribute this to a phenomenon they call “visceral fit.” “We suggest that while experiencing a visceral state, people will judge future states of the world that fit with that experience to be more likely,” they write in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune)

Amygdala Plays a Starring Role in Your Social Relationships
That’s one of the study’s findings—that an ancient part of our brain registers not only how many people we like to interact with day to day, but also how complex that social world is. The second finding is even more intriguing. It shows that amygdala size—and related social network size—varies from person to person. (Susan Pinker, The Globe and Mail)

Kepler’s Search for Earth-Like Planets
In a building at NASA’s Ames Research Center here, computers are sifting and resifting the light from 156,000 stars, seeking to find in the flickering of distant suns the first hints that humanity is not alone in the universe. The stars are being monitored by a 600 million dollar satellite observatory named Kepler, whose job is to conduct a kind of Gallup poll of worlds in the cosmos. (Dennis Overbye, The New York Times)

A Realistic Look at Old Age
Susan Jacoby: Only when we abandon the fantasy that age can be defied will we be able to begin a conversation, based on reason rather than on yearning for a fountain of youth, about how to make 90 a better 90. (Newsweek)

Memorial on the Moon
Friday was the 25th anniversary of the loss of the Shuttle orbiter Challenger, which I already wrote about as part of a post about Apollo 1 and Columbia. But I wanted to add that after that event in 1986, seven craters on the Moon were named after the astronauts. (Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Discover)

Category: Field Notes


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