April 3, 2012

U.N. Meeting on Well-Being
Should happiness figure in a nation’s bottom line? And should the concept of Gross National Product be replaced by Gross National Happiness? Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley told a high-level U.N. meeting that it not only should but that it must if mankind is to avoid its current unsustainable and self-destructive course. Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan nation which tops Asia in the United Nations’ first World Happiness Report, convened the meeting seeking to develop a new economic model based on principles of happiness and well-being. (Michael Astor, Associated Press)

Can Too Much Happiness Hurt You?
Studies show that there is a darker side to feeling good and that the pursuit of happiness can sometimes make you … well, less happy. Too much cheerfulness can make you gullible, selfish, less successful—and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. (Marta Zaraska, The Washington Post)

Using Fire
Ash and charred bone, the earliest known evidence of controlled use of fire, reveal that human ancestors may have used fire a million years ago, a discovery that researchers say will shed light on this major turning point in human evolution. (Charles Choi, LiveScience)

Recurring Slope Lineae on Mars
Flow-like features on Mars are a source of debate among scientists. While some experts say they are likely produced by liquid water or brine on the Red Planet’s surface today, other investigations interpret some of these features as dry mass movements, stirred up by various other processes. (Leonard Davis, Space.com)

Q&A
Christof Koch

John Horgan: I emailed Christof Koch—who is still at Caltech and is also the chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which recently launched a major new initiative—with questions about his book and career. (Cross-Check, Scientific American)

Category: Field Notes

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