December 13, 2013

© 2013 Microsoft CorporationWhy Do Children Tend to Believe in Santa But Not Harry Potter?
Believing what they are told is a fundamental part of learning for humans. Much of the knowledge needed to function in complex societies could not be accumulated through first-hand experience alone. However, even very young children appear to be using relatively sophisticated filters to decide what to believe and what not to. (Nathalia Gjersoe,

If you don’t want to properly apologize, why do it at all? It’s maybe fooling one or two people, but to the legitimately aggrieved, isn’t it just making things worse? This shades the non-apology in a particularly sinister hue. “A true apology entails two essential components: regret and responsibility,” according to Ryan Fehr, a professor at the University of Washington who has done extensive research on apologies and forgiveness. “The offender must admit responsibility over what happened, and express regret for his or her actions. These ‘full’ apologies are psychologically difficult.” (Ryan O’Hanlon, Pacific Standard)

The Benefits—and Harms—of Laughter
“Laughter is no joke,” the researchers wrote in a special Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal—a lighthearted edition of the journal that includes real research. While laughter carries a low risk of harm, “our review refutes the proposition that laughter can only be beneficial,” said the researchers, from City Hospital Birmingham in the United Kingdom. (Rachael Rettner, LiveScience)

Growing Brain Tissue
Bioengineers dream of growing spare parts for our worn-out or diseased bodies. They have already succeeded with some tissues, but one has always eluded them: the brain. Now a team in Sweden has taken the first step toward this ultimate goal. (Rowan Hooper, New Scientist)

Breakthrough Prizes
The stars came out at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View on Thursday night, but not of the celestial variety. Instead, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley—Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin among them—were joined by Hollywood stars like Kevin Spacey, Glenn Close, Rob Lowe, and Conan O’Brien to honor the winners of the Breakthrough Prizes, which recognize scientific research, at an awards ceremony that has been likened to the Oscars of science. (Sal Pizarro, San Jose Mercury News)

Category: Field Notes


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