Meteors sparked life on Earth?
"Meteorites that bombarded Earth four billion years ago could have kick-started life rather than wiping it out, a study shows," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Scientists have taken fragments from a meteorite in the Antarctic and have recreated conditions at the beginning of life as we know it. They have found that the rock emitted ammonia under primordial conditions, an essential compound in the production of amino acids, the so-called building blocks of life. Life on Earth is thought to have been a freak occurrence sparked by the extreme pressure and heat mixing with chemicals from outer space. The findings, by Arizona State University, suggest that these chemicals came from meteorites."
Most flirtatious city
"The home of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is the 'most flirtatious city' of the modern world, a new study showed on Monday," Reuters reports. "Athens topped a 'World Flirtation League,' which ranked cities by the number of online flirtations initiated per month by the average user in each [city]on the online social networking site Badoo.com."
A tough century for men?
"Psychiatrists have warned that the number of men with depression could rise because of changes in Western society," BBC News reports. "An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests economic and social changes will erode traditional sources of male self-esteem. The authors say men will struggle with the shift away from traditional male and female roles. … One of the authors, Dr. Boadie Dunlop from Emory University School of Medicine [in Atlanta] said: 'Women are almost twice as likely to develop major depressive disorder in their lifetime as men, but we believe this difference may well change in the coming decades.' He argues that traditional males' jobs such as manufacturing or physical labour are being lost, either through improved technology or jobs moving to other countries. ... Dr. Dunlop said: 'Western men will face a difficult road in the 21st century, particularly those with low levels of education. We believe economic and societal changes will have significant implications for men's mental health.' "
Our nature works against us
Natural selection has worked against humanity, contends Nobel laureate and biochemist Christian de Duve. He tells New Scientist why: "Because it has no foresight. Natural selection has resulted in traits such as group selfishness being coded in our genes. These were useful to our ancestors under the conditions in which they lived, but have become noxious to us today. What would help us preserve our natural resources are genetic traits that let us sacrifice the present for the sake of the future. You need wisdom to sacrifice something that is immediately useful or advantageous for the sake of something that will be important in the future. Natural selection doesn't do that; it looks only at what is happening today. It doesn't care about your grandchildren or grandchildren's grandchildren."
Take good care of yourself
"Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family? That simple question is the basis for a burgeoning new area of psychological research called self-compassion - how kindly people view themselves," The New York Times reports. "People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising. The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight."
Compassion for Charlie
"On [Monday]night's Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, the host explained that he wasn't going to be doing any more Charlie Sheen jokes," National Public Radio reports. "He's done them, he acknowledged, but he's not doing them any more. And he explained why. As Ferguson put it, he's begun to feel like staring at Charlie Sheen is the equivalent of visiting one of those 19th-century mental hospitals at which, as the BBC notes, visitors who paid a penny to see the patients 'were permitted to bring sticks to poke and enrage' them."
There I was, remembering
Some facts gleaned by Psychology Today from the book The Act of Remembering: Toward an Understanding of How We Recall the Past:
- Memories that pop up involuntarily share a lot in common with those recalled voluntarily, including being equally vivid.
- Memories arrive in a series, called a memory chain, and may be either time-related or concept-related.
- Spontaneous remembering is not irrelevant mind-wandering but how we answer the question: "What do I do next, to further my most important goals?"
- Whether we see ourselves from a first-person or third-person (outsider) perspective in our memories may depend on whether we are male or female, Asian or Caucasian. Women more often see themselves as though from the outside.
Thought du jour
"Physical labour not only does not exclude the possibility of mental activity, but improves and stimulates it."
- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian author