Outsourcing your love life
"The pictures, the preferences, the interminable lists of hobbies and favourite childhood memories - it's no secret that sifting and sorting through hundreds of online profiles can be exhausting work," Diane Mapes writes for MSNBC.com. " 'I've done it three different times and it just becomes overwhelming,' says Marilyn Heywood Paige, a 40-year-old marketing consultant from Philadelphia. 'It's like a part-time job trying to filter and write and call and meet.' Thanks to the arrival of online 'dating concierges,' though, overly tasked singles can now hand that job over to a third party, who - for a fee - will gladly do that heavy lifting. … Dating consultants will create your online dating profile, surf the sites for potential dates, handle all your communication with people you want to pursue (e-mails are approved beforehand) and even plan the date, down to the clothes you wear and the place you go for dinner."
Don't have a family album?
"A new app could morph you into a caveman," Jeanna Bryner reports for LiveScience. "The MEanderthal app (a combination of 'me' and 'Neanderthal'), just released by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for the iPhone or Android, is grounded in science. It relies on what is known about the appearance of our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals, to transform your face into the face of an early human." Users first upload a portrait of their face and line up the image with markers for the eyes, nose and mouth. Then they choose which human species they'd like to become, including Homo floresiensis, Homo neanderthalensis or Homo heidelbergensis.
"Scientists are beginning tests to see if ultrasound can be used as a reversible contraceptive for men," BBC News reports. "Based on early work, University of North Carolina experts believe a blast of ultrasound to the testes can safely stop sperm production for six months. With a grant of $100,000 [U.S.]from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation they will push ahead with more clinical trials. The researchers ultimately hope it could offer a new birth-control option to couples throughout the world."
Here's a surprise
"A Cornell professor's study of 'perceived sexiness' and physical attributes of waitresses has confirmed that bigger breasts bring bigger tips," notes The Huffington Post. It cites The Cornell Daily Sun, which reports that "[marketing and tourism professor Michael Lynn's]results indicate that evolutionary instinct trumps the ideals many patrons profess. Though most customers say they reward service, Lynn reports that quality of service has less than a 2-per-cent effect on the actual tip. Instead, he found that waitresses with larger bra sizes received higher tips - as did women with blond hair and slender bodies." He said his findings could aid businesses in hiring decisions.
The blob from the deep
"Measuring longer than a school bus and sporting tentacles covered in razor-sharp hooks, the colossal squid is the stuff of nightmares," Stuart Fox writes for LiveScience. "However, new research suggests the enormous sea creature may not be the fierce hunter of legend." Marine biologists in Portugal and Rhode Island have estimated the metabolism of the colossal squid, extrapolating from the metabolisms of smaller members of the squid family. They found the squid would have had a slower metabolism and so moved slower than expected, waiting for prey, rather than running it down. "Everyone thought [the colossal squid]was an aggressive predator, but the data suggests otherwise," said Rui Rosa of the University of Lisbon in Portugal. "It's a squid that weighs half a ton with hooks in its tentacles but our findings show it's more like just a big blob."
Burglar exits upstage
"The scene belonged in one of his plays. Famous dramatist encounters burglar in his home, assumes the intruder is a house guest, smiles benignly and wanders past. Bemused criminal says quiet prayer of thanks before stealing jewellery worth thousands of pounds," The Times of London reported this week. "Details of Sir Alan Ayckbourn's black comedy, starring a man intent on plundering his five-storey home in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, were outlined in court where Anthony Kelly was being sentenced for a pair of burglaries in the seaside town. Kelly, a 31-year-old father of one, had entered the prolific playwright's house after finding a door unlocked and was on the prowl, looking for items to steal, when he came face to face with Ayckbourn, 71, who assumed that the stranger was visiting one of his housekeepers."
Thought du jour
"It is easy to fly into a passion - anybody can do that - but to be angry with the right person and to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way - that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it."