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social studies

Sadness could cost you money Add to ...

The price of sadness

“Feeling sad could cost you money, according to psychologists who claim that people make worse financial decisions when they are miserable,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “Sadness leads to a phenomenon known as ‘present bias’ where we prioritize instant gratification and ignore opportunities that could benefit us more over the longer term, a study found. Harvard University researchers showed a group of volunteers a video designed to make them feel sad before carrying out three experiments in which a wider group of participants had to make financial decisions. They found that people who had previously watched the video were more inclined to make choices [that] gave them higher short-term gains, but lower profit over all in the long term.”

Inner riches

“Police in South Africa arrested a drug smuggler on Tuesday who was carrying 220 diamonds, worth $2.3-million (U.S.), in his stomach,” Brian Palmer writes for Slate.com. “How many dollars’ worth of diamonds can the human stomach hold? Billions. The volume of a human stomach is about four litres (or approximately one gallon) at full stretch. The 530-carat Cullinan I, on display at the Tower of London, is likely the world’s most valuable stone, worth more than $400-million. Since the density of diamond is 17,565 carats per litre … with access to the world’s most celebrated diamonds, the value of an average stomach could certainly swell past a few billion dollars.”

A warmer peaceful world?

“Climate change has the clear potential to cause conflict as migrants flee no-longer-habitable areas and nations fight over increasingly scarce natural resources,” says Pacific Standard magazine. “But newly published research offers a more hopeful scenario. It presents tentative evidence that fears of a warming planet could bring Earthlings together in a common cause. ‘Increased awareness of the shared threat of global climate change can, at least under some circumstances, reduce support for war and promote efforts at peaceful coexistence and international co-operation,’ writes a research team led by psychologist Tom Pyszczynski of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.”

Bad and proud of it

“An Amsterdam budget hotel is playing on its basic facilities by advertising itself as one of the worst in the world,” reports Orange Co. U.K. “The Hans Brinker Budget Hostel says it ‘has been proudly disappointing travellers for 40 years. Boasting levels of comfort comparable to a minimum-security prison, the Hans Brinker also offers some plumbing and an intermittently open canteen serving a wide range of dishes based on runny eggs.’ … Among the facilities proudly advertised on its website are ‘thin mattresses, grotty paintwork, metal lockers, doors that lock and rooms without views.’”

Top-of-the-head computing

“Imagine a computer that isn’t a rectangular box like the PC on your desk or the smartphone in your pocket,” says BBC News. “Nor is it driven by a touchscreen or mouse and keyboard. Instead, you wear it on your head and interact with it through voice commands. This isn’t a fantasy look-ahead to what computers may be like in years to come. It’s an actual product that is scheduled to go on sale in the new year. …The device [the HC1, made by Motorola Solutions] looks a bit like a massively overgrown telephone headset, with overtones of a cycle helmet and maybe a gas mask thrown in. It comes in two parts: There’s an adjustable cradle that fixes the device to your head, and the computer itself is in a metal bar that curls around the side of your head. A miniature screen is located at the front, in front of your face. You need to look down slightly to view it.”

Thought du jour

“Enthusiasm is of the greatest value, so long as we are not carried away by it.”

Goethe, German polymath (1749-1832)

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