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Soccer played on high, mumbling in Japan, dreamers' progress Add to ...

Are you nasty? Be a boss

"Watching the news some days, you'd think a lot of companies were run by psychopaths," Kevin Lewis writes in The Boston Globe. "And according to a recent study, some might well be. One of the authors of the study was hired by companies to evaluate managers … for a management development program. It turns out that these managers scored higher on measures of psychopathy than the overall population, and some who had very high scores were candidates for, or held, senior positions. In general, managers with higher scores were seen as better communicators, better strategic thinkers, and more creative. … The authors conclude that 'the very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings.' " Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk appeared in the journal Behavioral Sciences & the Law.

Soccer played on high

World Cup players might notice some strange things happening to their kicks because of the peculiar aerodynamics of playing soccer at the high altitude of Johannesburg stadium, reports Clara Moskowitz for Live Science. At high altitude, the air pressure is lower, and so are aerodynamic effects such as drag and lift, ultimately causing balls to travel faster and straighter than they would at lower altitude. Johannesburg is 1,676 metres above sea level, even higher than Denver. NASA engineer Rabi Mehta said, "When watching the games recently, you often see long passes that overshoot, and I think that's because of this effect."

Upstairs, downstairs

"A hospital in Scotland is to become the first in the U.K. to use a fleet of robots to carry out day-to-day tasks," BBC News reports. "The robots will carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs. They are currently undergoing final tests ahead of the August opening of the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire. The robots will have their own dedicated network of corridors underneath the hospital." One of the most valuable aspects of using robots is in controlling infection. "Traditionally, clean and dirty tasks are carried out by the same person," infection-control nurse Lesley Shepherd said. "Here you'll have the robots that do dirty tasks, so they may take dirty linen or clinical waste away, and you'll have robots that do clean tasks, such as bringing meals and clean linen to patients."

Mumbling in Japan

"Twitter is a hit in Japan," writes Yuri Kageyama of Associated Press, "… as millions 'mumble' - the translation of tweet - and give mini-blogging a distinctly Japanese flavour. The arrival of Japanese-language Twitter service in 2008 tapped into a greater sense of individuality in Japan, especially among younger people less accepting of the understatement and conformity their culture is usually associated with, analysts say. … These days, seminars teaching the tricks of the tweet, as the micro-blog postings are known, are popping up. Ending Japanese sentences with nah-woo - an adaptation of 'now' in English - is hip, showing off the speaker's versatility in pseudo-English Twitter-speak." One reason for Twitter's popularity, he adds, is language. It is possible to say so much more in Japanese within Twitter's 140-letter limit. The word "information," for instance, requires just two letters in Japanese.

Your Mayan smile

From a review of David Tedlock's 2000 Years of Mayan Literature by Benjamin Moser: "[The author]… explains how the name 'Yucatan' originated when an inquisitive Spanish explorer asked some fishermen what the place was called: 'What they actually said was k'i ut'an, which means 'The way he talks is funny.' "

Source: Harper's magazine

Dreamers' progress

"Fetuses spend a lot of time in REM sleep and infants up to the age of one spend four times as long in REM as adults," Jessica Hamzelou writes in the New Scientist. "But are they dreaming? 'The fact that they twitch and have inhibited muscle tone and brain activation is a sure sign they're in REM sleep, but not that they're dreaming,' says Allan Hobson at Harvard Medical School. Even so, dreaming must at least begin in our first few years. 'As soon as children are able to talk, they seem to report happenings that could only have been going on in their dream life,' says Patrick McNamara at Boston University. When children do start reporting their dreams, they almost always feature animals. 'Nobody has any idea why,' says McNamara. Children who report the most dreams tend to have more developed mental imagery in their waking lives too, which may be linked to the development of the parietal lobes involved in visuospatial skills. Adolescence seems to be the peak of our dream life, and unfortunately, it tends to go downhill from there, with less REM sleep and therefore fewer dreams after the age of 20. Our dreams as adults are less pleasant, too, with more aggressive themes."

Thought du jour

"The problem with neighbours is that they live next door."

- Jon Canter in The Guardian

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