Twitter, Twitter, little fling
"In an age where 140-character tweets have replaced talking on the telephone, where job and work and social life are multitasked between 19 open browsers, the idea that our attention spans are shrinking has become pretty well accepted," Jessica Bennett writes for The Daily Beast. "… If you believe the results of a new OkCupid survey, it turns out that attention doesn't just shape our ability to complete homework or work [efficiently]- it actually hinders romance, too. As part of its new trend report, Daily Beast partner OkCupid has mapped out relationship length, Twitter usage and age, as determined by survey questions. What they found? Just as with their 140-character musings, Twitter users seem to end up in relationships that are bite-size. 'Twitter users have shorter relationships,' says Christian Rudder, the site's co-founder and editorial director. 'How much shorter? Maybe not a lot … but the difference is measurable and consistent.' "
Will CEOs test for this?
"Researchers found coming to a decision often involves listening to two parts of the brain - one that relies on taking advice and the other on experience," The Daily Telegraph reports. "The brain weighs up the often opposing views and then comes to a decision to take an action. But the researchers at Brown University in Rhode Island discovered that some people have genes that skew the decision [more]toward one part of the brain than the other. They discovered the DARPP-32 genetic variation meant that individuals are more likely to do what [they are]told, even when it is contradicted by experience. The gene means that like a 'yes man, who is flexible to a fault, the brain is more likely to be influenced by what it is told than what its experience tells it,' the report said."
Can you speak Englishly?
"If you speak multiple languages, you might have multiple personalities," Scientific American Mind magazine says. "Reporting Oct. 15 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, psychologists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that native Chinese students who were fluent in English appeared more assertive, extroverted and open to new experiences - personality traits often associated with Westerners - when conversing with an interviewer in English as opposed to Cantonese. The interviewer's ethnicity mattered, too. In either language, observers rated students as more extroverted, assertive, helpful and open to new experiences when speaking to a Caucasian interviewer as compared with when they talked to a Chinese interviewer. The authors argue that personalities are not fixed. Instead, the language a person is speaking - and with whom - can lead individuals to take on the personality traits of the culture associated with that language or person."
Humpbacks have a hit parade
"Humpback whales not only sing, they imitate the singing of other whales," The New York Times reports. "And some of their tunes turn into worldwide hits, with whales all over the Pacific Ocean picking them up. Several genetically different groups of humpbacks, separate populations with little interchange among them, live in the South Pacific. Researchers recorded 11 different song types in the region from 1998 to 2008. Their study, published online [today]in Current Biology, found that each year, songs spread from one group to another. … Why this happens is unclear, but the lead author, Ellen Garland, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland in Australia, said the reasons probably have to do with sex. Only male humpbacks sing, and each group of whales sings its own tune. 'If you change your song, you stand out,' she said. 'We could speculate that that could be more attractive to the females.' "
Drummed out of the monarchy
"Two castes of paper wasps are genetically identical," Smithsonian Magazine says. "Larvae turn into either workers or potential queens, depending on the behaviour of adults, say University of Wisconsin scientists. If adults drum on nest walls with their antennae, the vibrations inhibit fat storage and produce workers."
Werewolves don't get acne
"Humans are pimply. It's part of what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom," Jesse Bering writes for Slate. Why us? "According to evolutionary theorists Stephen Kellett and Paul Gilbert, we probably owe these unsavoury blemishes to our having lost our apish pelts too rapidly for our own good. Although increasingly glabrous (hairless) skin evolved for adaptive purposes … the sure-footed pace at which genes for depilated flesh were selected posed some cosmetic problems. Kellett and Gilbert observe that the evolution of our sebaceous glands, which were accustomed to dealing with hair-covered flesh, lagged behind this change in our appearance. As a consequence, all that oily and waxy sebum, normally committed to lubricating fur, hadn't much fur to lubricate. So the sebum started to build up and clog our pores instead. (There are many issues that a person suffering from hypertrichosis - also known as werewolf syndrome - has to worry about, but acne tends not to be one of them.)"
Thought du jour
"I call 'journalism' everything that will be less interesting tomorrow."
- André Gide (1869-1951), French author and Nobel laureate
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