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SOCIAL STUDIES

Waiting for something good is pleasurable Add to ...

Why wait? Because it’s fun

“In today’s world, patience and self-discipline can be a challenge,” says Psych Central. “New research probes why it is so hard for some people to resist the least little temptation, while others seem to possess incredible patience, passing up immediate gratification for a greater long-term good. Investigators from Washington University in St. Louis believe the answer is that some people think about future rewards or benefits – that is, how good they will feel in the future from passing up a smaller immediate reward.… ‘Activity in one part of the brain, the anterior prefrontal cortex, seems to show whether you’re getting pleasure from thinking about the future reward you are about to receive,’ said study co-author Todd Braver. ‘People can relate to this idea that when you know something good is coming, just that waiting can feel pleasurable.’”

Significant digits

4.4 – The Bible is still firmly rooted in American soil. According to a survey by the American Bible Society, 88 per cent of respondents said they owned a copy; the average household has 4.4 Bibles.

25 – Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, glaciologists reported last week.

Hill upgraded to mountain

A hill in England’s Cumbria district has been declared a mountain after amateur surveyors found it was three quarters of an inch (2 centimetres) higher than originally thought, reports Orange Co. UK. Thack Moor, north of Penrith, has thus edged above the 2,000-foot mark that signifies mountain status by the Ordnance Survey’s definition. The enthusiasts measured the mountain twice, using high-tech GPS equipment. The Survey confirmed the measurements with its own analysis of the data. Maps, which had given Thack Moor’s altitude as 609 metres, will be amended to say 610 metres.

Bugs feed on caffeine

“U.S. researchers say bacteria ‘addicted’ to caffeine could be used in areas from decontamination of waste water to bioproduction of medications,” reports United Press International. “Caffeine and related chemical compounds have become significant water pollutants due to widespread use in coffee, soft drinks, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications, they said, and a bacterium that could live solely on caffeine could be used to clean up such environmental contamination. So Jeffrey Barrick of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues set out to genetically engineer just such a bacterium.… The result was bacteria literally addicted to caffeine, the researchers said, which could have applications beyond environmental remediation.”

Chinese big travel spenders

“The Chinese have become the single biggest source of global tourism income after spending $102-billion (U.S.) while travelling abroad in 2012. The total is 40 per cent higher than the year before, and puts them well above the next two highest-spending countries, Germany and the United States,” says BBC News.

Take charge? Work together?

“When it comes to climate change, we’re all in this dilemma together, and forcefully addressing it will require collaboration and co-operation,” writes Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard magazine. “A stirring sentiment, but if you’re looking to spur white Americans to action, it’s actually counterproductive. That’s the conclusion of a Stanford University research team, which found invoking the idea of interdependence undermined the motivation of European-American students to take a course in environmental sustainability.” The researchers argue that in mainstream European-American culture, independence functions as an underlying design or blueprint that guides behaviour. They write in the journal Psychological Science: “In the land of the free, motivating Americans to take action for today’s pressing societal challenges will be accomplished most effectively when people are encouraged to ‘take charge’ rather than to ‘work together.’”

Thought du jour

“For parlour use, the vague generality is a lifesaver.” –George Ade, U.S. journalist (1866-1944)

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