The right-wing brain?
"Tories may be born not made, claims a study that suggests people with right-wing views have a larger area of the brain associated with fear," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond-shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life. The 'exciting' correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students."
Pucker up tonight
"A kiss at midnight to ring in the new year. That's what [tonight]should bring, right?" Sheril Kirshenbaum, a research scientist at the University of Texas and author of the new book The Science of Kissing, asks in The Washington Post. "It's tradition, compulsion, festive duty. An excuse to make a bold move with someone new, a reason to be anxious about finding a date or a chance to celebrate with a long-time love. And there's pressure to get it right. There is a scientific basis for those high stakes. Whom you kiss can set the course for a good year. Really. It's not magic - it's chemistry and neuroscience. And no matter how painstakingly you set the scene, in the end chemistry trumps mood music. From a scientific perspective, a kiss is a natural litmus test to help us identify a good partner. Start the first moments of 2011 with the right one, and you're beginning the year on a natural high."
Playing hard to get
"With the ultimate date night fast approaching, men and women alike are attempting to decipher the seemingly random rules of romantic attraction," Miller-mccune.com says. "What combination of factors impels one person to think of another as potential mate material? … 'Keeping people in the dark about how much we like them will increase how much they think about us and will pique their interest,' a research team reports in the journal Psychological Science. … 'Whereas people may be very pleased that someone likes them, once they are certain of this fact, they construct explanations as to why, and as a result, the news loses some of its force,' they write. 'In contrast, when people are uncertain about an important outcome, they can hardly think about anything else. They think about such an event but do not yet adapt to it, because they do not know which outcome to make sense of and explain.' "
Take heart, old goats
"A rule of thumb for determining the social acceptability of the age gap between romantic partners is to divide by two and add seven," Slate.com says. "If a man is 60, for example, his companion must be at least 37. If a woman is 30, her beau must be at least 22. Hugh Hefner has a simpler rule: His age doesn't matter, but she needs to be in her 20s." The 84-year-old Playboy founder recently announced his engagement to a 23-year-old. "But is there really anything wrong with May-December marriages? The research is thin, but there's little evidence that marriages with wide age gaps between partners turn out any worse than marriages between people born around the same time."
Hef, you're just a kid
A farm labourer in Haryana state in India claims to have fathered a child at the age of 94, The Times of India reports. Old-age pension records substantiate Ramajit Raghav's age. His wife Shakuntala, who bore him the son, is claimed to be in her mid-50s. When asked the secret behind his long life, Mr. Raghav said he had been a wrestler in his youth, and his daily diet comprises three kilograms of milk, half a kilogram of almonds and half a kilogram of ghee (clarified butter).
Don't resolve these
When making resolutions, make sure you're not setting yourself up for failure, CNN.com advises. Some of the ones you'd be wise to avoid:
- Find love (life and fate don't exactly work that way);
- Lose five to seven pounds (a better resolution would be to eat more healthfully and add more physical activity);
- Quit obsessing about fill-in-the-blank (telling yourself you're going to stop obsessing about it is a sure way to make sure you keep obsessing about it);
- Have a baby;
- Quit your job;
- Convince your significant other to marry you (if you have to do some hard-sell convincing, perhaps your significant other isn't the right person for you);
- Quit dating (what if you meet your perfect match next month?);
- Try to get along better with fill-in-the-blank;
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier every day to meditate (five, not 30, minutes is a good place to start);
- Win the lottery (as if).
Thought du jour
"The real 'haves' are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence and even riches without depriving others of them."
Eric Hoffer (1902-83), American writer and philosopher