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(BananaStock/Getty Images/BananaStock)

Yawning helps the brain cool down Add to ...

Why do people yawn?

“Yawning is not just a sign of tiredness or boredom – it is the body’s method of keeping [the]brain cool, scientists have found,” reports The Telegraph. “Like a computer, the brain works best when it is cool, but putting too great a strain on it can lead to overheating, which reduces its ability to process information. When the head begins to heat up, yawning acts as a natural ‘thermostat’ by allowing cool air to rush in and bring the brain back down to a healthy temperature, research suggests. A study of 160 volunteers in Arizona found that people yawned almost twice as much in winter, when their body temperature was higher than the air around them, than in summer. There would be less benefit from yawning in summer because the air people breathed in would have been warmer than their bodies, Princeton University scientists said.”

The unwelcome mat is out

“A Brighton [Colo.]man is warning potential home buyers that he won’t be a good neighbour,” Associated Press says. “Titus Terranova posted a warning facing a home his neighbour is trying to sell warning buyers they may be subjected to loud music, loud parties and fireworks. He says he posted the sign because the previous neighbours didn’t like his way of life. According to KUSA [television station] Adams County code enforcement officers weren’t amused and warned Terranova he is facing a ticket for an illegal sign, graffiti and having too many vehicles and trailers on his property.”

Religion and thinking

“A new series of studies provide insights on why some people have stronger religious beliefs than others,” reports Psych Central. “Harvard University researchers believe the answer is tied to an individual’s preferred cognitive style – that is, the way people think and solve problems. In a series of studies, investigators found that people with a more intuitive thinking style tend to have stronger beliefs in God than those with a more reflective style. … The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. … Survey questions initially assessed survey participants’ belief in God. Then participants were provided questions to discover an individual’s cognitive style. This cognitive reflection process consisted of three math problems with incorrect answers that seemed intuitive. … Participants who had more incorrect answers showed a greater reliance on intuition than reflection in their thinking style. Participants who gave intuitive answers to all three problems were 1½ times as likely to report they were convinced of God’s existence as those who answered all of the questions correctly.”

Doomed by the big snap

“Imagine one day you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror only to find that something is terribly wrong,” says the New Scientist. “You look grainy and indistinct, like a low-quality image blown up so much that the features are barely recognizable. You scream, and the sound that comes out is distorted, too, like hearing it over a bad phone line. Then everything goes blank. Welcome to the big snap, a new and terrifying way for the universe to end that seems logically difficult to avoid. Dreamed up by Massachusetts Institute of Technology cosmologist Max Tegmark, the snap is what happens when the universe’s rapid expansion is combined with the insistence of quantum mechanics that the amount of information in the cosmos be conserved. Things start to break down, like a computer that has run out of memory.”

The city was cancelled

“Imagine a city like Los Angeles disappearing from the map completely,” says National Public Radio. “That’s exactly what happened to Chaohu, a city in eastern China’s Anhui province with a similar population – about four million. The people have remained, but the city has vanished in an administrative sleight of hand. … Chaohu’s inhabitants … went to bed one night and woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to find out that their city no longer existed. For many, their first inkling that something had changed was from the local news. ‘Anhui province is today announcing the cancellation of Chaohu city,’ the broadcast said.” The city was divided up, with three nearby cities each absorbing a piece. One of them, Hefei, had been booming and needed room to expand, so it could challenge the more prominent Chinese cities of Nanjing and Wuhan.

Thought du jour

“It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle.”

- Frederick Buechner (1926-), American writer and theologian

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