Grow up, leave the gang
"Ravens living in juvenile gangs are more stressed than those in adult pairs, a new study reveals," BBC News reports. "Scientists analyzing droppings found higher levels of stress hormones among birds living in groups. … Researchers now suggest that stress could be a driving factor in ravens' maturation from groups to pairs. Ravens are members of the intelligent corvid family that includes crows and magpies. Young birds live together in social groups and co-operatively share food. Adult birds, meanwhile, form pairs, often for life, and aggressively defend their breeding territory. … Competition for dominance could cause the increased stress [in young birds] the researchers say."
Tense? That's a comfort
"[I] a surprise," Newsweek says, "researchers who study emotion regulation - how we cope, or fail to cope, with the daily swirl of feelings - are discovering that many anxious people are bound and determined (though not always consciously) to cultivate anxiety. The reason, studies suggest, is that for some people anxiety boosts cognitive performance, while for others it actually feels comforting."
"Female wild Bechstein's bats prefer to literally hang out with certain friends while they also keep loose ties to the rest of their colony," Discovery News reports. Gerald Kerth, lead author of a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said these bat friendships mirror human ones. "Despite all of their 'daily chaos, the bats are able to maintain long-term relationships,' he said. … Kerth believes the human-like friendships likely exist among other bats living in temperate zones, since these bats often live in colonies that also frequently split and merge."
Playing dead? It's a living
" 'Corpses, hold your breath … and, Action!' the director yelled. I had been slumped in an office chair on a Hollywood set for hours, covered in a gooey mix of corn syrup and medical latex made to look like a messy chest wound," Amy Chozick writes for The Wall Street Journal. "It's not easy playing dead for a living. Last month at the Los Angeles Center Studios where Law & Order: Los Angeles is filmed, I got into character as shooting victim Nancy Jimenez, a mortgage broker killed in a coming episode. It's a gig actors call 'corpse duty,' and in a shrinking market for jobs in scripted TV, dead-body roles are on the rise. … The Screen Actors Guild doesn't keep figures on corpse roles, but currently, seven of the top 10 most-watched TV dramas use corpse actors."
An innocent reward
"At least three jurors in Cleveland say the evidence was so thin against a man jailed for weeks in an assault case that they want to give him their juror pay," Associated Press reports. "The jury quickly acquitted 19-year-old Demrick McCloud [last]Friday. He'd been charged with leading other teens to beat a high-school student and threaten him with a gun. … The three jurors tell The Plain Dealer newspaper there was a 'sheer lack of evidence,' so they'll each give McCloud the $100 they were paid for jury service if he earns a high-school equivalency degree."
A flutist in space
Astronaut Catherine Coleman has four flutes on the International Space Station - one is her own, two belong to members of the Irish group the Chieftains, and one is owned by the flutist with the Jethro Tull band, Associated Press reports. The acoustics of the space station, she notes, vary from room to room. The astronaut gets the brightest sound from the window-enclosed observation deck.
Your happiness makes me sad
"Does logging on to Facebook make you feel sad, as if everyone's having fun but you? Maybe you're just overestimating how happy your friends are," ABC News says. "New research out of Stanford University suggests when we misgauge our friends' negative feelings, we feel worse about ourselves." The study is published in the January issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Lead researcher Alex Jordan, a social psychologist, says: "People think, 'Why am I alone on a Saturday night or why am I not in a relationship?' When people overestimate the happiness of friends, they felt more negatively about their own lives."
Thought du jour
"We are not always able to form new ideas about our surroundings, or to command original thoughts; they come if they will, and when they will."
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher