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Fish getting too much sun

"If you're still skeptical that a tan can be dangerous, consider this: Scientists have found that wild fish are getting skin cancer from ultraviolet radiation," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Approximately 15 per cent of coral trout in Australia's Great Barrier Reef had cancerous lesions on their scales. In that regard, they resemble Australians who live on land – two in three people who live down under will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, the highest rate in the world. It's probably no coincidence that Australia is under Earth's biggest hole in the ozone layer."

Mere moments to glory

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"In many Olympic events, athletes only need a couple of minutes – or seconds, in some cases – to win a gold medal," says The Wall Street Journal. "They spend their entire lives training for a sport that takes about as long as it takes most people to walk from their living room to the kitchen."

Few will win gold

"Out of the 10,500 athletes battling for gold at London's Olympic Games, only 302 will win," writes Stephanie Hegarty of BBC News. "The others will face the disappointment, anger and shame that comes with failure. 'Losing is often overlooked. Winning is celebrated but the pain of loss is significant,' says sports physician Jordan Metzl of the Sports Medicine Institute of Young Athletes in New York. … For some athletes, one loss has changed the way they deal with their sport and caused problems for the rest of their lives, he says. 'Their only goal is succeeding in this one event, which may last two or three minutes. That huge amount of pressure seven days a week, 18 hours a day, that's your focus. If every waking hour, you are thinking about that moment in your life and you don't succeed, just think about that pressure.'"

The chimp asked me to do it

"A chimpanzee at a zoo in Wales has been filmed gesturing at the lock on his enclosure in an apparent attempt to get a visitor to release him," reports The Daily Telegraph. "The video shows the chimp pointing its finger at a window bolt and mimicking the movement required to open it. … Peter Dickinson, a worker at Welsh Mountain Zoo, has written about using sign language with animals as part of their enrichment program and has previously observed chimpanzees at the zoo trying to communicate with visitors. 'I have watched our animals sign to visitors, asking them to carry out certain behaviours. What is more, the visitors react and do exactly what they are told,' he said. 'If a visitor is reproached by a member of staff the excuse is always, "But the chimp asked me to do it!" ' "

Visions of an afterlife

This week, John Martin Fischer, a philosopher at the University of California-Riverside, was awarded $5-million (U.S.) by the John Templeton Foundation for a multidisciplinary investigation of human immortality, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. "The three-year effort may look at questions like how belief in an afterlife influences human behavior and how near-death experiences vary across cultures. In America, for example, many who survive such events report seeing a tunnel with a light at the end. For Japanese people, the experiences often involve visions of tending a garden."

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Are we there yet?

"Maybe 30 is the new 18," says The Huffington Post. In a U.S. survey, "51 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds do not feel they have fully reached adulthood, according to new findings from the Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults. Most of those young adults said they feel that they have reached adulthood in some ways, but not in others." A weak job market is partly to blame. "This lack of independence and financial security may be taking a toll on their psychological health. Fifty-six per cent of young adults said that they often feel anxious, and 33 per cent said they often feel depressed."

Thought du jour

"All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action."

James Russell Lowell

U.S. poet and diplomat (1819-91)

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