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Were you a beautiful baby?

"[D] the cutest babies turn out to be the most attractive adults?" Psychology Today asks. "The presumption is that good looks remain stable over time. Research has shown that adult attractiveness can be predicted as early as age 5. But until now, no study had tracked the attractiveness from infancy. Researchers sifted through high-school yearbooks and found 108 graduating seniors who featured photos of themselves as infants. They asked several hundred college students to rate the individuals – as babies and as teens – for attractiveness. The upshot? There was no correlation between attractiveness in infancy and in adulthood. In both males and females, some ugly ducklings turned into swans, some beautiful babies grew gawky, and some babies simply retained their looks. Cuteness – or homeliness – in infancy does not predict future attractiveness."

Worst natural disaster

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"Earthquakes have a bigger impact on health than other natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, U.S. researchers say," reports BBC News. "There are more than a million earthquakes, of varying severity, around the world each year. As well as the immediate deaths, many people receive serious injuries which cannot be treated because of the quake damage to infrastructure. … In the past decade, earthquakes have caused more than 780,000 deaths – almost 60 per cent of all disaster-related mortality. Other disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, typically cause many deaths from drowning, but fewer injuries."

Counting close friends

"If asked how many friends you have, some may have trouble distinguishing between the lengthy list of Facebook friends and those close pals you confide in," LiveScience says. "Well, it turns out, Americans' list of the close type has shrunk to two, down from three confidantes 25 years ago, a new study suggests. The study also found that the number of us who have zero confidantes, or the socially isolated, has not increased over these decades, as scientists had suspected based on a 2006 study showing a near tripling of Americans' social isolation between 1985 and 2004. … About 48 per cent of participants listed one name, 18 per cent listed two, and roughly 29 per cent listed more than two names for these close friends. On average, participants had 2.03 confidantes. And just over 4 per cent of participants didn't list any names." More than 2,000 adults aged 18 and older from a representative U.S. sample were interviewed over the Internet.

They would say that

"A White House official has taken the unusual step of denying a cover-up over the existence of alien life," The Telegraph reports. "Phil Larson, a senior member of the Obama administration, also said it had no evidence that extraterrestrials had ever tried to contact humans. The comment by Mr. Larson, a senior space policy and communications official, was posted on the White House website in response to several petitions lodged on the site. 'The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,' Mr. Larson wrote."

Skirts for boxers?

"Amateur boxing's governing body will sound out competitors and the public before deciding whether women should wear skirts instead of shorts in the ring at next year's London Olympics," Reuters reports. "AIBA spokesman Sebastien Gillot said on Friday that the world body had never suggested skirts should be compulsory and the association was surprised at the way a clothing controversy had snowballed in the last week. … Several women boxers have criticized attempts to encourage them to wear skirts for what seemed to be purely aesthetic reasons.

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Thought du jour

"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

British politician and statesman

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