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Liked for your popularity, exams in comfort, the feared essay Add to ...

Liked for your popularity

"The old saying claims the heart wants what the heart wants, and a new study shows that what the heart wants is people who other people find attractive," LiveScience reports. "The finding strengthens the idea that attractiveness is relative, and that strangers influence personal ideas of beauty just as much as friends. 'Of course, people care about what friends and family think of their potential romantic partners. Surprisingly, we showed that complete strangers also matter,' said lead study researcher Skyler Place, a researcher in Indiana University's department of psychological and brain sciences. 'If you walk into a party and don't know anyone, you might think, 'Why do I care what anyone here thinks?' In reality, we're paying close attention to what others in our social environment are thinking and doing.' " The study is published online and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Want to have a tiger?

"Have you ever wished for a pet tiger to run around with in the park, or a panda to snuggle up next to," Chloe Lambert writes for The Times of London. "A golden retriever dyed orange and black to look like a tiger drew a huge crowd when it went on display this week at a pet show in Zhengzhou, in Henan province, eastern China. The 'tiger' played with three fluffy chow chow dogs that had been sheared and painted to look like baby pandas. It's the latest craze in China … Such doggy-dyeing may sound cruel but owners are careful to use only natural, non-toxic dyes so no harm is caused. The dye washes off after about three months, although the damage to the dogs' street cred could be more long-lasting."

Who shall I play with?

"A U.S. toy company is offering the chance to play with yourself - thanks to its personalized action figures," Orange News UK reports. "Oregon-based That's My Face offers to create dolls with lifelike mini-heads based on photos provided by customers. The firm uses advanced software to map out a 3D map of your features which they can apply to a scale version of your head. It is then a matter of choosing a body from the range available - from soldier to photographer - or just buying a head and attaching it to an action figure or doll of your choice."

Exams in comfort

"It has long been said that exams should be sat in comfort - in loose-fitting clothing and with a glass of water handy," Jessica Shepherd writes for The Guardian. "Now scientists have taken this a step further and found a way for students to take tests from their bedrooms at any time of day or night. … It has been developed by the U.S. firm Software Secure Inc. and works through a unit that students plug into their computers. Once a student feels ready to sit the written exam, the technology takes a fingerprint to check their identity and a 360-degree webcam and microphone kick into action. Throughout the exam, these pick up whether the student is trying to cheat by receiving help from others. The computer also 'locks down' so that the student cannot search the Internet or their files for answers." The technology, called Securexam Remote Proctor, is already used by U.S. institutions such as New York University's law faculty.

The feared essay

"Tuesday is the day that every Chinese teenager dreads, when some nine million students file into examination halls across the country to compete for a limited number of coveted university places," Peter Foster reports for The Daily Telegraph. Most feared of all are the abstruse essay questions that are worth up to 40 per cent of the final marks. "This year's national question showed a cartoon of three cats sitting at a table eating fish while disparaging a fourth cat trying to catch a [mouse] 'Why chase mice when there are fish to eat?' asked the paper, inviting students to respond in an 800-character essay. … In Shanghai, the essay question was titled 'Danish Fisherman,' accompanied by a quotation from the Chinese philosopher-sage Mencius: 'If fine nets do not enter the pools, there will be more fish and turtles than can be eaten.' "

Behind in your filing?

"A Massachusetts teacher cleaning up her classroom in preparation for a move has discovered a Colonial-era document buried in a pile of outdated textbooks and dusty scraps of papers," Associated Press reports. "Michelle Eugenio, a fourth-grade teacher in Peabody, Mass., found the yellowed sheet of paper two weeks ago. Dated April 1792 and protected by plastic, it appears to document the payment of a debt by a Vermont man named Jonathan Bates."

Thought du jour

"About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age."

- Gloria Pitzer

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