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Loneliness today, e-mail snoopers, women Tweet more Add to ...

Loneliness today

Loneliness is more prevalent among the young than those past retirement age, a survey suggests, amid profound changes in the way we live and interact, writes Clare Murphy of BBC News. "The Lonely Society report described the generational differences uncovered in its survey as 'striking.' Nearly 60 per cent of those aged between 18 to 34 questioned spoke of feeling lonely often or sometimes, compared to 35 per cent of those aged over 55."

E-mail snoopers

Wives are almost twice as likely as their husbands to snoop on their e-mails, text messages and Internet use, British researchers have found, The Daily Telegraph reports. "Despite generally not being as technologically skilled as their spouses, when they think their relationship is at stake [wives] learn how to spy, the academics discovered. When they questioned 920 middle-aged couples, they found that 14 per cent of the wives secretly read their husbands' e-mails, 13 per cent their text messages and 10 per cent checked their Internet browser histories. By contrast, the respective figures for men were only 8 per cent, 6 per cent and 7 per cent." Ellen Helsper of the London School of Economics co-authored the study with Monica Whitty of Nottingham Trent University.

Everest gets tougher

A Nepalese Sherpa who climbed Mount Everest for a record 20th time said on Tuesday that the melting of glacier ice along its slopes because of global warming is making it increasingly difficult to climb the peak, Associated Press reports. "The rising temperature on the mountains has melted much ice and snow on the trail to the summit. It is difficult for climbers to use their crampons on the rocky surfaces," Apa told reporters after flying to Kathmandu on Tuesday. The 49-year-old Apa, who uses only one name, first climbed Everest in 1989 and has repeated the feat almost every year since. He said that when he first began climbing Everest, there was hardly any rocky surface on the trail. Now, he says, the trail is dotted with bare rocks.

Women Tweet more

A new report from HubSpot examines whether the sexes behave differently on Twitter, the Huffington Post reports. "Their conclusion? They do. HubSpot looked at nine million Twitter accounts - excluding outliers, like celebrities - and concluded that women are 'more social' on Twitter than men. HubSpot found that although men and women have an equitable number of followers, women tend to tweet and follow more - 12 per cent and 2 per cent more than men, respectively."

Sharks are bright

"In open water, there is often no place to hide," writes Jennifer Viegas of Discovery News. "Some sharks have overcome this problem by making themselves invisible to both prey and predators, according to a new study. Light trickery permits the optical illusion, described in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology." Lead author Julian Claes says that about 50 shark species, or more than 10 per cent of all known sharks, are luminous. This means they can produce and emit light from their bodies. Most sharks have their mouths on the underside, and this camouflage system allows the shark to grab prey with invisible ease. The light may also turn on members of the opposite sex. "Communication is also a function of the luminescence, since some parts of the animal appear brighter at close range, such as the pelvic part containing the sexual organs," the researcher suggests.

Another extinction

"One more step in what scientists are increasingly referring to as the Sixth Great Extinction is announced [Wednesday] the disappearance of yet another bird species," writes Michael McCarthy, environment editor of The Independent. "The vanishing of the Alaotra grebe of Madagascar is formally notified … by the global conservation partnership BirdLife International - and it marks a small but ominous step in the biological process which seems likely to dominate the 21st century. Researchers now recognize five earlier cataclysmic events in the Earth's prehistory when most species on the planet died out, the last being the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event 65 million years ago, which may have been caused by a giant meteorite striking the Earth, and which saw the disappearance of the dinosaurs. But the rate at which species are now disappearing makes many biologists consider we are living in a sixth major extinction comparable in scale to the others - except that this one has been caused by humans. In essence, we are driving plants and animals over the abyss faster than new species can evolve."

Does your parrot curse?

"Reinforce acceptable word usage with food treats or toys," advises The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Life. "Hold a cookie while you teach the parrot to say 'cookie,' or cover its cage while you say 'good night.' While it is impossible to 'unteach' the bird, eventually it will use only those words that it hears frequently. Never keep a parrot in your bedroom."

Thought du jour

"When an old man dies a library burns down."

- African proverb

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