A sleeper hit?
A band in England has created the world's most relaxing song. "It sounds as though sleepless nights could be a thing of the past, thanks to Marconi Union, a musical trio from Manchester," The Telegraph says. "They have created a song they call Weightless which has become, officially, the most relaxing song ever. That is the verdict of the [scientists]who say that its sustaining rhythm, the harmonic intervals, the absence of a repeated melody and the use of 'whooshing sounds and hums' all combine to make the perfect aural narcoleptic. It is so effective that drivers are being warned not to put it on the car stereo." Altsounds.com adds that the eight-minute track was created in consultation with Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy.
Profanity and aggression
"The use of profanity has exploded in movies, video games, TV and, of course, over the Internet," says Psych Central. "Now, a study suggests profanity in the media may increase aggression levels among teens – acting, according to researchers, as a kind of stepping stone to violence. … In the study, scholars at Brigham Young University gathered information from 223 middle-school students in the [U.S.]Midwest. Although the study was not conducted over a period of time, statistical techniques were applied that give more clues than would simple correlation tests, says BYU family life professor Sarah Coyne. Specifically, the statistical modelling points to a chain reaction: Exposure to profanity is associated with acceptance and use of profanity, which in turn influence both physical and relational aggression. 'On the whole, it's a moderate effect,' said Coyne, the lead author of the Pediatrics study."
"A beggar has seen a boom in business after declaring himself invisible," reports The Sunday Times of London. "Nemanja Petrovic was so fed up after being shunned by passersby in Subotica, Serbia, that he gave up his spot, leaving just his cap, shoes and a sign reading: 'Invisible Beggar.' 'When I returned, I was astonished to find a crowd and my cap full of money,' said Mr. Petrovic, 42. 'Now I just put down the sign, and a pair of shoes as a prop, and wait for the donations to roll in while I have a coffee over the road.' "
Let a frown be your umbrella
"It was only last month that we learned how shared negative opinions and attitudes can result in the formation of speedy and genuine relationships between people," Brainblogger.com says. "Now there's research to show that a pessimistic outlook might be better for mental health overall. … The researchers set out to examine the best method [for]dealing with life stressors and determine if positive outlook resulted in improved mental health. … They found that in the case of those subjects experiencing less stressful situations – as measured by the observers – a positive perspective led to increased mental health over time. In more stressful instances, this same perspective was found to correlate with an increase in depressive symptoms over time. Lastly, if an initially positive appraisal of low-severity stressful events continued to be applied even as events increased in levels of stress, mental health was found to decline as well."
Land of the armed
"The Statue of Liberty is attracting an assortment of well-armed tourists, with security officers seizing thousands of weapons from visitors headed into New York Harbor," the New York Daily News reports. "… The [U.S. Park Police]confiscated a wide-ranging array of weapons in the first nine months of 2011, a testament to its rigorous airport-style screening centre in Battery Park City. An inventory showed officers recovered 28 illegal weapons – everything from brass knuckles to collapsible batons to blackjacks. They also seized nearly 5,300 knives; more than 5,000 other 'miscellaneous weapons,' including screwdrivers and other tools; and nearly 7,000 cans of pepper spray. Last month alone, visitors surrendered seven dangerous weapons, 61 cans of pepper spray and Mace, and 588 knives – an average of about 20 blades a day, according to Park Police statistics."
The nose keeps beating
"Tiny finger-like projections lining the nose continue to beat after death," reports New Scientist magazine. "Since the beating of these cilia slows at a predictable rate, forensic teams should be able to estimate time of death more accurately. Pinpointing precisely when someone died can be a challenge for investigators. … The beating rate of cilia could provide an additional tool to help decide time of death, especially if it was within the previous 24 hours."
Thought du jour
"Money doesn't mind if we say it's evil, it goes from strength to strength. It's a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy."
Martin Amis (1949-), British novelist