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The Globe and Mail

Small acts of compassion - like helping with dishes - can help keep couples together

Compassion helps couples

"A new study suggests helping with the dishes, rather than giving roses, may be a better way to enhance a 21st century relationship," says Psych Central. "While this may seem sacrilegious after Valentine's Day, the new Open University study finds that the things that keep couples together often include small acts of compassion. Researchers discovered simple acts of kindness ranging from taking out the trash to bringing a cup of coffee to bed, to telling someone they look good naked, are cited as relationship savers by the 4,000-plus adults in the U.K. who took part in the Enduring Love online survey."

Ice can make a fire

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"You can start a fire with ice," says the Chicago Tribune. "How? Carve a chunk of ice into a lens so that it works as a sort of magnifying glass, concentrating sunlight on one spot. Outdoors experts can do this with special effort. The rest of us are better off starting our fires with a match."

A blowtorch for asteroids?

Two California scientists have a new proposal to deploy an array of lasers that could vaporize asteroids from as far away as 93 million miles (150 million kilometres) – the distance between the Earth and the sun, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Working in synchrony, the lasers could destroy a menacing asteroid outright, or at least knock it off course." One of the researchers, cosmologist Philip Lubin at the University of California, Santa Barbara, explained: "You don't blow up an asteroid like the Death Star in Star Wars, where you push a button and the planet explodes. You basically take a blowtorch to it in the form of a laser beam and you begin to evaporate it. The evaporation can take place over time. In our case, it takes about a few months to evaporate an asteroid the size of a few hundred meters in diameter – which is an asteroid that, if it hit the Earth, would do severe damage."

Turning into a jerk

"Organizations often tolerate unfair jerks in their ranks, even near the top of the power hierarchy, if only because they seem to be productive," says The Boston Globe. "However, a new study suggests that their presence may contaminate co-workers more than we assume. Researchers presented subjects with a profile and picture of someone described as a fair leader and someone else described as an unfair leader. Then, in a computer task, the participants were subliminally exposed to the image of either the fair or unfair leader. Later, in an ostensibly unrelated managerial role-playing task, participants who had been exposed to the unfair leader wrote a harsher dismissal letter – with less contrition and explanation – to a fired employee."

Coffee was a special blend

"Employees at an air force base in Blekinge in southern Sweden said they have learned that for two years they have been drinking coffee made with radiator water," reports United Press International. "The problem was discovered when the heating system was shut down for the installation of a district heating system, the Swedish news agency TT reported. It turned out that the coffee machine was hooked up to the heating unit, a closed system which pumps water between the radiators, instead of the drinking water. The radiators simply refilled automatically as staff made coffee with heating system water. 'As the coffee is black and the radiator water is a bit brown, then we haven't noticed the difference,' said Captain Catharina Bergsell, information officer at the F-17 squadron." Staff at the base will undergo tests, but there have been no reports of personnel falling ill.

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Thought du jour

Self-respecting people do not care to peep at their reflections in unexpected mirrors, or to see themselves as others see them.

- Logan Pearsall Smith

American essayist (1865-1946)

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