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That online profile may just be telling you the truth

Online profiles? Realistic

"If you like someone on Facebook, it might be worth a shot in the flesh: A growing body of research suggests that people are roughly the same on- and offline," says Psychology Today. "One study in Psychological Science reports that when people rate others' personalities based only on their Facebook profiles, the assessments tend to be an accurate reflection of reality. But superficial things manipulate our perceptions: Israeli researchers found that when a man is holding a guitar in his profile photo, women are three times more likely to respond positively to a flirtatious introduction."

What is luck?

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"Do you think of yourself as lucky?" writes Kevin Lewis in The Boston Globe. "A recent study from the United Kingdom suggests that maybe what you're perceiving isn't luck at all. People who reported more good luck also tended to have better cognitive skills. Conversely, the sense of being unlucky 'may, to an extent, reflect deficits in a series of executive functions needed to initiate, plan, develop strategies around, organize and pay attention to task- or goal-oriented behaviours.'"

Flying chair for gamers

"Full-motion flight simulators are brilliant for making you feel like you're truly flying," says the New Scientist. "They're also prohibitively expensive. So Fabien Danieau of Technicolor in Rennes, France, has come up with a way of rigging up a normal chair with three special games controllers that are designed to make it feel like the headrest and two armrests move independently. They then wrote software that moves the armrests up slightly to make you feel you are dropping – and vice versa – at the right moments in the game."

Liberal arts in decline

"The number of liberal arts colleges in the United States has dropped 39 per cent since 1990, from 212 to 139, reports Michigan State University scholar Roger Baldwin. While financial woes have led to closures or mergers with larger institutions," says The Futurist, "many schools have simply transformed their missions into something less philosophical and more career-oriented. … 'The diversity of U.S. higher education is widely regarded as one of its strengths,' says Baldwin. 'But American higher education will be diminished if the number of liberal arts colleges continues to decline.'"

Study strategies that work

Some of the most popular study strategies used by students, including highlighting and rereading, don't show much promise for improving learning or grades, according to new U.S. research reported at Psych Central. A review of 10 common techniques by a team at Kent State University found that two strategies – practice testing and distributed practice – made the grade. Practice testing involves using flash cards or answering questions at the end of a chapter. Distributed practice involves spreading out studying over time and having students quiz themselves on material before a big test.

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Roman life in the bath

"Ever go swimming with rings on your fingers or hoops in your ears only to find your jewellery had vanished after your dip?" writes Stephanie Pappas for "If so, you've got something in common with ancient Romans. A new study of objects lost down the drains in the bathhouses from the Roman Empire reveals that people got up to all sorts of things in these gathering places. They bathed, of course, but they also adorned themselves with trinkets, snacked on finger foods and even did needlework. 'For the Romans, the baths weren't just a place to get clean, but this larger social centre where a variety of activities were taking place,' said study researcher Alissa Whitmore. … Evidence shows medical procedures may have occasionally occurred in the baths, Whitmore found. Researchers found a scalpel lodged in one drain. And in the Caerleon baths in what is now Wales, archeologists uncovered three adolescent and two adult teeth, suggesting bathhouse visitors may have undergone some dentistry, too."

Thought du jour

I can't think of any sorrow in the world that a hot bath wouldn't help, just a little bit.

Susan Glaspell, American playwright and poet (1876-1948)

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