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facts & arguments


How bees stay young

"Researchers have discovered that older honey bees reverse their brain aging process when they take on responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees," Psych Central reports. "The researchers note that humans may be able to learn something from the bees, using social interventions – rather than new drugs – to slow or treat age-related dementia. In a study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from Arizona State University and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences reported that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains." Gro Amdam, PhD, who led the study, said: "Maybe social interventions – changing how you deal with your surroundings – is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger. Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences."

Decisions, decisions

Some advice from Psychology Today:

1. "Trust yourself. Two heads are not always better than one. Making up your mind collaboratively with a friend or spouse might seem like the best way to consider more perspectives, but the opposite is true: joint decision-making (in groups of two) makes people more likely to reject outside information, finds a recent study in Psychological Science."

2. "Don't overthink. Stop staring at the 43 varieties of peanut butter. It doesn't matter that much which one you choose. When a decision feels difficult, we often mistakenly perceive it as important, report researchers from the University of Florida and the University of

Pennsylvania Wharton School."

Now the book reads you

"For centuries, reading has largely been a solitary and private act, an intimate exchange between the reader and the words on the page," writes Alexandra Alter of The Wall Street Journal. "But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public. The major new players in e-book publishing – Amazon, Apple and Google – can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books."

Do we need receptionists?

"Many startups are deciding it's not smart business to station a friendly employee in the lobby to greet visitors," reports The Boston Globe. "Some fledgling companies would rather apply the salary to a position they consider more important, while others figure a reception area is poor use of expensive real estate. In a shaky economy, they say, projecting an image of frugality is crucial and a traditional front desk receptionist sends the wrong message. … At least two companies are already offering robotic substitutes. WinTech LLC in Las Vegas sells a 'virtual receptionist' named ALICE that is based on an interactive, touchscreen video panel. And California-based Anybots Inc. makes the $10,000 QB Robot, a freestanding mobile robot that some companies are using as a receptionist."

Social media as a threat

"A survey of 192 U.S. executives indicates 42 per cent say the global economic environment was their biggest source of risk, while 27 per cent say social media," United Press International reports. "'Social media wasn't even on the radar a few years ago, and we're now seeing it ranked among the top sources of risk, on the same level as financial risk,' Henry Ristuccia, a partner in Deloitte & Touche LLP [said]." The executives surveyed are with companies whose annual revenue ranges from $5-million (U.S.) to $20-billion.

Thought du jour

A great city is that which has the greatest men and women. If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.

Walt Whitman

U.S. poet (1819-92)