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Humanity on the scales

"Add all of us up, all seven billion human beings on Earth, and clumped together we weigh roughly 750 billion pounds," writes Robert Krulwich at "That, says Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is more than 100 times the biomass of any large animal that's ever walked the Earth."

Testosterone and truth

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"Higher levels of testosterone have been implicated in some negative qualities associated with men, such as impaired empathy," writes Kevin Lewis in The Boston Globe. "Recent research, though, is showing some upsides of the same hormone; now, a new study finds that testosterone inhibits lying. Men were given either testosterone or a placebo and were later asked to roll a six-sided die in private, and whatever number the men reported rolling would determine their payoff for the experiment. … While men who were administered the placebo reported rolling the highest payoff 62 per cent of the time, those who were administered testosterone reported rolling the highest payoff just 35 per cent of the time."

Telemarketers get a bill

"A British court ruled in favour of a businessman who decided to bill cold-calling telephone marketers for his time," says United Press International. "A telemarketing firm agreed to pony up £195 ($313) Richard Herman said he was owed for the time he spent fielding calls from their sales reps. 'I was feeling oppressed that I was getting called by these companies,' Herman told The Daily Telegraph. 'Once I sent the company the invoice, I felt as though the boot was on the other foot. I wasn't the victim any more.' Herman said cold calls had been consuming an increasing part of his time. … The last straw came when Herman was trying to enjoy a quiet afternoon in his Surrey garden but couldn't because his mobile phone kept ringing."

Do you have these friends?

The five types of friends everyone should have, according to Ryan O'Connell, editor of

The friend who is always "down for whatever." ("It's imperative that you have a friend who is readily available and doesn't require a 21-day notice to hang out.")

The friend who is slightly "cooler" than you. ("They're just good to have around because they actually know of parties and other social happenings?")

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The friend whom you admire.

The friend who doesn't know any of your other friends. ("It's basically the friendship equivalent of a mistress except you're not actually doing anything wrong.")

The friend whom you've known forever.

Statues in living colour

"As the goddess of love, beauty and sexual pleasure, Aphrodite inspired cult worship and challenged artists to render her in suitably magnificent form," writes Jamie Katz in Smithsonian magazine. "We have inherited an image of her as an idealized nude chiselled in white marble, immortalized by works such as Praxiteles' Aphrodite of Knidos or the Venus de Milo. That image is dead wrong, according to modern scholars. Ancient sculptors were very much interested in colour as well as form; the white marble statues we admire looked stunningly different in antiquity. They were painted with a palette that displayed a sophisticated understanding of colour and shading."

Thought du jour

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Emergencies have always been necessary to progress. It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to show us the value of a job

-Victor Hugo

French author (1802-85)

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