December 7, 2008

6 Degrees of Happiness

6 Degrees of Happiness

A 20 year long study finds that happiness is contagious and spreads further than immediate friends and family. Researchers found that happiness can even filter its effects beyond people who do not know each other.

Over 4,700 people were followed over 20 years for the happiness study.

“You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience,� said Nicholas Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University who helped conducted the study, “But it also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious.�- Star Tribune

After hearing about the study, a person is likely to ask, “Well, what about sadness or depression?� The same study found that depression is also contagious but not nearly to the extent of happiness.

When one individual in a network becomes happy, the likeliness that a sibling, friend or spouse would become happy increased 8 to 34 percent, the researchers found.


Star Tribune- “Turns out happiness spreads like the flu� By Rob Stein of the Washington Post

November 13, 2008

Underlying confusion with Obama being Muslim

Underlying confusion with Obama being Muslim

This year’s presidential election has brought about many interesting quarrels and disputes. One in particular I found interesting was a study that found 10 percent of American’s believed Barack Obama is Muslim.

In “American Muslims get country’s cold shoulder� Allie Shah says, “Obama’s defenders were quick to point out that he was not a Muslim, but they stopped short of adding that even if he were one, who cares?�

I personally have witnessed accounts of this and caught myself wondering why would that be a big deal?

With the campaign team clearly aware of the misconceived notion of Obama being Muslim, flyers were sent out broadly stating him as an American Christian who attends church regularly.

This hit at the Muslim community is disappointing and misunderstood. “There is a deep-seated mistrust of Muslims and a belief that Muslims are not Americans,� Allie Shah said.

The Obama camp also took action against further association between Obama and Muslims during a Michigan appearance. A female Obama supporter, who happened to be Muslim, attended his speech wearing a head scarf. The woman was standing on the stage behind Obama’s speech podium. An Obama camp staffer saw the woman and decided to move her to a different, less prominent spot.

It is not known whether Obama was aware of this but he did later apologize.

“Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?� Colin Powell asked on “Meet the Press.�

“The answer is ‘no.’ yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America,� Powell said.

Sources: Star Tribune “American Muslims get country’s cold shoulder� By Allie Shah

November 9, 2008

Pacemakers and headphones do not mix

Pacemakers and headphones do not mix

Magnets within headphones could interfere with heart devices, according to a meeting in New Orleans this week at the American Heart Association.

Different heart devices are made to speed up slow heart rhythms. If exposed to certain magnets, the devices may signal the heart to beat faster.

A study was done where researchers put eight types of headphones to iPods and tested them on 60 different patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators. The electronic interfered with 14 patients.

“For defibrillator patients, it is a much bigger concern because the magnet can temporarily deactivate it,� says the study’s senior author, Dr. William H. Maisel, director of the Medical Device Safety Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sources: “Study: Headphones could interfere with pacemakers� By Patrick Sauer

November 2, 2008

UC Davis squirrels have gone nuts

UC Davis squirrels have gone nuts

Squirrels on the UC Davis campus have gotten very aggressive when people feed them.

Campus officials are trapping squirrels and giving them hormone birth control injections.

“It works just like vaccines for any disease, only it’s a vaccine against being able to produce sperm and eggs,� said Krause.

Sources: News10 “Squirrels gone wild, UC Davis starts Birth Control Program�

October 26, 2008

Non invasive weight loss surgery

Non invasive weight loss surgery

Surgeons have discovered a way to staple the stomach into a thumb-sized tube by using instruments that go through the patient’s mouth and down their throat.

No cutting is required and the stapling of the stomach makes the patient’s feel full after eating minimal amounts of food. However, the surgery is only for those dangerously obese.

This innovative procedure helps patients experience less pain and speeds up the recovery time.

Sources: The New York Times- Weight-Loss Surgery, No Cutting Required

October 19, 2008

Abducted boy found in Las Vegas

Cole Puffinburger, 6, was found by authorities in Las Vegas Saturday night.

Three kidnappers abducted Puffinburger from his house Wednesday. Authorities have probable cause to believe that the abduction could be retaliation by drug dealers.

Puffinburger’s grandfather, Clemons F. Tinnemeyer, has a history of drug dealing and was arrested Friday.

Sources: CNN

October 12, 2008

Sheets of light

Sheets of light
A machine has been created to print sheets of light in Niskayuna, New York.

The machine coats plastic film with chemicals before sealing them with a metal foil layer. Electrical current is then applied resulting in a blue-white lighten sheet.

Lighting possibilities with these new sheets are endless. People could wrap them around posts, put them on the inside of blinds, or even use as wallpaper.

The light producing sheets are made possible by organic light-emitting diodes, also known as OLEDs. Researchers are starting to use OLEDs in cell-phone displays and TVs.

Many technical problems need to be worked out but researchers estimate OLEDs to be the lighting of the future.

Sources: CNN “New machine prints sheets of light�

October 5, 2008

Virginity for sale

Virginity for sale

A 22-year-old virgin capitalized on her virginity in order to pay for graduate school.

A Sacramento State student, using the pseudonym Natalie Dylan, sold her virginity for $250,000 dollars at the infamous Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada.

“I think empowerment of women is picking yourself up and doing something on your own to better yourself,� says Dylan.

Dylan is graduating with a degree in women’s studies and plans to get her master’s degree in family and marriage counseling.

Natalie said her virginity won’t simply go to the highest bidder. “I’m looking for intelligence and an overall nice person,� says Dylan.

“When I was younger, I wanted 100% romance, possibly even wait for marriage. But as I grew up, reality kinda hit. And I think it’s a capitalistic society, and I want to capitalize on this,� explains Dylan.

September 28, 2008

Wisconsin man survives plane crash

A plane crashed in Hartland, Wis., today reported the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Police arrived and found a single-engine ultra light plane in the field on the north side of 210th Avenue, east of County Road D in Pierce County.

Alan Smith, 57, of Maiden Rock, Wis., was flying the airplane when he lost control and crashed into the field. Smith was able to walk away from the accident and drove himself to the hospital.


Pioneer Press “Wisconsin man OK after his plane crashes�

September 21, 2008

Chilly with isolation

Isolation is often referred to as cold and lonely, new research at the University of Toronto recently found truth to feeling “left out in the cold�.

According to the journal Psychological Science, just thinking about rejection can make a room feel chillier.

Recent studies performed at the University of Toronto discovered that isolated people prefer warm drinks over cold ones. Perhaps, in order to make them selves feel better.

The results show psychological associations between cold temperatures and the feelings of loneliness, sadness or despair.

The first conducted experiment consisted of 65 subjects whom were divided into two groups. Half of the participants were instructed to think about a time they felt socially isolated. While the other half was instructed to recall an experience where they felt socially accepted.

Afterwards, participants were each asked to estimate the room temperature. Subjects instructed to think about rejection averaged 71 degrees, 5 degrees cooler than the temperature given by accepted group.

In addition, an experiment was performed involving a virtual ball tossing game so that certain participants would receive the ball only twice. After the game, the participants were all asked to rate their desire for hot coffee, hot soup or an icy Coke. Subjects who had been somewhat “isolated� by the virtual game showed greater preference for hot liquids than the “included� participants.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a psychologist at Ohio State University, said the feeling of cold may be a physiological reaction to stress caused by social isolation. When people feel tense or stressed, their peripheral blood vessels contract, cooling the skin.

Lawrence E. Williams Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado who studies temperature and emotion, said the association is believed to have roots in infancy, when the physical sensation of warmth that comes from being held is connected to being loved.


Los Angeles Times “Isolated people really do feel left out in the cold� By Denise Gellene