Happiness makes it easier to get pregnant

Do you know why nine months after the World Cup, Germany is experiencing a baby boom? ...You got it right... according to a report, "last summer's mix of sun, beer and excitement during the football World Cup appears to have produced a massive hormone rush in German bedrooms, gardens and back alleys". Happiness tends to release hormones and makes it easier to get pregnant. The current birth rate is 10-15% higher than average, which is good news because Germany's birth rate is among the lowest in the world.


A rise in infomania

In a recent survey in UK, researchers found 62% of people checked working related email or IM at home or on holiday. More than 50% of the 1,100 respondents said they always responded to an email as soon as possible, with 21% admitting they would interrupt a meeting to do so. However, the important finding is this: those distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ - 200% more than the impact of smoking marijuana.

Why human get ulcers, but zebras don’t

I finished reading book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition last week, a quite interesting read. Author Robert Sapolsky, a Stanford University neuroscientist, did an excellent job shedding light on human stress.
Being highly intelligent and social, humans suffer from more stress-related diseases than any other animal, worrying about family, health, jobs and even the future. These are all diseases that are either caused by or being worsened by stress. The average beast, on the other hand, does not spend much time worrying about these things, that is in essence, why human get ulcers, but zebras don’t.
Humans can anticipate that something unfavorable is about to happen to them and can have a stress response prior to the event, which could help them cope. On the other hand, if human believes they are about to be loosing control over, but they are really not and this belief continues, then they are dealing with chronic stress.
Author's own words sum up this situation very well - “ for 99% of the beasts on this planet, stress is about 3 minutes of screaming in terror after which it’s either over with or you’re over with, and we turn it on for 30 year mortgages”.


Small is beautiful, profitable

Based on its most recent figures (2005), the U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that 99.9% of the country's businesses are small businesses. The U.S. Census Bureau says small businesses employ slightly more than 50% of the workforce.
The recent Intuit Future of Small Business Report cites a 2005 Gallup/CNN/USA Today survey, in which nearly 80% of 18-29 year-old questioned said they'd rather start their own business than work for a big company. The report specifically mentions technology as a driving force behind the growth of small business among young adults.


Where to find love?

Numbers on Y-axis are assumed popular place (in terms of %) to meet potential mate, numbers on X-axis are actual data. Sorry for the layout. Please click the graph to see the original.

Actual data by Assumed best place to meet potential mate


Positive sides of relationship break-ups

We all know a relationship break-up can have huge impact on a person's life. A new research showing that impact could be very positive, especially if the relationship is of low quality.
Researchers surveyed 155 people (aged 18 to 32) who had experienced a relationship break-up in the last 11 weeks; for 1/4 of them, it was their partner who had chosen to initiate the break up. 58% of the sample reported high levels of positive emotions following the relationship break-up, such as feeling energised and hopeful, while 71% reported high levels of growth, agreeing with statements like "I have learned a lot about myself" (importantly, growth was not related to who had initiated the break-up). By contrast, just 31% reported high levels of negative emotions like feeling traumatised.
"The present results indicate that growth and positive emotions may be a larger part of the relationship dissolution experience than previously thought", the researchers said.

Immigrants: more likely to be self-employed

USnews.com (Feb 26, 2007) ran a short article about immigrants' high propensity to be self-employed. Often as the only way to crack the US economy system, immigrants start business at a higher rate than native-born Americans. Even highly educated immigrants, due to lack the language and cultural skills to break into corporate America, or driven purely by personality, they often prefer to be their own boss. About 25% of the engineering and technology companies started in US from 1995-2005 had at least one immigrant founder, Jerry Young (co-founder of Yahoo), Steve Chan (co-founder of YouTube) are two of the best known.


Play video games can improve eye vision

According to a recent study out of the University of Rochester, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart. People who play action-packed video games can boost their visual acuity by about 20% a month.
The researchers took on the nigh-impossible task of digging up a subject pool of Rochester students who never played video games. They gave the students a visual test where they identified the orientation of letters in a clutter. Students then spent a month playing either the action game Unreal Tournament or the less visually exhilarating (but still wonderful) Tetris for one hour a day. After a month, the Tetris players were still their average old selves, but the Unreal Tournament players gained unreal vision. Research concluded that "games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."


Happy nations -- world map of happiness

In scientific terms, at national scale, the people' happiness level was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth(.52), and then provision of education(.51). Recently, Adrian G. White, a psychologist at the University of Leicester, produced a “world map of happiness.” based on data from UNESCO, the CIA, and other institutions.
In summary, the 10 happiest nations in the world are:
1. Denmark, 2. Switzerlan, 3. Austria, 4. Iceland, 5. The Bahamas,
6. Finland, 7. Sweden, 8. Bhutan, 9. Brunei, 10. Canada.

Other notable rankings:
23. USA, 35. Germany, 41. UK, 62. France, 82. China, 90. Japan,
125. India, 167. Russia (I am most surprised by this one)

The 3 least happy countries were:
176. Democratic Republic of the Congo, 177. Zimbabwe, 178. Burundi


How do people lie when they date online ?

A recent study suggest that many people lie when they're trying to get a date online, and the way they lie is quite strategic: people try to appear both attractive and honest by slightly underestimating their weight or overestimating their height. Nearly 2/3 of people lie about their weight on dating sites.
The researchers measured 80 people with profiles on Match.com, Yahoo Personals, American Singles, or Web Date. More than 52% of men in the study lied about their height on their profiles, whereas only 39% of women were off by more than a half inch. But 64% of women and nearly 61% of men missed their weight by at least five pounds. A mere 24% of men and 13% of women lied about their age.


How many people drive on the right side of the road?

I always like to know why people drive on the right side of the road in many countries; but in some countries, people do drive on the left. Now I got the answer from the world map of driving orientations. It appears an estimated 66% of people worldwide live in right-hand side countries, and 72% of all distances are completed while driving on the right side of the road.