Environment  
comments_image Comments

10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week

Restoring sight to the blind, hearing extinct animals, and why your dog is amazingly evolved are just a few of our stories this week.
 
 
Share

Photo Credit: Palmer Kane LLC/Shutterstock.com

 
 
 
 

It was one of those rare TV moments that makes a person want to jump up and down and run around the house -- I couldn’t believe what I heard. Performing in the closing ceremony of the Olympics, Eric Idle sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," and included the line “Life’s a piece of shit/when you look at it.” It was a golden moment. The entire world had come together to celebrate athletic achievement, glorious British culture and the spirit of the games, and then out comes that line which, after all the fireworks are over, is how lots of people feel lots of the time. I thought, "Okay, turn off the TV, it’s not going to get better." 

Except that it did, because it was followed by video of Freddie Mercury, and later, Brian May and Jessie J. singing "We Will Rock You ." Just goes to show ya -- shitty or not, might as well stick around, because you don’t always know what’s next.

1. Apocalypse not now

And you really don’t know what’s coming next, not even those of you who have been tapping your feet waiting for this 2012 apocalypse. You might have seen photos of this lake in France looking like a plague of blood and thought, “Well, it’s about damn time.” Just like the last apocalypse and all the apocalypses before that , it’s really nothing to get worked up about aside from being a staggering image probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

The lake is in the Camargue, where the Rhone meets the sea, and it changes from its normal color to red from high concentrations of salt in the form of salt flats, reports the Huffington Post. In these amazing photos in the Daily Mail the salt looks like ice, or cotton, and the whole thing looks like a set from  Lost in Space  or like one big Bloody Mary. Brunch, anyone? 

2. Play it again, TVLand!

If you’ve ever felt like it was the end of the world because your favorite show was canceled and then felt silly for wallowing in reruns, the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute for Addictions has the best news ever: watching reruns is good for you! Far from being a waste of time, the researchers found that immersion in a “familiar, fictional world” (hello, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek etc.) gets us into a positive mood and replenishes our ability to resist temptation, writes Tom Jacobs in the Pacific Standard

The research, Jacobs writes, grows out of the idea that self-control is finite : exercise it in one part of your day (“I am not going to buy those purple platform shoes”) and it’ll probably be harder later on (“I’ll take the car!”). Improving our mood seems key to shoring up our self-control and mood improvement often involves interaction with friends and/or family. But sometimes those interactions are stressful; enter our fictional friends and family, providing what psychologist Jaye Derrick of Buffalo calls “social surrogacy,” which we find comforting.

Jacobs describes Derrick’s study, written up in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science. It’s a bit complicated but the bottom line is that in experiments demanding various levels of self-control and concentration in a written essay, people who wrote about their favorite TV show -- who engaged in their fictional world -- did and felt better on subsequent tests than those who didn’t. 

And frankly, I had to concentrate so hard when reading about that study that I should probably watch a little "Simpsons" now. Temptation lurks everywhere. Better to just be prepared.

 
See more stories tagged with: