The Key to Happiness; Penguins Also Can't Stand the Heat

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Discovered: The real key to happiness, the penguins don't appreciate the warm weather, smoking causes skin cancer, too, a protein that could regenerates nerves.

  • The real key to happiness. Or at least a key to happiness. More than money, people associate respect with happiness, finds science. Here's the theory: "Having high standing in your local ladder leads to receiving more respect, having more influence, and being more integrated into the group’s social fabric," explains researcher Cameron Anderson. Turns out that it really does work like that. "I was surprised at how fluid these effects were – if someone’s standing in their local ladder went up or down, so did their happiness, even over the course of 9 months," Anderson continues. We will tell ourselves that this "respect" thing is the reason we picked these very highly respected blogger jobs of ours, rather than very high paid jobs elsewhere. We're gunning for happiness. [Association for Psychological Sciences]
  • The Antarctic Emperor penguins don't like the heat, either. Okay, so we know this heat wave doesn't exactly make the ice in the Antarctic melt. But the general warming trends we're seeing, which today's warmth seems to exemplify, do. And all that melting is putting the Emperor penguin in danger of extinction. We've seen March of the Penguins, we know how hard life can be for these guys, even without a melting ecosystem. With the ice melting the way it is, the Emperor species aren't going to do so well, according to science made climate models. "Our best projections show roughly 500 to 600 breeding pairs remaining by the year 2100. Today, the population size is around 3000 breeding pairs," explains researcher Stephanie Jenouvrie. That will be the end of an era. [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute]
  • Smoking causes skin cancer, too. Here's a new way smoking is bad for our health. In addition to wrinkles, saggy skin and all the other fun things cigarettes do to our skin, they also increase our chances of getting a certain kind of skin cancer. What science calls basal cell cancer, which forms toward the top of the skin. The risk, says the research, is about the same as ultraviolet radiation, the risk-factor that we all freak out about. So, if you're the type to care about this kind of stuff, add smoking to the list of things that mess with your skin. [Reuters]
  • Some exciting news for nerve regeneration. This research is still in its beginning stages, but science has discovered a promising protein for nerve regeneration (in mice). "DLK is a key molecule linking an injury to the nerve's response to that injury, allowing the nerve to regenerate," explains researcher Aaron DiAntonio. "How does an injured nerve know that it is injured? How does it take that information and turn on a regenerative program and regrow connections? And why does only the peripheral nervous system respond this way, while the central nervous system does not? We think DLK is part of the answer." All of those questions still need answering, however. But, it's a start. [Washington University in St. Louis]


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