Fruity happiness but not for the hairy bros among us

Turns out, then, that yo mamma was right all along: eating more fruit and vegetables makes you happier.

Nature’s candy – as it is somewhat optimistically dubbed – has been analysed in a mega-study to be published in Social Indicators Research. The diet habits of 80,000 men and women in the UK were studied and results indicated that the more fruit and veg the subjects ate, the happier they were. Seven servings a day seemed to yield the most positive results. Though whether ‘smugness’ counts is debatable. Ah well, pass the Skittles-infused vodka – hey, it’s a start, right?

Nice news for Weekender this week with the announcement that a team of researchers has worked out how to programme robots to be able to convert flat-pack furniture instructions into commands. This algorithm means that in the future, robots will be able to build the damned things on their own and therefore save Weekender’s neighbours from a stream of inventive invective every time a new wardrobe gets made. If there is a world swearing championships, count us in – but pass the Ikea Brian cupboard box first.

Hairy misfits

Slovakia came through with some classy research, which looked at the idea that women prefer smooth-skinned blokes rather than hairy semi-ape men. In the past, it’s been hypothesised that the gorilla-esque amongst us got less action due to the prehistorical possibility that lice and ticks lived in their Tom Jones-esque chests.

So the team asked 161 Turkish and 183 Slovakian women to rate pictures of men both hairy and hairless. Due to Turkey’s higher rate of parasite-transmitted diseases like malaria and dengue fever, researchers expected the Turkish women to significantly prefer the smooth-chested ones. But there was no difference and both countries’ lasses were the same in that 20 per cent found the hairy ones more attractive than the shaven havens. It’s figured that to pursue further results requires looking at more countries of the world and it may even be connected to where the women were in their monthly cycles.

“Clearly, more cross-cultural comparison is needed to solve this question,” researcher Pavol Prokop, a professor of biology at Trnava University in Slovakia, wrote in an email to LiveScience. Weekender just bought an electric shaver.

Apologies in advance, but just imagine the sound of fingernails scraping down a blackboard. Horrible, isn’t it. But why should that be so teeth-edgingly cringe-ming? Sukjbinder Kumar and colleagues at Newcastle University studied it and found that the ancient amygdala region of the brain was activated by the sound. The amygala then activated the sound-processing auditory cortex, which made the 13 volunteers perceive the noise much more sensitively. This, said Dr. Kumar, could have been a distress signal from the amygdala, which could have been useful because humans’ ears have also evolved to be sensitive in that frequency range, which also covers that of screaming and crying babies.

And some singers Weekender has encountered over the years, but that’s another story.

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