A rise in antisocial behaviour indicates covid-19 lockdowns disrupted our cultural evolution, says Jonathan R. Goodman
“When children read more, they learn to read better,” says Dominic Wyse at University College London. A young child who enjoys being read to is developing a love of books that will help motivate them to learn to read.
  • Life
  • 2023-04-18
After reanalysing earlier studies, Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues have found that happiness continues to increase with incomes higher than $75,000, contradicting the widely reported idea of a happiness plateau For most people in the US, more money does seem to increase their happiness – even at incomes above $75,000 a year. This finding contradicts a widely publicised study from 2010 by Nobel prize-winning economists Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton at Princeton University. Their research was based on survey data from 1000 people in the US who had been surveyed daily between 2008 and 2009 about their levels of happiness.…
  • Mind
  • 2023-03-07
What is the minimum population needed to sustain me in a comfortable life in the US, in terms of the people who create and maintain infrastructure, goods and services? The combinatorial explosion of dependencies boggles my mind: for instance, I enjoy New Scientist, so its journalists and all their dependencies would have to be added in too. And so on… In a 2008 New Scientist interview, environmental activist David Suzuki discussed how the maximum population our planet could sustain with “Western” lifestyles could be as low as 200 million. Could this number provide the goods and services necessary? The “combinatorial…
The meaning of emojis changes depending on the context in which they’re used and when they’ve been posted, according to the first study of their use over time. Alexander Robertson at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and his colleagues tracked how emojis were used between 2012 and 2018 by Twitter users. In all, 1.7 billion tweets were checked to see if they contained an emoji, with duplicate content and non-English tweets filtered out. The tweets were then analysed with models that recognise the semantics of how words are used based on others around them. This allowed them to attribute meanings…
Chris Mason's book, The Next 500 Years, argues that it is our duty to give all life a future by bioengineering genomes to survive on other worlds
It isn’t just modern humans that have found giving birth painful and dangerous. Growing evidence suggests birth was difficult for our hominin relatives millions of years ago. As a result, earlier hominins like Australopithecus may have needed help to deliver their babies. Birth is strikingly dangerous for modern humans compared with other primates. Globally, for every 100,000 births in 2017, 211 mothers died. In the worst-affected countries, such as South Sudan, the maternal mortality rate is more than five times that. Many nations have much lower rates, but that is largely due to better medical intervention, including caesarean sections –…
  • Life
  • 2021-05-06
A survey shows a region of Saudi Arabia is home to 1000 monuments that may all date back 7000 years, and that seem to have been used for ritual activities
So much is now known about our similarities to other primates, it is easy to forget that, until relatively recently, we were still establishing exactly where we humans ended and apes began. Through the 20th century, the study of chimpanzees in particular was a way to learn about ourselves: how we might fare in space, for example, and how we might communicate in the absence of a common tongue. Lucy, the Human Chimp, a new TV documentary from KEO Films and Channel 4, explores the meeting of those worlds through the story of one unique relationship: that between Lucy, a…
  • Life
  • 2021-04-18
The early history of the alphabet may require rewriting. Four clay artefacts found at an ancient site in Syria are incised with what is potentially the earliest alphabetic writing ever found. The discovery suggests that the alphabet emerged 500 years earlier than we thought, and undermines leading ideas about how it was invented. A popular idea is that the alphabet first appeared in Egypt about 3800 years ago, when 20 or so Egyptian hieroglyphs were repurposed as the first alphabet’s letters. The script was then used to write down words in one or more of the ancient languages spoken in…