The Bizarre Cult of Happiness Studies

All of the ways we currently measure happiness are filled with errors, says University of Illinois professor Deirdre McCloskey, who argues today's society is not especially consumerist. 

What's the Latest Development?

All our rules regarding the measurement of happiness fall quickly away upon close examination, says Deirdre McCloskey, who teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Perhaps the most tried and "true" method for measuring happiness is asking people under what conditions they feel happiest. But this cannot work: People feel the same experiences differently (some like it hot, others not as much). And besides, some people are naturally happier than others. "The deeper happiness," said McCloskey, "is not measurable."

What's the Big Idea?

To the mainstream critics of our modern "consumerist society," McCloskey points out that the population at large is given to buying more trinkets today simply because we make more money, not that our values have shifted or become corrupted. Humans have always spent their disposable income on their vices, only today there are more people with more money, hence the appearance of more vice. McCloskey also writes that, historically speaking, more economically vibrant societies have also produced greater cultural works, whether than means symphonies, education systems or good literature. In short, income has the effect of enriching life.

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How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
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  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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