Why Being Nice to Others is Good for You


Turns out that being nice to other people isn't just good for the recipients of your kindness. According to the latest research, people who are generous and altruistic reap a host of benefits from their behavior, from lower stress levels to happier relationships to reduced risk of heart disease. As Stephen Post says in this Big Think interview, "in general it’s good to be good and science says it’s so." Post's research shows a significant upside to volunteerism and other generous behaviors:

People developed deeper friendships, more meaningful relationships.  They had a sense of gratification.  They expressed greater resiliency when they experienced problems and tough times in life.  So in my view if you could take those kinds of self-reported benefits and put them in a pill, market them at the drugstore, you’d be a billionaire overnight.  But the thing is that you don’t really have to do that because if people simply get in touch with that evolved aspect of their being, they tend to benefit from it.

So, does this turn the old adage on its head? Do nice guys actually finish first? Maybe not always, but it looks like they're a lot happier -- and may well live longer -- than more selfish individuals.

How to make a black hole

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

Videos
  • 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.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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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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