Holiday Cheer

09 Dec

The espresso machines are squealing behind me and a light rain is misting the windows before me. Pike Place Market is a mill of shoppers and merchants – people bunkered down underneath eaves, trying to avoid the cold. So, in celebration of this winter malaise, here’s a few stories to warm your cockles.

Warm Memories – Warm Hearts

It turns out that those warm fuzzy memories you get around the holidays may be doing more than just tugging on your heartstrings. A series of recent studies has shown that remembering previous happy experiences is both affected and affects how we feel temperature. Researchers showed that people were more likely to feel nostalgic in cold environments and that recalling happy memories boosted both a person’s perception of warmth and their resistance to cold stimuli.

Extroverted, Healthy Gorillas

It’s not just humans who benefit from a bit of cheer. Another study just out found that personality can play a big part in the long-term health of captive gorillas. The study asked zookeepers and caretakers to rate their gorillas playfulness, curiosity, and social charisma and compared these surveys to information about the animal’s lifespan. It turns out that, like humans, outgoing sociable individuals tended to live the longest.

North Korea Discovers Unicorns!

If that doesn’t add a bit of a spring in your step, consider that researchers in North Korea have just announced that they’ve discovered the lair of an ancient unicorn once ridden by King Tongmyong! Right….

Trippin’ on Nutmeg

Finally, if you really can’t get over the winter blues, maybe you should just go ahead and load up on that eggnog. Make sure you’ve got the nutmeg though. It turns out that nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural substance with psychoactive properties. Yes, you can get high off it. Although you’d have to really pound it down (feel like eating three whole seeds? Plus, the trip sounds kind of awful, complete with headaches, nausea, hallucinations, heart problems, and irrational behavior that can last for days.

I think I’ll stick to cocoa.

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Modernity, Natural History


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