Find of the Day: 25 July 2016

Societal shift towards the instantaneous—with the explicit intention of saving time—is infused into modern life. But what are the implications for our happiness?

Technological innovations that offer convenience and time efficiency have brought remarkable changes to the way we spend our time.  These technologies have inarguably made our lives more convenient and our time usage more efficient. Presumably, being enabled to work more efficiently and spend less time on chores should provide us with greater opportunities for discretionary leisure time, enhancing our subjective well-being: yet while we have indeed experienced an appreciable increase in leisure time over the course of the past half-century, there has been no related improvement in aggregate happiness during the same period.

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The study, led by psychologists at Singapore Management University and the London School of Economics, found that people are generally happier the more time they spend with friends. That is, except really smart people.

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Crawling on the ground for hours at a time in the middle of winter at the mouth of a cave doesn’t sound like a particularly fun time, but for Finland-based photographer Konsta Punkka it’s a necessary sacrifice to get the perfect photograph … of a mouse. At the age of only 21, the budding wildlife photographer has proven himself wildly capable of capturing affectionate portraits at extremely close quarters of squirrels, birds, foxes, and other woodland animals.

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In case you haven’t heard, there is a very, very big problem with the universe: About 80% of all of the stuff inside it is missing.

Astronomers call this material “dark matter.” They know it’s out there because its huge mass tugs on and shapes galaxies, but no one has ever detected the material itself. Aside from exerting a gravitational pull, dark matter doesn’t seem to interact with stars, planets, dust, atoms, subatomic particles, or any other “normal” matter as we know it. It’s essentially invisible.

A group of researchers led by NASA cosmologist Alexander Kashlinskythinks the recent and groundbreaking discovery of gravitational wavescould help rule out the idea that dark matter is made of exotic, hard-to-detect particles.

Their suspicion: Massive black holes, like the two whose collision caused the gravitational waves, are far more common than suspected and might have formed in the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang. That could mean the dark matter that makes up most of our universe is not exotic particles at all. It might simply be black holes.

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