Sunday, 19th August 2018
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By Bill Sones and Rich Sones, PhD

Q. For longevity in your love relationship, you and your partner would be well-advised to... a) have each other write down 25 times, "I will remain faithful" b) go out drinking together more often c) make love an extra time each week d) sit down together and write parallel essays recounting times you made love e) write parallel essays detailing a few memorable romantic moments.

A. Best to choose e). New research is crediting love with a truly amazing power: the ability to resist temptation, says University of California-Los Angeles writer Meg Sullivan. UCLA researchers and the online relationship service eHarmony asked coeds to reflect on the love they felt for their boyfriends or girlfriends after being presented with photos of strangers from "Hot or Not."

They were specifically asked to write an essay recounting the time they felt most affection for their current partner or the time they felt the most physical desire.

Those who reflected on their past affection were SIX TIMES LESS LIKELY than a control group and FOUR TIMES LESS LIKELY than those writing about physical desire to dwell on a highly attractive stranger. In fact, the affection-reflectors even had trouble recalling attractive aspects of the stranger.

"It's almost like love puts blinders on people," says UCLA' Martie Haselton. In other words, simply mentally reliving loving moments with a partner can help keep those moments coming... a lovely idea!

Q. When you arrive at work one Monday morning, your boss asks you to talk into a computer microphone before starting on the job. What's she want to know about you?

A. Whether you're alert enough to do your work well. Just as a slumped posture and bloodshot eyes are dead giveaways of extreme lack of sleep, so too are certain speech patterns, says John Bohannon in "Science" magazine.

A team of linguists at the University of Cincinnati recorded people giving directions after a good night's sleep and after 34-58 hours of sleep deprivation. By analyzing phonetic features of their speech - pauses and dropped syllables - a computer was able to spot a pattern associate with drowsiness. Said University of Cambridge linguist Sarah Hawkins, "This is exciting work. It promises not only to help with practical applications such as detecting when machine operators like airline pilots are tired but also to give us greater insight into how speech is produced."

Q. Are there dogs in heaven? Who might say so?

A. Certainly any place where dogs were banned wouldn't be worthy of the term "paradise," says psychologist and dog-lover Stanley Coren in "What Do Dogs Know."

Declared author Robert Louis Stevenson, "I tell you they will be there before any of us." English writer George Eliot put it this way, "Shall we, because we walk on our hind feet and wag our tongues and not our tails, assume to ourselves the privilege of imperishability?" And when a child asked Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant church, whether her dog would be allowed in heaven, he gently patted the dog's head and said, "Be comforted, little dog. Thou too in the resurrection shall have a tail of gold."

Coren himself had a dream shortly after the death of his old cairn terrier Flint, in which the dog was lying beside the gates of heaven when an angel came out and asked why he didn't come in. In the telepathic speech common to celestial beings, Flint answered, "Can't I just stay out here a while. You see, I'm waiting for someone I miss very much. If I went in alone, it wouldn't be heaven for me." Says Coren, "I woke from that dream to find tears on my face."

Q. They were commonly sentries, also scouts, pack carriers, gun and ammunition haulers, artillery or gun spotters, layers of telephone wires, even reducers of rat populations in army camps or fox holes or trenches. Who were these dogged contributors to the World War II cause?

A. Dogs, says Canadian psychologist Stanley Coren in "What Do Dogs Know?" In the U.S. alone, well over 50,000 of them were enlisted and ended up at one of five War-Dog Reception and Training Centers. In addition to the above, many canines were trained for delicate and dangerous tasks such as mine detection; their especial importance lay in finding non-metallic plastic mines in North Africa, since these devices were completely invisible to traditional magnetic mine detectors.

Perhaps their most exotic occupations were as spies or infiltrators into enemy camps to steal documents. Before it was all over, "almost all breeds of dogs had been drafted by the U.S. Army."

Q. Identify the toroid-shaped something that used to be in our cars four at a crack, though not so much anymore. But you still may find toroids in your cupboard, even in the occasional swimming pool.

A. That's the shape of an old automobile tire's inner tube or a pastry donut or a piece of breakfast cereal called a Cheerio. In geometry, a "torus" is a surface formed by moving a circle through 3-D space, the word being Latin for a cushion of this shape.


Letters to the Editor

  • Our View

    Rush to CriticismThere are not many people who at this stage have not heard about the Cash family and what happened to them. The mother and six of her children had to seek accommodation in the Tallaght Garda Station last week as they had absolutely nowhere to turn to. It led to an outcry as pictures of the young children sleeping on seats were posted to social media by the mother.Understandably there were a lot of people who were saddened to see that in this day and age that a family had to resor …

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