I had an NPR driveway moment earlier this week, listening to a piece by Alix Spiegel about why siblings are so different.
After all, she points out, you are far more likely to share physical characteristics with a sibling than you are with someone randomly chosen from the population. This is dramatically true of cognitive abilities as well.
But personality? Studies have found that when it comes to things like extroversion or conscientiousness, siblings are similar only 20 percent of the time, which is only the slightest bit higher than a comparison to a random stranger.
At first that sounds impossible. Wouldn’t people who share genes and parents and a childhood home be likely to turn out alike?
Then I thought of my own family. My brother and sister and I do look alike, and (though we would not have conceded this when we were much younger) we are all similar in intelligence. But in so many other ways we are opposites. Get the three of us together and at least someone in the room can be described as garrulous or taciturn, cheap or indulgent, meticulous or sloppy, dramatic or cool. A Venn diagram would have some overlap, but not much. How is this possible?
There are three theories, Spiegel reports. The first, known as “divergence,” postulates that children are competing for their parents’ “time, love and attention,” and, as Darwin pointed out, organisms tend to “diverge” and specialize to minimize direct competition. “So if one child in a family seems to excel at academics,” Spiegel says, “the other child — consciously or unconsciously — will specialize in a different area, like socializing.”
The second theory, that of a nonshared environment, argues that we only seem to be “growing up in the same family as our siblings,” when in fact we are being raised in measurably different households. We experience the same events at different ages; we have different numbers of older and younger siblings; we are born to different parents — older or younger, wealthier or struggling, happier or less so, more experienced, less energetic.
And, finally, there is the theory of “exaggeration.” It is similar in result to “divergence,” though different in its cause. A child who might be considered outgoing and social in a family of introverts, becomes the “quiet one” in a family of extroverts. She then thinks of herself that way, chooses quieter friends and gradually becomes somewhat quieter. (As parents we are supposed to make sure this doesn’t happen — that we don’t compare our children. That is, of course, impossible. But it’s the reason I’m not mentioning my own children in this post. Exaggeration and divergence may be the natural order of things, but declaring in print that one child is vanilla and the other is chocolate is still a bad idea.)
NPR is spending the week looking at siblings. Apt timing. As Spiegel said:
…as you eat your turkey, look across the table. There, you may see a brother, a sister, a step-sibling, a twin. And maybe they’re your friend, and maybe they’re your enemy, but one thing is for certain: Their very existence has had a profound influence on your life.
(CNN) -- Men on the prowl for a date may want to add red to their wardrobe.
A new multicultural study shows red is no longer just a sexy color for women. Men in red are considered just as appealing.
Women in China, the United States, England and Germany said they found men pictured wearing red, or surrounded by the color, more sexually attractive.
Women consider men in red as higher in status and more likely to climb the social ladder, according to Andrew Elliot, the lead author and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.
The perception of high status is what leads to the attraction, he says.
Despite the cultural differences among women surveyed, the results were consistent, according to the study.
However, researchers said, the color only enhanced perceptions of status and romance, but not did not make the man seem more likable and kind.
"Women's romantic preferences are of great interest ... and although the popular media often portrays female sexuality as a mystery, scientific research has revealed several factors that influence women's attraction to men," the study says.
Authors attributed the color's appeal to its historic use as a symbol of wealth and status. It is used in bold body paintings and necklaces in rituals and ceremonies in various cultures, including the Masai in east Africa.
"In primitive societies, sacred objects were painted or coated in red to enhance their potency and convey a sense of great importance," the study says.
"In ancient China, Japan, and sub-Saharan Africa, red was viewed as a symbol of prosperity and high status. Classical Romans called the most powerful men ' "the ones who wear red.' "
The red effect was limited to women's perception of men. Color did not make a difference when men rated the appeal of another male.
Authors conducted seven experiments, including the effect of red and white on a man's attractiveness.
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
A storm at sea can be spectacular – seen from a safe distance. As the wind passes over the water’s surface it creates waves. But if the force of the wind is strong, powerful waves are generated, gathering momentum until a barrier in their path causes then to break will full force.
Not all winds are of equal height. This is partly because the wind seldom blows at a constant speed. When the wind dies down, wave length is maintained but wave height decreases gradually. Where there is no barriers in their path, waves crests may carry over vast distances. When waves created in different places come together, they produce a confused sea state. Boats may be completely overwhelmed by a storm at sea – getting swamped, smashed, or both, by the huge quantity of water falling on them.
The full force of a wave is not realized until it reaches the shore. As it sweeps in towards land, contact with the sea-bed slows down the lower part, but the wind keeps the top moving on. The wave becomes steeper, begins to overhang, and finally crashes down. On steep shores, waves do not have time to slow down. Suddenly, their way is barred and they smash against the rocks with tremendous force – 100 tonnes per square metre is not unusual.
Winds exceeding Force 12 (over 117km/h) can devastate anything that lies in their path. They are known as hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the North Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean and around Australia. These great storms start when scattered cloud clusters of tropical thunderstorms are gathered together into a whirling spiral by the Earth’s rotation. At the centre of the spiral is a column lo low pressure – the eye.
Because of the low pressure, air is sucked into the spiral with great force, resulting in violent winds. These set up huge waves at sea, which have devastating effects. Hurricanes may persist for up to ten days, and although the path they will follow can be predicted to some extent, unexpected twists and turns are common.
A water spout is another example of the sea being whipped up. This is rather like a liquid tornado. Warm air rising from the sea creates a central column of low pressure which draws up a swirling rising wall of water. When a low pressure system – depression – passes quickly across the sea, the water level suddenly drops, then rises. A great swell is created, knows as a storm surge, which can flood huge areas as it hits land.
Just as terrifying as rough seas, are tsunamis, caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the ocean. Small earthquakes occur along the ocean ridges, where the Earth’s crust in thin and hot. The largest ones are along the lines of collision of the plates.
The quake lifts the ocean floor, which buckles and collapses, and the shock tremors suddenly move the whole mass of water above, right from the ocean floor to the surface. As the tremors radiant outwards, the tsunami sweeps across the ocean at a terrifying speed of up to 720 km/h. At first, tsunamis are very small and may not be noticed in the open sea. However, as they come to shallower water, they are slowed down by the drag of the sea-bed and the waves build into a vast wall of water with an awesome power for destruction. They hit the coastline with a tremendous force. Boats are thrown high up on the shore, land is filled with sea water and houses destroyed.