Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Facebook No Help for Low Self-Esteem

You'd think Facebook would be great for people with low self-esteem because they can share information remotely. Not so. It seems low-self-esteemers behave counterproductively, bombarding their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science.

"We had this idea that Facebook could be a really fantastic place for people to strengthen their relationships," says Amanda Forest of the University of Waterloo.

Researchers investigated what students actually wrote on Facebook. They asked the students for their last 10 status updates, and each set of status updates was rated for how positive or negative it was. For each set of statements, a coder ~ an undergraduate Facebook user ~ rated how much they liked the person who wrote them.

People with low self-esteem were more negative than people with high self-esteem ~ and the coders liked them less. The coders were strangers, but that's realistic, Forest says. Research shows that nearly half of Facebook friends are actually strangers or acquaintances, not close friends.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

World's Oldest Astrology Board Discovered

Representation of Cancer on the ivory board.

Researchers exploring a Croatian cave have discovered a 2,000-year-old astrology board, believed to be the oldest such astrologer’s tool ever found. Surviving portions include 30 ivory fragments engraved with the zodiac signs for Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.

According to
"This is probably older than any other known example," according to Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. "It's also older than any of the written-down horoscopes that we have from the Greco-Roman world ~ we have a lot of horoscopes that are written down as a kind of document on papyrus or on a wall but none of them as old as this."
Archaeologists are uncertain of the board’s origins. Astrology originated in Babylon around 2,400 years ago. Around 2,100 years ago, it spread to the eastern Mediterranean, becoming popular in Egypt, which at the time was under the control of a dynasty of Greek kings.
"It gets modified very much into what we think of as the Greek style of astrology, which is essentially the modern style of astrology," Jones said. "The Greek style is the foundation of astrology that goes through the Middle Ages and into modern Europe, modern India (and) so on."
Radiocarbon dating shows that the ivory used to create the zodiac images dates back around 2,200 years ago, shortly before the appearance of this new form of astrology.
Croatian cave where researchers found the board.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Southern Skies Revealed in Detail

The Swan Nebula as photographed through the VST.

A section of our universe previously not photographed now is visible to all due to a newly installed super telescope. The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) recently snapped its first impressive images of the southern sky over the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The state-of-the-art telescope is the latest addition to the European Southern Observatory's network of telescopes at Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The first image released from the VST shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega nebula or the Swan nebula, as it has never been seen before.

According to
This nebula, full of gas, dust and hot young stars, lies in the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). The VST's field of view is so large that is able to observe the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts.
 The second of the newly released images is a portrait of the star cluster Omega Centauri in unprecedented detail. Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in the sky and the VST's view includes about 300,000 stars.
The VST and its OmegaCAM over the next five years will make three detailed surveys of the southern sky. The data will be made public for astronomers around the world to analyze.