Love will tear us apart… but at least it also provides a potent painkiller

So we all know how love can create those euphoric feelings… how it feels that you’re almost addicted to the person, want to see andtalk to them all the time?

Well, previously it’s been clear that the way that the initial period of love, the attraction phase, signified by elevated levels of dopamine, has very similar ways of operating in our brains as cocaine and similar drugs.

Heart

Now, a team at Stanford took this one step further and gave postdoc students (a.k.a. campus guinea pigs) mild doses of pain while at the same time showing them pictures of their loved ones.

The result, as seen through the fMRIs, revealed that love acted very much like other pain killers. So, sure love hurts, it tears us apart, but apparently it’s also a terrific pain killer – at least until the relationship turns bad…

Check out the publication release at eurekalert.org & thanks to Alex for sharing the link with me!

Photo by jdvolcan.

A love-letter to the Delhi metro

It might sound silly, but… I love the Delhi metro. 

Not only does it help you avoid the fun, but exhausting, exercise of dealing with rickshaw-wallahs, but it also provides with entertaining and sometimes spiritual moments (plus: on the more mundane side of things, it's usually on time, goes to lots of places and is really quite cheap!). 

When entering the metro you are first greeted with a number of useful hints and suggestions like:
  • "Do not befriend unknown people" (sad, but hey, the metro's always right, right?)
  • "Any suit case, toy, thermos or transistor left unattended can be a bomb" (so please remember do not leave your transistor lying about)
  • "Do not bring any unauthorized explosives or fire arms" (in case you're carried some authorized TNT you're fine…)
After having taken those to heart you might have already reached the center of the city. Here you'll find an intense experience of human contact, in the form of a crush and push to get on and off at the popular central stations of Rajiv Chowk, C Secretariat and New Delhi. Don't be afraid to push a little bit extra, even if it's completely useless and won't get you ahead in any way at all. 

All in all, the metro is great. I love it! 

PS. I am a bit afraid that one day I'll bump into the women who has recorded the English speaking voice for the metro. Her "Get down here for XXX" is truly frightening. If anyone is planning on making an audio book of Roald Dahl's "Witches", she'd be your perfect candidate. 

PPS. The queue in the first picture is from the top of the stair case. The queue goes on for a good 50 m after the corner in the bottom of the stairs.

What will be, will be…. still leaves me confused

Anyone who uses Metropolis shots as their music video deserves respect. 

Beautiful song too! 

Taking the gangsta auto back to the hood (check out the mean rickshaw sound system)

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Watch on Posterous

My electrician god

Mail

You know how people come to India to attain spiritual enlightenment and all that?

Well, I had no such intention, but today I believe I met a small hindu god in the form of an electrician. Yesterday night, as I came back at 2 am (after a very much delayed flight and a one hour wait for a taxi from the airport) I arrived dead tired to the apartment and found that there was no electricity in the apartment. Being way to tired to bother about it I just went to sleep and hoped for better luck the day after.

Normally, in any Indian middle-class household you'll have an inverter (basically a large battery) that tides you over during the regular power-cuts. However, as I woke up in the morning the power was still off. A couple of hours later the staff from the electricity company arrives – they say that there was no errors on their side and it was a problem of "private" sort.

So, another call to an electrician causes my god to arrive. Just as he entered the house, without even having touched any wiring the light and all the fans magically turn on in the flat!

Attached is Agni, the God of Fire, who's son, Pavaka, is the god of electrical fire. 

Why we kiss

Kissing was developed ‘to spread germs’

 

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It isn’t the most romantic theory, but scientists believe kissing was developed to spread germs which build up immunity to illness.

They say the gesture allows a bug named Cytomegalovirus, which is dangerous in pregnancy, to be passed from man to woman to give her time to build up protection against it.

The bug is found in saliva and normally causes no problems. But it can be extremely dangerous if caught while pregnant and can kill unborn babies or cause birth defects.

Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, researcher Dr Colin Hendrie from the University of Leeds, said: “Female inoculation with a specific male’s cytomegalovirus is most efficiently achieved through mouth-to-mouth contact and saliva exchange, particularly where the flow of saliva is from the male to the typically shorter female.”

Kissing the same person for about six months provides the best protection, he added.

As the relationships progresses and the kisses become more passionate, the woman’s immunity builds up, cutting her odds of becoming ill.

By the time she becomes pregnant, the odds of her unborn baby becoming infected are much lower.

Previously scientists have claimed that kissing acts as a form of evolutionary quality control, with saliva holding clues to fertility, health and genes.

But the psychologists from Leeds and the University of Central Lancashire said these things can be judged without getting quite so intimate.

Dr Hendrie said: “Information concerning body tone, smell, reproductive condition, disease state and, of course, personal physical and oral hygiene can all be gained solely from close physical proximity.

“The small amount of additional information from kissing is an unlikely pressure for its development.”

To me, explaining things makes them more beautiful. Think of all the effort, iterations and different attempts to solve this problem that must have been tried in evolution’s path. In the end, it ended up with such a simple, beautiful activity.

 

Photo by by Michael Sarver

Can slums be good news?

The reversal of opinion about fast-growing cities, previously considered bad news, began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-Habitat report. The book’s optimism derived from its groundbreaking fieldwork: 37 case studies in slums worldwide. Instead of just compiling numbers and filtering them through theory, researchers hung out in the slums and talked to people. They came back with an unexpected observation: “Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.

While slums clearly are places where living standards often are way below what we think is adequate for humans, and there are huge challenges to informal urban living to be faced, they might be a positive phenomenon.