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     Volume 4 Issue 11 | September 3 , 2004 |

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How to Spot a Psycho
Beware of your colleagues. If they are manipulative, arrogant, heartless, impatient, impulsive, unreliable and superficially charming, they can be psychos, scientists warn. Psychologists say that psychopaths come in all shapes and sizes and there are far more out there than we think. In fact, there could be one sitting next to you or in an office as a manager. According to New Scientist, they share the same character traits as sadistic killers and this helps them to prosper in high-powered professions like politics, the media, law and business where they can dominate others as part of 'getting the job done'. Such so-called "corporate psychopaths" commit crimes and end up in prison. They never keep their promise and take credit for others' work. Professor Robert Hare, a leading expert on psychopaths, has devised a test called 'Business Scan 360' to find out psychopaths before they do any harm to anybody around them. "Wherever you get power, prestige and money you will find them. The most important thing is to be aware, if you suspect you are working with a psychopath. Once you take that position you are in a better position to deal with them," the report quoted professor Hare as saying.

Bright Side of a Negative Mood
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found that people in a negative mood prove to be more accurate eyewitnesses than their positive mood counterparts. The finding is the first to assess the effect of mood on memory and human thinking. During the course of study, researchers put different subjects in a positive or negative mood state and tested their recall accuracy of a staged eyewitness event such as a bag snatch. They found that people in a positive mood such as happiness were shown to have relatively unreliable memories, poorer judgement and critical thinking skills, whereas those in a negative mood such as sadness provided more reliable eyewitness accounts and superior thinking and communication skills. "It shows that our recollection of past events are more likely to be contaminated by irrelevant information when we are in a positive mood. A positive mood is likely to trigger less careful thinking strategies," said Professor Forgas. In another experiment, researchers asked people to write down an argument in favour of a particular proposition, by putting them in positive or negative mood state. When their arguments were analysed for their quality and persuasiveness, subjects in a negative mood were shown to be far more effective in their critical thinking and communication skills. "This supports the idea that mood states are evolutionary signals about how to deal with threatening situations. That is, a negative mood state triggers more systematic, more attentive, more vigilant information processing. By contrast, good moods signal a benign, non-threatening environment where we don't need to be so vigilant," said Professor Forgas.

Unhealthy Relationship Between Food and Emotions
Food, it seems provides consolation to people suffering from depression and boredom, with almost half of adults in Britain eating to combat the blues or get over failed romances and in the process ending up being overweight. Specialists at the Priory Hospital in south-west London, who published the study, said the figures highlight an unhealthy relationship between food and emotions. "Our acceptance of distorted body images in the media and the relentless pressure on women and men to conform to a certain body type means that increasing numbers of people will be affected by potentially life-threatening mental health issues related to food, weight and body image," Peter Smith, hospital director at The Priory in Roehampton quoted. The survey, of 2,000 people, showed 47 per cent of adolescents aged 16-24 and 40 per cent of those aged between 35-44 ate because they were bored while a third of the women feel guilty after eating and say they would be happier if they were thinner. "These patients are slightly underweight, binge and vomit, then don't eat - their symptoms oscillate, reflecting a ceaseless struggle with their weight, eating and emotions," Smith added. According to the study, an increasing number of women patients in their 30s and 40s are battling with obesity after linking weight gain with their motions.

Grape Extracts as Preservative
Turkish scientists have claimed that extracts from grape pomace can be effectively used as an anti-microbial agent to destroy pathogens thereby helping in preserving food. Experiments conducted by Dr. Osman Sagdic and his team at Erciyes University and Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey, the findings of which appear in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, has revealed that grape pomace extracts when tested on bacteria species at a concentration of five percent gave positive anti-bacterial results. Scientists are also optimistic about their discovery, as they believe that people prefer natural preservatives compared to artificial ones. "The extracts can be used in food formulations to protect food against spoilage bacteria. People prefer natural preservatives in the place of synthetic counterparts in food," the journal quoted Dr Sagdic as saying.

Want to be a Cartoon?
All the kids and adults, who have been drooling over those oh- so- cute Shrek- like characters, finally have a chance to see what they would look like if they were cartoon characters, as computer scientists in Washington have now made a software that can turn digital videos into cartoon films.

According to Nature, the software, which was presented at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics meeting in Los Angeles last week, scans the user's film for prominent objects and then turns that movement into a cartoon. The scientists solved the problems of getting shaky and blurred pictures, which were often faced by people using earlier softwares, by tracking 2-dimensional objects over time. They are however, looking for ways to make the pictures more flexible, allowing them to move and bend. Scientists also aver that the software cannot be used by amateurs yet and can be used as an aid by professional filmmakers only. "We are now working on some new tools to bend or move those objects. At the moment it's not a consumer level product, more of a professional one," the report quoted the lead scientist, Michael Cohen as saying.



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