Who are the hosts of ‘Jeopardy!’ through the end of the year? Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings

September 20, 2021

The game show “Jeopardy!” announced on Thursday, September 16, that sitcom star Mayim Bialik would split hosting duties with Ken Jennings through the end of the year, The New York Times reports.

It was the latest twist in the game show’s drawn-out struggle to find a replacement for Alex Trebek, the popular longtime host whose death last November started a fraught succession battle.

“Jeopardy!” began by cycling through a series of guest hosts, to gauge their performance and audience response. Then it announced that the job would go to Mike Richards, who had been its executive producer. However, after a reporter unearthed a series of offensive and sexist comments that Richards had made on a podcast, he stepped down as host, and shortly thereafter that left the program entirely.

Bialik, who had initially been tapped alongside Richards to host a series of prime-time “Jeopardy!” specials, was enlisted to begin hosting weeknight programs as well. On Thursday, the program announced that she would share hosting duties with Jennings through the end of 2021.

“Everyone on the staff is supralunar,” the @Jeopardy account tweeted on Thursday.

Bialik will host episodes starting Monday, September 20, which will air through Nov. 5. After that, she and Jennings will split hosting duties as their schedules allow, according to Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces the show.

Jennings, who holds the record for the show’s longest winning streak as a contestant, had been considered a strong contender to take over as the show’s permanent host during the guest host tryouts, but past insensitive tweets of his came to light, which he then apologized for.

According to the Times, “Jeopardy!” had tried to settle its future over the summer when it named Richards, 46, as host, despite lack of name recognition among viewers and the fact that, as the show’s executive producer, he had overseen elements of the succession planning.

But after a report in The Ringer revealed degrading comments he had made on a podcast several years ago—including a 2013 episode during which Richards called his female co-host a “booth slut” because she once worked as a model at a consumer show in Las Vegas, and referred to stereotypes about Jews—he stepped down as host. Old lawsuits also resurfaced from Richards’s previous job running “The Price Is Right” that included accusations of sexist behavior.

Sony initially said he would remain as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” but soon afterward announced he would leave the show entirely.Before his resignation, Richards taped a week’s worth of “Jeopardy!” episodes in a single day of filming, which are currently airing. Bialik’s episodes will follow.

A spokesperson for Sony said the network had no update on its timetable for naming a new host, or whether it would be by the end of the year.

Research contact: @nytimes

It’s a wrap! Arc de Triomphe is cloaked in fabric for posthumous Christo installation

September 16, 2021

Parisians were surprised on Sunday, September 12, to see more than 100 workers at the Arc de Triomphe monument—beginning to wrap the iconic landmark in a shimmering material, in an installation planned to be a posthumous homage to the artist Christo, reports Reuters.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is expected to be completed and available for public viewing from September 18 through October 3, according to coverage by Veranda. When complete, the 50-meter high (55-yard), 19th century arch will diisplay 25,000 square meters (2,690,977 square feet) of silvery blue, recyclable plastic wrapping.

This project marks the culmination of the final two posthumous public works of art from Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude. In accordance with his wishes, the installation is being completed by his team, in partnership with the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN); and with the support of the Centre Pompidou and Ville de Paris.

Like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, it will receive no public funding and has been entirely supported by sales from the couple’s original works of art. And 30 years after the couple’s Pont Neuf wrapping, this temporary artwork represents an homage to the couple’s creative vision and desire to make art accessible for all.

Imagined decades ago in 1961 by the late Bulgarian-born artist and his wife, both of whom died in 2009, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavatchev at a cost of about $16.54 million.

“The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here. I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things. That, for me, really is the biggest challenge,” Yavatchev told Reuters.

Christo, who spent part of his life in Paris and part in New York, once rented a small room near the famed Champs-Elysees avenue after moving to Paris in 1958, when he experimented with wrapping discarded crates and barrels with fabric and rope, according to an official site about the artist.

Christo, whose full name was Christo Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado. He worked closely with Jeanne-Claude on the projects.

The pair covered Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.

The Arc de Triomphe project, involving the most visited monument in Paris–which looms over one end of the Champs-Elysees—will still allow tourists to visit the site and its panoramic terrace. The monument is also home to a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, in the form of a flame of remembrance that is rekindled every day.

Research contact: @Reuters

Overeating doesn’t cause obesity? Scientists claim it’s all about what you’re eating, not how much

September 15, 2021

There may be no need to turn down that second portion and push back from the table. A team of scientists now says it’s  actually what you eat, not how much you eat that leads to obesity, Study Finds reports.

Their study finds processed food and rapidly digestible carbohydrates may be what’s really behind society’s growing waistline.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 40% of American adults classify as obese. This places nearly half the population at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, the USDA’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020 to 2025 maintains that losing weight “requires adults to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase the amount expended through physical activity.”

However, lead author Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School,  says that this age-old energy balance model for weight loss doesn’t actually work in a world full of highly palatable, heavily marketed, cheap processed foods. Indeed, he points out, despite years of public health messaging about eating less and exercising more, cases of obesity and obesity-related diseases continue to rise.

His team claims that its new carbohydrate-insulin model better explains the global trend towards obesity and weight gain, noting that the model even points to more effective and long-lasting weight loss strategies.

“During a growth spurt, for instance, adolescents may increase food intake by 1,000 calories a day. But does their overeating cause the growth spurt, or does the growth spurt cause the adolescent to get hungry and overeat?” asks Dr. Ludwig in a media release.

But if overeating is not the main cause of weight gain, what is? The real culprit is processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates.

The study finds such foods also cause hormonal responses which alter an eater’s metabolism, drive fat storage, and lead to weight gain. When people consume carbohydrates, the body increases the amount of insulin it secretes. This signals fat cells to store more calories and leaves fewer calories for the body to use as muscle fuel.

As a result, the brain thinks the body isn’t getting enough energy to keep going and starts sending out the hunger signals. Moreover, the researchers say, a person’s metabolism can also slow down as the body tries to “conserve fuel. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves people thinking they’re still hungry and continuing to pile on more non-filling food.

Reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era lessens the underlying drive to store body fat. As a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle,” Dr. Ludwig says.

The findings appear in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

Beyond words: Why words become harder to remember as we get older

September 14, 2021

As we age, we find it increasingly difficult to have the right words ready at the right moment—even though our vocabulary actually grows continuously over the course of our lives. Now we know a little bit more about the reasons why, Medical Xpress reports.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the University of Leipzig—both, in Germany—believe that they have identified the networks in the brain that change our communication over time, making it less efficient.

The researchers investigated these connections with the help of two groups—younger study participants between the ages of 20 and 35 and older ones between the ages of 60 and 70. Both groups were asked to name words from certain categories—among them, animals, metals, or vehicles– while they were being scanned using MRI technology.

It became clear that both age groups were good at finding words. However, the younger ones were somewhat faster. The reason for this could be the different brain activities. For one thing, not only were the language areas themselves more active in the younger participants; they also showed a more intensive exchange within two decisive networks:

The reverse was true for older people. Here, executive areas showed stronger activity, indicating that the task was more difficult for these individuals overall. In addition, the exchange within the crucial networks was less effective than in the younger people. The older group was most likely to benefit from inter-network exchange, but this is associated with losses.

“Communication within neuronal networks is more efficient and thus faster than between them,” explains Sandra Martin, Ph.D. student at MPI CBS and first author of the underlying study.

Why these activity patterns shift with age has not yet been fully explained. One theory, says Martin, is that as people age, they rely more on the linguistic knowledge they have, so exchanges between networks come into focus, while younger people rely more on their fast-working memory and cognitive control processes. “On the structural level, the loss of grey matter in the brain could also play a role, which is compensated for by the exchange between networks,” says Martin.

The research was published in Cerebral Cortex.

Research contact: @xpress_medical

Do therapists Google their patients? A new study finds that, yes, most do

September 13, 2021

Do therapists Google their patients? A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology has found that 24 out of the 28 therapists admitted that they sometimes do, reports Psych News Daily.

And why shouldn’t they, when turnabout is fair play?  A 2016 study, for example, found that most patients do, indeed, look up their therapists online.

As a result, the majority of therapists have taken steps to limit the information that is available about them online. Examples include adjusting their social networking settings to private—or even choosing not to post any information online at all.

But what are the ethics when the professional searches the patient? As the present study’s author, Leora Trub and Danielle Magaldi, write, “There is little discussion within or outside of the field on whether therapists should Google their patients.”

Several recent studies have found the prevalence of therapists who have Googled their patients ranges from 25%  to 98%.

But Trub and Magaldi argue that most studies with very high prevalence rates have over-sampled younger therapists. These young practitioners are more likely to be digital natives, and thus more likely to use online search tools.

For ther study, Trub and Magaldi interviewed 28 therapists that they recruited via psychotherapy listservs. Of these, 25 were psychologists, two were clinical social workers, and one was a marriage and family therapist. Nineteen were female, and nine were male. They ranged in age from 36 to 75, with an average age of 57.

Only 4 of the 28 interviewed therapists said they had not, and indeed would not, search for their patients online. In various ways, these four indicated that doing so would undermine the foundations of the therapeutic relationship. They said online searches would bypass the patient “as the primary source of information,” or that Googling them would be a “boundary violation.”

As one of the interviewed therapists put it, “I’m not a detective, I’m a psychotherapist.”

Those who had indeed Googled their patients “tended to minimize and rationalize the act,” the authors write, “and did not bring it up with patients.”

Likewise, many also experienced “guilt, shame, and defensiveness” when the researchers asked them about it.

Although the study’s goal of learning more about therapists’ use of technology was clear from the outset, many participants nevertheless “got annoyed at being asked about their online searching for patients,” the study says.

When asked about their reasons for looking up their patients online, the most common answer therapists gave was curiosity, often mixed with voyeurism.

Reasos in this category included “a guilty pleasure,” or “a People magazine kind of interest.” One therapist indicated that she sometimes Googled former patients who had left treatment many years beforehand, just to see if they’re still alive, or what they have been up to. “It feels a little like snooping,” she said in her interview with the study’s authors.

Another frequently cited reason was using Google as a way of vetting patients before the first session. “Sometimes you get some odd ducks,” said one therapist who participated in the study.

“I don’t like not knowing where people come from,” said another. “There are some crazy people out there.”

Other therapists have even used Google to establish whether a prospective patient would likely be able to afford the treatment.

Some participants also said researching their patients online could lead to “new insights” that might benefit the therapy. Likewise, some said online searches are in the patient’s best interest. For example, such searches can be seen “as a way to fill gaps in understanding.” Some even indicated that Googling patients provided something akin to “omnipotence.”

Other therapists said Googling is a way of “evening the playing field,” as it was likely that Google had allowed the patient to find the therapist in the first place.

The participants also offered many justifications for their online searches. One was that the Internet has ushered in an era of anonymity. The “anonymity that the analyst relied upon years ago,” said one, “just doesn’t exist anymore.”

Along those same lines, others said that long before Google existed, therapists still sometimes learned details about their patients’ private lives. One participant compared it to living in “a small town — it’s no different than running into a patient in a bar.”

Finally, there was a tendency to claim that the search had been conducted almost inadvertently. Some therapists said that they “just clicked” on a link to the patient’s website, or fell into a “rabbit hole” of one search after another.

Research contact: @PsychNewsDaily

Friend or foe? A certain type of smile can repair relationships that have been damaged by mistrust

September 10, 2021

They say it takes 400 muscles for each of us to smile—but, interestingly enough, a team of scientists at Queen’s University Belfast has found that we use those facial muscles in ways that can be interpreted very differently by viewers.

 Indeed, according to a report by Good News Network, the researchers found that subtle differences in the way in which a person smiled had not-so-subtle impacts on the opinions that test participants formed about the smiler.

 “Smiling at another person does not always lead to trust and cooperation,” said Dr. Stephanie Carpenter a post-doctoral fellow in the Niedenthal Emotions Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a co-author of the study. “Subtle differences in a smile can have a real impact on whether people trust each other and choose to cooperate. In fact, the way you smile in a good or bad situation can impact whether people trust you.”

 While playing a set of economic games, such as those that require trust to create value for both players, or which can confer more value for a single person willing to deceive, the subject individual first displayed uncooperative behavior and thus triggered a loss of trust or confidence in his or her partner.

 It was then that, depending on the characteristics of the smile made at game’s end by the subject, the participants altered their expectations of how the smiler would behave during the next game.

 Three different smiles were used, which were labeled as reward, dominance, and affiliation.

After untrustworthy or uncooperative behavior, a reward smile—a big ear-to-ear smile like a kid who got the ice cream he was begging for, and a dominance smile, a smirk-y sign of superiority, elicited very little trust, expectations of change in behavior, and positivity when compared with a totally neutral expression, or a look of regret, meaning that sometimes smiles can create even stronger negative feelings than not smiling.

 However the “affiliation smile,” which seems to have a hint of regret, like the smile a someone might make after consoling a dear friend, created a desire to repair the broken relationship and to trust the person who had just done something unfair.

 “Think about movie villains, for example in James Bond films,” said Dr. Magdalena Rychlowska from Queen’s University, who led the research published in Cognition and Emotion journal. “They often make happy smiles when something bad has happened or is about to happen. This context makes these otherwise happy and normal smiles feel threatening and unpleasant.”

 She adds, “The findings of this study show the power of subtle facial expressions and the positive consequences that an affiliation smile can have in difficult situations. It also highlights the importance of social context—a happy smile that could be read as a signal of trustworthiness in one setting can, in another setting, be seen as evidence of bad intentions.”

 Mastery of the smile then, can be an excellent way of getting out of difficult social situations, while the lack thereof can be an excellent way of getting into one.

 Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Meet a UK family that boasts six generations alive at the same time

September 9, 2021

A family in the U.K.  boasts members of six generations alive at the same time—and the eldest is Scotland’s only great-great-great-grandma at age 86, The Epoch times reports.

Mother of eight Mary Marshall, who was born four years before the start of World War II, has a whopping 90 grandchildren; among them, great-great-great grandchild, Nyla Ferguson, who was born on May 25 .

The women are all on the same side of the family—and all except new mom Toni-Leigh work, or worked, as caregivers for the National Health Service (NHS).

All gave birth at the age of 18 or younger, resulting in this super-sized happy family, and all live in or around Edinburgh, Scotland.

Mary’s firstborn daughter is Rose Thorburn, 68. Rose has four children including mom-of-three Chyrel Borthwick, 50.

Chyrel gave birth to mom-of-four Carrie Dow in 1986. Carrie, 35, has four children, including new mom Toni-Leigh Aitken, 17.

Due to the size of her family, Mary, from Edinburgh, says she is forgiven for not buying each and every member a birthday and Christmas present as she’d spend “half the year doing so.”

“I’m a lucky woman to be honest with you,” Mary told The Epoch Times, adding, “It’s great to have such a big family. There’s always someone there looking out for you. I’m incredibly happy.”

Toni-Leigh, who gave birth to the newest member of the family in May, said: “When we found out I was pregnant we did make a joke about us breaking some sort of record. Then we started looking into it and it doesn’t look like anyone else has our family set-up.

“It’s a bit too early to see a resemblance to her great-great-great-grandm,  but it was love at first sight when they met! We live no longer than a 10–15-minute drive away from one another, so we see each other.

The family is believed to be the only family in Scotland with six generations alive at the same time. According to Guinness World Records, the most generations alive in a single family have been seven.

Research contact: @TheEpochTimesDC

‘Her biggest challenge will be credibility’: Can Jennifer Aniston conquer skincare?

Septembr 8, 2021

The question is not, which celebrity is launching a skincare line this year, but who is not? Jennifer Aniston is set to launch her own beauty brand, LolaVie, on September 8. But can even the über-popular star of Friends and The Morning Show make it in the ever-more-crowded celebrity beauty space?

The competition is fierce, with Ariana Grande, Hailey Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Harry Styles all rumored to be following Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner and Alicia Keys into the skincare market, The Guardian reports.

Initially at least, fans buy into the celebrity brand as much as the products themselves. “Fans of Hailey Bieber, who’s in her early 20s herself, care more about buying into Hailey and her ‘cool girl’ status than product efficacy,” says Allison McNamara, founder of beauty company Mara.

But that doesn’t make for a solid long-term strategy. The road to Goop levels of success isn’t always obvious. “Celeb endorsements are a dime a dozen: you can’t build a brand off of that,” Jill Manoff, editor-in-chief of beauty website Glossy told The Guardian, adding, “Aniston’s biggest challenge will be credibility. She has access to the greatest dermatologists, cosmetic physicians. Her skin is not the result of some over-the-counter products.”

Manoff says Aniston would benefit from linking up with a dermatologist. “Selling herself as the expert would be a challenge.”

Credibility in the beauty world comes from independent (often called “honest”) product reviews online and social media engagement, says Manoff, and celebrities need to ensure they are establishing fans of the brand rather than fans of themselves.

Aniston’s fanbase, says McNamara, “is older than Bieber’s, which makes it even more challenging because her products need to work. Women in their 40s know good skincare and know when it’s working (and when it isn’t).” She says they are looking for “products that visibly improve skin concerns such as wrinkles, sagging and aging”.

There is one thing Aniston has got right even before launch, however. “Brands that don’t name themselves after the celebrity have more staying power,” McNamara told The Guardian. The challenge will be making LolaVie known separately from Aniston’s celebrity. “In terms of longevity, only time will tell.”

Research contact: @guardian

A study that might give you ‘paws’: The talents of left-handed v. right-handed dogs

September 6 2021

In the human world, there’s a growing body of scholarship around “handedness”—and any possible link to superior talent, intellect, or athleticism. Are some of us more fated for success, solely based on which hand our five-year-old selves used to pick up a writing utensil?

Scientists have scoured nearly every corner of the brain for answers, but results are still relatively inconclusive—and so, Boston-based Embark, a canine genetic-testing company, decided to take a closer look at another species, Fast Company reports.

Are some dogs more destined to be superstars? What is that je ne sais quoi that drives a dog to become an excellent lifeguard, bomb sniffer, or search-and-rescue hero? Does it have anything to do with handedness (um, pawed-ness)? Seeking answers, researchers began by studying the talented canines of the dog Olympics: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

.A team from Embark corralled 105 dogs who participated in Westminster’s weekend of championships and ran them through a series of tests to determine paw dominance. Its chief barometer was the “step test,” which identifies which paw a dog first uses when starting to walk from a standing or sitting state, or to step over a strategically placed stick. (Other tests observed which direction a dog turns within a crate, or which paw it uses to wipe a piece of tape from its nose.)

Of the dogs, the team found a majority were right-pawed: 63%, or 29 out of 46 dogs who competed in the masters agility obstacle course, preferred their right paw; as well as 61%, or 36 out of 59 dogs, who competed in the flagship show.

But that doesn’t mean right-pawed dogs reign supreme. Embark’s results are actually in line with those of a recent study, which found that right-pawed dogs make up roughly 58% of the dog population overall—meaning their representation within Westminster’s dog Olympics is quite proportional. Just as with humans, more dogs favor the right side—and in terms of talent, there’s no clear winner between the tribes.

Embark’s results did point to potential differences in pawed-ness between breeds: After the dogs were sorted into Herding, Terrier, and Retriever categories, data showed that 36% of both herders and terriers were left-pawed, while a sizable 72% of retrievers were left-pawed. However, researchers caution that the pool of retrievers was the smallest of all the breeds (only 11 dogs total), meaning more data would be needed to verify this finding.

But overall, we’d call the inconclusiveness here comforting. In the end, in terms of talents and personalities, the old saw is true: Every dog has his day.

Research contact: FastCompany

Live long and prosper: Moving to the city helps seniors increase their longevity

September 3, 2021

Living longer in your senior years may be all about one thing—location, location, location. A new study finds that moving to a busy urban area can increase longevity among older adults, reports Study Finds.

While many retirees tend to leave big cities for a quieter life and warmer weather, researchers from MIT say heading to many coastal metropolises —such as,New York City, San Francisco, and Miami — actually adds an extra year to their lives.

Specifically, the study finds adults over 65 who move from a metro area in the 10th percentile (in terms of how much they enhance longevity) to an area in the 90th percentile adds 1.1 years to their lives. Currently, the average lifespan for an adult in the United States  is 83.3 years.

“There’s a substantively important causal effect of where you live as an elderly adult on mortality and life expectancy across the United States,” says Amy Finkelstein, a professor in MIT’s Department of Economics in a university release.

While a region’s “health capital”—or the local population’s tendency to be obese, smoke, or suffer from other health problems—plays a major role in health, study authors also looked at the environmental factors of metro areas. Entering the study, the team suspected that the nature of available medical care in urban areas becomes a key factor in how long older adults live. Other possible drivers include climate, pollution, crime, and traffic safety.
“We wanted to separate out the role of people’s prior experiences and behaviors—or health capital—from the role of place or environment,” Finkelstein notes.

Researchers looked at the Medicare records of 6.3 million beneficiaries from 65 to 99 years-old between 1999 and 2014. Around two million of these Americans moved from one U.S. “commuting zone” to another during the study. The rest did not move during that 15-year period.

“The idea is to take two elderly people from a given origin, say, Boston. One moves to low-mortality Minneapolis, one moves to high-mortality Houston. We then compare how long each lives after they move,” Finkelstein explains.

Although different people have different health histories, study authors say

Medicare records include detailed claims data—which enabled the team to account for 27 different illnesses and conditions. These ranged from lung cancer to diabetes to depression. In the end, researchers used the data to create a standard mortality risk model to examine how changing cities later in life leads to either a drop or rise in longevity.

The results show that many urban areas on the East and West Coasts of the United States have a positive impact on longevity for seniors who move there. Some Midwestern cities like Chicago also appear to give seniors a boost.

On the other hand, much of the deep South negatively impacts the lifespans of older adults. This includes states like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and northern Florida. The American Southwest, including areas in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, also scored poorly in the MIT study.

While the team estimates that “health capital” accounts for about 70% of the differences in longevity around the country, the new findings show that 15% of these differences depend on where you live.

However, Study Finds notes, while some major cities clearly push health in one direction or another, other areas around America are harder to gauge. In some cities, like Charlotte, North Carolina, researchers discovered that moving here has a positive effect on longevity, but residents still have a lower overall life expectancy. Conversely, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, people moving here have a higher overall life expectancy, but the study finds the city has a below-average effect on the longevity.

“Our [hard] evidence is about the role of place,” Finkelstein says. “We know something about Charlotte, North Carolina, makes a difference, but we don’t yet know what.”

“Differences in health care across places are large and potentially important,” Finkelstein concludes. “But there are also differences in pollution, weather, [and] other aspects. … What we need to do now is get inside the black box of ‘the place’ and figure out what it is about them that matters for longevity.”

The study appears in the journal, American Economic Review.

Research contact: @StudyFinds