Women work harder than men – our anthropological study reveals why

Women working in rural China close to the Tibetan border. Yuan Chen, Author provided For most people around the world, physical work takes up a great amount of time and energy every day. But what determines whether it is men or women who are working harder in households? In most hunter-gatherer societies, men are the hunters and women are the gatherers – with men seemingly walking the furthest. But what’s the labour breakdown in other societies? We carried out a study of farming and herding groups in the Tibetan borderlands in rural China – an area with huge cultural diversity…

New year resolutions: why your brain isn’t wired to stick to them – and what to do instead

You still going? New Africa/Shutterstock New year, new resolutions. It is that time once again. A recent survey shows that almost 58% of the UK population intended to make a new year’s resolution in 2023, which is approximately 30 million adults. More than a quarter of these resolutions will be about making more money, personal improvement and losing weight. But will we succeed? Sadly, a survey of over 800 million people by the app Strava, which tracks people’s physical exercise, predicts most of these resolutions will be abandoned by January 19. One of the main reasons why promises fail before…

The amazing system plants use to shape their roots and why it could help protect crops from climate change

lewan/Shutterstock Plants have colonised the vast majority of the Earth’s surface. So what is the key to their success? People often think of plants as simple, senseless life forms. They may live rooted in one place, but the more scientists learn about plants, the more complex and responsive we realise they are. They are excellent at adapting to local conditions. Plants are specialists, making the most of what is close by to where they germinate. Learning about the intricacies of plant life is about more than inspiring wonder in people though. Studying plants is also about making sure we can…

Why happy rather than sad music soothes newborns – new research

OLHA TOLSTA/Shutterstock Music is the language of emotions, arousing and regulating our feelings. For example, research has shown that college students listen to music 37% of the time, and it fills them with happiness, elation or nostalgia during 64% of these sessions. Children might have even greater exposure to music than adults do. Survey data shows that 54% of teachers in South Korea use background music in schools. We also know music is played as often as 6.5 times per hour to help children’s learning in US classrooms. But how early do children develop a real appreciation for and understanding…

Your style of social media use may be connected to your wellbeing

Pixabay Are you a doom scroller or a frequent Tweeter? Do you pass the time by flicking endlessly through others’ posts on social networking sites, or perhaps you use these platforms to share your own content? Psychologists believe our style of social media usage has important effects on our psychological wellbeing, but we’ve struggled to measure people’s online behaviour accurately – until now. It’s estimated that more than 4 billion people use social media worldwide, which is expected to rise to a staggering 6 billion by 2027. Although many people consider social media to be a good thing, helping us…

Free will: why people believe in it even when they think they’re being manipulated

Shopping centres manipulate us. Sonpichit Salangsing/Shutterstock We all like to believe that we are free to make our own choices. At the same time, many people think that psychological techniques are constantly being used to sway us – from social media trends to advertising. So how do we square this? Surprisingly, it’s a question most researchers have ignored until now. But in a series of recent studies, we asked people, “Where in your day to day life do you think psychological tactics are being used to manipulate you unconsciously?” – and investigated what that meant for their belief in free…

Curious Kids: do all animals have belly buttons?

Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock Do live-born lizards have belly buttons, and do live-born reptiles have an umbilical cord? – Gaelle, aged 12, Bristol, UK What an interesting question! A belly button or tummy button is technically known as a navel or umbilicus. Humans have belly buttons because before we are born, we are connected to our mothers via an umbilical cord. This is a tube that delivers nourishment to the unborn baby, known as an embryo, and removes waste. It runs from the placenta – an organ in the mother that provides a source of food and oxygen – to the tummy…

How science fiction predicted recent high-tech developments in chemistry

Chemists are often the unsung heroes of scientific breakthroughs that change our lives Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock Real-world technology is often foretold by science fiction. In 1927, characters in the film Metropolis made video calls to each other. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry hung flat-screen colour monitors on the walls of the Enterprise decades before we did the same in our living rooms. You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here. The most obvious examples of technology in science fiction tend to focus on artificial intelligence, communication and transport. But futuristic chemistry is embraced by sci-fi writers…

Five space exploration missions to look out for in 2023

Artist's impression of Starship cruising past the Moon. Space Exploration Technologies Corp./SpaceX Flickr, CC BY-SA It’s been an eventful year for space exploration, with successes including the completion of Nasa’s Artemis 1 mission (finally), the inauguration of the James Webb Space Telescope, and the completion of China’s Tiangong space station. 2023 is set to be another busy year. Here are five of the most exciting missions to watch out for. 1. Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer In April, the European Space Agency (Esa) is set to launch the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice), in what will be Europe’s first dedicated robotic…

Markets and Technology Won’t Solve Climate Crisis. We Must End Capitalism.

Climate change — caused primarily by capitalism’s incessant burning of fossil fuels — is happening faster than even the most pessimistic scientists predicted, causing freak weather events and mass displacement worldwide. From floods submerging one third of Pakistan to temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (100°F) in the Siberian Arctic, evidence abounds that rich countries better cut off their… Source Source / Read More: Markets and Technology Won’t Solve Climate Crisis. We Must End Capitalism.

Betting on female jockeys can bring greater rewards – but it’s not all good news

Rachael Blackmore is among the top jockeys in the UK PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo The bookmaker (nearly) always wins, as the adage goes. But if you want to tip the balance in your favour, look to female riders. Gamblers’ biases have created a situation where punters can make greater returns by backing female jump jockeys. In our recently published research that was funded by the Racing Foundation, my colleagues and I discovered that when male and female jockeys have an equal chance of winning, the odds on horses ridden by women are longer (more profitable) overall. But while…

Curious Kids: why doesn’t the rainbow have black, brown and grey in it?

SUKJAI PHOTO/Shutterstock Why doesn’t the rainbow have colours like black, brown and grey in it? – Ivy, aged four, Kent, UK Many of us have seen rainbows in the sky once the sun starts shining again after a spell of rain. For us to see a rainbow, the conditions need to be just right. We need some water droplets in the air – like rain or even fog – and we need the Sun to be behind us and quite low to the ground. This is because a rainbow is created by light passing through water droplets. Curious Kids is…