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February 9, 2018

Weekend reads: The tearless onion has arrived

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Where does the heart symbol come from? Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Marilyn Yalom, a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, takes a look at the origins of the well-known symmetrical heart symbol. According to Yalom, the symbol has roots in pinecone-shaped imagery appearing in art as early as 1250—but the clearest example of our modern-day heart icon, with the two scallops and v-shaped point, appears to have originated in a French manuscript entitled "The Romance of Alexander," from around 1340.

    Compulsive Facebook users are more likely to be narcissists. According to a study published in PLOS One, people who use Facebook compulsively are more likely to be narcissists. For the study, researchers examined 179 German students who used Facebook during a single year. The researchers then assessed participants' Facebook usage against the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, a test specifically designed to determine compulsive Facebook use, and surveyed participants on multiple other personality and lifestyle factors, such as physical health, life satisfaction, and narcissism. According to the study, compulsive Facebook use was "significantly positively related to the personality trait narcissism and to negative mental health variables (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms)."

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Dry those cryin' eyes. After 30 years in the making, the tearless onion has finally arrived. The "Sunion" was developed by Bayer through cross-breeding, harvesting generations of bulbs and finding those that were least pungent. With gas chromatography, scientists could determine the composition of volatile compounds in each plant, Tove Danovich repots for NPR's "The Salt." The Sunion's transformation from tear-jerker to harmless vegetable happens during storage, according to Bayer's senior crop sales manager Lyndon Johnson—while still in the field, the onion is just as likely as other yellow onions to make a person cry. So far, Sunions are available only in seven states and at six grocery store chains, but Bayer hopes to expand production.

    This small Vermont town has fielded 11 Olympians. Here's how the town's parents raise kids. Nearly every United States Winter Olympic team since 1984 has had a member from Norwich, Vermont. What are the town's secrets? Karen Crouse, who's researched the town, writes in the New York Times' "Well," that the town's "secret to happiness and excellence can be traced to the way the town collectively raises its children." According to Crouse, parents invest in the wellbeing of all children, not just their own. The town, Crouse explains, values "participation over prowess, generosity of spirit over a hoarding of resources, and sportsmanship over one-upmanship." And cellular service is poor, which keeps residents less tied to their devices, Crouse notes.

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