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June 21, 2019

Weekend reads: Why researchers 'lost' 17K wallets all over the world

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Spend some time outside—it's good for you. Spending at least two hours a week in nature could be good for your health, according to a study in Scientific Reports. For the study, researchers analyzed 19,800 responses between 2014 and 2016 to a United Kingdom government survey assessing "engagement with the natural environment." The survey asked participants about the time they spent outdoors—not including their own gardens—as well about their health and wellbeing. They found that people who spent two hours outside during the previous week were 23% more likely to report high wellbeing and 59% more likely to report good health compared with those who reported no contact with nature during the previous week. According to the researchers, the positive effect on health increased the more time someone spent outside per week, peaking at about three hours for health and five hours for wellbeing.

    The more cash in your lost wallet, the more likely you are to get it back. People are more likely to return a lost wallet if it has money in it—and the more money the better, according to a study in Science. Researchers planted more than 17,000 "lost wallets" in 355 cities in 40 countries and kept track of how often someone contacted the supposed owner of the wallet. The researchers found that for wallets containing about $13 in local currency, the response rate was about 51%, compared with a response rate of about 40% for wallets that didn't have money. The researchers increased the amount of money in some countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland—to the equivalent of $94 and found that response rates increased to 72%, compared with a 61% response rate for wallets with $13 and a 46% response rate for wallets without money. Why the increase? According to Christian Zuend of the University of Zurich, one of the study authors, the presence of money in the wallet makes it "fee[l] like stealing. … And it feels even more like stealing when the money in the wallet increases."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    The 'reality' of House Hunters. Writing in Slate, Elizabeth Newcamp exposes the reality behind "reality" TV shows. Newcamp and her husband, Jeff, have appeared on the TV show House Hunters twice, and both times the storyline—and time line—were largely manufactured. In fact, Newcamp, writes that she and her husband were never actually house hunting when they appeared on the show. "One time we'd already closed on the house we 'chose' in the episode; the other time we'd already lived in our house for a year," she explained. She continues, "One day we would film seeing the town of Delft [in the Netherlands] 'for the first time,' and the next day we were all moved into our house as though we had lived there for a few months." Even Newcamp herself was surprised when House Hunters producers couldn't find a real estate agent in Delft and decided to pay Newcamp's neighbor Michael $500 to go on camera as the family's "relocation expert." Newcamp said people should still "enjoy House Hunters … but … you shouldn't take it at face value."

    Happy Summer Solstice: To help people celebrate the summer solstice, English Heritage, a conservation charity, has established a virtual live stream from inside Stonehenge. The live stream, called the Stonehenge Skyscape, lets users monitor the sun's position, and the position of various planets—including Mars, Mercury, and Venus—as though they were standing in the middle of the monument. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a space scientist, said of the initiative, "It's great to see English Heritage putting Stonehenge back on a celestial scale," adding, "Stonehenge Skyscape offers a mesmerising insight into our ancestors' lives and hopefully—beyond visiting the website—it will inspire people all over the world to go outside, and look up."

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