Today in research: the young are mostly just happy to be working, making "tractor beams" real, binge drinking's cost per drink, and the latest thing to worry about with cell phones.

  • Happiness is a relative term.  Today, The Wall Street Journal reported on a study by Mercer consulting that found that young people are happier in their workplace than older co-workers. The results, which appear to be from a June survey, could be viewed with glass half-full optimism. But then The Journal enlists a few consultants to give their theories about the findings. "Twenty-somethings may see a job in a 'short-term, transactional way,' [said one consultant]. 'They don't necessarily think 'Where do I fit in with this employer?'" And: "The relative happiness of the younger workers may also be a reflection of how unhappy the older group is, says Colleen O'Neill, a senior partner at Mercer." [The Wall Street Journal via Gawker]
  • Will binge drinkers take note? The Centers for Disease Control is out with a new report gauging how much money binge drinking has cost society as far as health concerns, drunk driving accidents and other things. Unfortunately, as the Associated Press reports, the number that they tout "$2 per drink, in terms of medical expenses and other costs to society" doesn't seem like a very intimidating figure even though it probably should be. The number is extrapolated from the CDC report saying that binge drinking cost everyone $224 billion in 2006. [Associated Press]
  • Step-by-step, geeky researchers are making Star Wars a reality. It seems like every distant, blinking astronomical discovery is named after a Sith, or certain destination where Han, Luke and Lando got stuck in the desert. Today, we learn that a few engineers are doing their best to make "tractor beams," a hallmark of every respectable Star Destroyer, a reality. As New Scientist informs us, the idea is very practical for recovering astronauts who may have lost their footing during a spacewalk and two engineers, Clifford Schlecht and John Sinko are working on a real prototype. "[They] say that if those space-junk thrusters were scaled down and fitted onto a spacesuit, with tubes to vent propellant away from the astronaut, you would have a way to retrieve a spacewalker who is spinning into the void." [New Scientist]
  • The way that cell phones and vitamins are similar.  Just like the doubts about your multivitamin supplements last week, the debate over if/how much/when/should I be very worried? your cell phone is going to give you cancer isn't going to be decided anytime soon. But today, another watch dog group, Environmental Health Trust, issued a new report saying that the "Federal Communications Commission test to determine radiation exposure is flawed." The FCC, as ABC News informs us, has stated on its site that "No scientific evidence currently establishes a definite link between [cellphones] and cancer or other illnesses." [ABC News]
  • The fine line between shyness and social phobia.  A new study, conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, found that 12 percent of teens met the criteria for social phobia--which is described as more than just an extreme version of shyness. In a Health.com/Time Healthland take, the researchers behind the study were looking to combat the notion that the condition wasn't something normal that was being medicalized by their study. "What you realize, when you're on the treatment side of this and you see how much these kids are suffering, [is that] there's just no way this is some kind of conspiracy to medicalize something," says Kathleen R. Merikangas, the lead author of the study to the outlet. [Health.com / Time Healthland]