Discovered: Soda is deadly; you're bad at sports gambling; nice people do better in school; teamwork can be traced back to chimpanzees.
Soda is deadly. Soda — and other sugary, non-alcoholic beverages — is linked to the approximately 180,000 deaths per year, according to a team of doctors at Harvard University. It's no secret that soda is bad for you, of course, but this is one of the first studies to track the number of deaths associated with drinking it. "Sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed throughout the world, and contribute to excess body weight, which increases the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers," said the doctors, whose research indicated that the equatorial countries suffer the most from diabetes associated with soda intake, while Japan suffers the least. [American Heart Association]
You're bad at sports gambling. Unlike poker, craps, and slots — among other kinds of gambling — wagering on the outcome of athletic games seems a least partially based on skill. After all, you can keep track of tons of statistics, which, in theory, portend future performance. But a professor at Tel Aviv University says that sports gamblers are no better equipped to beat the odds, and indeed may suffer in the long run from thinking they can come out on top. The professor and his research partner "determined that neither betting experience nor knowledge of the arcane details of the game is connected to successful betting outcomes. Indeed ... the two most successful gamblers in their study had no prior experience in gambling or knowledge of the sport in question." [Psychopathology]
Nice people do better in school. It turns out that being aware of others' feelings may draw on the same strengths that make you a decent student, according to a research team at Rice University. The team's study found that "higher levels of conscientiousness lead to higher college grade point averages," whereas other indices of personality — agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience — did not produce a similar correlation. The application for this research is pretty obvious: "The study has important implications for college admission offices and employers, who use personality tests to measure an individual’s capacity for success." [Psychological Assessment]
Teamwork can be traced back to chimpanzees. Humanity would not be where it is if humans didn't know how to work together. (For one, you would not be reading these words on the Internet. Because you could not read. And there would be no Internet.) A team of scientists from the U.K. and Germany think that chimpanzee behavior may point to a common ancestor who was capable of such teamwork. Their research, the scientists say, "provides the first evidence that one of our closest primate relatives, the chimpanzees, not only intentionally coordinate actions with each other but that they even understand the necessity to help a partner performing her role in order to achieve the common goal." [Biology Letters]