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15 Scientific Facts That Will Warm Your Cold, Dead, Heart

The world’s pretty alright sometimes.

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1. Chimps will lend a helping hand to humans even if they get no reward for doing so.

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Helping someone unrelated to you for no personal benefit was long thought to be a distinctly human trait. Chimps have shown that not to be the case. In experiments, chimps will help both unrelated chimps AND humans reach an object out of the other individual's grasp when no reward is offered.

3. Doing unselfish deeds activates the same primal regions of the brain that make it so fun to have sex and eat food.

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This is surprising, as many researchers had assumed that such behavior comes from the higher regions of the brain responsible for more complex cognitive functions.

4. NASA has developed a "robonaut" to help astronauts on the International Space Station.


This robonaut will do mundane "housekeeping" tasks around the station and also perform high-risk spacewalks that humans can not perform.


5. Scientists once created special cat music to show that cats actually enjoy getting their groove on.

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The researchers wanted to prove that cats like music, but only if it was the ~right~ music. In their experiment, the right music was composed of sounds "within the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication [between cats]."

7. Music can help severely brain-damaged patients recall lost personal memories.

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Scientists have tested this on individuals suffering from brain damage by playing them all 50 No. 1 songs of the year from 1960 to 2010. In almost all cases, some previously lost memories came back to the participants.


9. The awe felt by people touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality has a direct and positive effect on the immune system.

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Scientists have found that people who experience awe often have a reduction in immune system chemicals called "proinflammatory cytokines." Typically, large amounts of these chemicals imply poor health.

11. Rats will free their friends from cages in a laboratory setting without any reward or personal benefit.

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The experiment placed two rats in a cage, with one of the rats trapped in a smaller cage. Without any personal benefit, the other rat almost always rescued its fellow rat.


13. Infants are more likely to create memories when they interact with a happy-sounding or -looking person.

Jaren Wilkey / BYU / Via

In one experiment, infants showed a preference for objects given to them by a happy–sounding or –looking person compared to an object given by a neutral–sounding or –looking person five minutes after the fact, even if an object was given to them by a person with a neutral face more recently.

15. And, of course, happiness really might be contagious.


A massive and long-term study looked at the social networks (IRL, not on the interwebz) of nearly 5,000 people for 20 years. The researchers found that people's happiness generally depended on the happiness of people in their close circles.

Science Writer, Fossil Beastmaster

Contact Alex Kasprak at

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