December 31, 2013

Turns out you might actually be heartbroken. A new study found emotions are linked to certain parts of our bodies.     Photo: Martin Poole/Thinkstock

How Bodies Feel Happiness

Study links emotions to body parts

Next time you get cold feet or a funny feeling in your gut, you’d do well to heed the warning. It could be an indicator of your emotional state.

A team of Finnish researchers found that emotions are directly linked to sensations in specific parts of our bodies. Anger is felt more in the limbs, while sadness decreases those sensations, the study reported. Happiness, on the other hand, is the only emotion felt throughout the body.

To conduct the experiment, researchers gave 700 online participants from Finland, Sweden, and Taiwan an outline of a body, and asked them to color in the regions where they felt warmer or cooler depending on their emotions. Spend five minutes and take the test yourself.

"When we first plotted the maps, it was like, wow, all the different emotions are so different," study researcher Lauri Nummenmaa told USA Today.

The results were the same for all three cultures, suggesting that the connection between emotions and specific parts of the body is universal. And while only healthy individuals were tested, researchers said their findings could help determine the mind-body link in people with mood disorders.

If our bodies can indicate our level of happiness, there are also a few practices we can follow to maximize our well-being. Check out some simple, life-improving strategies here.

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A plane waits at Jose Marti Airport in Havana.     Photo: CalFlier/Flickr

Yes, You Can Now Fly to Cuba

First direct trips begin

The first commercial passenger flight between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba in 50 years took off and landed safely Monday, reuniting two islands separated by just 90 miles of water. President Barack Obama approved the route back in October of 2011, but charter operators have only now been able to navigate through the miles of red tape.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection gave the green light Monday morning, and the flight took off from Key West 90 minutes later at 10 a.m., carrying just nine passengers. The visitors are traveling to Cuba on cultural exchange licenses, reinstituted in 2011, which allow Americans to travel to Cuba for educational activities.

Unfortunately, regular service to Cuba will still be far from frequent, as Key West International Airport is only approved to process 10 passengers and crew to and from Cuba at a time. "This is just a test run," said airport director Peter Horton. "Whether this is going to come and be a regular service I don't believe has been determined yet."

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Hamilton at the Vancouver Olympics     Photo: Simi Hamilton/Facebook

U.S. Nordic Skier Nabs Gold

First men's World Cup win in 30 years

American nordic skier Simi Hamilton is ringing in the new year by making history. On Tuesday, the 2010 Olympian became the first American male in decades to win a World Cup race—a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint, held in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, as part of the Tour de Ski stage race.

The last time a win like this happened was 30 years ago by American hero Bill Koch. In a sport historically dominated by europeans, the U.S. men's nordic program owns only one Olympic medal—Koch‘s silver in 1976.

Hamilton, 26, a Colorado native, has never finished better than seventh in a World Cup race, NBCsports reports. During Tuesday’s race, though, Hamilton came back from behind, taking the men’s final in 2:37.02,  a mere 0.32 seconds ahead of Canadian Alex Harvey in second. The win is particularly exciting given that the Sochi Winter Games are just weeks away.

“I didn’t think I had it until I was, like, five feet across the line,” Hamilton said, according to Faster Skier. “I just focused on skiing through the finish and sticking to my guns.”

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A new documentary film shows dolphins sharing a buzz-inducing nerve toxin.     Photo: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia

Dolphins Gather, Get High

Mammals hooked on puffer's toxin

A new BBC One documentary includes scenes showing dolphins thoughtfully squeezing an unidentified species of puffer fish to release its nerve toxin, then pass the dead fish between other marine mammals. After a short while, the dolphins enter a trance-like state.

"This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating," Rob Pilley, a zoologist and series producer, told The Sunday Times. "They began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection."

Most poisonous puffers contain the nerve toxin tetrodotoxin, which can be fatal to humans in doses as small as one to four milligrams per person. In Japan, where the puffer fish is a delicacy, misprepared servings inadvertently become the last meal of two to three people every year. In small amounts it produces a narcotic effect similar to "toad smoking": licking psychoactive toads for the hallucinogenic venom they produce.

SEE ALSO: Talk to Me: Dolphins communicate with each other, but can they communicate with us?

The documentary series, Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, is produced by award-winning wildlife documentary producer John Downer. The film features more than 900 hours of candid dolphin footage captured by spy cameras hidden in a decoy turtles, fish, and squid. The upshot is more insight into dolphin behavior, and the revelation of even more human-like traits. Gathering to get high can now be added to other dolphin behavior, such as masturbation, using tools, and communicating with speech.

Footage of the spy cameras in action

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