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human behavior

At the start of the work week, many offices from Virginia to New York are closed, and road crews are working to clear streets as residents dig themselves out of a blizzard's snowfall. Flight schedules, riddled by cancellations, will likely take days to get back to normal.

They're coping with massive amounts of snow that, despite all the shoveling and plowing, will only start to go away once temperatures rise — something that will happen emphatically Tuesday, when much of the Interstate 95 corridor in the Mid-Atlantic will see melting from temperatures in the 40s.

Bansy / Creative Commons

Dr. Joseph Cyr, a surgeon with the Royal Canadian Navy, had to think quick when his ship came upon a rickety boat with mangled and bloody bodies. at the height of the Korean War in 1951. As the only doctor on board, he quickly moved to operate on 19 men, all of them his enemies in this war. All survived, making the young doctor a hero.

Except he wasn't really a doctor. 

An Islamic center and mosque in Worcester is taking a proactive approach to confronting Islamophobia.

The Worcester Islamic Center is holding an event Saturday that it’s calling “Meet a Muslim Day.” It’s designed to get members of the public who may not know much about Islam — beyond the headlines — to learn about the faith practiced by about one-fifth of the world’s population.

Ugly Dolls / Flickr

What does it mean to say that someone, or something is ugly? For a label that gets tossed around so often, its meaning is hard to pin down. Perhaps that's because, throughout history and around the world, our notions of ugliness have shifted considerably.

Willle Stark / Flickr Creative Commons

Coincidences happen to everyon, wwhether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio, or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel / The Love Lettering Project

When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, but a real, tangible piece of mail? If your answer is "not recently," you’re not alone.

Except for the occasional birthday or holiday card, most of us haven’t sent -- or received -- good, old-fashioned snail mail in a very long time. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I first met cartoonist Bill Griffith back in the 1980s. I arranged for us to tour a Boston-area Hostess Twinkie plant, which sounds like a weird first date but makes perfect sense if you're familiar with his creation "Zippy the Pinhead," an unwitting surrealist who swims happily through a sea of taco sauce, processed cheese and, well, Twinkies.

The Placebo Effect

Dec 1, 2015
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better for a long time. They've been working since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight, after all hope for a medical cure had been lost.  

Doctors have long dismissed the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments that sometimes fail where placebo works well, including in surgical procedures like arthroscopy, a popular procedure that relieves the pain of arthritic knees. 

©Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague, The Netherlands

Deadbeat husbands, horrible bosses, and unplanned pregnancies are just a few of the topics written about in a recently-rediscovered chest found in the Netherlands containing hundreds of late-17th century letters.

A researcher at Yale is examining this "postal treasure trove," which is packed with all sorts of historical artifacts. 

Geoffrey Fairchild / Creative Commons

President Obama spoke with frustration last month at a press conference after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

He asked if anybody really still believes we need more guns and fewer gun safety laws.

Mass shootings are a big problem, but the majority of gun deaths are from homicide, accidental shootings, and suicide. The common denominator in all of them is easy access to guns.

Willle Stark / Flickr

Coincidences happen to everyone -- whether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

In 1934, a weather observer stationed at the peak of Mount Washington recorded a, then record, wind gust of 231 miles per hour. As a point of reference, that’s in the same neighborhood as an F5 tornado.

Even on hot summer day, conditions at the peak can drop below freezing in a matter of minutes – which is just one reason more than 135 people have died in the shadow of Mount Washington since 1859.

And yet, Mount Washington isn’t just Home of the World’s Worst Weather--as a sign at the summit famously boasts--it’s also home to a weather station, where a team of researchers are able to safely live year-round.

Which begs the question: would the Mount Washington Observatory be the perfect place to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Listen to this radio story to find out:

Recently a neighborhood in Brooklyn made national headlines for a fight over public schools. Lots of affluent, mainly white families have been moving into new condos in the waterfront area called DUMBO, and the local elementary school is getting overcrowded.

The city wants to redraw the zones in a way that would send kids from this predominantly white school to a nearby school where enrollment is over 90 percent black and Hispanic and which draws many of its students from a public housing project. Some parents on both sides of the line balked.

Wavian / Creative Commons

Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, killing 71 people and causing damages worth $50 billion. We suffer from a kind of amnesia: we know it happened, but we hesitate to change much about the way we prepare for future events. New York invested nearly $20 billion in new protective measures, simultaneously allowing 900 new housing units to be constructed next to the water.

Ingram Publishing / Thinkstock

One in four Americans say they’ve been the victim of a data breach or cyber attack. And the perception of online risk is rising sharply, according to the new Travelers Consumer Risk Index.

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