This week in odd scientific studies: Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Warwick found that the Danish may be happier than other people thanks to their genetics.
Denmark regularly leads polls of the world's happiest countries, the study authors said, and they wanted to look into why, exactly, this was true. Last year's World Happiness Report ranked Denmark as the happiest nation on Earth, and researchers found that people who have Danish ancestry are more likely to have a positive life outlook.
Researchers at the university's Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) looked at data from 131 countries and found that nations genetically closer to Danes had happier residents. The research, published in a working paper by the German economic research institute IZA in its Discussion Paper series, found that Danish birth was correlated with a gene that influences serotonin — a mood chemical — levels in the brain. The greater a nation's genetic distance was from Denmark, the lower that nation's reported well-being was.
When compared with people from other countries, the Danish were less likely to possess a short version of the gene, which has been linked to lower levels of life satisfaction. While the researchers controlled for personal income and religion, those with Danish genetics were still found to be happier.
"It seems there are reasons to believe that genetic patterns may help researchers to understand international well-being levels," Andrew Oswald, one of the researchers behind the project, said in a statement. "More research in this area is now needed and economists and social scientists may need to pay greater heed to the role of genetic variation across national populations." Meghan DeMaria
Only in America: Man complains about NBC changing logo to 'colors of gays,' doesn't realize it hadn't changed
A Little Rock, Arkansas, man lodged a complaint with the local NBC affiliate over its peacock logo, charging it included "colors of gays" to show support for the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. Don Stair said the logo was "a disgrace" and vowed to switch to ABC. The station responded that its multicolored NBC peacock — which dates from 1956 — is the "same logo as always."
As America continues its slow, miserable climb out of the 2008 recession, wage stagnation is becoming a bigger concern. On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report showed that wage growth effectively remains flat. It's a trend that has actually defined most of the 21st century — and, at least in comparison to one particularly well-off group, the depressingly slow growth of worker compensation goes back further still:
Since 1978, CEO compensation has risen 90 times faster than the average worker's, the liberal Economic Policy Institute shows in the above graph. That's not CEO pay vs. worker pay; that's just rates of growth.
The average CEO made $1.5 million, after adjusting for inflation, in 1978, EPI says. He or she now makes $16.3 million. The salary of the average worker, however, has risen from $48,000 to just $53,200. CEOs at top firms now make over 300 times more than the average worker. Nico Lauricella
The Solar Impulse made history on Friday when it landed without incident in Hawaii. Flying about 5,000 miles from Japan and spending 118 hours in the air, the Impulse set records in distance and time for manned, solar-powered flights. The pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who switch off flying legs, are on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Next stop: New York. Read more at BBC News. Nico Lauricella
In a short televised address Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Greece to vote "no" on Sunday's bailout referendum. "I ask you to say no ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering," he said. "No to divisions, no to those who want to spread panic." Polls show both sides neck-and-neck, and many Greeks are reportedly confused by the technical language of the referendum, which is over a bailout deal that is reportedly off the table. Tsipras tried to clear up the confusion, saying the vote is over a bad deal, "not Greece's participation in the euro." Read more at The New York Times. Nico Lauricella
A Jewish political action committee hired several Mexican day laborers to dress as Orthodox Jews and protest at the Gay Pride parade in New York City. After a reporter noticed that the men in Orthodox garb were clearly Hispanic, the Jewish Political Action Committee admitted it hired substitutes for its members "because of what they would see at the parade."
Nguyen Phu Trong will become the first leader of Vietnam's Communist Party to ever visit the United States when he meets with President Obama at the White House next week. They will reportedly discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would foster closer relations between the U.S., Vietnam, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, as well as security concerns with China. The meeting is seen as a sign of growing ties between the two countries, and will mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War. Read more at AFP. Nico Lauricella
You can't erase history, but maybe you can paint it over? Golf champ Bubba Watson announced on Thursday that he'll swap the Confederate flag atop his General Lee, the iconic car from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, for an American one. In 2012, he purchased the car used in the first episode of the TV show.
All men ARE created equal, I believe that so I will be painting the American flag over the roof of the General Lee #USA
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) July 2, 2015
Watson's tweet comes on the heels of TV Land's announcement that it would stop airing Dukes of Hazzard reruns because of the prominence of the flag in the show. After the murders at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina — allegedly by Dylann Roof, who has a history of white supremacy — the Confederate flag has been increasingly shunned. Nico Lauricella