FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
July 21, 2014
iStock

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

12:39 p.m. ET

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was none too thrilled Saturday with the protesters who blocked his way into California's Republican convention the day before:

Leave it to Trump to make an off-color joke about the incident once he made it inside the hotel Friday.

'We went under a fence and through a fence," Trump said. "Oh boy, it felt like I was crossing the border, actually." Julie Kliegman

11:51 a.m. ET

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is perhaps best used for admiring photos of Mark Zuckerberg's dog. Beast, a Puli Hungarian Sheepdog, is quite good at camouflaging himself, as you can see in photos the social network's founder posted Friday:

This rug has eyes.

That's an awfully big mop. Julie Kliegman

11:29 a.m. ET

Jimmy Fallon has been singing bits and pieces of Styx's "Too Much Time on My Hands" on The Tonight Show for days. On Friday, he and actor Paul Rudd took the obsession to its natural conclusion, creating a shot-by-shot remake of the '80s music video. The end result is sufficiently goofy. Take a look below. Julie Kliegman

11:05 a.m. ET

Hundreds of activists stormed Iraq's parliament building Saturday in support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had accused Iraqi politicians of corruption, CBS News reports.

The demonstrators climbed over blast walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the country's ministries and foreign embassies, after parliament couldn't reach quorum to hold a session. The protesters broke furniture, chanted, and waved Iraqi flags.

For months, protesters have been demanding Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi take more steps to fight corruption. The capital announced a state of emergency amid the protests Saturday. Julie Kliegman

10:28 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr released nine pages of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers Friday and ordered all officers to undergo anti-bias training, The New York Times reports.

"We have nothing to hide," Suhr said of his 2,000-member force. "These are the actions of a few."

The messages, which disparaged blacks, Latinos, South Asians, and LGBT people, were found as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.

The department is under federal investigation for the 2015 fatal shooting of Mario Woods, a black man. Julie Kliegman

9:33 a.m. ET
iStock

The head of an evangelical legal organization has pledged to carry a gun into Target's bathrooms to defend against transgender women. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver is calling for a boycott of the retail chain after it announced that it will allow patrons to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, The Huffington Post reports. Staver tweeted the following:

Staver later claimed she always brings guns into public restrooms. The Week Staff

8:32 a.m. ET
Courtesy image

A Copycat Art Scratcher (approximately $190) is expensive as scratching posts go, but buying one a month is "a lot cheaper than your cat destroying an actual priceless piece of artwork," says Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo. Dutch designer Erik Stehmann had lost only an embroidered painting to his pets' claws when he decided he might be able to rechannel their artistic interests and did so by reproducing famous paintings on embroidered twine. A replica of the Mona Lisa will be the first scratchboard offered when the product begins shipping in May. Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring will soon follow. The Week Staff

See More Speed Reads