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The Week in Ideas 7/21

Posted by Kevin Hartnett July 21, 2014 09:00 AM

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What playfulness can do for you
: Leon Neyfakh on new research in psychology that finds that acting like a goofball can have all sorts of positive effects on your life.

What does World War I mean? A century of answers: Jordan Michael Smith on the different ways World War I has been interpreted over the last 100 years, how the lessons of the conflict have changed along with us.

What ‘urban physics’ could tell us about how cities work: Ruth Graham on MIT professor Franz-Josef Ulm, who hopes that physics can give urban planners a new tool to understand a city’s structure, its energy use, and possibly even its resilience to climate change.

Travel advice from Teddy Roosevelt’s uncle: Danny Heitman on how psychologists are learning what the Roosevelt family knew a long time ago, that connecting with other cultures can have help you build a stronger trust in humanity.

Plus: Kevin Lewis on how people assume socially responsible consumer products are of lower quality; how interracial couples are more attractive; how unmarried CEOs perform better; and more.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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