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The Spill: A Thanksgiving to Remember

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A New Kind of Holiday Season

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, but this year is probably going to bring one of the strangest holiday seasons you’ve experienced. Due to a recent surge in coronavirus infections, many state government officials have decided to reinstate lockdown orders, or at the very least institute some strict guidelines for family gatherings and holiday parties.

In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee just reinstated another form of lockdown, taking its residents back to the phase of closed restaurants – except for outdoor dining – and gatherings of no more than ten people. The state official suggested that families not even get together to celebrate the day of giving thanks unless they already live in the same household.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, took a different approach by making a list of dos and don’ts for the Golden State’s residents. Families celebrating the holiday are asked to have no more than two households together, and highly suggested the gathering take place outside. If indoors, it is recommended that individuals maintain social distancing and windows are opened to allow for more ventilation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had even more guidelines and instructions for holiday get-togethers. In its November 11 guidelines, the CDC suggested, “Encourage guests to avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors. Keep music levels down so people don’t have to shout or speak loudly to be heard.” This might be especially difficult to follow come Christmas time, when tradition calls for singing carols and drinking eggnog.

Most states are also asking people not to travel out of the area, and some states are even placing either mandatory or voluntary 14-day quarantines when traveling into another state. No one can predict how long COVID is going to keep Americans under such restrictions, but some hope that a new vaccination may put an end to the lockdowns and closures. Others are also hopeful that as we continue to learn more about the virus and treatments that work, that will also reduce the risk of severe illness or death.

Dinosaurs: What Really Wiped Them Out?

For millions of years, the dinosaurs dominated the Earth. Some scientists suggest that dinosaurs were already headed towards extinction when the asteroid hit 66 million years ago, but others think otherwise. Researchers from the United Kingdom’s University of Bath would like to put that theory on the back burner and have made their suggestions and findings in a published study. Joe Bonsor, an author of said study, said, “What we found is that the dinosaurs were still dominant, they were still widespread and still doing really well.”

Bonsor, who is a PhD student at London’s Natural History Museum as well as the Milner Centre for Evolution at Bath, added, “If the asteroid impact had never happened then they might not have died out and they would have continued after the Cretaceous.”

Dinosaurs inhabited Earth for more than 150 million years, and during that time they continued to evolve and take many different forms and shapes. Experts claim it was this very diversity of size, body armor, teeth, and feathers that allowed them to dominate Earth for so long. “The main point of what we are saying is that we don’t really have enough data to know either way what would have happened to the dinosaurs,” Bonsor said. “Instead we’ve shown that there is no strong evidence for them dying out, and that the only way to know for sure is to fill in the gaps in the fossil record.”

If that asteroid had never hit all those millions of years ago, what would have happened to mankind? Remembering the events in Jurassic Park might just give some insight.

Gaming for the Brain

How much time do you spend gaming each day? Each week? Have you found yourself playing more video games now since the coronavirus pandemic caused most states to enact some form of stay-at-home or lockdown measures? And finally, how often have you heard that spending too much time gaming is bad for your mental health? Well, a new study shows that playing several hours of certain games may actually be good for the mind and help reduce depression.

Depending on the game, players can experience euphoria and feel less isolated when challenged to obtain specific goals, especially if they are testing their wits and skills against someone else. This, researchers suggest, is really helpful now that students are not able to get out and socialize at school or attend social functions due to COVID-19 fears. Competing against other players while having the ability to communicate with them as well helps dispel the sense of isolation.

Different games can offer separate benefits. For example, Tetris can produce a calming effect on players as they hone their abilities to concentrate on fitting shapes and sizes together. In other games, interactions with the dialogues, characters, and storylines can sometimes be much more engaging than watching films since the player is actually involved in the creation and process and has the ability to manipulate or change the outcome.

Professor Andrew Przbylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said, “Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons’ well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health—and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.”

While it probably isn’t a good idea to sit in front of a computer or television playing Plants vs Zombies 24-hours a day, at least there may be some good news for gamers, and their mental health, especially during a pandemic lockdown.

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