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July 10, 2010

With little chance to get out for awhile, I experimented some with a 20 year old 135mm lens coupled with the Canon close up filter that a friend has loaned me. Shooting into the sun again, I was surprised about the degree of lens flare that shows the aperture blades.

Thinking about strange things again, I began wondering about the Framingham Study. This study was the long-term 3 generation undertaking that has studied all the residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts to track health and cardiac disease. It is one of the foremost studies that shaped the modern medication world. Several months ago, Wired Magazine had an article that detailed where the study has become useful in understanding social changes such as smoking and obesity, mainly because the study participants gave the names of their friends and family during the enrollment process as a way to keep track of the individuals. If they would move, the participants could be found by contacting their friends for more information about their whereabouts.

This collection of the friends/family network now allows a social study to determine how social behaviors spread throughout the people that you know. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that spread like a disease, with obesity and smoking cessation being a couple of them.

Thinking about that recently, I found this article where they used the Framingham Study to determine how happiness spreads through your friend/family network. Apparently, the degree of happiness is also contagious.

Here is a brief quote (with the link to the online article being here): Longitudinal statistical models suggest that clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. A friend who lives within a mile (about 1.6 km) and who becomes happy increases the probability that a person is happy by 25% (95% confidence interval 1% to 57%). Similar effects are seen in coresident spouses (8%, 0.2% to 16%), siblings who live within a mile (14%, 1% to 28%), and next door neighbours (34%, 7% to 70%). Effects are not seen between coworkers. The effect decays with time and with geographical separation.