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Is there meaning in the length of a finger? An eighteen ninety-three guidebook called "Modern Etiquette (quy ước mặc nhận) in Public and Private" had this to say: "Long fingers are a sign of refinement. A short stubby hand argues a lack of sensibility."

Well, long fingers might also be a sign of a good basketball player or pianist. Or maybe just a master at thumb wars. This much is sure: studies in recent years have pointed toward a number of findings.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, for example, just tied finger length to success in financial trading.

The study led by John Coates looked at stock traders in London. Earlier work found that male stock traders made more money on days when their level of the male hormone testosterone was higher. John Coates -- himself a former trader -- wondered if, over all, men with more testosterone made more successful traders.

Individuals are exposed to testosterone while in their mother's womb. A way to know how much is to compare their ring finger to their index finger. The index finger is the one next to the thumb; the ring finger is third from the thumb. The longer the ring finger compared to the index finger, the greater the testosterone exposure.

The study involved forty-four traders and their profits and losses over a twenty-month period ending in two thousand seven.

Those with the most experience and testosterone exposure earned about six times as much as those with the least. Also, the research showed that traders with the most exposure generally made the most money in wild markets when quick action is required. Testosterone is known to make people more sure of themselves and more willing to take risks. It may also improve a person's thinking ability.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A two thousand seven British study showed that finger length might help predict test results among schoolchildren. Psychology researchers at the University of Bath looked at the hands of seven-year-olds. Those with ring fingers longer than index fingers did better on the math part of a standardized test than the reading part.

This was true for boys as well as girls. Females are also exposed to some testosterone in the womb.

And another British study reported last year that people whose index finger is shorter than their ring finger are at higher risk of osteoarthritis. That study was from the University of Nottingham.

Written by Caty Weaver.

Looking at my fingers, I'm Steve Ember.



Poor people in countries around the Asia-Pacific region are bombarded with illegal charges and bribes in their daily lives.

A new report released by the U.N. Development Program indicates that petty corruption perpetuates poverty and increases child mortality rates.

UNDP Assistant Secretary-General Olav Kjørven says high-profile cases of corruption at the top levels of government should not take attention away from small-scale graft.

"Poor people are the ones who can least afford to pay bribes, but they find themselves that they have no other choice in order to protect what little they have or to get access to at least some minimum social service, whether it's education or health," he said. "And so in addition to the resource transfer away from productive services for the public good at the macro-level, at the micro-level, it hurts individuals and families directly."

Kjørven says at police check points, government offices, and even schools and hospitals the poverty stricken pay extra for the services they need to sustain everyday life.

"Those are the areas where regular people need the government the most in their day-to-day lives," he said. "If the majority of the people see the government as just one big corrupt beast that is just there as a problem not as a catalyst or a facilitator for development, for progress, then the sustainability of the state itself becomes questionable."

The report recommends rooting out corruption in the justice system as a top priority, and supports public access to financial information to keep governments honest.

As much as 40 percent of the funds for infrastructure projects across the region are lost due to bid rigging and other corruption, the UNDP said.

The report was released in Indonesia, where the country's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says his country could be destroyed if corruption continues to grow. He has called for "shock therapy" to help root it out.

Chad Bouchard - Jakarta

Composed & Edited by Lê Quốc An
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