Jennifer Aniston obviously plays an important role in American pop culture, but scientists have discovered that she also plays a prominent role in a more unexpected place: the medial part of the temporal lobe. Yep, there is a Jennifer Aniston neuron in our brains. Skeptical? Confused? Okay, here’s the deal … Keep reading »
Your old printer has served you well. It’s dutifully churned out term papers, contracts, and last-minute photo gifts. But wouldn’t it be nice to upgrade to a printer that prints chocolate? Seriously though: a team of researchers in the UK have devised a machine that does just that. Apparently the magical chocolate printer works like other 3D printers currently used in manufacturing, creating a 3-dimensional shape by slowly building up very thin layers of material, which in this case just happens to be the most delicious material known to man. At the moment, the chocolate printer is still a prototype, but lead scientist Dr. Liang Hao has big plans: “Chocolate has a lot of social purposes,” she says, “so our intention is to develop a community and share the designs, ideas and experience[s].” Yep, a chocolate-themed social network. The future sounds pretty delicious, huh? [BBC News]
We are all familiar with “beer goggles,” otherwise known as the only reason anything happens on “Jersey Shore” ever. Recently, scientists with too much time on their hands have discovered just how “beer googles” work and how they’re harder on lady drinkers. Haha, very funny, Mother Nature. Keep reading »
A few days ago, NPR’s “Talk Of The Nation” featured a psychologist named Vicky Williamson who specializes in earworms. That might sound like a particularly gnarly kind of parasite, but it’s actually the term for songs and melodies that get stuck in your head. According to Williamson, 90 percent of people experience an earworm at least once a week, and she’s studying the phenomenon in the hopes of better understanding human memory. In the process she’s collecting data on the most common earworms along with potential cures (apparently reciting the British National Anthem will clear your head in no time). I am often plagued by awful commercial jingles, Nickelback choruses, and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” (yep, my life sucks). How about you guys? What songs always get stuck in your head? [NPR]
Redheads! They’re so different! So special, so rare! And the same recessive genes that give them their ginger locks also cause them to feel pain in a different way than the rest of us. A study done at Aalborg University in Denmark found that while redheads are better able to handle spicier foods, their bodies are less adept at handling a variety of other sensory experiences, such as extreme cold and dental pain. Annnnnnd gingers are also more inclined to have problems such as endometriosis and sclerosis.
But the good news?
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Kim Kardashian may not just be an example of a walking, talking publicity stunt — she could be an example of biology gone awry! Scientists have discovered a gene that may explain why some women have a problem getting or staying married. Research of more than 1,800 women found that some ladies have difficulty bonding due to a variation of the oxytocin receptor gene, known as A-allele. The A-allele gene affects how women process oxytocin, the hormone responsible for love and bonding. If a woman’s body cannot properly break down the hormone, it could affect her ability to bond with others, including her boyfriend or husband.
So maybe, just maybe, we have been harshly judging poor Kimmy for a problem she just cannot fix? (Or not.) [Huffington Post]
Ever since Darwin popped off his big theory of evolution, we’ve all kind of presumed that everything we do — the way we eat, the mates we choose, the way we purposely mispronounce “indubitably” for laughs, everything — is ultimately tied to one goal: continuing the species. But sometimes getting from A to Baby isn’t as intuitive as you’d think. And scientists have had a hell of a time figuring out why.
Now, we’re not saying that these theories behind our sexual behaviors are the gospel truth or that there aren’t other, conflicting theories out there. But if they are true, sex is even weirder than we thought. Read more …
Women are born with a finite number of eggs in their ovaries, but a new study is offering a peek into the possibility that we can change that. Here’s the (very brief) debrief: researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital extracted stem cells from the ovaries of donors who were undergoing sex change operations and implanted them in healthy ovary tissue. The shocking result? Within two weeks new eggs were forming. The treatment is a long way off from any real-life applications, but the implications are pretty staggering. Says Dr. Jonathan Tilly, the head researcher for the study: “Our current views of ovarian aging are incomplete. There’s much more to the story than simply the trickling away of a fixed pool of eggs.” [CBS News]
Dear Oetzi AKA The Ancient Iceman,
I just saw a picture of you and damn, with a beard like that all you need is a jaunty newsboy cap and you could easily find work as a Stumptown barista. Scientists have analyzed your genome and just discovered that you were lactose intolerant (only soy lattes for you, mister!) and had brown eyes and Lyme disease. The Lyme disease thing is kind of a downer, but those brown eyes and Italian swagger? Total dreamboat status. If you hadn’t been killed with an arrow 5,300 years ago I would totally be crushing on you. [BBC News]
This story sounds like the stuff of hardcore science fiction, but it’s really a heartwarming squirrel success story. Over 30,000 years ago, some industrious Siberian squirrels collected nuts and seeds and stored them in their hibernation burrows. When scientists discovered these burrows in modern day Russia, they were buried more than 60 feet below the surface, and they contained thousands of seed samples that had been effectively flash-frozen, preserved perfectly under the permafrost. Here’s where things get really crazy: scientists were able to use fruit tissues recovered from these ice age squirrel burrows to resurrect the Silene stenophylla plant, and the new specimen is fertile, complete with white flowers and viable seeds. Is this one more step toward making the plot of “Encino Man” a reality? We can only wait, and hope. [ABC News]