Last week, NASA scientists predicted that they would discover Earth’s universal twin within a year. Well, they made good on that promise and way early. Wednesday, the Kepler telescope found KOI, short for Kepler Object Interest, a very promising candidate for Earth twindom. Not the name I would have chosen, but I’m not complaining. We have a twin!
There are some minor differences between Earth and KOI. (It’s more of a fraternal twin than an identical one.) While it has a sun that it orbits, far away enough to be fit for human life, it’s about 50 percent larger than Earth and circles its sun in about 242 days instead of 365. Yikes, that means you would age faster. Keep reading »
If money were no object, I would probably be covered in gold, Midas-style. Actually, much less like Midas and way more like this Indian man who had a shirt made for himself using $230,888 worth of solid gold. To attract a wife. As you do. I guess I’m not that materialistic, but I do like nice stuff, and what’s nicer than gold, am I right?
Soon, people who like gold as much as I do will be able to put it somewhere it’s never been before (sorry, gold-plated dildos have been a thing for a while): in their hair! And not even like just an accessory; it will actually go in the hair itself. And not only will it be a testament to how filthy rich you are, it will also turn your white hair dark brown, for good, or at least until it grows out. That’s what science says! Keep reading »
If you’re planning to party like a rock star this New Year’s Eve, you might want to take a break from pounding Jagerbombs to pounding a plate of sauteed asparagus. According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, certain amino acids and minerals found in asparagus have the power to flush out “cellular toxicities.” As the lead researcher explains, ”These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.” This study doesn’t guarantee that asparagus will cure your hangover, but hey, weird-smelling pee is a small price to pay for the possibility of a headache-free morning on the first day of 2013. Now that we’re on the topic of hangovers, do you have any of your own hangover remedies you’d like to share? Have you ever tried the asparagus cure? Did it work? [Pop Sci]
Dieting is probably my foremost hobby. It might even take precedence over my two other main interests, which are 1) lying on the sofa complaining of feeling faint like a Victorian anemic and 2) staring at myself in the mirror. Of course, dieting for me just means eating healthily, because my idea of eating whatever I want includes sandwiches composed of whole baguettes with an entire pig’s worth of prosciutto, several slices of pepperoni pizza, and entire pints of ice cream in one sitting. The world in which I can eat as I please is a world in which raw kale does not exist. (Baked kale chips can stay.)
So it only makes sense that, however unpleasant it may be, I force myself to eat in a reasonable, controlled manner, which means cutting out some of my favorite foods altogether. Once I get them in front of me, I cannot resist, and then I’m eating all of it, because food is my drug. Which leads me to this: much like the gravitational pull of your favorite flavors can put you induce a drug-like euphoria, being forced (by a self-imposed or otherwise mandatory diet) to stop eating high-fat and high-sugar foods can cause withdrawal symptoms and depression. It’s science! Keep reading »
White bread, rich cheeses, and red wine are beloved staples of the Gallic diet. They smoke, they drink, they consume loads of saturated fats… yet they don’t have an obesity problem, they don’t lose their looks with age, and they have the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality worldwide. What gives, France? We’re not the only ones who are dying to know: researchers call it (and, furthermore, how they get their hair to look so perfectly disheveled without being greasy) “the French paradox” as they seek to explain the link connecting the way the French eat (and, yes, drink) to their long, healthy lifespans, second only to Japan. Keep reading »
I feel like I’ve been writing/talking about cheese a lot lately. I have no idea why. I barely even eat cheese. I need to explore this new cheese obsession more thoroughly. But that can wait.
First this: the cheese you see here is made by a woman named Christina Agapakis as part of collaborative study being conducted at the University of Edinburgh and Stanford University on Synthetic Aesthetics. Agapakis grew this cheese with bacteria from the human body. She describes her human cheesemonging process is as follows:
“Swabs from hands, feet, noses, and armpits were inoculated into fresh, pasteurized, organic whole milk and incubated overnight at 37° Celsius. The milk curds were then strained and pressed, yielding unique smelling fresh cheeses.”
Keep reading »
Sometimes science is used for good. Sometimes science is used for evil. Depending on the depth of your love for bacon, it may be difficult to tell whether the Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium is Batman or Bane in this scenario: an international team of researchers has sequenced all of the DNA in a female pig and can now engineer tastier piggies. Of course, animal breeders have long bred all types of livestock for their version of the “ideal” animal; the main concern of this pig DNA project will create healthier pigs. But sciences are also saying it’s possible to toy with the tenderness and fat content of the pig’s meat, as well as the color. I, for one, never conceived that bacon could possibly be more yummy. So I’ll go out on a limb here and ask if these porcine geneticists could try and make eating bacon as healthy as, say, kale. You can do it. I have faith in you, science! [NPR]
We’re still living in the Stone Age when it comes to our understanding of mental illness. If you find out that your mom needs pills to control her blood pressure, you shrug and forget about it; if you find out that your mom needs pills to keep from hearing voices in her head, you think you’re living in a horror movie.
But your brain is just another part of your body, and just as you can get a cold by touching a doorknob somebody sneezed on, there are all sorts of random and innocuous things that can make it go haywire. Read more…
Space fun fact: IT MAKES YOU TALLER! Astronauts who orbit the earth have gained up to two inches in height while floating in oute0r space. The lack of gravity in space allows the vertebrae in the spine to stretch out and separate. The lack of gravitational pressure gives the spine the freedom to spread out up to three percent. Scientists haven’t figured out why this gravity trick only affects the spine, but they say the stretching out is similar to what occurs every night when we lie down to sleep. As the spine relaxes the vertebrae spread out — and if you measure yourself in the morning, you might find that you’re a centimeter to an inch taller. Sadly, the added height doesn’t last — for astronauts or the rest of us. As soon as we stand up from sleeping, and as soon as astronauts return to earth, the vertebrae are compressed again by gravity, and we lose our extra inches. [NASA]