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Your Vegetables Know What Time It Is

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ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

The fruits and veggies in your crisper right now might look pretty dead, but they’re actually still alive—and they’re keeping track of time. 

Some parts of plants can continue certain metabolic functions even after being separated from the rest of the plant. A new study conducted by plant biologists at Rice University and the University of California found that internal clocks of some harvested vegetables and fruits continue to function and that the time of day we try to eat them has some effect on what we get out of it.  

Over the course of day and night, harvested fruits and vegetables continue to perceive and respond to light, so their biological clocks keep running and they can change their biology to meet certain demands. Some plants, for example, begin building up defense hormones and metabolites early in the day in preparation for the daily attacks from plant-eating bugs. At dusk, the levels of these chemicals decrease rapidly. This matters to us because these products can influence the flavors of produce, and some of them are known to have anti-cancer properties. 

The researchers found that even after harvest, cabbage and other vegetables and fruits in the lab maintained this sort of schedule when exposed to light and dark cycles. 

Timing the preservation, preparation and consumption of produce to coincide with the peak storage of certain biochemicals, the researchers suggest, might enhance their flavor and nutritional value. 

“For example,” the authors write, “cabbage stored under 12 [hour] light-dark cycles may provide as much as 2- to 3-fold more 4MSO phytochemical [compounds that research has identified as anticarcinogens] if the cabbage were ingested 4 to 8 [hours] after initiation of the light period than if the cabbage were stored under constant light or darkness.” 

One veggie schedule question sadly left unaddressed in the study is whether or not the celery stalks at midnight

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Animals
Why Do Female Spotted Hyenas Give Birth Through Their Pseudo-Penises?
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At the zoo, you can sometimes tell the difference between male and female animals by noting their physical size, their behavior, and yes, their nether regions. Hyenas, however, flip the script: Not only are lady spotted hyenas bigger and meaner than their male counterparts, ruling the pack with an iron paw, they also sport what appear to be penises—shaft, scrotum, and all.

"Appear" is the key word here: These 7-inch-long phalluses don't produce sperm, so they're technically really long clitorises in disguise. But why do female hyenas have them? And do they actually have to (gulp) give birth through them? Wouldn't that hurt … a lot?

The short answers to these questions are, respectively, "We don't know," "Yes," and "OW." Longer answers can be found in this MinuteEarth video, which provides the full lowdown on hyena sex. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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science
Are Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Really Linked? Researchers Investigate
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Around the world, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are said to go hand-in-hand. But do they? As PsyPost reports, a pair of Pennsylvania psychologists recently dove into the empirical evidence tying the three together, asking college students to talk about their drug use, sex lives, and music preferences and talents to suss out whether people who play and enjoy rock music really do have more active sex lives and drug use.

Published in the journal Human Ethnology Bulletin, the study [PDF] of 467 students relied on self-reporting, which isn't typically the most reliable evidence—people are wont to exaggerate how often they've had sex, for instance—but the survey also asked them about their desires, posing questions like "If you could, how frequently would you have sex?" It also asked about how often the students drank and what drugs they had tried in their lifetimes. They also described their musical experience and what kind of music they listened to.

The results were mixed, but the researchers identified a relationship between liking faster, "harder" music and having more sex and doing more drugs. Acoustic indie rock aficionados weren't getting quite as wild as heavy metal fans. High-tempo-music lovers were more likely to have taken hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, for example, and tended to have had more sexual partners in the previous year than people who favored slower types of music. According to the study, previous research has found that attention-seeking people are more likely to enjoy "hard" music.

The study didn't have a diverse enough group either in age or in ethnicity to really begin to make sweeping generalizations about humans, especially since college students (the participants were between 18 and 25) tend to engage in more risky behaviors in general. But this could lay the groundwork for future research into the topic. Until then, it might be more accurate to change the phrase to "sex, drugs, and heavy metal."

[h/t PsyPost]

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