CLOSE

From Pollination to Patent: How Farmers Create New Apple Varieties

You’ve likely seen Golden Delicious, McIntosh, and Cortland apples lining the shelves of your local grocery store, but did you know that more than 7500 varieties of the fruit are grown around the world? Each has its own unique color, taste, and size, and some even have fanciful names like Cosmic Crisp or Pixie Crunch. In the video above, TED-Ed host Theresa Doud explains why—and how—farmers breed new apple types, tracing the lengthy process from pollination to patent.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Banner image: iStock

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Research on How Crocodiles Affect Gambling and Other Odd Studies
Original image
iStock

The Ig Nobel Prizes are back, and this year's winning selection of odd scientific research topics is as weird as ever. As The Guardian reports, the 27th annual awards of highly improbable studies "that first make people laugh, then make them think" were handed out on September 14 at a theater at Harvard University. The awards, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, honor research you never would have thought someone would take the time (or the funding) to study, much less would be published.

The 2017 highlights include a study on whether cats can be both a liquid and a solid at the same time and one on whether the presence of a live crocodile can impact the behavior of gamblers. Below, we present the winners from each of the 10 categories, each weirder and more delightful than the last.

PHYSICS

"For using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

Winner: Marc-Antoine Fardin

Study: "On the Rheology of Cats," published in Rheology Bulletin [PDF]

ECONOMICS

"For their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble."

Winners: Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer

Study: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," published in the Journal of Gambling Studies

ANATOMY

"For his medical research study 'Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?'"

Winner: James A. Heathcote

Study: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" published in the BMJ

BIOLOGY

"For their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect."

Winners: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard (who delivered their acceptance speech via video from inside a cave)

Study: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," published in Current Biology

FLUID DYNAMICS

"For studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee."

Winner: Jiwon Han

Study: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in the Life Sciences

NUTRITION

"For the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat."

Winners: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres

Study: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," published in Acta Chiropterologica

MEDICINE

"For using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese."

Winners: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang

Study: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

COGNITION

"For demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually."

Winners: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Study: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," published in PLOS One

OBSTETRICS

"For showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly."

Winners: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte

Study: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” published in Ultrasound

PEACE PRIZE

"For demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring."

Winners: Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli

Study: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," published by the BMJ

Congratulations, all.

[h/t The Guardian]

Original image
Great Big Story, Youtube
arrow
Food
Step Inside the World's Worst-Smelling Factory at Your Own Risk
Original image
Great Big Story, Youtube

Have you ever taken a good whiff of canned surströmming? If so, you likely haven't forgotten it. This fermented Baltic herring has been widely noted as the world's worst-smelling food—and it might just give durian a run for its money. That said, we'll let you imagine for a moment just how pungent a factory full of this Swedish delicacy must be.

Enter: Oskars, a major producer of surströmming, located in Söråker, Sweden. Locals claim they can smell the cannery from 1000 feet away, and that might not be an exaggeration. The 20 teenagers tasked with canning the herring by hand every summer must resort to rubbing Tiger Balm under their noses or plugging them altogether.

So what is it that gives surströmming such a distinct, nauseating fragrance? That can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the herring sits in large vats of salt and water for between eight and 10 weeks. Jan Söderström, the second-generation owner of Oskars, tells Great Big Story that there's a clear difference between rotten and fermented—and that surströmming is fermented.

Whatever the preferred descriptor, one thing is certain: You shouldn't be sauntering into this Swedish factory unless you're getting paid to be there.

Watch the full video from Great Big Story below:

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios