Good news for OCD types who are scared to touch doorknobs (and toilet seats, and public bannisters, and...): Scientists at MIT have developed a type of paint that kills some particularly nasty types of germs on contact.
If applied to doorknobs or other surfaces where germs tend to accumulate, the new substance could help fight the spread of the flu, says Jianzhu Chen, MIT professor of biology. ...
The "antimicrobial paint," which can be sprayed or brushed onto surfaces, consists of spiky polymers that... READ ON
Or, if your preferences fall on the prudish end of the spectrum, you may not want... READ ON
I am torn between wishing I had been at this production and being really, really glad I wasn't:
Last month, audiences of Brown University's production of the Jean-Paul Sartre play "The Flies" were greatly outnumbered by 30,000 fruit flies, bred by a science student specifically for the play.
"The Flies" is Sartre's take on a Greek tragedy, in which the protagonist, Orestes, murders his mother and her lover. The purpose of the flies, according to the show's director, Brown senior James Rutherford, is to... READ ON
There are three reasons I love this review of P.J. O'Rourke's new book, which riffs on Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" so you don't have to trudge through all 900 pages yourself:
1. Its title: "Capitalist Punishment"
2. Its author (Allan Sloan, a colleague of mine)
3. These paragraphs, which are essentially a condensation of Sloan's condensation of O'Rourke's condensation of Smith:
Smith's thesis, which still resonates today, is that setting people free to pursue their own... READ ON
The novelist Richard Powers had an article this weekend about dictating, rather than writing, literary works. There's sparkly trivia in it, which I'll share in a bit, but first I have a question: Powers is arguing that when it comes to writing things down, "you'd be hard-pressed to invent a greater barrier to cognitive flow." As a reporter, though, I've often found that people are surprised at how clumsy their off-the-cuff speech is and, on reading their own quotes in an article, often want to write... READ ON
If you're still smarting that your significant other didn't present you with (a snazzy new cell phone, a big box of chocolates, five golden rings) for the holidays, take comfort: Foreign Policy says he/she really shouldn't have. From the magazine's recent list of "common consumer items [that] help fuel conflict, ruin the environment, and rely on child labor:"
Cell Phones: The war-torn [Democratic Republic of the Congo] is home to 80 percent of the world's coltan, which is an important mineral for... READ ON
I was just flipping through a recent back issue of the New Yorker and discovered that one of the highlights of my childhood was based on a lie (a lie, I tell you!):
The mother of all bedtime stories, "Goodnight Moon," by Margaret Wise Brown, will turn sixty next year. ... At the time that it appeared, Brown was thirty-seven and a well-established children's writer; among her many acclaimed picture books were "The Runaway Bunny" and "Little Fur Family." Still, she... READ ON
You may think it's 2007, but in Japan, it's now officially the year of the boar. And as it turns out, there's no better place to celebrate it than on the Izu Peninsula -- specifically, at Inoshishi-Mura, which translates roughly to "Boar Village." Yes, it's an entire theme park devoted to wild boars! You can visit a rather comprehensive museum that covers the life of the boar from cradle to stewpot, watch the boar races, eat Boar Jerky (inoshishi is actually pretty tasty), or -- my favorite -- take in some... READ ON
I'm not sure what's more bizarre -- the fact that this scientist found a new type of bacteria living inside mitochondria (the cellular energy factories that themselves arose from bacteria), or the fact that he named them after George Lucas' second-worst-idea-ever.
Lo ... wrote to scientists across Europe, Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East, asking them to send ticks for him to screen. Sure enough, he found his bugs, nestled into the [mitochondria of the] ovaries of 100% of female ticks. Soon, Lo... READ ON
Terribly sad news from the Georgia Aquarium yesterday:
ATLANTA -- Gasper, one of the Georgia Aquarium's five prized beluga whales, was euthanized Tuesday morning after months of declining health, officials said.
The 17-year-old whale had been ill before arriving at the aquarium in October 2005, officials said. He and his tankmate Niko had been moved to Atlanta from an amusement park in Mexico City, where Gasper had developed skin lesions while living in a tank under a roller coaster.
I actually went... READ ON
When dragonflies mate, their tails form a heart.