Â ... READ ON
Scientists have now turned miceÂ stem cells into sperm and have successfully fertilized eggs and produced offspring with those sperm. This is a very exciting step toward one day allowing an infertile man to have his own biological children.
A New Scientist article talks about the research that's being done by a team in the UK (are we shocked that it's not American research?).
Stem cells were extracted from early mouse embryos, and coaxed into becoming sperm by manipulating the environment... READ ON
The CDC and MSN worked together toÂ create a fascinating animated bit about the rise of obesity in America. Check out this link to watchÂ us all get fatter. It would be cool if they could make this show results in real time so that I couldÂ see the map change as I finish this piece of pizza.
Â ... READ ON
I've always wonderedÂ what happened toÂ the backpackÂ DeltaÂ lost onÂ a flight I tookÂ from Boston to Atlanta over a decade ago.Â Â There's a good chance it turned up in the town of Scottsboro, AL, only a couple hrsÂ north ofÂ my hometown of Birmingham. I've never been but Boing Boing reminded me to check there when they linked to an article about the Unclaimed Baggage Center.
If you've ever lost valuables while traveling and the airline made "a reasonable attempt" to get the goods... READ ON
Earlier this week I wrote about Sonya Thomas, a.k.a. the "Black Widow," who has won numerous competitive eating contests involving hotdogs, oysters, meatballs and plenty of other foods. The Wall Street Journal did a story on how this 100 lb eating machine trains.
She now eats one huge meal a day spread over an hour or two and accompanied by nearly a gallon of water or a no- or low-calorie drink. She thinks eating like this stretches her stomach so it can handle the large quantities of food she eats at... READ ON
The media has definitely covered the obesity epidemic in America in recent years and the situation doesn't seem to be improving. Doctors are coming up with anything they can to try to get kids to exercise a little more. One idea is to trick them into lifting weights by putting weights in their toys.
OneÂ study included five boys and five girls, who were an average of 7.5 years old, who were randomly assigned to carry either large, cardboard toy blocks that weighed less than a quarter of a pound (0.10... READ ON
Or at least it's about to be. Vancouver is in the process of becoming the first city to enable drivers to makeÂ meter payments via cell phone. Once you sign up for an account, you can pay for any amount of parking and then as the time is running out, you'll receive a text message and you can add minutes without having to go back to your car. Verrus Mobile Technologies is the company behind the project and they make their share through a 30 cent surcharge.
FoundÂ via... READ ON
LiveScience reports today on a Smart Pill in development that may be able to take various medical measurements inside the body and transmit those to a computer on the outside for analysis. The device is used to diagnose gastroparesis, which causes a slow emptying of the stomach and can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems.
As the plastic-sheathed pill passes through the stomach, intestines, and bowel, it transmits critical diagnostic information—such as pH, temperature, and the amount of... READ ON
The 330 lb giant tortoise whom experts believe Charles Darwin studied while on the Galapagos Islands, died at Australia Zoo this week.
Two quick facts from the article:Â
Hangar said Harriet, who had made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living animal, had been credited with helping Darwin pioneer his theory of evolution.
Harriet was originally named Harry, as she was mistakenly identified as male, an error which was not rectified for more than a... READ ON
Frontline has done so many fascinating documentaries for PBS and the latest is no exception. It's called "The New Asylums" and explores the American prison system and asks why there are so manyÂ mentally ill inmates in prison. Although a little less thanÂ 55,000 Americans receive treatment in psychiatric wards, almost ten times that many mentally ill adults are in jails and prisons across the country. Here's a bit from the Frontline website:
Of the nearly 2 million inmates being held in prisons and... READ ON
Will Japan face a population decline? There's definitely a shortage of babies.Â
"Japanese people simply aren't having sex," Dr. Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association, was quoted as saying by the Japan Times, an English language daily.
An association survey of 936 people between the ages of 16 and 49 showed 31 percent had not had sex for more than a month "for no particular reason" -- a condition known as "sexless."
Japan's fertility rate -- the average number of... READ ON
Gladwell really ripped on The New York Times for their story on pharmaceutical prices, with the headline "Drug Prices Up Sharply." The Times story covered the 3.9% increase in prescription drug prices over the first three months of the year. But, as Gladwell points out:
It isn't until you read a little closer that you realize that the price increase just refers to brand-name pharmaceutical prices.Â And what the article never mentions at all is that the AARP released a second study... READ ON
With 9.5 million students fighting for only 2.6 million spots in Chinese universities, some students are going to extreme measures to score higher on admissions tests.
One student "used earphones so small that they slipped into his aural canal and perforated his eardrum, the China Daily newspaper said. Another student's earphones required an operation for their removal, the paper said, while an electronic device connected to headphones and strapped to a third student's body exploded, leaving a bleeding... READ ON
Mexico is just a few weeks away from electing a new president and the race is getting more heated every day. The two leaders are leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative candidate Felipe Calderon. The LA Times explains:
With Mexican voters more polarized between rich and poor than at any time since the 1910 revolution, there's talk that the United States' most populous neighbor — and the main source of its legal and illegal immigration — could descend into political... READ ON
Okay, so I'm not really wondering that but it seems like studies continue to come out that indicate that it's better for children to be exposed to dirt and other irritants early in life so their immune systems will be stronger. A couple of new studies with rats not only grossed me out but also made me think that there must be something to this belief. Â
Gritty rats and mice living in sewers and farms seem to have healthier immune systems than their squeaky clean cousins that frolic in cushy... READ ON
The Cellar had an interesting image of the day yesterday. I've been looking around the office all day for the right supplies to give this a shot. I'm not sure what it's going to cure but I can't wait to feel... READ ON
Get ready because Ted (or whatever your office know-it-all is named) is going to mention that it was today in 1215 that the Magna Carta was sealed. Well, he might remember the basics about it being one of the first documents to establish that monarchs were subject to earthly law but he probably doesn't know some of these delicious facts (courtesy of our Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets book):
* Most of the Magna Carta isn't really devoted to the rights of mankind but to things like whether widows should be... READ ON
Neatorama links to a really interesting article about the Aymara people of the Andes in South America. Unlike every culture I've ever heard of, the Aymara refer to the space in front of them when talking about the past and the space behind them when talking about the future. How weird is that? That's almost... READ ON
Vaccines have been in the news quite a bit recently, with the FDA approving a cervical cancer vaccine and now there are reports of promising news on an Alzheimer's Vaccine. Here's a bit from the AP article:
An experimental vaccine is showing promise against Alzheimer's disease, reducing brain deposits that are blamed for the disorder.
The deposits have been cut by between 15.5 percent and 38.5 percent in mice, with no major side effects, researchers said Monday in the online edition of Proceedings of... READ ON
Boing Boing linked to an interesting study today from the University of Michigan. After researchers polledÂ adults in their twenties and adults in their sixties, the results showed that theÂ older population was happier.Â These results were published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. Here's what the Michigan Health System had to say:
Â "Overall, people got it wrong, believing that most people become less happy as they age, when in fact this study and others have shown that people tend to... READ ON
Alex died on this day in 323 B.C. We've got lots of interesting bits on Alex in our new Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets book. Here are a couple you probably haven't heard:
In all likelihood, Alexander's tomb does not contain Alex himself. The emporer Ptolemy took Alexander's body and brought it to Alexandria, where it was on display for a long time. But the body was lost and its current whereaboutsÂ is unknown. Don't you just hate it when you misplace a body?
Ever wonder where Ty Cobb got his name? Me... READ ON
According to a Reuters article, "Phnom Penh patriarch Non Nget has told Cambodia's 40,000 Buddhist monks to remain passive while watching World Cup soccer games or be defrocked."... READ ON
Apparently teenagers have discovered a ring tone that adults can't hear. This is true.Â The ringtone has a veryÂ high pitch. As people reach adulthood, they start to develop aging ear, which is the inability to hear high-frequency sounds. So with this super new ringtone, students can receive text messages without the teacher being able to hear. It's also funny that the tone was initially developed to keep teenagers away from certain stores because store owners thought they'd find the sound irritating.... READ ON
Disney-Pixar hit another homerunÂ over the weekendÂ weekend with the opening of "Cars."Â Can aÂ cartoon aboutÂ cars reallyÂ be that good?Â The animated flick wasÂ #1 with $62 million.Â And as Pixar churns out success after success, I'd assumedÂ that these movies have become easy to create because of computer animation. I was pretty suprised to read the following on IMDB:
Â The film's animators drew up over 43,000 sketches for designs of the cars.
Even with a network of... READ ON
Our buddy Alex over at Neatorama showed us yesterday's the Image of the Day at The Cellar.
This is Thailand, where a Thai animated movie called "Kan Kluay" has been released, and these Mahouts - elephant drivers - have gathered to watch.
I must confess I've never been to a drive-in theater (and I'm not talking the elephant kind). But I did find out how Richard Hollingshead started the firstÂ drive-in theaterÂ back in 1933. According to Mary Bellis, here's how it happened:
He... READ ON
Check out the blog of this team of MIT students. They built this 40 foot tower to win the mini-skyscraper competitionÂ in MIT's Department of Architecture.
Â What value does a moving skyscraper have? Movement allows for improved structural performance under certain conditions. Within this project, actuators were not used for their usual application -- to stabilize a structure -- but instead to bring an interactive element of surprise and fun to our miniskyscraper. Instead of (over)dimensioning for a... READ ON
There's an interesting article at Wired about the crazy cost of moving a major work of art. The article claims that when the Mona Lisa was moved to its more prominent spot in the Louvre last year, it cost 3.2 million British pounds to move it. And it was only moved several meters!
Here's how it worked when they moved another of da Vinci's paintings, Lady With the Ermine, from Poland to San Francisco:
The painting was shipped by air -- accompanied by two armed couriers who sat in first-class seats on... READ ON
Mind Hacks linked today to a page with some really interesting pictures of old over the counter products that contained cocaine, opium, morphine and other now illegal substances. Here's a bit from the Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo:
During the mid to late 19th century, many manufacturers proudly proclaimed that their products contained cocaine or opium. A few, like Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup for infants which contained morphine, were more guarded in divulging their principal... READ ON
Seems likeÂ Steve JobsÂ must be if iPods are now more popular than beerÂ on COLLEGE... READ ON
DNA evidence has apparently linked a Miami accountant to Genghis Khan. I love the fact thatÂ when the man then tried to think about what he and the Mongol warrior might have in common, he concluded thatÂ it must be leadership skills because, as he says "When I practiced as a CPA I ran the department."
Â Okay, so I'll give you two facts and you can take a moment to create your own accountant jokes:
Â According to legend, when Genghis Khan was born in the latter part of theÂ 12th... READ ON
For the last few years, we've read story after story about the potential benefits of green tea. And if you Google "benefits of green tea," there's no shortage of companies telling you why you should drink it and do plenty of other things with it. Which is why I'm actually soaking in a tub ofÂ the stuffÂ asÂ I write this.Â Pretty soon the green tea market will hit $1 billion annually. Crazy. Newsweek did an interesting bit last fallÂ on how the craze got started. It's amazing how this... READ ON
The new issue of mental_floss (May/June) has an article about the bizarre history of 3rd-party politics. And one of the parties we highlight in there is the short-lived American Vegetarian Party. As we pointed out in theÂ article, the party was formed in 1947 by 84-year-old restaurant owner John Maxwell. In addition to promoting vegetarianism, they also campaigned againstÂ liquor, tobacco and medicine?!?!Â It's not any surprise that they didn't exactly win the hearts of Americans. But even if they... READ ON
We did our weekly CNN Headline News segment this morning on rising gas prices, because there's almost nothing else in the news. And I know I posted a gas fact yesterday but here's an interesting fact to put the US gas consumption in perspective:
If California were a country it would consume more barrels of gasoline than any other foreign country. California by itself! The state consumes about 373 million barrels annually and the US as a whole consumes about 3 billion barrels.
But since today's... READ ON
At least that's what the headlines are saying. In reality, there are now more than 1 billion "entries" in the huge language research database, which is managed by the Oxford English Corpus, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. That's still pretty amazing.Â These entries contain unique words and combinations of words that have unique meanings, as well as multiple entries forÂ many words when those word have different meanings. With words like wiki, podcast, blog, offshoring and supersize being... READ ON
We ran an article in our last issueÂ about how gas prices work and in doing some digging on prices around the country, we noticed that if New Yorkers look across the border into New Jersey, they'll see gas prices are about 30 cents cheaper there. So by driving a few extra miles, you couldÂ save a significant amount of money over the course of a year, right? Not exactly. Did you know there are still two states in the union - Oregon and New Jersey - where self service pumps are still forbidden? So even... READ ON
And I'm not talking aboutÂ simply remembering to set your clock ahead an hr. Here's your cheat sheet:
There's no 's' at the end of Saving, so it's Daylight Saving Time - not Savings Time.
This year will be the first time since the early 1970s that the state of Indiana has observed Daylight Saving Time. Some counties observed it in the past but most did not.
Ben Franklin was one of the first to suggest the idea but it wasn't until WWI that Daylight Saving was actually put in place,... READ ON
After seeing the story this week on the new Guinness record for largest/longest buffett (510 different dishes on 500 feet of table), I stumbled into TheLongestListofTheLongestStuff AtTheLongestDomainNameAtLongLast.com. Because sometimes it's good to return to your elementary school obsession with Guinness records. Check out the world's longest nose (I really think I had a friend in college who the record keepers just haven't seen), the longest beard (at 17.5 feet and now on display at the Smithsonian - for... READ ON
Obsessive nose picking is called rhinotillexomania.