Your body responds to stress in many ways. It gives you bursts of energy, and a reduced response to pain. It lets you run faster and farther. It also entirely messes you up. Stress releases a battery of hormones that give you superhuman abilities, and they all have down sides. Many of them result in bone density loss or reduced immune response, but one, the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is a really nasty customer. It’s been linked with severe gastrointestinal problems, increased drug use, and hair loss. A recent research group tried to cure the first of those symptoms, but stumbled into curing the third. At least in mice.
Everybody knows there are certain natural substances that you can eat or smoke to feel awesome or weird, depending on your perspective. But what about ordinary foods that deliver these same mood-altering or even consciousness-warping effects? We’ve got ten foods that go straight to your head.
Fossil fuels aren’t the only vital resource we’re running out of – our once mighty helium reserves are dwindling, and the price of the gas has already skyrocketed. The US reserves could be depleted in less than 20 years, and the entire Earth could run out helium by the end of this century, which could cripple industry. Thankfully, the Sun gives off an endless supply of the stuff – and the Moon is the best place to go get it.
Some people have never gotten an ice cream headache. They tend to be entirely surrounded by people who have, and who are willing to offer theories as to why they aren’t forced to undergo the agony of others. Maybe they eat too slowly, or maybe they eat too little. Or maybe, just maybe, if they were put out in the arctic wearing nothing but their underwear, they’d freeze to death first.
A Neanderthal burial site in Italy reveals hundreds of bird bones mixed in with those of our hominid cousins. The bones had the feathers scraped off, as though the Neanderthals had removed them on purpose – and the only plausible reason they would do that is to wear the feathers. It’s more evidence that Neanderthals were just as cultured as own ancient ancestors.
In unholy-army-of-the-night news, scientists have a new way to turn swarming beasts of the sea into unreasoning killers. Nothing is safe from their merciless aggression. Not . . . even . . . you.
Are humans the only animals that can appreciate beauty? Stories about painting elephants and chimps have convinced some that we are not the only species with a developed sense of the aesthetic. But doubts remain regarding whether these animals are truly creating art or simply trained performers. A Japanese scientist has approached the question from a different angle by testing whether pigeons can learn human aesthetics – using children’s paintings.
About 90% of people use their right hand for almost all activities, while the remaining 10% is split between the left-handed and the ambidextrous, people who use either hand with equal comfort. But these “inconsistent-handers” pay a price for their ability to use either hand – a truly bizarre study has discovered that they’re much easier to emotionally manipulate than their right-handed counterparts.
William S. Burroughs wrote a number of mindfuck novels in the twentieth century, most memorably Naked Lunch, later adapted into an equally mindfucky movie about bug-powder snorting aliens by David Cronenberg. The author has become a cult legend among the postmodern lit set, and now a team of artists has decided to immortalise Burroughs with bio-art project straight out of one of his novels.