Hair grows back thicker when you shave it! Reading in dim light turns you blind! Peeing on a jellyfish sting will soothe the pain! The way our bodies work is a bit of a mystery, and our desire to unlock its secrets has led to a vast amount of misinformation. Many of these false notions are more widely believed than the truth. We took our healthy scepticism and a bunch of research to find the truth behind some of the most common myths about our bodies and our health. Here's what we learned.
Science & Health
Throw a pebble into a still pond, and the shockwaves from the disturbance will ripple out in all directions in nearly perfect concentric circles. But disturb the fine mesh of a window screen that's soaked with rain or morning dew, and the shockwave will ripple out with a unique, four-pointed star pattern.
If you've ever watched a prime time crime drama such as CSI, you probably recall a scene in which a forensic analyst used a computer to troll through thousands of snippets of DNA, looking for a match between a crime scene and a suspect. Real life doesn't happen quite like it does on television, but the gist is the same. Genetics is inherently a comparative science. Whether you're trying to identify a suspect, a genetic disease or a long-lost relative, it involves comparing one genome to another, hunting for telling similarities or variabilities among billions of letters of DNA.
You might have scoffed at the "fuckin' magnets, how do they work" line from the Insane Clown Posse song "Miracles," but if we're being honest here, magnets are pretty nuts. Take any old bar magnet and cut it in half and it will still have a North and a South pole. Keep cutting, you'll never end up with a single North or South pole. Whoever discovered a fundamental magnetic charge, like a single pole, would likely win the Nobel Prize.
On December 12, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, sending an uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule filled with supplies to the International Space Station. No big deal, except that two components, both the first stage rocket and the spacecraft, have already flown on previous missions. That's never happened before.
There are two very important lessons to take away from a recent article in The Journal of Emergency Medicine: 1) Don't pop zits using a woodworking blade, and 2) Don't wait seven months to seek medical help if your lower lip starts to resemble a puddle of moldy raspberries.
Only scroll down if you're super curious and aren't eating anything.
If you'd like to gift your loved ones the chance of unwittingly sharing extremely sensitive personal information, then a DNA testing kit may be the perfect stocking stuffer-sized present. But if you'd rather not have your mum or dad or girlfriend send away private health information with a tube of their spittle, we'd strongly suggest something else.
This discovery should speak for itself: Scientists have discovered a crazy example of a crazy thing at a crazy distance. We're talking about the furthest quasar yet - the incredibly bright light from a supermassive black hole 800 million times the mass of the Sun, from just 690 million years after the Big Bang.
The last few years have yielded some truly bizarre dinosaur discoveries. From rhino-like animals with massive heads and stubby spines, to beaked mishmashes of every dinosaur in the book, there's been a cavalcade of incredible additions. But perhaps none of these quite measures up to the unrelenting strangeness of a newly-discovered species of dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous period of Mongolia some 75 million years ago.
Queensland University of Technology researchers are sequencing the genome of the Pitjuri plant - an Australian native tobacco plant. Why? Well they are partnering with 17 other research teams from around the world for Newcotiana - a $10.5 million project to develop new tobacco varieties that can be used as biofactories for pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
That's right - one day soon, tobacco could actually save your life.
What comes to mind when you think of Millennials? If we are to believe what we read, we're looking at a generation of lazy, selfish, entitled and image-obsessed 18–30 year olds, more intent on eating smashed avo and showing it off on Instagram than, well, anything else.
Now science is aiming to smash that stigma, and this first-of-it's-kind experiment has shown those headlines have it all wrong.
When it comes to reproduction, most fish are external fertilisers, crop dusting eggs in a cloud of sperm. But swordtails (Xiphophorus) aren't like most fish. These fish fertilise eggs internally and "give birth" to live young. To help this whole operation, males have evolved external genitalia for transferring sperm - a tool not typical among fish. Naturally, the next question would be - for swordtails at least - is bigger better? After all, they went through all the trouble of evolving penises in the first place. New research on the matter of female swordtail preferences towards their males' members provides an answer: Not necessarily. Yes, size is important, but so is how the males use it - and only when females are healthy enough to be in a discerning position.
In the Amazon, animals are being illegally captured and held in captivity to lure in tourists that might want to snap a sweet selfie with a sloth or a squirrel monkey. A report published in October by the Nature Conservation detailed the harmful consequences of wildlife ecotourism, pointing out that this practice is not only illegal, but deadly for the animals captured to entice sightseers. And it's a practice that has been well-documented on Instagram - there are currently thousands of photos under the #slothselfie hashtag alone. But this week Instagram has decided to inform its millions of users that all that's cute isn't necessarily wholesome.