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25 Feb 2012 09:43


U.S.: New study links medical marijuana laws to lower suicide rates

  • 11% reduction in the suicide rate of men ages 20-29
  • 9% reduction in the suicide rate of men ages 30-39 source
  • » Who would have guessed that getting high reduces stress? While the study stopped short of conclusively saying that medical marijuana was the direct cause of the lower rates, the authors did note that, when used in moderation, cannabis acts as an anti-depressant. The authors also found that states with medical marijuana programs saw a reduction in alcohol consumption by young men, and note that alcohol is a known depressant. Read the full results of the study here.

13 Feb 2012 15:26


Culture: Having too many Facebook friends can make you depressed

  • 354Facebook friends ought to be your limit source
  • » There’s nothing wrong with denying that friend request: A recent study presented at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology meeting asked a group of participants to check their friend’s status updates. After doing so, they rated their lives as “much less satisfying” than a group that didn’t check their news feed. They looked at how many friends the users had, and found that 354 friends was roughly the point at which reading status updates started making them sad. The theory is that status updates often paint a disproportionately positive picture of peoples’ lives. Readers of said updates compare their own lives to those represented in status updates, and figure that they’re having a lot less fun than everybody else. The solution, then, is to either clean up your friends list, or befriend a bunch of depressed misanthropes.

25 Jan 2012 20:14


Tech: That’s hot: X-Ray laser heats aluminum foil to 3.6 million degrees

  • Hot dense matter, indeed: Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have successfully super-heated a small piece of aluminum foil, as thin as spider silk, to a temperature of 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. They did this by hitting it with a rapidly pulsing, high-powered X-ray laser, which caused the foil to become what scientists refers to as “hot dense matter,” commonly found only in places like the center of stars. This is the first time a sample has been able to be reproduced in a lab setting, and could lead to greater understanding of nuclear fusion, among other things — the 3.6 million degree matter was, in fact, hotter than the corona of our Sun. (Photo from University of Oxford/Sam Vinko) source

08 Jan 2012 22:01


Culture: Stephen Hawking turns 70, misses his own birthday speech

Hawking, one of many famous people (Elvis, David Bowie, Kim Jong-Un) to have a birthday today, was recovering from an infection, but pre-recorded the speech ahead of time. He’s turning 70, despite doctors predicting he wouldn’t pass 25. source

03 Jan 2012 15:10


U.S.: NASA scientist denounces 2012 apocalypse theories

  • Nibiru is ridiculous because it doesn’t exist — it never existed as anything but a figment of the imagination by pseudo-scientists who don’t seem bothered by a complete lack of evidence.
  • Dan Yeomans, director of NASA’s Near-Earth Object program • Dismissing some of the 2012 apocalyptic theorizing that’s become something of a cultural meme leading up to this year. The fear that Earth will be struck by a planetary body known as Nibiru (also sometimes called “Planet X”) represents one such theory, distinct from  similarly stoked fears about whether the Mayan calendar can somehow forecast the end of the world. source

03 Jan 2012 10:41


Culture: Researchers: Eating too much fat can injure parts of your brain

  • C is for Uh-Oh: Medical researchers have found that within 24 hours of a high-fat diet, there is measurable damage in the brains of rodents and humans. “Obese individuals are biologically defending their elevated body weight,” said Dr. Michael Schwartz, a professor at the University of Washington. The study indicates that eating fat leads to changes in the brain, and in the body, because it affects the hypothalamus, which regulates weight. source

13 Dec 2011 11:30


Culture: Did the roots of walking come from “hopping” fish?

  • Birds gotta fly, fish gotta … walk? Scientists have long known that the early ancestors of almost every four-limbed creature — from mammals to reptiles to birds, and so on —  are fish that learned to breathe on land. But now scientists say that the African lungfish, using its “eel-like body and a pair of flimsy hind fins,” can walk/propel itself underwater, suggesting that walking isn’t merely an above-ground phenomenon. “This shows us — pardon the pun — the steps that are involved in the origin of walking,” said the University of Chicago’s pun-friendly researcher, Neil Shubin. Not that their walking abilities would be obvious to researchers based on appearances alone. “Their fins seem like the furthest thing from walking appendages possible,” Shubin noted. source

05 Dec 2011 23:39


World: Who’s the newest planet on the universe block?

  • It’s our baby brother! Remember the name “Kepler-22b”. Its surface temperature is a balmy 72 degrees; it orbits a star that is very similar to our sun; its year is even close to ours — 290 days. Don’t worry just yet, though, as scientists haven’t fully discovered what makes up its surface. But “the planet would likely be warm enough to host liquid water on its surface.” The scientists on the study are “getting really close, we are really homing in on the true Earth-sized habitable planets.” source

15 Nov 2011 00:06


World: Two words you don’t normally hear together: “Whale cemetery.”

  • 15 whales found in a “graveyard”: Over the span of 15 days, paleontologists have found the remains of 15 whales, in just one area of Chile. Some of the fossils date back seven million years. Not only that, but the scientists have also discovered new species, too. “The whale discovery is a discovery of global importance,” said Sol Squire, one of the paleontologists on the project. source

26 Oct 2011 14:47


Tech: Scientists discover huge single-cell organisms deep on the ocean floor

  • Meet the Xenophyophores: Scientists have announced the discovery of a hitherto unknown, large single-celled organism living about 6.6 miles beneath the ocean’s surface. The organisms, called xenophyophores, were discovered in the Mariana Trench, the deepest place known in the ocean floor. They aren’t kidding about the “large,” either — a single cell can exceed four inches, which kind of blows our minds, honestly. Research suggests the xenophyophores are resistant to heavy metal toxicity, as by trapping water particles they concentrate high levels of mercury, uranium and lead, with no apparent detriment to the their health. source