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Category → Chemistry in the News

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

Copyright Sandy Skoglund

“Radioactive Cats”
Copyright Sandy Skoglund

Scorched rat blamed for this week’s outage at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. Someone get Sandy Skoglund. It’s time to send in the radioactive cats. [BBC]

Couples trying to conceive should probably not book that romantic vacation to outer space.  [Huffington Post]

Without singing, dancing, or even shedding its burlap-plastic coat, “Canada Club” fossil wins “Dino Idol.” [NBC News]

Why didn’t the turtle cross the road? Because everyone was trying to run him over with their cars. [Philly.com]

Scientists have been sending insects to the guillotine since 1923. [io9]

In the quest for a better bourbon, whiskey-makers sent their barrels on a four-year cruise. And you only get two weeks of vacation. [SciAm]

What is the “better mousetrap” of 2013 that will have the world beating a path to your door? Weaker weed, apparently. Does this mean there will be more #chemjobs for marijuana chemists? [Slate]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.


Credit: Jean Luc Lacour

Turning Martian rocks into plasma. Curiosity’s ChemCam rules. [Popular Mechanics]

Google searches tip off scientists to unknown drug side effects. Oh, and you should know that any medical abnormality you’ve ever searched for is saved in a Web log somewhere. [NYT]

Scientists are trying to get you to do their work for them … by seducing you with video games. [NPR]

The latest in bug body armor: Nanopillars on clanger cicadas’ wings rip bacteria to shreds. [Nature]

Boo. The chemistry of why sausages are bad for you. [Guardian]

Breaking news: Practice doesn’t really make perfect. It just makes better. Sort of. [Discoblog]

Finally, the Newscripts gang would be remiss in not mentioning the new chemblog on the block, The Baran Lab blog Open Flask. Welcome aboard Phil and the gang. It’s great to see you here. [Open Flask]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news. Compiled by Bethany Halford.

Reddi BaconFlower-flavored PEZ, peas shaped into French fries, and flammable Reddi-Bacon for the toaster – check out these and other food flops. [Neatorama]

And here’s some cool food news to chew on. If you live in Japan, you can have a Gummy version of yourself made for about $65. [ShortList]

Geez, we must be hungry: Chemistry and chemical analysis for making a better burger. [Popular Mechanics]

And to wash it all down, a billboard that produces water from moisture in the air. [psfk]

Too full to walk? Your jet pack is nearly ready. [PopSci]

And here’s a little gem we can’t resist linking to. Is this the opposite of chemophobia? [Bedroom Chemist]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Bethany Halford.

Chromodoris reticulata. Photo by Flickr user PacificKlaus

Chromodoris reticulata. Photo by Flickr user PacificKlaus

This kinky sea slug sheds its penis only to regrow a new one. Any of you kids out there old enough to remember King Missile? [BBC]

Some call it love. Some call it Nerve Growth Factor. [Death & Taxes]

“Mean Girls” meets fish tanks: Guppies that surround themselves with ugly friends have a better chance of getting with the hotties. [NBC News]

Remember that dancing gorilla you didn’t see in that basketball-themed selective attention test? Well, apparently radiologists don’t see gorillas in your CT scans either. [Gizmodo]

When asked to sketch a Tyrannosaurus rex, college students mistakenly draw the shape of Barney or chicken nuggets, instead of the more accurate carnivores from “Jurassic Park.”  [NBC News]

It’s Valentine’s Day, and if you’re reading this, chances are good that you already love chemistry. But, if you need it, here’s a reminder why our science is so lovable. [Gizmodo]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Camoflage patent

Credit: USPTO

This patent for a camouflage system might be brilliant, but what we really love is the drawing. [Improbable Research]

Vegetarians less likely to have fun than meat eaters, study says. Wait. No, no. We meant “cardiac disease,” not “fun.” [iO9]

Not sure how to feel about this fellow representing the profession: Cannabis chemist and mustache model Joe Rutkowski talks about analytical chemistry and cape wearing. [Huffington Post]

Chemical engineer Rebecca Reid dreams up new brews for Anheuser-Busch. [Wall Street Journal]

So you’ve got some undergrads sitting around. What do you do with ‘em? Put them in sensory deprivation suits and make them crawl around on all fours tracking the scent of chocolate. In the name of science, of course. [iO9]

“People’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated,” study concludes. Man, we thought they were the magical fruit. So disillusioned. [Discoblog]

Fear Of Stink: A Century In The Making

Lurking among us are foolish folks who fork out cash for deodorants even though their armpits don’t smell.

This is the take-home message of an article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology that’s been making the rounds of science news sites and blogs. It’s a fun study, but the results aren’t really that surprising.

Researchers have known for years that some people in Europe (2% of the population) and most people in China, Japan, and Korea are fortunate enough to have two copies of a recessive gene that makes their armpits relative* stink-free zones.

An anti-sweat advertisement from 1939.

An anti-sweat advertisement from 1939.

That’s because the gene codes for a protein involved in transporting molecules out of special sweat glands that appear in your armpits at puberty. These stink-producing glands are called apocrine glands, and they differ from eccrine glands, which are found all over your body and produce the salty fluid we commonly associate with sweat and body temperature regulation.

Apocrine glands typically excrete all manner of waxy molecules that armpit bacteria love to feast on. It’s the leftover, metabolized molecules, such as trans-3-methyl-2-hexanoic acid, which give many human bodies that oh-so-ripe odor.

Because the difference between stinky and stink-free folks is a gene involved in transporting armpit molecules, it’s pretty likely that people without body odor have a dysfunctional transporter. Although that’s not yet been proven, it’s a reasonable theory.

For example, people with odorless armpits also produce a dry white earwax, instead of a yellowish wet version. Presumably, the transport machinery that isn’t exporting bacteria food in the armpit isn’t exporting a yellowish fluid in the ears either.

What’s really new in the article is simply the observation that among the 2% of folks in the UK who probably don’t need to apply deodorant, 78% still do.

OK, so why is this not really surprising? Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

brazilian tree hopperBrazilian tree hopper hopes to upstage Princess Beatrice at next royal function with its ornamental headgear. [io9]

Countries that drink a lot of milk are also home to a lot of Nobel Prize winners, study shows. At the top of the list? Sweden. Ignore that it’s the host country for the Nobel Prizes. [Time]

Ever wonder what to do with old cereal? This home brewer turned his Sugar Puffs into Breakfast Beer. We like the way that fellow thinks. [Guardian]

Someone used a 3-D printer to produce a vinyl record. First thing it played? Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” [Humans Invent]

Robot Fish, Robot Fish, Does Whatever a Robot Fish Can. Glides Through Water, For A Really Long Time … [New Scientist]

Scientists who made up a false identities so they could review their own papers, the Japanese anesthesiologist who holds the new record for retractions (172), and Pfizer’s missing gold dust all make this list of 2012’s scientific screw-ups. [Wired]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Catfish feasts on pigeon. This is in France, so they probably call it squab. [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

Liar, Liar, muscles-around-the-nose-and-eyes on fire! [Body Odd/NBCNews]

Brilliant! Physicists in Britain engage the public with beer mats. [Physics.org via The Guardian]

Apparently, being able to grow nerve cells from a person’s blood or skin cells wasn’t cutting-edge enough. Scientists are now making brain-cell precursors from cells in a person’s urine. [Nature]

White tigers are awesome, right? Um, actually, they’re mutant freaks bred for human entertainment. [Slate]

Researchers just HAD to watch all 22 James Bond movies (before “Skyfall”) to publish a report on whether films are getting more violent. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. [iO9]