"Bacon" flowers for St. Valentine's Day!

“Bacon” flowers for St. Valentine’s Day!

Here is what I am reading today:

“In what researchers are calling a first, a new analysis suggests that the greater a woman’s exposure to a type of common chemical compound called PFCs, the greater her risk for developing osteoarthritis.”
“Two iconic sets of research — Stanley Milgram’s 1960s “obedience to authority” studies and Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment — highlighted the unsavory reality that people can be prodded into harming others. Milgram found that participants were willing to administer apparently lethal electric shocks in the context of a scientific experiment, while Zimbardo demonstrated that some people assigned to the role of prison guard ended up treating prisoners brutally.Are we all doomed to carry out evil deeds robotically under the right circumstances? Not necessarily, say psychologists S. Alexander Haslam, PhD, of the University of Queensland, and Stephen D. Reicher, PhD, of the University of St. Andrews. In a November essay in PLOS Biology, they offer evidence from history, from Zimbardo’s and Milgram’s work, and from their own research showing that people who tend to follow authority aren’t sheep or robots, but rather people who enthusiastically identify with a group’s or leader’s agenda.”

“Digging into a fondue may seem clichéd, but this quintessential Swiss dish has an epic, if ambiguous, history. Its first mention dates as far back as Homer’s Iliad from around 800 to 725 BC, where it was described as a mixture of goat’s cheese, wine and flour. In the late 17th Century, a Swiss cookbook, Kochbuch der Anna Margaretha Gessner, makes note of cooking cheese with wine. Others say peasants in the Swiss mountains created the dish as a way to make use of leftover bread and cheese during colder months when fresh produce was scarce. But modern fondue – melted cheese and wine set in a pot over an open flame – dates to the late 1800s, with roots in the French Rhône-Alpes region near the Geneva border. Fast forward to 1930 when the Swiss Cheese Union declared it the country’s national dish – and the Swiss have not looked back since.”

“Restoring vision might sometimes be as simple as turning out the lights. That’s according to a study reported on February 14 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, in which researchers examined kittens with a visual impairment known as amblyopia before and after they spent 10 days in complete darkness.”

“The result was a 3D computer image that revealed the important pathways of my brain in vivid colour. One of the lead researchers, Professor Van Wedeen, gave me a guided tour of the inside of my head.

He showed me the connection that helped me to see and another one that helped me understand speech. There were twin arcs that processed my emotions and a bundle that connected the left and right sides of my brain.

Prof Wedeen used visualisation software that enabled him to fly around and through these pathways – even to zoom in to see intricate details.”

“The 18th century natural philosopher Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed that the necks of giraffes lengthened as a consequence of the cumulative effort, across generations, to reach leaves just out of their grasp. This view of evolution was largely abandoned with the advent of modern genetic theories to explain the transmission of most important traits and many medical illnesses across generations.”

“A group of medical specialists has provided an answer to a dilemma that has faced flyers since the Wright brothers took to the air in 1903—is it okay to fart mid-flight? The experts’ recommendation is an emphatic yes to airline passengers—but a warning to cockpit crews that breaking wind could distract the pilot and pose a safety risk. The study concluded that anecdotal evidence that flying increases flatulence is not hot air, finding that changes in air pressure at altitude result in the gut producing more gas. When Danish gastroenterologist Jacob Rosenberg encountered the malodorous problem first-hand on a flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo, he enlisted some of the finest minds in his field to address the issue.”

“Will you save the best chocolate in the box until last? Do you want the good news first or the bad? Your preferences may depend on your age, reports a Cornell study published in Psychology and Aging. In a series of experiments, younger adults preferred to get aversive experiences out of the way and save the most positive ones for last, confirming prior research. However, preferences for the timing of emotional experiences differed by age. Older adults would rather intersperse the good with the bad, and this may have implications for financial planning, medical choices and work life, the authors say. “Our research is the first to systematically examine age differences in preferences for emotional sequences,” said Corinna Loeckenhoff, assistant professor of human development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, who authored the study with former students Andrew Reed, Ph.D. ’11, and Skye Maresca ’11.”