07 June, 2012 – This Week in Science


Coffee, Cigarettes, Vampire Spiders, Birds Of A Different Color, Ants Working For Mark Zuckerberg, And Much More…

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Mantis Shrimp Body Armor?
The club of the mantis shrimp is made out a very unique structure that could be very beneficial to us humans. These club structures withstand over 50,000 high velocity strikes during the shrimp’s lifetime, equivalent to withstanding 50,000 bullet impacts. What’s more, it’s light weight, which could solve the problem of current body armor in use that weighs upwards of 30 lbs. It’s time for the military to take a lesson from this invertebrate!

Coffee and Cigarettes – one is bad for you, the other one might save your brain. Can you guess which is which?
Vegetables and Fruits can help you stop smoking!
Whether it is because of the bad taste smoking gives you after eating the stuff, or if there is some chemical reaction in your brain that keeps you from craving the nicotine post-roughage, we don’t know yet, but veggies and fruits appear to improve your chances of kicking the habit!

What makes Cool  so Cool?
A new study indicates that what was “cool” when the word originated is no longer the rubric for “coolness.” After speaking to around 1,000 people in Vancouver, British Colombia, the researchers found that coolness tended to rely on positive, socially desirable traits, as opposed to the rebellious, bad guy personality we are so used to associating with “cool.”

Blair’s Animal Corner
BIrd’s colors indicate personalities
Red-headed finches are more aggressive, whereas black-headed birds showed more bold and risk-taking characteristics. The question is, which came first? Did the colors develop after the personality traits to indicate to other birds how they might act and therefore who to team up with?

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Coffee could keep you from developing Alzheimer’s
Those with high blood caffeine levels are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, or at least delay its onset. Along with preventing many other life-threatening diseases, coffee appears to have turned into an important medicinal substance, as apposed to a harmful addiction.

An Alzheimer’s Vaccine?
In a clinical trial, 80% of patients developed antibodies against beta-amyloid, the plaque that builds up in the outer membrane of your brain and kills brain cells. While the vaccine can not prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s, it could potentially have a “leveling effect,” where it stops further degradation.

Sharp-Eyed Vampire Spiders are picky eaters
Vampire Spiders can identify their prey – female mosquitos engorged with vertebrate blood in two ways. They look for swollen abdomens, obviously, but they also can identify the mosquitos by their antennae.

Out of Asia, not Africa?!
Teeth found in Asia lead scientists to believe that perhaps anthropoids arose in Asia about 37-45 million years ago before colonizing to Africa. All this information, from just four popcorn-kernel-sized molars. You be the judge on this one, but perhaps we need a little more than four teeth to present such an earth-shaking hypothesis…

Ants may be able to make Facebook better.
University of Madrid suggests that ants could help create new algorithms to improve social networks. Food foraging techniques of ants, involving a pheromone trail for other ants to find the food they’ve located, could help website developers build referential chains between people, events, pictures, and more.

Financial Mania?
It turns out that the financial world was suffering from collective mania in 2008 prior to the economic collapse. Bankers, economists, and politicians shared manic behavior such as denial, omnipotence, triumphalism, and over-activity. Perhaps that could explain it, but that doesn’t make it ok. Should we have sent our economists and bankers to an asylum?

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