It's Science!

Odors Categorized

So what are THE SMELLS? Take it away, Science! Working with a standard set of data, Andrew Dravniek's 1985 Atlas of Odor Character Profiles, the researchers applied a mathematical method to simplify the olfactory information into coherent categories, similar to the way compressing a digital audio or image file reduces the file's size without, ideally, compromising its usefulness. The team identified 10 basic odor qualities: fragrant, woody/resinous, fruity (non-citrus), chemical, minty/peppermint, sweet, popcorn, lemon and two kinds of sickening odors: pungent and decayed.

I guess that pretty much nails it, except I am not sure where you would slot in the New York [...]


Taking The Silver Cure

In 2002, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan told a reporter from Blender about his post-9/11 health routine: drinking colloidal silver daily. "During the Black Plague, a lot of rich people didn't get sick… because of the metal intake—the silver in their bodies from their silverware and dishes," he said. Blender published the article under the excellent headline "IS THE RZA TURNING BLUE?" He has not, as far as we know.

Recently I sent an email to Silver List, a listserv of colloidal silver enthusiasts who share their experiences and advice about making and taking the liquid, asking for people who would talk to a journalist. I included a [...]


The High-Stakes Crushed Or Fried Debate

"A high-octane debate has broken out among the world’s physicists about what would happen if you jumped into a black hole, a fearsome gravitational monster that can swallow matter, energy and even light. You would die, of course, but how? Crushed smaller than a dust mote by monstrous gravity, as astronomers and science fiction writers have been telling us for decades? Or flash-fried by a firewall of energy, as an alarming new calculation seems to indicate?" [...]


Have We Run This Story Before?

Déjà vu is very confusing because it makes you feel like you can see the future but only after you have experienced the future in the present. Scientist Anne Cleary is also confused by déjà vu and sorted through her various déjà vu theories with The Sims: Using the life simulation game The Sims, Cleary and her team built two scenes, different in their features but identical in their layout. The first was a courtyard setting featuring a potted tree in the center, encircled by various plants, and hanging plant baskets on the walls. The second was a museum setting that swapped the tree for a large statue, the [...]


Nothing Helps

"Most people assume that, at the very least, excess vitamins can’t do any harm. It turns out, however, that scientists have known for years that large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed."


It's Baby-Cloning Time!

"Scientists have finally succeeded in using cloning to create human embryonic stem cells, a step toward developing replacement tissue to treat diseases but one that might also hasten the day when it will be possible to create cloned babies." —Who are we going to clone first? Einstein? Mandela? Nicki Minaj? It's wide open!


Moon Useless

"What would happen to the Earth if the moon was destroyed?" Apart from the MASSIVE REJOICING and WAVE OF GOOD FEELINGS BROUGHT FORTH UPON THE LAND, pretty much nothing. Things would get a little wobbly, but it seems like a fair trade-off. NOW can we destroy the moon? Please?


Oh Boy, New Invention Heals Itself, What Could Go Wrong Etc.

"After slicing a tube of gelatinous material in half with a razor, researchers stick the two pieces back together again. After they've sat together for two hours at room temperature, the pieces are impossible to pull apart. The material, a new invention, has healed itself." —Years from now, when you and your family are running through the post-apocalyptic wasteland that our planet has become, you will be able to pause, during a brief respite fleeing from the self-regenerating mutant monsters that are hunting down the last remaining humans and sucking out their internal organs for sport, to tell everyone how you saw the things that are now attacking [...]


There's A New Element In Town

"Remember the periodic table from chemistry class in school? Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have presented fresh evidence that confirms the existence of a previously unknown chemical element. The new, super-heavy element has yet to be named."


Study: America Immobile

We didn't learn that much from the massive "Economic Impacts of Tax Expenditures" study that gets a big spread in the Times today, except: if you want them to be rich, have your children in Seattle, Salt Lake City or New York City, and don't have them in Atlanta, Miami or Memphis. But we already knew that.


Hypothesis: Dogs Doglike

"Another theory posits that dogs eat grass simply because they want to."


Our Most Honored Magicians And Healers Announce Invention Of "Hand-Washing" In Hospitals

Our leading scientists and magicians have discovered a new weapon in our endless war against the noble pus and the creeping gangrene! Now the warlocks and alchemists have convened and returned with a dictum from the royal societies: in our sickholes, hermitages and sanitariums, medics and surgeons are told to "wash their hands" between treating patients. This revolution in the treatment of the humors is being broadcast today as an urgent message on the front page of the New York Times and other outlets often consumed by learned people and practitioners of the arts of health. What magicks will our modern society invent next? Such wonders! The doctors credit [...]


Maybe It Won't Be The Machines That Kill Us After All

"Human astrocytes certainly inspired the mice. Their neurons did indeed build stronger synapses. (Perhaps this was because human astrocytes signal three times faster than mouse astrocytes do.) Mouse learning sharpened, too. On the first try, for instance, altered mice perceived the connection between a noise and an electric shock (a standard learning test in mouse research). Normal mice need a few repetitions to get the idea. Memories of the doctored mice were better too: they remembered mazes, object locations, and the shock lessons longer." —Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center implanted human brain cells into the brains of baby mice and the mice turned out smarter [...]


Canadians Stoned

More young Canadian kids smoke pot than any young kids from any other country, according to a recent Unicef study. This will not surprise anyone who remembers Len.


Intense Love Fades, Unless You Want To Start Messing Around With Biking Or Dance, Which, Really, Who Does?

"These findings suggest that romantic love is an arousing but stressful experience. These physiological changes are short-lived, perhaps because we become acclimated to our partner with time. Although the ardor may diminish, do not lose faith—research shows that some couples can sustain these honeymoon period feelings throughout their relationship by challenging each other with new activities, such as biking or dance."


Your Personality Disorder Is A Lot Less Cool Than You Think It Is

Hey, guess what, you're not an introvert, you're just a self-obsessed jerk. I mean, I personally am still an introvert, but I'm a little more sensitive to the crushing intensities of life than most of us, including you, are.


There Is More Than Just Sperm On You

"Water vapor is not the only thing in that sopping summer air. It also contains aerosols — both solid and liquid. They may have condensed from the gases that emerge from your tailpipe or from a factory chimney, or they may have risen into the air from the ground: tiny particles of silicon, organic matter, threads, starch, spores, bacterial cells, tire rubber. One of the most common aerosols in New York City air, thanks in part to the booming restaurant scene, is fat. The aerosols and the water vapor together make summer soup. A halo of water condenses upon each bit of stuff, and this spicy mixture sloshes against your [...]


Mushrooms Might Make You Suck Less

You know those days where you wake up and before your feet hit the floor your head is already heavy with dread, the walk to the bathroom is like swimming through warm, flavorless jello and brushing your teeth is a massive undertaking during which your mind is a place full of painful memories and pointed reminders that you're not likely to do any better in the future? Those mornings where you avoid looking at other people on your way to work because you can't bear to see or be seen? When you're forced to expend what little mental acuity you have left keeping your thoughts away from the things that [...]


Is Happiness The Only Thing Making You Heterosexual?

"It is known as the happiness chemical, but could serotonin also influence sexual preference? It certainly seems to in mice."


The Cure For Old Hair

Over the last year or two I began to develop what I initially thought was a severe case of dandruff in the area around my temples. The duration of this crisis was blessedly brief, because it turned out what I was seeing was actually the first foray into my sideheads by a colonizing force of gray hairs. (Technically it would be more accurate to describe them as silver, but given historical precedent it seems unlikely that anything on my body would somehow retain any kind of elegance or class, so I expect them to lose what little luster they have imminently.) My vanity is of the variety that so [...]