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Laughter is the worst medicine


A paper in the British Medical Journal reviewed the literature on harms arising from laughter and produced a wide-ranging list of laughing-related dangers, from asthma attacks to cerebral tumors. The authors concluded "Laughter is not purely beneficial. The harms it can cause are immediate and dose related, the risks being highest for Homeric (uncontrollable) laughter."

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Calming manatee is your new stress-reduction tool

Manatees would like to remind you that it's alright. You're a good person. You just need a hug.

The One True Cause of all disease (All 52 of them)

A few years ago, Harriet Hall googled "The One True Cause of all disease", just to see what the Internet would come up with. She counted 67 One True Causes before she got bored (52 of them made it into the handy chart above).

Besides making for an amusing anecdote, this little exercise also helps illustrate why there's a problem with ideologically driven medical treatments — the sort that comes from people who are pushing a lifestyle or a philosophy along with ostensible healthcare. It's both intriguing and convenient to think that, if we just open the right secret door, we can find the thing that's actually causing all our problems. The truth, unfortunately, seems to be that our bodies and the world they inhabit are complicated and messy and that lots of of things can lead to disease (doctors typically learn to divide these things into nine different categories, Hall says). In fact, a disease we think of as a single entity can have its roots in more than one thing. All of this is pretty obvious but it's the kind of obvious that's worth rubbing our noses in on occasion. If somebody tells you that everything from obesity to bipolar disorder to allergies to cancer all stem from the same root and can be treated or prevented with the exact same treatment, there's probably good reason to question what they're telling you.

Chemist presents results of study on booze, irony

Scientist sets out to determine the chemical differences between bourbon, rye, Tennessee, and other whiskeys. His name: Tom Collins. No. Seriously. Maggie 11

Math textbook attempts to solve relationship drama

The correct answer is that Brian and Angela just need to break up, already.

From Thanks, Textbooks — a fantastic Tumblr of supremely weird and hilarious textbook examples and questions.

Wednesday is Dead Duck Day

Dead Duck Day — the annual memorial celebration honoring the first recorded case of male homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck — happens this Wednesday in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The holiday will be celebrated with a speech in front of the window where one of the ducks in question met his fate, followed by a duck dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. The victim duck has been taxidermied and will be on hand for the festivities. Maggie

Gull eats starfish, auditions for role as LOL animal

Writer Darren Naish, who blogs at Tretrapod Zoology, took this photo of a Larus gull attempting to chow down on an awkwardly shaped starfish. (And, really, are there any other kind of starfish? Especially when you're trying to fit them in your mouth whole?)

You might remember Larus gulls from a recent piece I wrote on speciation and evolution. According to Naish, they might have another place in the story of evolution, as well. Regardless of how Sisyphean this gull's dinner plans may appear, Larus gulls actually (successfully) eat a lot of starfish. So many, in fact, that, as Naish explains in a recent post, they might be prompting one species of starfish to slowly turn a different color — an adaptation that makes the species less visible to gulls.

Strange, wonderful, deep-sea creatures ... with googly eyes

Please enjoy this very serious, scientific Tumblr that posts exactly what it promises — pictures of the strange and fantastic creatures that live deep in the ocean ... with googly eyes photoshopped onto their bodies.

The specimen above is an animal known as the pigbutt worm. Yes, seriously. With the googly eyes in place, you can't quite get a full understanding of how weird looking this animal is, so please be sure to check out the "before" photo, as well.

The site is maintained by a deep sea ecologist (he's anonymous, but I've verified that this is true). So you can trust the information provided here. For instance, when readers ask how the heck a pigbutt worm counts as a worm:

The pigbutt worm, Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, is a very weird looking worm, for sure. All Annelid worms are segmented, and the pigbutt is no exception. If you look at an ordinary earthworm, you can see those segments, but in Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, the middle segments are super inflated compared to the rest of its body. The rear segments are visible in the area that looks like the anus on a mammal’s buttocks (although others have noted that this section of the pigbutt worm looks more like a disembodied vulva than a floating buttock).

Awkward science stock photography

A collection of evidence suggesting that the people who take stock photographs have absolutely no idea what the process of science looks like, beyond a vague understanding that it probably involves white coats (and also beakers full of liquid).

Dear Evolution, get bent

Imaginary letters, in which giraffes, angora rabbits, and emperor penguins air their grievances against the forces of natural selection. Maggie

Unloading supplies onto the International Space Station

As Matt Lynley put it, "Meanwhile, in space ..."

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"Nerds are one of the most dangerous groups in this country"

This gentleman has an opinion. And he can see you, you little rats.

EDIT: Just wanted to clarify that this is Alex Jones. The same gentleman from the "deport Piers Morgan" interview with Piers Morgan. This particular clip comes from 2011, but with Jones in the news, it seemed funny and relevant.

True facts about the seahorse

The absolute best part about this video: As far as I can tell, all of the facts in it are, in fact, true.

The seahorse: Naturally hilarious.

Talking porcupine knows how to party: corn, champagne, unintelligible grunting

"I think Teddy's had a happy new year," observes his handler. More about "Teddy Bear," Zooniversity's talking porcupine, in Zooniversity.org's YouTube channel. (Thanks, Dean Putney!)

Science, confidential

We've talked here before about the crazy things you can find when you read the "Methods" section of a scientific research paper. (Ostensibly, that's the boring part.)

If you want a quick laugh this morning — or if you want to get a peek at how the sausages are made — check out the Twitter hashtag #overlyhonestmethods, where scientists are talking about the backstory behind seemingly dry statements like "A population of male rats was chosen for this study".