The average American woman weighs 166 pounds. New data suggests that the Plan B morning-after pill is less effective if you weigh more that 165 pounds, and won't work at all for women who weigh more than 175
. What's more, writes Kate Clancy (an anthropologist who studies women's reproductive issues), the dosages for regular old daily birth control are set for average-to-low-weight women. If your BMI is over 25, the pill won't work as well for you. — Maggie
University of Toronto scientists found that salt creates the ripples and ridges
you see in icicles — and that there is enough salt in the runoff from an average Toronto rooftop to radically change an icicle's shape. — Maggie
Deborah Netburn, at the L.A. Times, reports on the "complete" takeover of one part of town by a reptilian newcomer, the Italian wall lizard.
The wall lizards arrived in San Pedro in 1994, when a homeowner brought a few of them back from a trip to Sicily. He released four males and three females into his backyard, and they thrived and multiplied. Nearly 20 years later, the Italian wall lizards have almost entirely replaced native lizards in a five-block radius from where they were introduced.
"Since I started studying this population, I've seen literally a thousand wall lizards in this area and just two native lizards," says Pauly, 36, who's decked out in a pair of Tevas and a pale blue T-shirt that says, "Newt and Improved." "The takeover feels pretty complete."
Photo: Andy Clark, Reuters
A pair of harbor seals, wearing satellite-linked transmitters on their heads, meet after being released into the waters of Howe Sound in Porteau Cove, British Columbia, last week. The seals received months of care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre after being rescued; the transmitters will help researchers track their movements.
The Chronicle of Higher Education talks to a sociologist who spent years living with and learning the stories of people affected by mass incarceration
. — Maggie
This video was made by the University of Utah Brain Institute to teach medical students about what a brain looks and feels like before it gets preserved in formalin and takes on the texture of a hard rubber ball.
The big takeaway message: Your brain is seriously squishy. So squishy, in fact, that a finger can dent it. As professor Suzanne Stensaas explains, this is one of the reasons why cerebrospinal fluid is so important. Your brain has to float in that fluid. If it didn't, it would come to rest against the side of your hard skull and quickly end up deformed.
Seriously, this is a fascinating (if extremely graphic) video. (Hilariously, given that fact, it opens with an image of a student eating.) Definitely worth watching!
Dr. Thomas Rees, a pioneer of modern "aesthetic surgery" and a humanitarian who performed life-saving surgery in rural Africa for free, has died. He was 86, and the cause was liver cancer. From the NYT obit
: "New York magazine once referred to Dr. Rees as “one of the fathers of aesthetic surgery in New York
,” and he is credited with helping to elevate cosmetic surgery from something one did not really discuss to almost a status symbol." — Xeni
"Five defendants are depicted in this courtroom sketch of a U.S. district court in Manhattan on Nov. 20, 2013. The men allegedly conspired to smuggle North Korean meth into the U.S." Jane Rosenburg, for Reuters
Five men have been extradited to the US from Thailand to face charges of trafficking crystal methamphetamine cooked in North Korea. The highly militarized nation is hard for humans to get out of, but court documents indicate that meth seems to escape more easily. In September, the men were arrested by US federal agents after promising North Korean meth to undercover DEA agents. From Al Jazeera:
Read the rest
On PBS NewsHour
, science correspondent Miles O'Brien
interviews Chris Hadfield
, who has brought new popular interest to space exploration with his innovative use of web video, tweets, Facebooked photos, and a creative use of the internet, from space. Miles talks to the retired Canadian astronaut, author of "An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth
," about the importance of space exploration.
You can listen to the interviews or read a transcript here; videos are below.
Read the rest
Natanz, Iran's primary uranium enrichment facility.
"The real program to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities was far more sophisticated than anyone realized," writes Ralph Langner in Foreign Policy Magazine
Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators' wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete. That's because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet's smaller and simpler attack routine -- the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and "forgotten" routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy.
The first of four studies on a poorly-understood link between sleep quality and depression indicates that when antidepressant medication and insomnia therapy are used together
, recovery from depression is more thorough, and faster. (Thanks, Miles O'Brien) — Xeni
Last week, I linked you to a piece pointing out that three New York Times
op-ed pieces linking bacterial exposure (or lack thereof) to autism, celiac disease, and allergies were all written by the same guy
, Moises Velasquez-Manoff. His ideas are interesting, but there's also good reason to be skeptical. If you want to get a better idea of the arguments for and against Velasquez-Manoff's thesis, I'd recommend checking out this post at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker
, which links to several critical stories and to Velasquez-Manoff's response to them. — Maggie
Researchers taking a core sample of sediment beneath Cape Charles, Virginia, found something surprising sandwiched between the layers of mud and ooze. Locked inside a rocky layer 5000 feet down, they discovered water — water from the early Cretaceous period
. — Maggie
In March 1938, writer Maryn McKenna's great uncle died, horribly, from an illness that began with just a couple of cuts and scrapes on his shoulder. He was only 30 when he died. If his injury and infection had happened just five years later, penicillin would likely have saved his life. McKenna uses this story to lead us into a piece about a post-antibiotic world
... what it would look like, and what's already happening to the people who come face-to-face with antibiotic resistance. It's a chilling read. And a necessary one. — Maggie
It's impossible to dive in front of a bullet and play the hero. Likewise, you can't really dodge a bullet either (unless you get a big
lead on the fact that it's heading towards you). Kyle Hill explains why the stuff that looks fancy and flashy on TV doesn't work in the real world
. — Maggie