Lathering up with sunscreen may protect against cancer — killing coral reefs worldwide.


Lathering up with sunscreen may prevent sunburn and protect against cancer, but it is also killing coral reefs around the world.That’s the conclusion of a team of international scientists.

Researchers found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

Lathering up with sunscreen may prevent sunburn and protect against cancer, but it is also killing coral reefs around the world.

That’s the conclusion of a team of international scientists, which includes University of Central Florida professor and diving enthusiast John Fauth.

The researchers found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

“Coral reefs are the world’s most productive marine ecosystems and support commercial and recreational fisheries and tourism,” Fauth said. “In addition, reefs protect coastlines from storm surge. Worldwide, the total value of coral reefs is tremendous. And they are in danger.”

The team’s findings are published in today’s edition of the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

Executive director and researcher Craig Downs of the non-profit scientific organization Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia led the team. The scientists collected samples from reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Eilat, Israel diving into the water themselves. They wore no personal hygiene products during the dives.

“The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” Downs said. “We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”

In laboratory experiments, the team exposed coral larvae and cells of adult corals to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone. The research team discovered that oxybenzone deforms coral larvae by trapping them in their own skeleton, making then unable to float with currents and disperse.

Oxybenzone also caused coral bleaching, which is a prime cause of coral mortality worldwide. Corals bleach when they lose or expel the algae that normally live inside them, thus losing a valuable source of nutrition. In addition, coral larvae exposed to increasing oxybenzone concentrations suffered more DNA damage.

Cells from seven species of corals were killed by oxybenzone at concentrations similar to those detected in ocean water samples. Three of the species that the researchers tested are currently listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.

The team concluded in the published paper that “Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation, and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.”

Others on the research team included scientists from Haereticus Environmental Laboratory; the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the National Aquarium in Baltimore; the University of Hawaii; and Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

So what can everyday divers do to protect the reefs?

“Wear rash guards or scuba wetsuits and skip all the hygienic products when you go diving,” Fauth said. “If we could do it for a week at a time, people can certainly forgo it for a few hours to help protect these reefs for our children and their children to see.”

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Welcome to cuffing season. Does cold weather compel us to couple up?


The leaves are falling, as are temperatures, and singles know what that means: It’s “cuffing season,” the period between October and February when people are more eager to be paired up.

Is cuffing season an urban legend, or is there a scientific basis for it, too? After all, humans don’t have a mating season; we have sex year-round. So what’s special about fall and winter?

For one thing, men’s testosterone is up in November and early December, said biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. Plus, as it gets darker in the winter, she pointed out, the body produces more melatonin, making us sleepy and groggy — “more like a homebody,” Fisher said. “The lack of light might make people want to stay in,” she said. “It’s our version of nesting.”

“People aren’t racing out to do sports in the park,” Fisher said. “It’s time for indoor sports — and certainly love is among them.”

While humans don’t hibernate, we do slow down in the winter. People are consuming more calories, and eating comfort foods and sleeping more, noted Glenn Geher, a psychology professor and director of evolutionary studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. “The idea of having fewer partners and a more regular relationship goes along with that,” he said.

“If you think about where young adults meet one another, there’s a lot more opportunities in the summer — parties, bars, people are out later,” Geher said. As it gets colder, there are fewer chances to meet potential partners, so singles might pick someone and settle in for the winter.

But Tinder and other dating apps are available year-round — could that change things? “Even though there are all those online opportunities,” Geher said, “I do think people are still affected. … The general behavioral slowdown that people experience in the winter still happens.”

Cold weather alone doesn’t spark marathons of Netflix and chilling. Fisher thinks the impending fall and winter holidays have just as much to do with the instinct to pair up. During the holiday season, she says, “most people want to be with somebody — it’s psychological and biological.”
“If they show up for Christmas alone,” Fisher said, “their parents are going to say: ‘Why haven’t you found a man or woman?’”

Ah, parental guilt. Now that pressure is present year-round.

Where Does All That Fat Go When You Burn It Away In The Gym?


Most of us tend to think that our fat powers our exercise, so the fat is getting converted into energy and lost as heat. However, research shows that this is not true. Your fat consists of a number of atoms, and when you exercise, the bonds between these atoms break down. But, the atoms are still in your body! So, if you lost weight, where did they go?

Biologists at the University of New South Wales did an atom by atom breakdown of where your fat is disappearing, and what they found is shocking! They found that once the links between these atoms break down, you exhale most of them as carbon dioxide! So, when you exercise, you are literally breathing out your fat!

Watch the video.URL:https://youtu.be/C8ialLlcdcw

 

First movie of stellar-surface evolution beyond our Solar System.


Summary:
Astronomers present for the first time a movie that shows the evolution of stellar spots on a star other than our Sun. The long-term, highly-sampled, phase-resolved spectroscopic data were made possible with the STELLA robotic telescopes on Tenerife. Over a period of 6 years the growth and fade of giant stellar spots on the star XX Tri are seen. The spots reveal an underlying magnetic cycle that has a period comparable to our Sun’s but is much stronger.

Still from movie.

Astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), present for the first time a movie that shows the evolution of stellar spots on a star other than our Sun. The long-term, highly-sampled, phase-resolved spectroscopic data were made possible with the STELLA robotic telescopes on Tenerife. Over a period of 6 years the growth and fade of giant stellar spots on the star XX Tri are seen. The spots reveal an underlying magnetic cycle that has a period comparable to our Sun’s but is much stronger.

Generally, it is not possible to resolve stellar surfaces other than our Sun’s directly. Clever mathematical methods and observing techniques were introduced to resolve stellar surfaces indirectly. This technique, commonly referred to as Doppler imaging or Doppler tomography, became the most advanced tool for the study of stars. In order to not only image but also to reconstruct the evolution of star spots, well-sampled time series of high-resolution spectra are needed. To obtain one single image of the stellar surface, intrinsic variations confine the data gathering process to basically a single stellar rotation.

Such long-term, highly-sampled, phase-resolved spectroscopic data for Doppler imaging of the red giant star XX Tri presented here were made possible with the STELLA robotic telescopes on Tenerife over an observing period of 6 years and are continued. This star is famous for its detected super-spot with a linear extension of 12 × 20 solar radii (Strassmeier 1999). But even for a star like XX Tri with a rotation period of 24 days, this was not a simple task. Sampling the evolution of the star spots required nightly visits of the target to obtain a continuous decade-long time series of spectra.

Altogether 667 usable spectra between July 2006 and April 2012 were inverted into a movie of the stellar surface, which cover altogether 86 rotational periods of the star. Shown is the stellar surface in three different projection styles; a spherical projection like if we would see the star by eye (“real view”), a Mercator projection where the entire surface can be seen at once (“Mercator map”), and a “pole-on view” like if the star could be viewed down onto the one visible rotation pole. Note the size of the Sun in the real-view panel, it is to scale.

The movie shows a star-spot distribution with ever changing morphology, such as spot fragmentation and spot merging, and with apparently a large range of variability timescales. The decay rate of (magnetic) star spots is of great interest as it is directly related to the magnetic diffusivity in the convective layer of the star, which itself is a key quantity for the length of a magnetic-activity cycle. “We can see our first application as a prototype for upcoming stellar cycle studies, as it enables the prediction of a magnetic-activity cycle on a dramatically shorter timescale than usual,” says Andreas Künstler, who worked on XX Tri during his PhD at Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

Sunspots are understood as the emergence of magnetic flux tubes originating from a dynamo process in the interior. As sunspots host strong magnetic fields, their study provides indirect information about the internal dynamo activity.

STELLA, short for “STELLar Activity,” is two fully robotic 1.2m telescopes at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain, jointly operated by AIP and IAC. They uniquely combine a high-resolution spectrograph and a wide-field photometric imager. No personnel are on site. STELLA was built at AIP and is a long-term project for observing and monitoring activity tracers on cool stars.

Download: mp4 movie (5 MB)

Download: avi movie (57 MB)

Sweet Potato vs. Regular Potato: Which Is Better For Your Health?


Who doesn’t love spuds? Potatoes are the fourth most-consumed food crop in the world, theUnited States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates, after rice, wheat, and corn. Despite its obvious popularity, this starchy staple often gets a bad rap from dieters, and over the past decade or so, sweet potatoes have been touted as the regular potato’s healthier cousin.

Who doesn’t love spuds? Potatoes are the fourth most-consumed food crop in the world, theUnited States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates, after rice, wheat, and corn. Despite its obvious popularity, this starchy staple often gets a bad rap from dieters, and over the past decade or so, sweet potatoes have been touted as the regular potato’s healthier cousin.

So, is there any truth to this claim? Medical Daily investigated.

Let’s Begin with Context

Both potatoes and sweet potatoes originate in South America (thank you, Peru and Bolivia), yet they are only distantly related, arising from different plant families. That said, both are considered root vegetables. The potato is hardier, able to be grown in various climates and soil types, while the sweet potato is unable to tolerate frost and is more sensitive to daylight. Commonly, the potatoes sold to consumers have coats appearing in shades of brown or red and white flesh, while sweet potatoes generally have rougher brown coats with orange flesh. However, individual varieties of each come in many different colors and some sweet potatoes even bear white flesh.

sweet potatoSweet potato Steve Johnson, CC by 2.0

The USDA calculates potatoes to be the leading vegetable crop in the U.S. About half the crop each year is sold to processors and transformed into French fries, chips, dehydrated potatoes, and other products, while the other half is sold on the market. Though the American consumer still prefers regular spuds by far, the USDA observed sweet potato production escalating over the past 15 years. Between 2000 and 2014, North Carolina, the highest producing state, saw an increase in production by 185 percent, while Mississippi and California clocked production increases of 155 percent and 100 percent, respectively.

Production facts are rarely contested, yet when it comes to nutrition, there are at least two schools of thought.

Gram Serving or Medium-Size?

While LiveStrong bases its estimates on 100 gram servings of each (skin included), the USDAbases its estimates on a single “medium-sized” food product. By the USDA method, a medium-sized regular (white) potato is generally heavier than its rival and weighs in at 173 grams compared to just 114 grams for a medium-sized sweet potato. This, then, skews all their numbers. By LiveStrong’s count, the two products are indistinguishable in terms of calories: a 100 gram serving of baked white potato (with the skin) contains 93 calories, while the same sized serving of a baked sweet potato (with the skin) contains 90 calories. By theUSDA method, though, a medium potato contains 170 calories, versus just 105 in a medium sweet potato.

potatoesPotatoes Tommy Hemmert Olesen, CC by 2.0

Continuing by the government’s method (hey, you’ve got to pick a side), the two products are more or less equal in terms of fiber, while the sweet potato, as its name implies, has considerably more sugar. A medium-sized sweet potato has 13 grams of sugar compared to just 2 grams in a medium-sized potato. Carbohydrates and protein, though, are more plentiful in the regular potato, which boasts 37 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein versus 24 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein in a sweet potato.

Both regular and sweet potatoes offer you equal amounts of calcium, good for your bones, with both containing 4 percent of your daily requirement. Nearly equal amounts of vitamin C can be found in each: 35 percent for the regular potato and 37 percent for the sweet potato. However, a sweet potato offers a whopping 438 percent of vitamin A (good for your eyes) while you will get none (zilch!) of this vitamin from a regular potato. In terms of iron, a regular potato provides 10 percent of your daily need, while a sweet potato only offers 4 percent. Though the USDA does not calculate potassium, regular potatoes offer more of this nutrient which helps control your blood pressure, according to the Cleveland Clinic, than do sweet potatoes.

So, which food wins the health challenge? Both foods, eaten in their entirety and not spoiled by fattening toppings or unhealthy preparation (frying), are good for you. The one you choose depends on taste and personal dietary needs. If you need more vitamin A for the day, go with the sweet potato. Want more protein and potassium? Go with the regular spuds.

In the end, the sweet potato and regular potato have plenty to offer and both taste delish.Medical Daily officially concedes defeat.

So, is there any truth to this claim? Medical Daily investigated.

Let’s Begin with Context

Both potatoes and sweet potatoes originate in South America (thank you, Peru and Bolivia), yet they are only distantly related, arising from different plant families. That said, both are considered root vegetables. The potato is hardier, able to be grown in various climates and soil types, while the sweet potato is unable to tolerate frost and is more sensitive to daylight. Commonly, the potatoes sold to consumers have coats appearing in shades of brown or red and white flesh, while sweet potatoes generally have rougher brown coats with orange flesh. However, individual varieties of each come in many different colors and some sweet potatoes even bear white flesh.

sweet potatoSweet potato Steve Johnson, CC by 2.0

The USDA calculates potatoes to be the leading vegetable crop in the U.S. About half the crop each year is sold to processors and transformed into French fries, chips, dehydrated potatoes, and other products, while the other half is sold on the market. Though the American consumer still prefers regular spuds by far, the USDA observed sweet potato production escalating over the past 15 years. Between 2000 and 2014, North Carolina, the highest producing state, saw an increase in production by 185 percent, while Mississippi and California clocked production increases of 155 percent and 100 percent, respectively.

Production facts are rarely contested, yet when it comes to nutrition, there are at least two schools of thought.

Gram Serving or Medium-Size?

While LiveStrong bases its estimates on 100 gram servings of each (skin included), the USDAbases its estimates on a single “medium-sized” food product. By the USDA method, a medium-sized regular (white) potato is generally heavier than its rival and weighs in at 173 grams compared to just 114 grams for a medium-sized sweet potato. This, then, skews all their numbers. By LiveStrong’s count, the two products are indistinguishable in terms of calories: a 100 gram serving of baked white potato (with the skin) contains 93 calories, while the same sized serving of a baked sweet potato (with the skin) contains 90 calories. By theUSDA method, though, a medium potato contains 170 calories, versus just 105 in a medium sweet potato.

potatoesPotatoes Tommy Hemmert Olesen, CC by 2.0

Continuing by the government’s method (hey, you’ve got to pick a side), the two products are more or less equal in terms of fiber, while the sweet potato, as its name implies, has considerably more sugar. A medium-sized sweet potato has 13 grams of sugar compared to just 2 grams in a medium-sized potato. Carbohydrates and protein, though, are more plentiful in the regular potato, which boasts 37 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein versus 24 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein in a sweet potato.

Both regular and sweet potatoes offer you equal amounts of calcium, good for your bones, with both containing 4 percent of your daily requirement. Nearly equal amounts of vitamin C can be found in each: 35 percent for the regular potato and 37 percent for the sweet potato. However, a sweet potato offers a whopping 438 percent of vitamin A (good for your eyes) while you will get none (zilch!) of this vitamin from a regular potato. In terms of iron, a regular potato provides 10 percent of your daily need, while a sweet potato only offers 4 percent. Though the USDA does not calculate potassium, regular potatoes offer more of this nutrient which helps control your blood pressure, according to the Cleveland Clinic, than do sweet potatoes.

So, which food wins the health challenge? Both foods, eaten in their entirety and not spoiled by fattening toppings or unhealthy preparation (frying), are good for you. The one you choose depends on taste and personal dietary needs. If you need more vitamin A for the day, go with the sweet potato. Want more protein and potassium? Go with the regular spuds.

In the end, the sweet potato and regular potato have plenty to offer and both taste delish.Medical Daily officially concedes defeat.

How to act less stupid, according to psychologists .


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One of the most common breaches, one of the things that tends to give us pause more than anything else, is something — or some things, really — that we like to call stupid.

That thing that happened.

That thing that person did.

It was SO. STUPID.

The word is used so freely, and yet we rarely — if ever — stop to consider what exactly we mean by it. If anything, we have a sense of what it doesn’t mean: that calling something that someone did stupid doesn’t imply that that person is not smart. Plenty of people with high IQs, after all, still manage to do things we regard as “stupid.”

But that doesn’t quite answer what “stupid” is, or what the significance is of how we use it. Missing a stop on a train, or walking into a stationary object, because a person was enthralled by a book — we call that stupid, but surely it’s something else, something more precise.

Intrigued, Aczel Balazs, a professor at the Institute of Psychology at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, wanted to find out more. He had taken an interest in studying the bizarre world of unintelligent behavior, precisely, he says, because it’s surprisingly unexplored. In this case, he devised a study. Balazs, along with Bence Palfi and Zoltan Kekecs, two other psychology researchers at Eotvos Lorand University, gathered a sample of stories — 180 in all — from news sites, blogs, forums and other publicly available literature in which an action was described that might be characterized as stupid. The stories were then presented to more than 150 people, who were asked to fill out a questionnaire.

For each story, they answered a range of questions, which included ones like “Would you describe this particular action as stupid?” and, if the answer was yes, “On a scale from one to ten, how stupid was it?” The participants were also asked to explain why they thought any given action was stupid, by choosing one of many categories.

Click here for more information!
What they found is that people tend to agree about what deserves to be called stupid and what doesn’t — remarkably, there was a roughly 90 percent rate of agreement. They also learned that there are, it seems, three situations, that we tend to use the word stupid for. Three scenarios, characterized by specific types of behavior, that make people cringe or laugh or put their hands to their forehead.

Didn’t see that coming?
The first is what Balazs and his team call “confident ignorance.” It’s when a person’s self-perceived ability to do something far outweighs that person’s actually ability to do it, and it’s associated with the highest level of stupidity.

Think of a drunk driver, who wrongly believes he or she is perfectly capable of manning the wheel. Or a burglar, who, meaning to steal a phone, instead plucks a GPS device, which leads the police straight to him.

People don’t just find this type of behavior stupid — they seem to associate it with the highest level of stupidity. These were given a mean stupidity score of 8.5 out of 10, a good deal higher than that for any other.

“The stupidest thing someone can do is overestimate themselves,” he said. “What that tells us is that you don’t have to have a low IQ, in people’s eyes, to act stupidly. You just have to misperceive your abilities.”

He couldn’t help himself
The second thing we use the word stupid to describe is when someone does something because they have, on some level, lost their ability to do otherwise.

Balazs calls this “lack of control” and characterizes it as the result of “obsessive, compulsive, or addictive behavior.” He offers the example of a person who decides to cancel plans with a good friend in order to keep playing video games at home.

What a space cadet
The third type of behavior people like to call stupid is what Balazs coins “absentmindedness — lack of practicality.” It’s an either/or scenario, in which someone does something that’s clearly irrational, but for a reason that could be one of two things: they either weren’t paying attention or simply weren’t aware of something.

Think of someone who, having overfilled their car tires, ends up on the side of the road with a flat. That person either forgot to pay attention while filling the tires or didn’t know that he or she needed to do so in the first place. And we’re apt to call both of those scenarios stupid, albeit less stupid than the previous examples.

Is stupid is as stupid does?
In some ways, Balazs’s research recalls the famous and oft-quoted scene from “Forrest Gump,” in which Tom Hanks, asked whether he’s crazy or just plain stupid, quips, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

The research, as it turns out, offers important lessons for all of us, because what we choose to call stupid actually has a significant impact on our behavior. As Balazs and his colleagues write in their paper:

These stupidity categories can potentially predict what environmental or inner states increase the likelihood that one would behave in a way that others could call stupid. For example, ingested substances or excessive social support can promote confidence disproportionate to competence. Executing habitual behaviors or multi-tasking can lead to absentmindedness. Intensive affective states can result in failure of behavior control. Our findings would suggest that these environmental or inner contexts make us more susceptible to commit foolishness. An interaction of individual differences and environmental factors may serve as predictors for people’s propensity to show behavior that others would label as stupid.

The lessons may be particularly relevant for people who think of themselves as pretty smart.

Take the work of Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton University who, using arithmetic questions, has found that intelligence can make simple answers harder to find.

He hasn’t figured out why, but hypothesizes that intelligent people might be less capable of evaluating themselves, making them more vulnerable. When given a math problem, for instance, an intelligent person might assume they aren’t capable of the same thinking errors that their peers are, which, in turn, makes them more prone to commit them.

That hypothesis — thinking you are above making mistakes when in fact you’re not — fits nicely into the most egregious form of stupidity Balazs was able to identify: the category of “confident ignorance.”

It also seems to point toward a useful takeaway.

Acting in a way that isn’t considered stupid is a goal shared by most reasonable people, but many of them likely overlook one key attribute that might allow them to better achieve it: modesty.

“If you don’t want to do something stupid, you probably don’t want to have higher expectations of your abilities than you should,” Balazs said. “The worst thing someone can do is act confidently, and seriously, and still not act rationally. That’s as stupid as it gets.”

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Why do humans kiss each other when most animals don’t?


A new study finds that half of human cultures don’t practice romantic lip-on-lip kissing. Animals don’t tend to bother either. So how did it evolve?

Kissing allows us to assess how compatible we are (Credit: Getty)

When you think about it, kissing is strange and a bit icky. You share saliva with someone, sometimes for a prolonged period of time. One kiss could pass on 80 million bacteria, not all of them good.

Yet everyone surely remembers their first kiss, in all its embarrassing or delightful detail, and kissing continues to play a big role in new romances.

At least, it does in some societies. People in western societies may assume that romantic kissing is a universal human behaviour, but a new analysis suggests that less than half of all cultures actually do it. Kissing is also extremely rare in the animal kingdom.

So what’s really behind this odd behaviour? If it is useful, why don’t all animals do it – and all humans too? It turns out that the very fact that most animals don’t kiss helps explain why some do.

According to a new study of kissing preferences, which looked at 168 cultures from around the world, only 46% of cultures kiss in the romantic sense.

The study overturns the belief that romantic kissing is a near-universal human behaviour

Previous estimates had put the figure at 90%. The new study excluded parents kissing their children, and focused solely on romantic lip-on-lip action between couples.

Many hunter-gatherer groups showed no evidence of kissing or desire to do so. Some even considered it revolting. The Mehinaku tribe in Brazil reportedly said it was “gross”.

Humans lived in hunter-gatherer groups for most of our existence, until the invention of farming around 10,000 years ago. If modern hunter-gatherer groups do not practice romantic kissing, it is possible that our ancestors did not do so either

However we cannot be certain of this, as modern hunter-gatherer groups do not live in the same ways as the ancestral hunter-gatherers, because their societies have changed and adapted in the meantime.

Regardless, the study overturns the belief that romantic kissing is a near-universal human behaviour, says lead author William Jankowiak of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Instead it seems to be a product of western societies, passed on from one generation to the next, he says.

There is some historical evidence to back that up.

Kissing as we do it today seems to be a fairly recent invention, says Rafael Wlodarski of the University of Oxford in the UK. He has trawled through records to find evidence of how kissing has changed.

Is kissing something we do naturally?

The oldest evidence of a kissing-type behaviour comes from Hindu Vedic Sanskrit texts from over 3,500 years ago. Kissing was described as inhaling each other’s soul.

In contrast, Egyptian hieroglyphics picture people close to each other rather than pressing their lips together.

So what is going on? Is kissing something we do naturally, but that some cultures have suppressed? Or is it something modern humans have invented?

We can find some insight by looking at animals.

Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, do kiss. Primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has seen many instances of chimps kissing and hugging after conflict.

As far as we know, other animals do not kiss at all

For chimpanzees, kissing is a form of reconciliation. It is more common among males than females. In other words, it is not a romantic behaviour.

Their cousins the bonobos kiss more often, and they often use tongues while doing so. That’s perhaps not surprising, because bonobos are highly sexual beings.

When two humans meet, we might shake hands. Bonobos have sex: the so-called bonobo handshake. They also use sex for many other kinds of bonding. So their kisses are not particularly romantic, either.

These two apes are exceptions. As far as we know, other animals do not kiss at all. They may nuzzle or touch their faces together, but even those that have lips don’t share saliva or purse and smack their lips together. They don’t need to.

Take wild boars. Males produce a pungent smell that females find extremely attractive. The key chemical is a pheromone called androstenone that triggers the females’ desire to mate.

Animals often release these pheromones in their urine

From a female’s point of view this is a good thing, because males with the most androstonene are also the most fertile. Her sense of smell is so acute, she doesn’t need to get close enough to kiss the male.

The same is true of many other mammals. For example, female hamsters emit a pheromone that gets males very excited. Mice follow similar chemical traces to help them find partners that are genetically different, minimising the risk of accidental incest.

Animals often release these pheromones in their urine. “Their urine is much more pungent,” says Wlodarski. “If there’s urine present in the environment they can assess compatibility through that.”

It’s not just mammals that have a great sense of smell. A male black widow spider can smell pheromones produced by a female that tell him if she has recently eaten. To minimise the risk of being eaten, he will only mate with her if she is not hungry.

The point is, animals do not need to get close to each other to smell out a good potential mate.

On the other hand, humans have an atrocious sense of smell, so we benefit from getting close. Smell isn’t the only cue we use to assess each other’s fitness, but studies have shown that it plays an important role in mate choice.

Men also make a version of the pheromone that female boars find attractive

A study published in 1995 showed that women, just like mice, prefer the smell of men who are genetically different from them. This makes sense, as mating with someone with different genes is likely to produce healthy offspring. Kissing is a great way to get close enough to sniff out your partner’s genes.

In 2013, Wlodarski examined kissing preferences in detail. He asked several hundred people what was most important when kissing someone. How they smelled featured highly, and the importance of smell increased when women were most fertile.

It turns out that men also make a version of the pheromone that female boars find attractive. It is present in male sweat, andwhen women are exposed to it their arousal levels increase slightly.

Pheromones are a big part of how mammals chose a mate, says Wlodarski, and we share some of them. “We’ve inherited all of our biology from mammals, we’ve just added extra things through evolutionary time.”

You could forego kissing and start smelling people instead

On that view, kissing is just a culturally acceptable way to get close enough to another person to detect their pheromones.

In some cultures, this sniffing behaviour turned into physical lip contact. It’s hard to pinpoint when this happened, but both serve the same purpose, says Wlodarski.

So if you want to find a perfect match, you could forego kissing and start smelling people instead. You’ll find just as good a partner, and you won’t get half as many germs. Be prepared for some funny looks, though.

The difference between orange and white astronaut suits


Astronauts wear different-coloured suits, depending on the job at hand. This interactive image explains the difference – and what’s hidden inside, such as knives, life-rafts and nappies.

The particular orange suit pictured above is a pressure suit worn by a high-altitude pilot on Earth, not an astronaut. While the design features of the two types of suit are very similar

New Consumer Report guide breaks down the risks from eating 48 conventional fruit and veggies from 14 different countries


More than 85 percent of Americans are concerned about pesticide residue on their fruits and vegetables, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people. However, many people are confused as to what to do about it, which is understandable, because if you aren’t growing your own food yet, buying organic isn’t exactly cheap.

The news about our food is everywhere, making it nearly impossible to avoid these days. But a lot of it is contradictory and can be difficult to decipher if you don’t know the facts. Are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) necessary to feed the world’s growing population, or are they destroying our planet one field at a time?

While the biotech industry would adamantly disagree, the truth is that they aren’t sustainable, and they absolutely have not been proven safe to eat. Controversy continues to surround GMOs and their associated pesticides, and not just because of activists like the Food Babe, but because of emerging research that continues to unveil the harsh consequences of increased pesticide use in the U.S.

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Traces of 29 chemicals detected in the average American’s body, CDC admits

Different foods are sprayed with varying amounts of pesticides. For example, eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than consuming American-grown broccoli, according to Consumer Reports.

Strawberries have been known to carry upwards of 36 different types of pesticides, and 39 were found on raspberries, an important reminder to buy organic berries, as they often carry more chemicals than other fruits.

It’s unsurprising to learn that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body, as admitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It’s not realistic to expect we wouldn’t have any pesticides in our bodies in this day and age, but that would be the ideal,” said Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.D., director of Consumer Reports‘ Food Safety and Sustainability Center. “We just don’t know enough about the health effects.”

All organic produce falls into low- or very-low-risk categories, new assessment finds

Determining which foods are best to buy organic can be daunting; however, all you need is quick access to a few guides that can make grocery shopping easier. Consumer Reports recently released an excellent risk guide that places fruits and vegetables into five risk categories ranging from very low to very high.

Using 12 years of data from the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, and a few other sources, this new tool shows the risk of pesticide exposure from eating 48 conventional fruits and vegetables from 14 different countries.

The risk assessment includes the number of pesticide residues on each food, the frequency at which they were found and the toxicity of the pesticides. Since children are more susceptible to pesticide toxicity, the assessment is based on the risk to a 3 1/2-year-old child, estimated to weigh about 35.2 pounds.

Consumer Reports recommends buying any produce in the medium- to very-high-risk category organic. Different foods grown in different countries have varying risk levels. For example, celery grown in Mexico has a very low risk level, while U.S.-grown celery is listed as having a medium risk.

Cherry tomatoes grown in the U.S have a low risk level, while cherry tomatoes grown in Mexico have a high risk. Cucumbers grown in Canada have a low risk level, while cucumbers grown in Mexico and the U.S. have a high risk level.

On average, the report shows cilantro, grapes, green onions and mushrooms to be low-risk, while peaches, green beans, sweet bell peppers, sweet potatoes and tangerines are considered high- to very-high-risk.

For a complete list of the foods and their risk levels, click here.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/051633_fresh_produce_pesticides_health_risks.html#ixzz3pIGOBLOZ

Could Adrenal Fatigue Be The Cause Of Your Chronic Exhaustion?


Remember when your heart was pounding out of your chest, your palms became sweaty and you felt nauseated before a big exam or speech in school? If anything traumatic has ever happened in your life, do you remember being physically and mentally exhausted in the aftermath? How about dizzy after having the flu or in between meals? All of these examples highlight the adrenal system.

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The adrenals are part of our intricate endocrine system that releases hormones throughout the day, all working together to help our bodies run efficiently. In fact the whole system is a giant feedback loop that is exquisitely controlled. Unfortunately, it can get overwhelmed.

The hypothalamus in the brain stimulates the pituitary which then activates the adrenal cortex to produce hydrocortisone, cortisone, aldosterone and sex hormones like estrogen, or testosterone (although these are mostly produced in the actual sex organs). These regulate metabolism, cardiac function, blood pressure support, inflammation, immune system support and the ability to fight off infections, sexuality, and much more.

For example, one of the most important things that cortisol, released by adrenal cortex, does is to control immunity (IgA) in your gut. Hence, if you’re stressed, the immune response in your gut suffers, increased gut wall permeability occurs and good bacteria gives way to bad bacteria, causing immune dysregulation.

But that’s not all… The adrenal glands also have an adrenal medulla (the inside part of the gland) which is responsible for the famous fight of flight syndrome that occurs when adrenaline or epinephrine/norepinephrine, is released. It is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system and can be quieted by some simple Eastern medicine techniques.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?

Over time, with stresses of continued negative thinking, perfectionism, physical or emotional trauma, anger, grief, a processed diet full of sugar like the Standard American Diet, interrupted sleep patterns, daily stress, and chronic diseases the adrenals become taxed. If the adrenals are constantly stimulated under stress (which served its purposes in evolutionary times if we were being chased by a bear), they become drained like a bank account, and operate at chronic low levels which affect immunity, behavior, sleep, energy, and blood pressure levels.

What Are Some Signs Of Adrenal Fatigue?

Asthma, allergies, respiratory issues
Dark circles under the eyes
Dry skin
Extreme exercise exhaustion
Frequent urination
Joint pain
Loss of muscle tone
Low blood pressure/dizziness
Low blood sugar
Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
Weight gain
Morning fatigue or trouble waking up
Decreased libido
Depression
Muscle weakness
Poor focus
Bone loss
Inflammation
Difficulty sleeping
Irritability/Fatigue
Cravings for sugar/salt
Hair loss

What Else Can You Look For To Identify Adrenal Fatigue?

As mentioned above, the adrenal cortex also produces aldosterone, which works with the kidney to regulate our fluid and electrolyte excretion. When the adrenals become fatigued and drained, less aldosterone is produced and large amounts of important minerals can be lost in our urine. Individuals with depleted endocrine systems often report frequent urination, which is attributed to aging, but may actually be caused by depleted adrenals.

This means that people with chronic adrenal fatigue effectively lose the ability to balance the levels of electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium in their blood. (Just to show how critical this is, remember blood tests are only able to measure 1% of the total stores of magnesium as only 1% is free in the blood. The other 99% is bound by protein and unmeasurable. Most of us are deficient and magnesium has a turn in nearly every physiologic reaction in the body.) In turn, this often leads to cravings for foods which will replace the sodium that we have lost. If you crave salty or sweet, especially late at night, this is a sure sign that the adrenals are stressed as the cortisol levels are reversed. This causes low levels in the morning leading to morning drowsiness combined with abnormal spikes at night that can lead to insomnia.

The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis controls so many functions of daily life that if it is dysregulated, the system will eventually show physical signs that manifest as disease. Unfortunately, one of the main ways it can manifest disease is through the thyroid. Hypothyroidism is more and more common in western countries. High cortisol levels, which occur with chronic stress that continually activates the adrenals, down regulate the thyroid gland. Therefore it is of utmost importance to heal the stress in your life and to follow guidelines to improve adrenal support in order to protect the thyroid and other glandular organs.

Adrenal Support

How do we heal the adrenals? Easier said than done in an overworked, Capitalistic society. Excessive stress is not ideal for overall physical well being.

Here are some tips to keep yourself in a zen state of mind and to down-regulate the stimulation of the adrenals and sympathetic system. It literally does start in your brain!

  1. Eat fermented foods that boost beneficial gut bacteria which equal increased immunity. Examples include kimchi, kombucha, or kefir.
  2. Cut out white refined sugar and artificial sweeteners as well as simple carbs, which continue to stimulate insulin surges and can stress the body.
  3. No caffeine! Zip. Caffeine burns the adrenals out like a champ and leaves you with afternoon exhaustion and cravings for more.
  4. Hydrate yourself liberally. As those with chronic adrenal fatigue urinate more due to less aldosterone production, drink up!
  5. Go to bed before 10, the liver and adrenals work to rid yourself of toxins and housekeep at night. Staying awake and eating during these times can be counterproductive. Get 7-8 hours/night.
  6. Regulate meal times so the body expects food at certain times and knows when to perform and when to relax. Do not eat after 8pm.
  7. Try Ashwaganda formulas, Tulsi or Holy basil, valerian root or kava root for relaxation at night. Many herbal root teas have a calming effect.
  8. To help replace magnesium, try Epsom salt baths, foods with a naturally high magnesium content like nuts. Topical magnesium oil is also beneficial.
  9. B vitamins, Zinc, & vitamin C (highest source of vitamin C being Amla or Indian gooseberry) help support bodily functions and drive synthesis of other essential building blocks.
  10. If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, multiple research studies have shown eating chicken liver, ghee, bone broth and foods high in DHA can also support adrenal health. If you are plant based, there’s plenty of other ways listed above to regulate adrenal health like blue green algae/seaweed.
  11. Daily meditation and Ujjayi breathing helps to stimulate the vagal nerve which can lead to relaxation. To accomplish Ujjayi Pranayama breathing, simply constrict the back of your throat so that the breath has textured sound.
  12. To satisfy salty cravings, try a handful of nuts or use Himalayan sea salt.

For severe adrenal burnout, be patient as healing with these techniques can take nearly a year. The amount of time that damage has been done to our bodies is approximately how long it will take to heal the body.