Category: It Must Be Science!

| Filed under It Must Be Science!, Nostalgia Craze Gone Too Far

Extinct plant perfume: Smells like nostalgia

For the last couple centuries, humanity has been kicking ass in the War on Plants. But some perfume makers want to bring some of those long-extinct species back–at least their scents.

Ginkgo Bioworks is going to make a whole new slew of scents from plants that have gone extinct in the last 2oo years or so. Researchers plan to take DNA from extinct plants and splice them into yeast to create produce the essence of the plants’ flowers. Of course, no one living can actually verify what these plants smelled like, so it’s very possible they’re just going to charge you for a bottle of scientist farts.

It’s sort of like Jurassic Park, only stuff is only a couple hundred years old and none of it will kill you, unless chaos theory is right again.

| Filed under Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, Scurry '16

In democracy, machines count for something

Letting machines take over our elections means that people who protest the results will look less crazy and more like John Connor.
Letting machines take over our elections means that people who protest the results will look less crazy and more like John Connor.

Good news, everyone, about the recount in Wisconsin! … No, not that. He probably still won. But! The recount should prove that, when (not “if”) the machines take over, they’re even better at democracy than we are. So, the singularity shouldn’t be a totalitarian dictatorship!

For all the worries about human error in vote counting and machines screwing up, four election experts believe that the Wisconsin recount will prove two things: (1) we’re better at counting votes than we think, and (2) machines are better than us at it and, therefore democracy.

Previous recounts show a 0.28 percent discrepancy in hand-counted votes, while computer-counted votes only had a 0.17 percent discrepancy. And even when the machines screw up, it’s mostly when a human factor interrupts the computer process, like a human logging computer counts incorrectly on a pen and ink form.

So, if we really want a more representative government, then perhaps it’s time to throw out the factor that keeps (minutely) screwing it up: humans.

| Filed under It Must Be Science!, Sex Sells

Astronaut blindness explained, hairy palms still mystery

NASA ruled out masturbation after removing the bathroom door did not affect vision impairment rates.
NASA ruled out masturbation after removing the bathroom door did not reduce vision impairment rates.

It’s not exactly well advertised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on LinkedIn, but extended stays on the International Space Station — or in micro-gravity in general — may irreparably damage your vision. Two-thirds of astronauts spending six months or longer on the ISS now suffer from permanently blurry vision. Unsurprisingly, this “blindness” is fluid-related; surprisingly, it’s from brain fluids, not … idle hands.

We already know that fluid behaves differently in zero-G. What we didn’t realize is that, given enough time, the cerebrospinal fluid in the skull’s brain cavity flows willy-nilly and can eventually press on the backs of the eyeballs enough that they flatten a bit. And changing the shape of the eye even a little is enough to impair the ability to focus.

At the moment, NASA has no plan to prevent this as there’s no way to control where fluid flows within the skull. The only current possibilities are either shorter stays or inventing artificial gravity — which introduces its own problem:

Nobody installed seatbelts onboard the ISS.
Nobody installed seat belts onboard the ISS.
| Filed under Headline of the Day, It Must Be Science!

To boldly go where no one has gone before

We're proposing the twenty-turd century solution: beaming it directly from the colon and bladder into President-elect Trump's gold toilet.
We’re proposing the twenty-turd century solution: beaming it directly from the colon and bladder into President-elect Trump’s gold toilet.

The history of human space exploration is a saga of ingenuity, of smart men and women solving problems based on a limited understanding of the unknown with only a handful of observations and a lot of math. And yet, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was forced to admit that it still hasn’t potty trained your average spacewalker. That, when we send our best and brightest up into the yonder to reach out and touch the face of god, it’s often with a fully loaded adult diaper.

So, if you can think of a better way to either store or dispose of 2.5 ounces of sh*t and a liter of piss every day for 6 days, then you clearly have the right stuff. It must work in an airtight escape suit, work hands-free and not sacrifice the astronaut’s air supply — either the actual air they breathe or Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” that plays on a constant loop in every space helmet.

Part of the issue is that NASA has been holding this problem in for way too long, and  they’re getting ready to take a very long trip to Mars. Diapers have worked for now in low Earth orbit, mostly because home and a new pair of pants has always been less than a day away. But, the further away you get, the longer astronauts may have to spend in spacesuits should, say, life support go offline.

NASA will give the winner up to (no sh*t) turdy-thousand dollars for their design. There’s apparently no prize for number two, though.

| Filed under Booze News, It Must Be Science!

Weekend science: Drink before you smoke

Everyone knows that smoking is bad. Many people know that drinking and smoking is fun, but we now know that drinking when smoking can be good for you.

According to a published scientific study that has no chance of ever being pulled or refuted, if you drink a couple glasses of red wine before lighting up, you may block some of the damage from tobacco smoking. Turns out, red wine’s benefits on your cardiovascular system can block the short-term negative effects that cigarette in your hand will have on your arteries.

So smoke ’em if you got ’em, but knock a couple back first. We may be enablers, but we don’t want you to die.

| Filed under It Must Be Science!

Blood of children gives old mice a new life

The old want to be young again, and now, science might just let them. All they need is the blood of children.

Scientists have found that blood plasma from younger humans can make older mice reinvigorated. They injected plasma from teenagers into 12-month-old mice, which are 50 in mouse years, and found the old mice were as energetic and had as sharp memories as mice only 3 months old.

So there you have it. Now it’s only a matter of time before they do human trials. And then we have vampires.

| Filed under Booze News, It Must Be Science!

Drink to heart health

Not that you needed another reason to drink, but here’s another study that said it’s good for you.

According to a Penn State study of 80,000 adults, a beer a day could keep the cardiologist away. Men who had one to two drinks a day, and women who had one daily, generally had a slower natural decline in “good” cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein. That means a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. Researchers noted that the benefits of drinking different forms of alcohol each had benefits, but beer was the best.

These benefits didn’t apply to drinking higher amounts of alcohol, but you’ve stopped reading by now anyway.

| Filed under It Must Be Science!, War on Animals

Researchers tickle rats for all their science secrets

Whether everyone agrees with the ethics of it or not, scientists have long turned their instruments on rats. They are close to human in basic physiology, their quick lifespans make it easier to study effects across multiple generations and, like grad students, they work for pizza.

But, what if all of our drugs and beakers aren’t getting answers out of rats fast enough? What if they’re learning to hold out on that sweet, sweet science data?

And that’s when we start tickling them.

"Unleash the knowledge! Unleash it!"
“Unleash the knowledge! Unleash it!”

In other news: science has a surplus of rat urine, now.

| Filed under It Must Be Science!

You are pooping the future of energy

You know how people say oil is a problem for the environment, and how we’re going to run out of it eventually? What if we didn’t have to run out of it, and didn’t care about the Earth? The future is almost here.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have come up with a process that can convert the human waste sewage into oil. Hydrothermal liquefaction breaks down organic matter, by subjecting it to intense pressure and high heat to make what is basically petroleum. Scientists say this can safely be refined into the fossil fuels we all know and love.

Who needs Mr. Fusion?

| Filed under It Must Be Science!

Newest weapon: Bomb-sniffing spinach

In the not-too-distant future spinach will contact you on your smartphone, and it will have terrifying news.

Researchers at MIT have given spinach plants the ability to detect chemicals often found in landmines and other explosives, because fighting terrorism can never get too creative. According to their published work, the scientists implanted spinach plants with nanotubes (science-speak for “small tubes”). When water was sucked into the plant by its roots, that water eventually made its way into the leaves where the nanotubes were implanted. If the water contains chemicals found in mines or bombs, those nanotubes emit a near-infrared light that can be seen by smartphone cameras.

Clearly, spinach has more wartime uses than bulking up our sailors.