One day we will travel to a beer planet

When scientists make a discovery, they can name that thing pretty much whatever they want. There don’t seem to be any real naming rules for stuff, and that’s how we end up with spiders being named for a hat in Harry Potter. Fortunately, a lot of researchers out there like booze.

A group of researchers at Belgium’s University of Liege are big fans of Trappist beers, so much so that they named a planetary system after them. TRAPPIST-1 is a short 40 light-years away, and has seven Earth-size planets, and three of them could even support life. And now, each of the planets bears the name of a Trappist brewery, such as Chimay, Westmalle and Spencer.

Trappist beers come from monasteries that brew their own beer as a means of financially supporting themselves. They have a certification and everything. It makes sense that a bunch of dudes hanging out for the rest of their lives would figure out how to make beer on the side.

Unfortunately, this means that it’s inevitable that some American scientist will discover the planet Budweiser.

Stephen Hawking wants a world government to fight robots

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has warned us repeatedly that mankind will probably make robots smart enough that they will overthrow us. But it always comes off as a threat. Now we know why he’s been pushing this agenda.

According to Hawking, unless there is a more concerted, worldwide effort to avoid the rise of the machines, we are likely to fail. And that’s why we need a world government, he said, noting that such a thing could lead to tyranny. So it’s a damned-if you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scenario.

The good news is that there is no secret world government already in existence, otherwise Hawking would definitely be part of it.

You’re not who you were, science says

Ever wonder why people you haven’t talked to since high school seem so different on Facebook now? If you think those people changed, science says you’re right.

According to a personality study in the U.K., pretty much everyone changes over time. In 1947, researchers conducted personality tests on a bunch of 14-year-olds, grading them on self-confidence, perseverance, stability of moods, conscientiousness, originality, and desire to excel. Then a new team caught up with those same subjects 63 years later and found that basically none of them kept the same levels of those six traits as they did all those years ago.

Science just suggested that Batman wouldn’t be Batman because he would have gotten over it. Thanks for ruining our fun, science.

Study: Cats not making crazy cat ladies crazy

Cats have long held us under their spell, and science has done a lot of important work trying to explain why. In recent years, researchers have linked a parasite from our feline friends to slowed reaction times and mental illness. And now none of that may actually be true.

According to researchers in the U.K., studies that have linked the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are flawed because they had a small sample size, or failed to account for other factors where exposure to the parasite was caused by having a cat in the house. Basically, they’re not saying cats do make you crazy via parasite, they just don’t have enough information to definitively say that having a cat increases your odds of exposure to T. gondii.

That sounds suspiciously like what a scientist whose brain is under the control of cats would conclude.

Woolly mammoth will return by 2019, researcher says

For years, science has been threatening us with unleashing one of our long-vanquished foes, the woolly mammoth. And luckily for humanity, it hasn’t happened yet, but it’ll be a reality by 2019.

At a conference this week, the leader of a team of  Harvard University researchers boasted that his people are just a couple years away from having a de-extinctified woolly mammoth. Much like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the mammoth wouldn’t be 100% original parts, some of the genes would have to come from a similar creature. That creature in this case is an Asian elephant. So the thing that they make will actually be a hybrid.

We killed all the woolly mammoths thousands of years ago, and we’re pretty close to finishing off the elephant population. We need to step it up to ensure this abomination is never made.

Science: Booze is booze is booze

If you see a difference between these drinks, you’re biased.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and whether that means you’re drinking wine with your lover, or pounding cheap whiskey mixed with tears because you’re alone, your body treats it all the same.

According to researchers, your body can’t tell the difference between the alcohol in one drink from another. Which means if tequila makes your clothes fall off, the same amount of alcohol from hard cider will, too. The real factor is how much alcohol is in your drink, and how much alcohol is going into your system.

So don’t worry about buying the good stuff. Once it’s past your tongue, your body doesn’t know if it’s rotgut or septuple-distilled vodka.

 

Scientists, Imogen Heap design baby mind control

Babies are sociopaths. They are concerned with nothing but their own needs and desires, and they will emotionally manipulate adults any way they can to get what they want. But what if we could manipulate them right back? Science finally has the answer.

Researchers teamed up with Grammy winner Imogen Heap to create a song that would absolutely make babies smile or laugh. From previous work, the scientists knew that babies preferred uptempo music, and a female singer, because babies are sexist. Heap recorded a few different melodies and a test group of babies clearly preferred one of them. The next step was adding the right words. This meant including words with plosive sounds (made by B’s, P’s, etc.) because that’s what the kids are into these days.

The end result got an overwhelmingly positive response from the test babies. We have now created a song that will make them laugh — or did they trick us into making music they like?

Listen if you don’t mind songs stuck in your head.

Museum displays body of animal that tried to kill us all

Just before Thanksgiving last year, the animals tried to end the world. Perhaps you hadn’t heard about that.

On Nov. 20, 2016, the Large Hadron Collider was under attack. Authorities say that a weasel-like animal called a marten climbed over a fence protecting the enormous particle accelerator. It was a suicide mission, an attempt to sabotage the LHC and hopefully blow up the Earth. The marten touched a transformer and was instantly killed as 18,000 volts coursed through its body. Luckily, the LHC didn’t blow up.

Why is this news now? Because the marten’s charred remains are now on display in the Netherlands at the Museum of Natural History Rotterdam. Make sure to stop by if you’re in town.

You Missed It: Canberra calling edition

A diplomatic incident with Australia? ‘Simpsons’ did it!

I’m not a Trump supporter, but I think I know what it’s like to be one. After all, I’m a New England Patriots fan. I know what it’s like to be part of a group that has clearly had the rules systematically bent in their favor, only to develop a persecution complex when things don’t go our way once or twice. Also, I’ve talked myself into believing that the leader of my team doesn’t really mean it when he supports questionable political ideas. Most of the country hates us, but we win anyway. No wonder Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are friends with this Trump guy. If you were busy this week taking weird photos to announce that you are pregnant with twins, odds are you missed it.

Trump vs. Australia
This week, President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a phone conversation, and it did not go well. At one point, Trump criticized a refugee agreement between the U.S. and Australia, and eventually he hung up on Malcolm. Sen. John McCain called Australia Ambassador Joe Hockey (who should really be the Canadian ambassador) to smooth things over between the two countries. I don’t know if the good-cop-bad-cop routine has ever been used in international diplomacy, this should be interesting.

Attention whore gets attention in attention-grabbing move
In the most predictable news story of the week, alt-right white nationalist darling Milo Yiannopoulos was forced to cancel his speaking engagement at Berkeley due to student protests. Yiannopoulos and his supporters criticized the violence conducted by some demonstrators, including a big fire, but really, they were just upset they couldn’t throw books into it.

Don’t eat fast food packaging
And finally, scientists revealed this week that chemicals used to block grease in fast food containers are leeching into our burgers, fries and burritos. Great plan, guys, telling Americans that fast food is bad for them hasn’t worked so far, but why not try it again?

You Missed It: No alternative edition

I may post this every week.

Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader who probably only watches the first half of American History X, got punched in the face at an anti-fascist protest last week. This set off a debate over whether it is OK to hit a Nazi. But that’s not really the important question. To me, it’s like videos were guys get hit in the nuts. I believe that guys have a right not to get hit in the nuts, but that doesn’t mean I don’t laugh or watch it on repeat when it happens. If you were busy winning the AFC championship this week, odds are you missed it.

Going off the path
The Trump administration banned huge swaths of the federal government from sharing scientific data this week. This lead to the Badlands National Park’s Twitter account to go rogue, tweeting out scientific facts that support that climate change is real and humans are the leading cause of it. We should have known that the rebellion would start with those rugged, high-socked trail guides who know how to live off the land.

Say, what’s science up to?
It was announced this week that scientists successfully grew pig embryos that contained human stem cells. You fools, now we’re just a step away from creating ManBearPig!

The horror, the horror
Francis Ford Coppola announced this week that he was launching a Kickstarter campaign to create a video game based on his classic Apocalypse Now. For this one, I’m going to go lightning round. Ready? I wanted a video game, and for my sins the gave me one. In one level you are forced to choose between surfing and fighting. You understand, the game does not exist, it will never exist. In the virtual reality versions of the game, you will be able to smell napalm, morning, noon or night.