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10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week

Storing books in DNA, cleaning useless information out of your brain, and more.

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We don’t know if it’s the biggest news because he’s got his hands over his crotch but one of the most sensational news items of this week was  Prince Harry’s naked heinie ; the other was Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s idiotic statement about “legitimate rape.”

Sigh. Well, as Senator Mark Lunsford Pryor (D) famously told Bill Maher, “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate,” and the same is evidently true of the House. However embarrassed the Brits might be over Harry’s happy snaps, better a naked ass than just an ass. 

1. Mars? They’re up for that

We’ll come back to that later because frankly there’s only so much political idiocy I can take before I start making plans to move to Mars. (If you’re going to be in a place with no intelligent life anyway, why not one that’s less crowded?)

Sadly, we can’t go there yet but one family is doing its best to mimic life on the red planet -- they’ve switched to Mars time. David Oh is the Mars Rover’s flight director and since he has to be on Martian time his whole family, including wife and kids, decided to join him in the adventure, reports the AP’s Alicia Chang .

The days on Mars are called “sols” and are 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than ours. That might sound great to the time-starved, but it accumulates. Add 40-ish minutes a day to your schedule and within a week you're about four hours off your normal time scale, which is forever sliding. Many of the 800 people on the project have compared it to a feeling of “perpetual jet lag.” 

2. Marriage drives women to drink

My friend Dennis once gave me a perfect piece of advice about jet lag and the stress caused by transferring time zones and other elements of traveling. Every day at 3pm, he said, you stop and have a beer. Then the trip stress won’t actually ruin the trip.

It often works even when I’m not traveling.

People reach for the bottle for a lot of reasons and married women reach for it more frequently than single women, which shocks me a bit because I’ve known single women who can make Hunter S. Thompson look like Carrie Nation. 

Nontheless, John Bingham, writing in the London Daily Telegraph , reports on findings that while men tend to drink “significantly more” than women, married men drink less than their single or divorced contemporaries and married women drink more. A team of sociologists reviewed a long-running study of thousands of Wisconsinites and also “ a separate set of 120 interviews with married, divorced, widowed and single people about their lifestyles.” 

“They concluded that getting married or divorced had a 'dynamic relationship' on drinking habits, but in very different ways for men and women.”

The researchers found that essentially women pick up men’s drinking habits when they marry them and drop them again after a divorce, whereas divorced men hit the bottle harder: “the biggest difference in drinking levels were between men who were happily married and those who were recently divorced,” Bingham writes, “suggesting that they turned to alcohol during their marital breakup.”

Bingham concludes that another study "found last year that married people were generally more content with their lives.”

Well, sure. The chicks are hammered

3. In his bones

If there was one person in this world who could have used a drink it was Joseph Merrick, also known as the Elephant Man. Next time you think you’ve got a problem like not being able to afford an iPad or having to resist the chocolate cheesecake, think of this guy. He had problems.  What exactly caused Merrick’s disfigurement is unclear; at first it was “ Elephantiasis, a parasitic infection characterized by the thickening and enlargement of skin and tissue, hence his nickname,” writes Paul Bignell of the Independent ; in 2001 Proteus syndrome -- "a congenital disorder that causes skin overgrowth and abnormal bone development” was diagnosed by some scientists and dismissed by others. 

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