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10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week

Are we on the verge of a vaccine for cocaine addiction and Facebook for animals?

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Anyway, the point is we still need help reducing because the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and other body parts, literally. We weigh so much it amounts to having extra people on the planet.

LiveScience’s Wynne Parry reports that scientists took the collective weight of the world population and found it to be 316 million tons, 17 million of which is excess weight which amounts to “an extra 242 million people of average body mass on the planet.”  A BBC story by Matt McGrath shows a chart of the heaviest and lightest countries -- the U.S. tops the obesity and overweight charts, followed by Russia and Egypt.

Extra weight is equivalent to extra people because more body mass takes more energy, “therefore,” Parry writes  “as someone's weight goes up, so do the calories they need to exist.” 

“It’s not how many mouths there are to feed. It’s how much flesh there is on the planet,” Professor Ian Roberts, one of the study researchers of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the BBC.

What it sounds like, in my unscientific parlance, is that if you consume enough for two people you might as well be two people, at least in terms of resources. 

"We often point the finger at poor women in Africa having too many babies," says Roberts. "But we've also got to think of this fatness thing; it's part of the same issue of exceeding our planetary limits.”

Point taken...followed by brisk walk and aerobics class.

Actually, Roberts says, playing the blame game doesn’t help.

"One of the problems with definitions of obesity is that it fosters a 'them and us' ideal. Actually, we're all getting fatter." 

Nice of him to say, but Parry reports that, “ North America has 6 percent of the world population but 34 percent of biomass due to obesity. Meanwhile, Asia has 61 percent of the world population but just 13 percent of biomass due to obesity.” Roberts points to Japan as an example of the fact that you can be “lean without being really poor.” In other words being able to consume too much doesn’t mean we have to. 

5. Disney goes universal

Of course you could always do that grade-school thing of saying what weight you’d be if the gravity was reduced instead of your Cakester intake. (“I weigh 34 pounds…on the moon!”) Go to Mercury, for example, and not only will you be at your ideal pixie weight but you’ll get to see a cluster of craters that looks remarkably like Mickey Mouse. 

“Forget Pluto, Mickey Mouse lives on Mercury,” says Space.com of the craters, seen here as photographed by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft. Mickey’s head is about 65 miles wide; later impacts made the “ears.” 

Theory: the same aliens that made the Nazca lines also made the Mickey head. They went to the zoo and then to Disney World, forgot their camera and just drew pictures instead. 

After all, if you’re going to travel you’re going to want to immortalize your vacation somehow and those aliens must have come really far. Except for Earth you could end up traveling all the way to Titan, one of dozens of moons of Saturn , to find the possibility of life.

Maggie McGee writes in Nature that Titan is the only “solid object” that circulates liquids in this cycle like earth -- there are numerous lakes and rivers of methane at its polar regions that act like water does on our planet. They evaporate and become atmosphere and then fall as liquid. Now it appears there are “oases” of hydrocarbon lakes under the surface of it in its dry region which might be a “crucible for life” on the cold, distant moon.  

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