New & Notable: 1/06 - 1/12

/ by Edit Staff /

Gruesome prehistoric deaths, glow-in-the-dark pigs, bad news for a cryogenically frozen couple, and an unconventional public safety measure in Colombia.

Sweet Wounded Jesus, It’s a Glow-In-The-Dark Taiwanese Jellyfish-Pig
Scientists in Taiwan have bred three little piggies that glow green under dark-blue light. The pigs were created when researchers added genetic material from jellyfish to otherwise normal pig embryos. Of the 256 embryos implanted in eight sows, three successfully developed into the robust transgenic glowing mutant pigs they are today. In daylight, the pigs’ eyes and skin emit a pale green color, not unlike glow-in-the-dark stickers. But the hue isn’t just skin deep—all of the pigs’ internal organs are green. The researchers say they will use the pigs to study human disease; the green genetic material is easy to spot and is, therefore a useful tool.  Some pig, indeed.
(source: BBC)

Do NOT Let The Eagle Soar Like She’s Ever Soared Before
Just as we were getting all warm and cozy on top of the food chain, a blow from above has knocked us down a notch. Scientists have announced that “Taung Child,” a two-million-year-old hominid whose skull was found in 1924, was killed and eaten by an eagle. The child, who probably died at age three, was likely scooped up by an eagle, taken to the eagle’s nest, and killed when the eagle ripped out its eyes and ate them. Researchers say the marks on the Taung Child’s skull are more characteristic of eagle damage than of marks left by large cats. The scientists say our sordid past as bird feed may have contributed to the evolution of several of our more prominent traits, including walking upright, which makes us a smaller target for aerial attack.
(source: Reuters)

Seeds of Disaster
If nuclear bombs blast every continent on the planet, human life may be gone, but our crops will remain. Norway is planning to build a “doomsday vault” to preserve all of the world’s known crop seeds. The seed bank will be built into a sandstone mountain near the North Pole, and protected by permafrost, meter-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high-security blast-proof doors. It is designed to withstand both natural disasters and a nuclear holocaust. It also sounds like it will withstand survivors’ attempts to access the seeds. Hopefully the Scandinavians will work that one out before an asteroid hits.
(source: BBC)

Warning: Contents May Be Hot
A cup of joe makes females randy, says a new study. The subjects may not have been the kind of girls you can bring home to mom and dad—the study was performed on female rats—but the effects are applicable to humans: Rats who took in a moderate dose of caffeine returned to their mates for sex more quickly than those who didn’t. But don’t get too, um, excited just yet: The researchers say loading up on caffeine will probably only increase sex drive in people or animals who are not habitual users. (source: LiveScience)

Boozin’...On A Monday Afternoon
Consider seven people in your office; statistically, one of them probably works under the influence of alcohol. A new study shows that 15% of American workers are directly affected by workplace alcohol use or by impairment caused by outside alcohol use. According to the study, you’re more likely to work under the influence or with a hangover if you’re young, male and single, or if you work in sales, management, arts, entertainment, sports or the media. This isn’t to say most people come to work drunk—only 1.7% of the workforce (2.1 million people) has worked under the influence. But 7.1% of the workforce has consumed alcohol at least once during the workday and 9.2% of workers have worked with a hangover.
(source: University at Buffalo)

Rule #1: Don’t Be A Terrorist
As Sir Richard Branson continues to develop space-tourism airline Virgin Galactic, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided to lay out a few space-specific safety regulations. Space tourists will have to pass the same rigorous security checks that all airline passengers go through. The FAA also suggested that tourism companies don’t allow anyone on the global “no-fly” list to take a ride into space. (source: BBC)

Condom or Condemnation
Comprehensive sex education is undeniably important, but a Colombian town may be taking it one step too far. Tuluá town councilman William Peña told newspaper El Tiempo that young men over age 14 should carry condoms, equating it to requiring citizens to carry an ID card. Teenage boys found without condoms would be hit with a $180 fine or be sentenced to take a three-hour course in AIDS prevention. The Catholic Church is, somewhat predictably, not thrilled with the measure, saying it will encourage extra-marital sexual relations. Peña, however, seems pretty proud of his idea.
(sources: AP, Reuters)

The Tragic Tale of Clonycavan Man and Oldcroghan Man
Researchers have discovered the remains of two bizarre prehistoric characters in an Irish bog. One, whom they named Oldcroghan Man, has the tallest Iron Age body ever found, standing at a still-impressive six feet, six inches. He was, based on the wounds to his chest, stabbed to death. An injury on his arm told the researchers that Oldcroghan Man attempted to defend himself, but was unable to stop his attackers, who decapitated him and cut his body in half. Clonycavan Man, the other dead Irishman, stood at a mere five feet two inches. This foppish fellow apparently used a resin imported from France as a precursor to hair gel and wore a headdress in order to appear of higher stature. The researchers believe he was a wealthy member of prehistoric Irish society. Clonycavan Man suffered a fate similar to that of his traveling companion: His head was split open with an axe, and his body was disemboweled.
(source: Reuters)

Man On Thin Ice, Parents On No Ice
France’s top court has ordered a man to thaw his cryogenically-frozen dead parents, saying the bodies must be cremated or buried. The man’s parents were big fans of cryogenics and had hoped to be revived in the future, when technology had improved. But the judge declared that ice-pop and -mom are a public health concern. While dad passed relatively recently—he kicked it in 2002—Mom died in 1984 and has been frozen, in the family cellar, ever since. The family financed her storage by charging visitors to view it.
(source: BBC)

Go, Gadget, Go!
Modern medicine can solve hard problems…along with some problems that are less-than-hard. A new study shows that 89% of men with penile implants are able to have sex, and 81% are happy with how their penises ended up. Doctors shouldn’t get too cocky, though: Almost a quarter of the men in the study experienced post-operative complications, including superficial wound infections and urinary retention. When it came to satisfaction with the actual operation, the jury was hung: Around 70% said they were satisfied. Most of the dissatisfied customers had the prosthesis removed because of infection or mechanical failure. For the majority, however, the implants rose to the occasion.
(source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

Originally published January 13, 2006

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