Identifying fake Jackson Pollocks, rallying around a radish and wheezing in Scranton.

Pollocks? Bollocks!
After centuries of selfishly spoiling our faith in paintings—suggesting that man didn’t originate in the Garden of Eden, sea storms aren’t caused by Poseidon and Jesus wasn’t white—scientists have done it again. A physicist claims six small paintings believed to be created by Jackson Pollock are not the work of Jack the Dripper. Alex Matter, son of photographer Herbert Matter and painter Mercedes Matter, both friends of Pollock, found the paintings among his parents’ belongings. University of Oregon physicist Richard P. Taylor analyzed the patterns in the found art and compared them to fractals he’d previously found in 14 indisputably authentic Pollocks. According to a report in Nature, none of them contained patterns similar to the geometry of real Pollacks. Oh, snap! The findings don’t conclusively prove that the paintings are inauthentic, but museums probably won’t be trying quite so hard to get their hands on them now.
(sources: New York Times, Nature)

Japan Rallies Around Decapitated Giant Radish
It takes a village to raise a radish, especially if they’re trying to raise a radish from the dead. Last summer, residents of the Japanese town of Aoi noticed a giant daikon radish pushing its way through the pavement, working for its right to grow. This Navy Seal of radishes was dubbed Dokonjo Daikon or “the radish with a fighting spirit.” One dark night, however, a murderous vandal lopped off the top of Dokonjo Daikon. Some of the townspeople packed the top in a cool box and transported it to an agricultural research center, where scientists said the prospects looked grim. The radish will never become whole again, but the town is now trying to regenerate the radish via its seeds or DNA. The whole country has shown its sympathy through an outpouring of condolences to the town and support for the radish regeneration efforts. Who knew a whole country could care so much about a vegetable? Oh, that one’s just too easy…
(source: BBC)

Going Deutsch
How the mighty have fallen. Just weeks ago, 24-year-old NASA press officer, George C. Deutsch, a White House appointee, was censoring scientists left and right, demanding that the word “theory” accompany any mention of the Big Bang in public affairs materials and trying to bar reporters from speaking with top climate scientist James Hansen. But what took down this not-so-beloved 2003 Texas A&M grad was his status as an even-less-beloved 2003 Texas A&M dropout. After blogger Nick Anthis unearthed the truth about Deutsch on Monday, and the school confirmed that he had never graduated, Deutsch resigned his post. Deutsch’s boss said that under NASA policy he could not give a reason for the resignation. I think we have a pretty good idea. Take that, science hater.
(source: New York Times)

Pantin’ in Scranton
If you have asthma and you live in Scranton, PA, get out now. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has named the northeastern town the worst city in America for people who have asthma. The organization weighed pollution, ozone levels, pollen counts, public smoking bans and a host of other factors when making its list of the 100 worst US cities for asthma sufferers.  Richmond, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Milwaukee rounded out the top five. Washington came in at 27, Dallas was 50th, New York was 58th, Boston was 70th and San Francisco was 91st.
(source: WebMD)

Alternative Energy: Holy Ghost Power
A group of Christian evangelical leaders has officially announced that fighting global warming is the Christian thing to do. “Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors,” wrote the 86 signers of the statement, who include the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of church aid groups and pastors of mega-churches. The statement calls for federal legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through “cost-effective, market-based mechanisms.” Some prominent evangelical leaders, however, have opposed the initiative— 22 of them signed a letter in January saying, “Global warming is not a consensus issue.”
(source: New York Times)

Hot & Crusty
University of Michigan Health System sex therapist Sallie Foley has a Valentine’s Day message for seniors: Get some. Foley believes that people shouldn’t give up on sexual relationships just because they’re aging. While hormones do change, and sexual response may not be what it was at age 15, the seniors among us can adapt to their changing bodies and cultivate a fulfilling sex life. The easiest adaptation Foley endorses is the use of erectile dysfunction drugs for men who start to sag with age. She also suggests couples move beyond body image as a focus of sex and instead concentrate on love and pleasure. “People often need to be reassured when they’re snuggling and canoodling together that body image really is not a problem,” she said. The sentiment is lovely, but perhaps Foley should be informed that the use of the words “snuggling” and “canoodling” to describe sex is a problem. Her advisees much prefer “making whoopee.”
(source: University of Michigan Health System)

Don’t Cover Your Tracks
Like most of my fellow New Yorkers, I like to watch the subway come into a station, red and white lights reflecting off of the tiles before I can even see the train itself. However, I’m secretly terrified that a madman, or perhaps a teenager, will sneak up behind me and shove me onto the tracks. According to a new NYU School of Medicine study, three-quarters of New York’s daily subway riders are also afraid of being pushed into the path of a train. Luckily, the NYU study concludes that the chances of this happening are extremely small. In fact, of the 208 major subway-related injuries and deaths treated at Bellevue Hospital Center between 1990 and 2003, the majority were people who lived in the tunnels, generally middle-aged, unemployed men often suffering from mental illness. The authors noted that subway injuries increased when the economy was bad and said this trend might help in preventing future accidents.
(source: Los Angeles Times)

Spin the Bottle is Deadly
When incidents of meningitis rose sharply in the ‘90s, researchers were baffled by what caused the spike in England and the US. In the most recent edition of the British Medical Journal, the horrifying truth came out: Teenagers are making-out in droves. Researchers analyzed potential risk factors in 15 to 19-year-olds who had been admitted to the hospital with meningococcal disease. They found that “intimate kissing” with multiple partners quadrupled a teen’s risk of meningitis. Also, a history of preceding illness and being a student both increased a teen’s risk of infection. Unsurprisingly, vaccination was associated with a low risk, as was recent attendance at a religious event.
(source: British Medical Journal)

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Originally published February 13, 2006


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