How much to pay for a cancer cure, how healthy beans may be and how we may soon travel to the moon.

Cure for Cancer: Priceless?
Can you put a price on a human life? Absolutely, say economists from the University of Chicago, and it’s a mere $1.2 million per 30-year increase in a person’s life expectancy—based on how much enjoyment people gain from increased consumption and time. Using their method, the researchers say a cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion in social value.

In an unrelated paper in the April issue of Bioscience, two entomologists estimate the value of all of the services insects provide in one year to be $57 billion. Yes, a year of insect labor is worth nearly 1.5 million years tacked onto your life. Now doesn’t that make you feel special?
(sources: American Institute of Biological Sciences, United Press International)

Coming Soon…
“Early and often” is an advisable technique for voting, testing and ejaculating in the face of male rivals. In a study published in Current Biology, researchers from the University of Liverpool observed how the copulating behaviors of house mice change based on expectation of female promiscuity. They found that when a male sexual rival was present, providing a perceived high risk of female promiscuity, males ejaculated after 50% less stimulation and were nearly twice as likely to ejaculate a second time during copulation. The males thereby tried to make the most of every insemination opportunity and worked toward increasing the number of their own offspring, should the female mate with sexual competitors.
(source: Cell Press)

Bean Me Up, Scotty!
“Beans, beans,” their makers say. “The more you eat, the less you weigh.” A new study evaluating data from the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey finds that adults who eat beans may eat 199 more daily calories but also weigh an average of 6.6 pounds less than non-bean-eaters. Teenage bean-eaters weigh 7.3 pounds less and consume 335 more daily calories than the beanless. Apparently, beans may also lessen the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Is there anything beans can’t do? Magical fruit, indeed! Note about the integrity of the study: The research was sponsored by Bush Brothers & Company, makers of Bush’s Best Baked Beans, Bush’s Best Black Beans, Bush’s Best Great Northern Beans and many other varieties of, you guessed it, beans.
(source: Edelman Public Relations)

Jesus On Ice
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:25-26). Spirit? No no, disciples, not a spirit, but rather ice. Just ice. In a new study that will please neither Christians who believe in Christ’s miracles nor non-Christians, an Florida State University professor of oceanography has posited that when Jesus “walked on water” he was really just walking on a frozen patch of the Sea of Galilee. The scientist, Doron Nof, pointed out that the freshwater sea may have exhibited some odd freezing processes in the last 12,000 years. According to him, during colder stretches between 1,500 and 2,500 years ago, the sea could have had ice deep enough to support a man. Oh well, see you in Hell, Nof.
(source: The New York Times)

George W. Bush: Girly Man
Bush may walk the walk, but can he talk the talk? Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin analyzed 271 transcripts of interviews, conferences and debates given by the four 2004 presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They ran over 400,000 words through a text analysis program and found that John Edwards and George W. Bush were the two most likely to use feminine speech patterns and “female” words. No surprise here that Dick Cheney sounded the manliest. Cheney also sounded the smartest and, surprisingly, the most honest of the four. Kerry sounded the least honest and most depressed. In addition to sounding feminine, Bush also sounded old and presidential, relative to his opponent. Presidential, huh? What state is the university who did this research in?
(source: The Washington Post)

Shoot the Moon
There’s not much to say here, except, “Huh?” Two University of Glasgow scientists have received a grant to study the mathematical possibility of using massive cables—up to 250,000 kilometers in length—to slingshot supplies to the moon. The scientists think this could be a far cheaper and more energy efficient means of lunar transportation, even if the technology is decades away.
(source: Scotsman)

Gin Blossoms
Alcohol has been known to make a human or two tip over, but it has the opposite effect on plants. According to Cornell University horticulturist William Miller, diluted alcohol can stunt the growth of a plant’s leaves and stems but will not affect its blossoms. Miller suggests that this might be a practical way of keeping houseplants from tipping over. He tested alcohol on the paperwhite narcissus and found that solutions comprised of 4% to 6% alcohol effectively stunted the plant’s growth without harming it further. Bear in mind, the plants have somewhat specific taste: Wine and beer killed the plants, possibly due to a high sugar content, but gin, whiskey, vodka and tequila all suited the paperwhites’ just fine—with or without a chaser.
(source: Associated Press)

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Originally published April 10, 2006


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