China and Taiwan come together, penicillin's got nothing on wallaby milk and even ugly ducklings get lucky eventually.

Hot-Headed Decisions
Justice will never be blind until men are, too. A new study out of Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven shows that but a glimpse of a sexy woman can ruin a man’s ability to make rational decisions. The researchers split 44 young men into pairs and had them play a financial game. In each pair, one of the men looked at images of foxy ladies or rated how much they liked different kinds of lingerie, while the other man did not. The researchers concluded that the men who were exposed to sexual cues were more likely to accept unfair play than their partners. The researchers also determined the men’s prenatal testosterone levels by measuring the ratio of the index finger to the ring finger—lower ratios mean more testosterone. The more testosterone-fueled a man was, the worse he faired on the financial game after looking at the stimuli. Arguably, this result confirms that men most likely to be in power are also the ones most likely to be influenced by the fairer sex.
(source: the Guardian)


China Where?
China and Taiwan are playing the least exciting game of chicken ever. Due to shifts in tectonic plates, the Taiwain Strait is shrinking and China and Taiwan are heading directly toward each other at the glacial pace of eight centimeters per year. While plate interactions may change, if the current pace holds, China and Taiwan could be one landmass within just a few million years. In an effort to better understand the geophysical structure of Taiwan, scientists are launching a rare cross-strait operation to create a detailed three-dimensional model of the landscape. But just because the Chinese and Taiwanese are banding together for the sake of science, don’t expect them to be all buddy-buddy. When asked if the island and mainland will one day reunify politically as well as physically, Taiwanese geoscientist Chao-Shing Lee laughed and said, “If the Chinese can be that patient.” Zing!
(source: the New York Times)

Rocko’s Modern Life-Saving Drug
Test your survival skills: If you were suddenly stricken with E. Coli, would you A) chug some penicillin or B) rip a newborn wallaby from its mother’s pouch and greedily suck the milk from mommy’s lactating teat? If you chose B, you’ve correctly picked the more effective drug. Ben Cocks of the Victoria Department of Primary Industries in Melbourne, Australia, has found that a chemical in wallaby milk is 100 times as effective in fighting E. coli as penicillin. The molecule, AGG01, can fight four types of bacteria and one type of fungus. Scientists suspect that placental mammals lost the ability to express this molecule in their milk when they split from marsupials. Wallabies, who are born with a heart but without lungs, rely on their mothers’ milk for all of their nutritional and immunological needs. Perhaps it’s time to put the wallaby down on our “species to exploit” list.
(source: New Scientist)


The Kid is Not My Son
Whenever some red-faced, red-necked dude comes onto a talk show claiming that he isn’t going to pay child support because he knows the kid isn’t his, you can bet he’s going to be wrong. And a new study to be published in the June issue of Current Anthropology confirms this: Of men who doubt their paternity, less than 30% are actually not the father of the child. The study also examined men who were confident of their fatherhood and found that cuckolding is pretty darn uncommon: Only 1.7% of these men were mistaken in thinking the kids were biologically their own. The head researcher, the University of Oklahoma‘s Kermyt G. Anderson, broke down nonpaternity rates in different countries and found that, among those highly confident in paternity, nonpaternity was most common in Mexico and least common among certain lines of Sephardic Jews.
(source: University of Chicago Press Journals)


Litter Bugs Russians
On March 29th, the Russian Ekspress AM11 communications satellite spun out of orbit and temporarily stopped transmitting. The cause of this disaster? Space junk. We’ve known for some time that space junk would be a problem, but now the trash of careless organizations like NASA has finally caught up with us (or at least the Russians.) The Ekspress AM11 satellite went into orbit about two years ago and was scheduled to stay there for at least 12 years, but the spacecraft has now been moved to a disposal orbit. Which, I suppose, means that it’s just another piece of space junk waiting to hit a rocket.
(source: The Small Press Expo)


Go For Second Best, Baby
Not all ugly ducklings turn into swans—some of them grow up to be avian eyesores with drab, effeminate coloring. But these less-than-stunning birds shouldn’t worry you too much: A new study of wild finches from the University of Arizona shows that even these birds will get mates, specifically young females who leave their nests too late to snag the studliest males. Older female finches lay their claim to the colorful birds before the newest crop of finches even arrives. So the young ‘uns settle for the dull birds, which keeps up the genetic diversity in a population by preventing inbreeding between descendants of colorful males. So, unattractive middle-aged men, make like a finch and go for those barely-legal teens! Or don’t. Please don’t.
(source: ScienceNOW)


“Buckle Up” For Safety
Cardiff, Wales, has the best public health scheme ever. Drivers of Dragon Taxis, the largest private hire company in Wales, are receiving condoms to distribute to passengers upon request. Anyone taking a ride on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays after 10:30 PM can ask for a free condom and receive their very own love glove, delivered in a discreet black envelope along with a leaflet about STDs. The program, called “Safe Ride Home,” will crop up in cities all around the UK within the next few months. One participating cab driver in Sussex said, “The first Friday I handed out around 50 envelopes in the first hour. People have no problem asking if I’m a Trojan taxi and requesting their sample.” A spokeswoman for the program said that Safe Ride Home was created to “communicate the condom message at the most appropriate time.” Good job Trojan; you win the 2006 award for best product promotion.
(sources: BBC, PR Newswire)

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Originally published April 23, 2006

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