The case of the mummy's missing member, touching what no one has touched before and the mayor who never flushes.

Pharaoh’s Staff
You can all relax: King Tut‘s penis has been found. In 1968, the royal member was reported missing when x-rays of the mummy-Tut revealed the ancient king to be unendowed. Since the Pharaoh’s phallus had been previously photographed in 1922, the masses spread rumors that it had subsequently been stolen and sold on the black market. But, praise the lord, the penis was safe all along; it had simply fallen into the sand around the body. The mummy porn of 1922 makes it look like the king was less than hung, but mummy experts now say that that, since the penis is a highly vascular organ, it shrivels up during the mummification process. Those analyzing the mummy say that Tutankhamen was probably of normal proportions.
(source: Discovery News)

Doctors Go for Most Boring Guinness Record Ever
On May 6, the American Academy of Dermatology will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for screening the most people for skin cancer in a single day. Take that, Neal Hardy! The Academy will be hosting four major screenings, in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, as part of their effort to screen a record-breaking 5,606 people. There will also be 200 additional screening sites around the country. The Academy wants to generate public awareness about the importance of frequent screening and early detection of skin cancer. It chose to stage its noble-minded publicity stunt only a few days after the not-quite-national holiday known as Melanoma Monday.
(source: American Academy of Dermatology)

North Americans Fear Cooties Pandemic
Hipsters everywhere are willing to pay top dollar for pre-ripped jeans and artificially distressed t-shirts: They get the look of an item that’s been used regularly since 1973 without anyone actually wearing it. Perhaps this phenomenon can be explained by a new study out of the University of Alberta, which revealed that shoppers are substantially less likely to buy an item of clothing if they know someone else has touched it. Researchers also found that a shopper would become increasingly disgusted with a piece of clothing based on the number of people they believed had touched it. Lead author Jennifer Argo suggests that stores try to create the image that all clothes are uncontaminated by human touch, which they can accomplish by frequent refolding and eliminating change racks.
(source: University of Alberta)

Skip My Loo
Water conservation is very, very important, but London mayor Ken Livingstone may be going one step too far. In a feat perhaps more amazing than testing 5,606 people for skin cancer in one day, Livingstone has not flushed his toilet for 15 months straight. The region around London is facing its worst drought in a century, and water is at a premium, so Livingstone suggests that Londoners follow his example and let it mellow, if it’s only yellow. The mayor hopes gardeners will use their urine to water plants, noting, “Plant roots love it.” The mayor noted that one third of the water we use is flushed down the toilet, so by saving our precious water for the flushes that count, we can save huge quantities of the elixir of life. If only the leaders in the US were so committed to our environment.
(source: Agence France-Presse)

Virginity Suicides
Following in a grand tradition of research indicating that virginity pledges mean squat, a new study out of Harvard School of Public Health indicates that, well, virginity pledges mean squat. Researcher Janet Rosenbaum analyzed data from 13,568 adolescents who took the same survey of sexual habits in 1995 and 1996. She found that adolescents who sign such a pledge and then go on to have premarital sex deny having ever taken such an oath. Also, adolescents who have premarital sex and then sign a virginity pledge are likely to misreport their pre-pledge sex. The study further indicated that we are raising a generation of apostates: The majority of kids who took virginity pledges recanted within a year. Rosenbaum said all of these results make it hard to accurately study the effectiveness of virginity pledges. Here’s one interpretation of the results: Teenagers can’t be trusted.
(source: Harvard School of Public Health)

If You Were Old, You’d Be Dumb, Too
Old people have decidedly lower IQs than young people. The only question is, “Why?” A new study out of Case Western suggests that the decline in IQ is less a general loss of brain function and more a reflection of perception deficits. When college students took an exam similar to an IQ test, under normal conditions they scored substantially better than 70-year-olds taking the same test. But when the young ‘uns took a test that used a digital filter to mimic the perceptual conditions the elderly experience, their results looked more like their elders’. The researchers found that even something as simple as a decrease in contrast can seriously impact test scores.
(source: Case Western Reserve University)

No Green Policy = No Blue Films
If you still don’t care about the environment your children will struggle to live in, what if we said you might be affecting the size of their penises? According to zoologist Louis Guillette, pesticides are contributing to abnormalities in sexual reproduction, including a decrease in penis size of otherwise healthy baby boys. Guillette compared alligators from a lake polluted by pesticide runoff to those from a less polluted lake and found the reptiles from the polluted lake to be less endowed. Guillette mentioned an unrelated study of 5,000 human babies found that penis size decreased with high contamination levels. The researcher said he’s not sure whether their penises are small enough to impair their sexual performance because, well, they’re babies.
(source: London Free Press)

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Originally published May 8, 2006

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