E. coli can make fuel out of chocolate, children don't actually comprehend TV and sex won't make the baby come any quicker.

E. coli Eat Chocolate, Excrete Electrical Power

Not all alternative fuels are created equal. That’s because not all alternative fuels involve intestinal bacteria consuming candy and then excreting hydrogen. Scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK have created a method of energy production by feeding chocolate-factory waste—diluted caramel and nougat—to E. coli. After bingeing, the bacteria produced hydrogen, which the researchers harnessed to power a fuel cell that was able to drive a small fan. In a perfect world, the researchers would use chocolate waste to make more chocolate.
(source: New Scientist Tech)

IPOs By Any Other Name

If Wii, the new Nintendo console, were a company, its stock would probably flop soon after its initial public offering. A study by Princeton psychologists shows that a stock’s early performance is influenced by how easily the company’s name or three-letter ticker symbol is pronounced. The researchers asked a group of students how well they thought a series of fictional stocks would perform based only on their names, and were unable to ignore the strong relationship between ease of pronunciation and predicted performance. The scientists then hit the market and found that stocks with pronounceable names are more likely to do well initially but not necessarily in the long run. The researchers caution that people should not change their portfolios based on the study. Right…sounds like somebody wants a bigger piece of the pie.
(source: Princeton University)

Tune In Next Time

Research out of Vanderbilt indicates kids tend to ignore information presented on TV. Researchers told two-year-olds where a toy would be hidden either by giving them information in person or via a recorded video message. Kids who got the information face-to-face found the toy 77% of the time in the first place they looked; only 27% of those who got the message on tape visited the correct location first. The researchers think kids quickly learn to distinguish between socially relevant interaction, which occurs in the flesh, and asocial television. However, when the kids were primed with a live video chat with the researcher, they were able to use the recorded video message to find the hidden toy more effectively. The researchers suggest that educational TV programs make lecturing seem more like a conversation when trying to reach young viewers.
(source: BPS Research Digest Blog)

The Food Coma Explained

British scientists have dug up a biological excuse for those lazy Europeans who nap after lunch. A University of Manchester study says that an intake of glucose can inhibit the neurons, which make the proteins that help regulate consciousness. Problems with these orexin neurons can lead to narcolepsy or obesity. When the brain cells are blocked after a hearty meal, the sated person plummets towards a food coma. Conversely, when one is hungry, and his or her orexins are fully functional, it may be hard for that person to fall asleep.
(source: University of Manchester)

Fight Drugs With…Drugs?

Switzerland’s crazy-liberal policy of offering heroin addicts methadone or buprenorphine as a substitute for their addiction, successfully decreases the number of heroin dependents, according to a new paper published in the Lancet. The number of new Swiss heroin users declined precipitously from 850 new users in 1990 to 150 in 2002. In other, more conservative countries such as the UK, Italy and Australia, the number of new heroin users is on the rise. While the crutch program does wonders for stopping heroin addiction before it starts, it’s not so good at actually helping people quit. The low cessation rate nearly balances out the low start rate, so overall number of Swiss heroin dependents only declines by 4% each year.
(source: Lancet)

Don’t Schtupp Thinking About Tomorrow

Scientists have successfully debunked the old wives tale that having sex in the final weeks of pregnancy can make for a speedy delivery. In a study of 93 women, the ones who had sex near the end of term had an average pregnancy of 39.9 weeks, whereas those who did not averaged 39.3 weeks. The doctors examined the sexually active women to see whether the deed had a “ripening” effect on the cervix and found no correlation between intercourse frequency and size of the cervix or length of pregnancy. The author acknowledged that the study doesn’t examine specific components of sexual behavior that might affect the onset of labor.
(source: Ohio State University Medical Center)

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Originally published June 5, 2006

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