Multicolored Honey

More Bees Are Choosing Sweets
Over Pollen, This Time in Europe

It seems that everyone and their nannies have a theory about bees these days. And while there’s concern about the steady decline of colonies throughout the world, and what it may represent to us, there’s also an alarming trend for making them poster bugs for the apocalypse.
To viruses, cellphone towers and autism, all possibly connected factors to such decline, according to self-appointed experts, add now the bees’ recently-acquired taste for leftovers from the production of sweets and syrups. It’d happened in Brooklyn, and now it’s happening in Alsace.
Then as now, they followed a predictable, if damaging, pattern: instead of heading to flower fields and fruit trees to pollinate them, a function they’ve been fulfilling for ages and that’s vital to our own subsistence on this planet, they’ve been taking detours to local artificial-making sweet factories.
Two years ago, bees cultivated in Brooklyn, New York, by independent apiaries, began producing a red, overly sweet, metallic-tasting type of honey that puzzled producers and consumers. As it turned out, they were raiding the dejects area of a local Maraschino cherries plant, instead of going for the green areas elsewhere in the borough.
In France, their blue and green colored honey was just traced back to a biogas plant processing waste from a M&M chocolate factory in the Alsace region. Even though the honey produced is not toxic, it’s not particularly pleasant tasting nor has any value in the market either.
The solution adopted in Europe mirrored the one taken in 2010 by Brooklyn producers and their neighboring food factories: to make sure that all waste is secured and well insulated from the bees’ now corrupted tasting buds. It also took some effort to ‘reeducate’ them to get back to the natural stuff.
But, naturally, not before some apprehension from those who track bees, for their environmental role and benefits, and hyper-ventilation from those who simply like to see signs of damnation of our species Continue reading

Organs to Go, Germs to Keep

17 Little Hearts & the
Wildlife in Your Fridge

While you were arguing about what will finally bring peace to the Middle East, science was busy creating things, discovering stuff, taking care of its business.
So it may be as good a time as any to find out about two radically different directions modern research is taking, both aiming loosely at improving your life twice fold.
We assure you, if these scientists succeed in their quest, you, and the tribes of Libya, and the refugees of Gaza, as well as the job seekers in Atlanta, and the immigrants from Mexico, and pretty much everyone else and their nieces, will have a lot to benefit.
GHOST HEARTS
The first time the heart of a human being was implanted into the chest of another was in 1967 in a breakthrough surgery conducted by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.
It may have been the most classic example of the surgery being a complete success, despite the patient dying a short while Continue reading

Cursed Gifts

Of Bright (but Troubled) Kids &
Savants Who Improve the World

To most parents, their children are very smart until they catch them having a hard time becoming middle-level managers.
Savants are another story, and often too much to their own kin to handle. To most of us, though, life is a succession of lackluster encounters and evil torment in the hands of the terminally mediocre.
In fact, educators have argued for years whether reward equals spoiling, or if depriving necessarily builds character. The jury is still out on that one.
What only now they’re beginning to understand is why outstanding childhood intelligence doesn’t always translate into promising lives.
Pedagogy has experienced many fortuitous leaps and surprising regressions, but a major landmark in this turnaround of expectations Continue reading

Ways to Go

Freeze it or Reconstruct the Face:
Dressing Dead Bodies With Fungi

The death of Robert Ettinger, founder of cryonics, and Frank Bender, forensic sculptor extraordinaire, within a few days of each other last week, somehow encapsulates two radically different views of our longing for permanence far beyond our natural expiration dates.
Their obits also extrapolate two curious takes on how we should dispose our earthly remains, when that date does come: put a speed on the organic matter that will feed on the body, or simply burn it and stuff its ashes in lethal bullets. Your choice.
THE BIG (COLD) SLEEP
Ettinger, who died on July 23 at 92, a physics teacher, lived his life as a scientist and sci-fi writer. But with his 1962 book, The Prospect of Immortality, he laid down the basic tenets of cryonics, the radical concept of freezing the body after death, so it can be revived by yet unknown medical techniques of the future.
He went on to found and lead the Cryonics Institute and the Immortalist Society, and became the movement’s most visible figure. That did not prevent his ideas, and the ethical debate over the procedures to make it all possible, from taking a life of their own, completely independent from him, and mostly close to public derision.
His scientific training may have been instrumental in insulating him to it Continue reading

Body Beat

Size, Smell
& Foreskin

Thanks to scientists at the Improbable Research, we now know for sure that the length of your fingers is not a good way to predict whether your body stinks. They also went ahead and determined, before anyone asked and after exhaustive experiments, that men’s ears grow bigger than women’s, as both genders age.
Oh, and since we got your attention, some company wants you guys to know that there’s no reason to apply moisturizer all Continue reading

Floating On Air

Scientists Replicate Out-of-Body
Experience. Is It All Just an Illusion?

One of the cornerstones of the mystical experience, an essential component of pretty much every tradition of spirituality since immemorial times, is now facing a big challenge: scientists at the University of Geneva claim they have “fooled” research subjects into thinking they were out of their bodies during an experiment.
Using a clever combination of cameras and virtual reality Continue reading

Harry Who?

Invisibility Silk Cloak to Be
Used for Defense, Not Magic

For all its fight for justice and the eternal quest from the truth, the superhuman struggle to avenge the violent death of his parents without abdicating his unalienable right to grow up as a healthy human being, for all the evidence that evil is lurking at every dark corner, ready to jump and reign on earth and only him, Harry Porter and his ragtag gang of dedicated friends, stand on the way, what really touched and moved people throughout this multibook, multi-billion series was the invisibility cloak.
Never mind the wand, the humble origins, the destiny for greatness. What transfixed most readers of the hundreds of languages the series has been translated to so far, is something depicted only for a few pages, worn a handful of times, and completely unrelated to the highly anticipated grand finale when the once boy, now young man wizard will finally Continue reading

Got Milk?

How Many Laws It Takes to Explain
a Cat’s Gulp? Let Us Count the PhDs

With due respect to Barbra Streisand, the real zen master is the feline, as research upon research piles up to prove it. This time, it took two MIT scientists, plus one from Princeton and another from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, to show the world what it already knew: when cats drink, they’re actually solving fundamental hydrodynamic problems you didn’t even know existed.
For starters, they lap their drinks four times a second, way too fast for your inferior human eyes to see anything but a blur. And Continue reading

Up, Up and Away

Space Station Reaches
10 Years of Earth Watch

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Nothing like the sage of America’s formerly favorite pastime, Yogi Berra, to convey in a few words, a world of meaning. The International Space Station that is completing its first 10 years in orbit (11/02/2000), for example, never became the home away from home its creators once envisioned. Ever since its first crew spent a few uncomfortable days in it, it got much better, but never quite the easy ride of the sci-fi stories. And, let’s face it, it never will.
Then again, perhaps we’re all better off knowing that the envisioned world of The Jetsons and even of Blade Runner was not meant to be. Imagine texting and driving a hyperspeed-flying car? Or sending an ultra intelligent robot to the past, to kill somebody else’s grandfather? And don’t even let us start with all those promised wonderful foods in a Continue reading

Triumph of Incoherence

Genome Sequencing of Ozzy
May Explain Why He’s Still Alive

Scientists have just completed the genome sequencing of former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and the assumption is that it’ll finally explain, once and for all, how come he’s still around – no offense -, even though all he plays these days is a gargantuan ass of himself. This reminds us of that old account that, according to science, bumblebees should not be able to fly.
Exactly like that old, probably apocryphal account, the only conclusive resolution the experiment most likely proves is that something is amiss. And, since we’re talking about the self-appointed Prince of Darkness himself, something has indeed, been terribly missing for far too long.
To be fair, the 61 permanently addled Osbourne is, in fact, a survivor, who walked Continue reading