The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and that scientists are constantly attempting to figure out. Here are the most interesting things we’ve learned from them in the last seven days:
1. Airport Noise Causes Heart Disease in People Living Nearby: Bad news for people living right next door to an airport (well… worse news, we guess?): According to a study of 420 people living near Athens International Airport in Greece, 71 of them developed high blood pressure within a decade, while a further 44 were diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia. It’s thought the constant noise of planes taking off and landing was responsible for the raised blood pressure, so if you’re a light sleeper, maybe reconsider that bargain apartment at the end of runway seven.
2. Giving Vegetables Sexy Names Makes Them Taste Better: A psychology experiment at Stanford (those always go well!) found that labeling plates of vegetables with TGI Friday-style names made people far more likely to eat them. Plates called “Sizzlin’ Beans” or “Twisted Citrus-Glazed Carrots” were chosen far more often by diners in the university cafeteria, while identical plates labeled with words like “healthy” and “wholesome” were practically ignored. One major caveat here is that all the participants were college students, so it should be assumed that at least 25 percent of them were high.
3. Artificial Sweetener Also Works Pretty Well as a Lethal Insecticide: Something to consider next time you’re reaching for Stevia.
4. The Solution to Mosquitos May Be a Mushroom Loaded with Scorpion Venom:
Researchers at the University of Maryland claim that it’s possible to genetically engineer a type of fungus to produce both scorpion and spider toxins, which would be lethal to disease-carrying mosquitos, but harmless to humans and helpful insects like bees. Most importantly, though, spider/scorpion/mushroom poison sounds hella metal.
5. There’s a New a Drug That Gives You a Suntan: Any dermatologist will tell you there’s no safe way to get a tan. Case in point: Here are four of them saying exactly that. But a new topical drug has been created that causes the skin to produce melanin, which is the same thing that happens when you lie out under the sun (as well as being what gives you your tan, it’s also the body’s natural self defense against UV rays). It’s hoped that, if it becomes available to the public, giving people naturally darker skin will reduce the likelihood of skin cancer, with the handy side effect that we’ll all be sexy AF.
6. Putting a Stranger’s Poop Inside You Keeps You Healthy Up to Two Years Later: If you’re urgently in need of healthy gut bacteria, the most effective solution isn’t a course of probiotics, but to have someone else’s feces — and all its attendant microbes — introduced to your colon. A recent study found that the procedure was so successful that the donor’s germs were still going strong two years after the donation. We’ll see ourselves out.