News for Nerds - A Full Moon on Friday the 13th?

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 6/13/2014 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - A Full Moon on Friday the 13th?

Welcome back to News for Nerds. This week we'll dive into issues dealing with spiders, smartphones, and vocal fry. But first, here are your headlines.

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We have a love/hate relationship with Fridays, don't we? Most of the year we treasure Fridays as the gateway to the weekend, but every so often we reverse course and decide that we're afraid of a particular Friday -- for superstitious reasons.

Today, of course, is Friday the 13th. For reasons that aren't entirely clear -- and which pre-date the horror move franchise -- Friday the 13th is widely viewed as being unsafe or unlucky. According to at least one report, the American economy takes an $800 million hit on this date because of people's reluctance to travel.

But wait, there's more! Today is also a full moon. This double-whammy of superstition hasn't occurred since October of 2000, and it won't happen again for another 35 years. Whether or not full moons actually coincide with mysterious behavior is hard to say. Some studies have shown a correlation, and others have not. My daughter-in-law is an emergency room nurse, and she claims to have seen a lot of weird things in the ER when the moon is full.

So what should we expect on a full moon Friday the 13th? It's hard to say, but it can't hurt to play it safe out there today, folks.

- story from The Independent (UK), photo from Paasakivi via Wikimedia Commons

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Speaking of playing it safe, here's a note to all the guys out there: take that cell phone out of your pocket right now.

My long-time radio partner Jane London shared this story about the effects of cell phones on male fertility, and it's not pretty. According to a massive meta-study (encompassing 10 previous studies), exposure to a cell phone's electromagnetic radiation lowers sperm motility -- that is, its ability to move actively and spontaneously -- by 8 percent, while also lowering sperm vitality by 9 percent.

The exact reason for this is unclear, but there are a few compelling theories. One is that the electromagnetic radiation is causing DNA damage by promoting more unstable oxygen compounds. Or it could be that carrying phones in front pants pockets raises the temperature of the testes enough to suppress and interfere with normal sperm production.

Can you hear me now?

- story from Time, photo from Canadian Lightsource, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

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Here are a couple other cool science stories you might enjoy:

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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