News for Nerds - Now Made with Splenda!
- 1/4/2013 |
- 10:00 am
After a short holiday hiatus, welcome back to News for Nerds! This week, we'll cover everything from itchiness to hitting streaks to a new robot called Vomiting Larry (really). But first, here are your headlines.
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At this point, it's no big secret that high fructose corn syrup -- the cornerstone of our skyrocketing obesity epidemic -- is just a step above actual poison on the nutritional spectrum. But a new study out of Yale University provides an interesting insight into why it's so bad for us.
It seems that consuming the sugar known as glucose sends signals to your brain indicating that you've eaten, thus satiating your appetite. However, consuming fructose -- which shows up in everything from cookies to juice drinks -- does not have the same effect.
The study involved 20 normal-weight people who had their brains scanned with functional MRI machines (fMRI) before and after they drank water sweetened with either glucose or fructose. When people consumed glucose, there was a decrease in activity in the hypothalamus, a brain region that stimulates appetite. When they consumed fructose, not so much.
There are some caveats here. For one thing, the study only focused on brain activity. The researchers didn't actually test to see if the participants ate more food after drinking the fructose water. They also served pure versions of both glucose and fructose, when most of our sugary western foods and beverages are a combination of the two.
But really... do we need to dig much deeper on this issue? It's the first week of January, people. It's too early to bail on your new year's resolution to drop 10 pounds. Put down the donut and walk slowly away.
- from LiveScience
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If the pictures in my Facebook news feed are any indication, people sure do love babies. And why not? Whenever they're not screaming for their binky or projectile vomiting, they're pretty fun to have around.
But it turns out that babies are smarter than we give them credit for. A new study shows that just hours after they're born, newborns are able to tell the difference between their native language and foreign tongues.
Researchers in Washington and in Sweden examined 40 babies, boys and girls. At about 30 hours old, the infants in the study listened to vowel sounds in their native language, and also in foreign languages. The babies' interest in the sounds was measured by how long they sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer.
The study found that, in both countries, the infants listening to unfamiliar sounds sucked on the pacifier for longer than they did when exposed to their native tongue, suggesting they could differentiate between the two. This means that fetuses likely learn prenatally about the particular speech sounds of their mother's language.
- story from LiveScience
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And here are a few bonus science stories for you:
- Researchers may have found a specific set of nerve cells that explain why we itch.
- According to some fancy math, hitting streaks in baseball seem to be contagious.
- The Internet turns 30 years old this month -- sort of. Before long it'll want to buy a convertible.
- And finally, for my longtime radio partner Jane London, it's Larry the Humanoid Vomiting Simulator. He pukes, so you don't have to.
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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!