Science proves ‘dark gravity’ makes push-starting your car even harder

image I certainly feel a deeper kinship with the surrounding universe. Particularly after reading how, like my own waistline, it is continuing to expand as it gets older. According to an article in TIME magazine last week, astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are close to answering one of the fundamental mysteries of space: how members of the Kardashian family can take up so much of it in tabloids.

To fully understand this phenomena, researchers at the center have turned to a property of space called “dark matter,” which I promise only sounds like another Vin Diesel “Chronicles of Riddick” sequel. In fact, dark matter is something parents have suspected for eons, but astrophysicists have only now proven the existence of: An invisible matter with a gravitational force stronger than normal gravity that pulls in the opposite direction. It is this property that 1) keeps the universe expanding in spite of the pull of planets, and 2) naturally occurs in children, which explains their ability to pull parents in two directions at once. Continue reading

Future of human evolution could be in hands of our noses

image As any biologist will tell you, in order for a species to survive, it must evolve. It is this process of evolution that allows an organism to pass along vital, physical improvements to the next generation. One such example is the opposable thumb, which distinguishes us from the apes — most notably through our ability to use all three holes in a bowling ball.

However, there would be no evolution without propagation. And soon there may be no propagation without nasal spray.

What makes nasal spray so important to man’s future is a drug under development at Palatin Technologies. According to studies, the drug PT-141 has been shown to cause an increase in sexual activity among rats by stimulating the brain’s melanocortin receptors. These receptors, which are used by male rats to pick up subtle transmissions from female rats, are also present in the human brain, which males often use for picking up subtle transmissions from ESPN. Continue reading

An observation at my fridge reveals “Gender-vision”

image Yes, this is an honest, unaltered view of the current state of our refrigerator. It’s exactly how it looked when I opened it this morning. If I were a scientist, I would call this my “control subject.” I would also probably be wearing a Haz-Mat suit complete with breathing apparatus. Not that our refrigerator itself is a bio-hazard. It’s actually pretty clean. It’s the stuff inside the small containers somewhere in the back, tucked behind the Christmas dinner leftovers (Hey, from 2013!) that pose the biggest threat should their air-locked containers be accidentally breached.

“Hey, what’s in this Tupperwa… [Pffffffft!] Oh GOD, what have I DONE!”

However, the potential threat my refrigerator poses to anyone within a three-mile radius is not the point of this post. It’s actually to provide official documentation a phenomenon I am calling Gender-vision®, which is: The viewing of the same image by two individuals, but with different points of interest depending on their gender. Continue reading

Remote-controlled rats, husbands could mark beginning of Brave New World (and yes, I’m scared)

image As I’ve mentioned before, because of our home’s proximity to the local wharf, from time to time we have a problem with rodents. Now, when I say “rodents,” I mean rats, and when I say “problem,” I mean finding mysterious entries scrawled on our grocery list that read:

Git mor cheeez.

However, I know that we aren’t alone in this, and that our neighbors undoubtedly have the same rodent problem. I know this because 1) They are our neighbors, and therefore live as close to the wharf as we do, and 2) Because we routinely lob assorted cheese curds into their yards before going to bed.

[Note to neighbors: We are NOT trying to entice the rats from our house into yours; we’re simply trying to entice you to eat more cheese.]

That said, some recent discoveries could change the way we go about solving our rat problem. According to a recent article in the journal Nature, researchers at the State University of New York have created the world’s first living remote-controlled rat. By implanting tiny electrodes in rats’ brains, scientists can command the rats to turn left or right, climb trees, navigate mazes, and, in some cases, stage dramatic light saber duels while dressed as tiny Star Wars characters. Continue reading

Science links obesity to fat, lazy microbes

image Scientists at Cornell University have created a device capable of measuring the weight of a single cell. This is big news because it moves us beyond the limits of sub-gram measurements “nano,” “pico” and “femto,” and into an exciting new realm of measurements known as “zeppo,” “harpo” and “groucho.” This could eventually lead to the smallest and least-known unit of measure, “shempo.”

Many of you are probably wondering how useful this information really is when it seems most things — cars, houses, Americans in general — are actually getting bigger. Personally, I see no benefit in being able to describe my weight as “a little over 70 trillion harpo-grams.” And I can tell you no husband wants to be around when his wife discovers, after eating that extra helping of potato salad this July Fourth, that she not only gained back the 17 trillion zeppo-grams she’d lost, but also put on an extra two million grouchos. It doesn’t matter that all of this adds up to less than a single uncooked lima bean.

What matters is that if he made the potato salad, he will be held responsible. Continue reading

Geckos mean stickier tape — and one last action movie for Bruce Willis

(Given that it’s Mother’s Day, I realize there are a lot of you who, to celebrate the joy of motherhood, have already had one too many mimosas. But that’s OK! Because it’s also Flashback Sunday, that other special day when we dust off the archives and go into the past, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was something that happened to new inmates. Some of you may be thinking, “Ned, why didn’t you flashback to a Mother’s Day post?” And to you I say, “What mother doesn’t want to look at Bruce Willis?”)

Bruce Willis will team up with geckos for the new action movie “Van der Waal Forces,” due in time for the AARP’s 65th anniversary.

It’s true I sometimes make fun of scientific discoveries that, in my opinion, seem a little silly — such as genetically altering a mouse to glow in the dark. That’s because I just can’t see any benefit to creating a rodent with its own built-in night light. While it might make for goofy fun at the lab when all the lights are out, should one of these neon mice manage to escape and reproduce, I’ll be the one stuck taking my cat to therapy twice a week.

However, from time to time, there is a scientific breakthrough so significant, so far-reaching, so groundbreaking that even I — a trained humor columnist — must stop and say:

WOW! This is quite possibly the most important scientific discovery since….
…The glow-in-the-dark mouse!

(For me, the yardstick by which all modern scientific discoveries are measured.)

Thanks to researchers at Lewis and Clark University and the University of California Berkley, we are on the verge of another milestone in scientific achievement — something that could quite possibly change the world as we know it!

At least in terms of adhesiveness.

I’m talking, of course about Gecko Tape. Continue reading

Genetically superior mice may overshadow zombie apocalypse

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent lying awake, staring up at the ceiling and thinking to myself:

Gee, if only they could make a super strong mouse.

Super mouse

I bring this up because of several readers who sent emails regarding science news, several of which have to do with mice — and all of which I have combined into an informative feature we’ll call:

Modern scientific breakthroughs that couldinspire a horror movie franchise.

We’ll begin with a story about the creation of the first “super” mouse, which was sent in by Bonnie Higgins of Bridgeton, NJ, whose good intentions, I must assume, included keeping me awake at night armed with pepper spray and a sledge hammer. According to the article, scientists in Boston have created a mouse with giant muscles, “capable of enduring rigorous exercise for extended periods of time.”

This is great news for people like me, who often worry that the traps they put out might actually kill a mouse. Now mice will not only have neck muscles thick enough to withstand the trap, but they’ll also be strong enough to re-set those traps and then throw them back at me. Continue reading

Your space adventure awaits! And mine will just have to keep waiting

So you want to be an astronaut!

OK, neither do I. But suppose we did. And let’s suppose I didn’t routinely freak out anytime I’m launched higher than a pogo stick. Then we would all be very Civilian space flight excited about all the recent advancements in the area of private spaceflight. Even now, it is possible for us to take a “slingshot ride” to the edge of the atmosphere and back, providing adventurers like ourselves with a breathtaking view of the earth, a few minutes of weightlessness, and, hopefully, at least one change of underwear.

You’ll notice there are quotation marks around the phrase “slingshot ride,” which is the actual term one expert used in describing the flight so that people like me, with no aeronautic experience, could picture themselves being flung headfirst into the stratosphere by something resembling a giant jock strap.

This, of course, would never happen.

At least not in the U.S.

Thanks to the FAA, we can rest assured that any flight heading into the cosmos will first have to meet the same rigorous federal safety standards set by The Jetsons 50 years ago. Knowing this, spaceflight entrepreneurs have spared no expense in designing flight packages cool enough to justify the $98,000 per-person price tag, which includes a disposable flight suit and wacky souvenir vomit bag that reads: Sack launch. Continue reading

Santa Summit prompts Greenland ‘No-Fly Zone’

Santa's Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.

Santa’s Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.

What makes email great is that it’s so darned easy to use. For example: If you come across something that absolutely HAS TO BE SEEN by everyone you know — like say a picture of a cat doing chin-ups — you can simply click a button and send it to 100 people. Or in the case of my favorite aunt who still hasn’t mastered this process, you can send that very same knee-slapping picture to one person — such as your favorite nephew — 100 times.

The reason I bring this up is because, if not for email, I sincerely doubt someone from Midland, Mich., would’ve gone to the trouble of sending me a photo of 176 Santas standing on the deck of a fishing boat off the coast of Greenland (And YES, this is primarily the kind of email I get.)

I should mention that we were one of 50 newspapers that received the photo, which was part of an announcement letting people know that classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School had come to an end. Continue reading