Starting in 2005, Georg Steinhauser – then a chemist at the Vienna University of Technology – collected pieces of belly-button fluff from his navel and recorded their colour and weight. Over the next three years he collected 503 pieces of lint, weighing almost a gram in total.
Eventually, he sent some of his lint off for chemical analysis, and published his findings in a scientific journal. And all in the interests of answering the question: why do some people find so much fuzz in their belly buttons? The answer, it appears, depends on your clothing and how hairy your navel is.
Psilocybin is being investigated as a possible treatment for mental illness
Psilocybin, the psychedelic drug produced by hundreds of species of magic mushrooms is being investigated as a possible treatment for mental illness, including anxiety related to advanced cancer and depression. In the body, psilocybin is converted into a slightly different molecule, psilocin, which acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. Small studies suggest that a single dose of psilocybin can lead to long-term reductions in depression symptoms, perhaps by interrupting patterns of negative thoughts and allowing the brain to remodel itself.
In 2013, Earth was hit by a meteorite weighing over half a tonne
On 15 February 2013, high above Chelyabinsk, just to the east of the Ural Mountains in southern Russia, a meteorite exploded in the sky. Although most of it burned up in the atmosphere, several pieces made landfall, one of which smashed through the ice of the frozen Lake Chebarkul, leaving a hole seven metres wide. Recovered by a diver in October 2013, this meteorite weighed in at 570 kilograms. Astronomers concluded that the explosion was an asteroid 17 to 20 metres across with a mass of 10,000 tonnes. The initial blast, at an altitude of about 30 kilometres, carried an energy equivalent to 500 kilotonnes of TNT – about 30 Hiroshima bombs.
Killer whales are actually part of the dolphin family
Orcas (orcinus orca) are aquatic mammals that can grow up to 8 metres in length, with a dorsal fin that stands up to 1.8 metres tall. But despite being commonly known as killer whales, these intelligent apex predators are actually the largest member of the dolphin family.
Highly intelligent, orcas can live in a variety of marine environments all over the world, adapting their diet and hunting habits to better suit their surroundings. It’s not just their appetite that changes, either, they communicate in distinct ‘dialects’, and animals from different populations don’t often interbreed. This makes them the only known non-human species whose culture shapes evolution.
Animals suffer from motion sickness, too
Motion sickness, the feeling of nausea associated with certain movements, affects about one third of people. Although we don’t know the exact cause behind it, we do know that it has something to do with the vestibular system – the delicate structure deep inside the ear responsible for balance. This means that any creature with such a system is susceptible to motion sickness, and that includes cats and dogs.
Saturated fat may not be as bad as we thought
Mainly found in animal products such as meat, milk and eggs, saturated fat is one of two broad groups of fats in our food, the other being “unsaturated”. Although it is just as calorific as unsaturated fat, saturated fat is thought to be worse for our health because studies have linked higher consumption with a greater risk of heart disease.
However, some recent research has questioned whether saturated fat is as harmful as claimed. It appears people who follow low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets for weight loss and therefore tend to eat more saturated fat, do not see their cholesterol levels soaring and nor do they have more heart attacks.
Still, health advice from the NHS suggests we should eat less red meat, drink skimmed milk and use vegetable margarines instead of butter.
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