Discovered: Climate change has already changed some biomes, the healthiest amount of booze, kids need to stop stressing, a delicious way to quit smoking, and an insane cool picture of Venus.
- Climate change has already changed some of earth's biomes. Time to change the middle school textbooks: In just decades, Arctic Siberian shrubs have turned to forest because of climate change. For those who need a little eighth grade earth science refresher course, Siberia is a tundra, meaning an icy-scape that has special plants, like shrubs. (s opposed to, say, a forest, a different kind of scape, that exists in warmer climates.) In less than one hundred years the world's iciest placest have turned into a totally different things. "It's a big surprise that these plants are reacting in this way," explains researcher Marc Macias-Fauria. That's really not a very long time for an entire biome change. "Previously people had thought that the tundra might be colonised by trees from the boreal forest to the south as the Arctic climate warms, a process that would take centuries. But what we've found is that the shrubs that are already there are transforming into trees in just a few decades," he continues. [Oxford]
- Presenting: the perfect amount of booze. Good news: Science condones drinking. Bad news: Science suggests we drink less. Following all that contradictory research about the health benefits of alcohol a group of researchers set out to find the optimal amount we should drink. While a very noble cause, we almost wish they had never inquired in the first place because the results don't jibe with our lifestyle. "Although there is good evidence that moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease, when all of the chronic disease risks are balanced against each other, the optimal consumption level is much lower than many people believe," explains researcher Dr Melanie Nichols. How much lower? About one-half of one glass of wine a day. [Oxford]
- Kids really need to stop stressing. Parents, listen up, all that stress you're putting on your kids isn't doing anyone any good. In fact, it's doing them harm in at least one scientific way. "There has been a lot of work in animals linking both acute and chronic stress to changes in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in complex cognitive abilities like holding on to important information for quick recall and use," explains researcher Jamie Hanson. "We have now found similar associations in humans, and found that more exposure to stress is related to more issues with certain kinds of cognitive processes." Meaning, stress can cause brain damage in young minds. [Journal of Neuroscience]
- A delicious way to quit smoking. If you're in the market, science has found that eating more fruits and vegetables makes someone much more likely to quit smoking. Looking at 1,000 smokers, those who consumed the most fruits and veggies were three times more likely to be tobacco-free at the follow-up 14 months later. Some might argue that these healthy eats aren't exactly "delicious." But compared to chewing nicotine gum, we'd call strawberries and carrots delicious. (Actually, we would call fruits and vegetables yummy on any scale.) Anyway, it turns out that unlike other foods, fruits and vegetables make cigarettes taste worse. It almost might have to do with all the fiber in these foods. [University at Buffalo]
- A very spectacular photo of Venus. With so many of us having missed yesterday's Venus Transit, thank goodness we have NASA to take incredible photos like this to show us the magic of science.Let's be honest, this is way better than a live viewing. [Gizmodo via NASA]