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How Catnip Gets Cats High

Scooter And Catnip, August, 2009-2

One of the stranger aspects of the modern human-pet relationship is that many cat owners recreationally dose their pets with a psychoactive drug. I’m talking, of course, about catnip.

Catnip is a bizarre phenomenon for a few reasons. It’s the only recreational drug we routinely give to animals, and though it basically makes them freak out — rolling on the ground, drooling, and mashing their face into wherever the catnip was sprinkled — it has essentially no effect on us.

More at Vox

Should We All Take A Bit Of Lithium?

Lithium

The idea of putting a mind-altering drug in the drinking water is the stuff of sci-fi, terrorist plots and totalitarian governments. Considering the outcry that occurred when putting fluoride in the water was first proposed, one can only imagine the furor that would ensue if such a thing were ever suggested.

The debate, however, is moot. It’s a done deal. Mother Nature has already put a psychotropic drug in the drinking water, and that drug is lithium. Although this fact has been largely ignored for over half a century, it appears to have important medical implications.

More at SundayReview

Star Spangled Banner Anthem Was Once A Song Of Drinking And Sex

Star Spangled Banner

Americans this weekend will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the poem that became the nation’s national anthem, a bit of verse written by a pro-slavery lawyer put to the melody of a British song that praised drinking and sex.

Oh, say what?

Yes, the song that has been the nation’s musical glue through war and peace, the song that has been the bane of singers of all ages and creeds and led to performances both tragic and mesmerizing, and the song lip-synced by zealous fans at sports events near and wide, yes, that song is celebrating a milestone birthday.

More at Los Angeles Times

Ancient Swamp Creature Named After Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger

Sir Mick Jagger has a new animal named after him. Scientists have named an extinct swamp-dwelling creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa after the Rolling Stones frontman, in honor of a trait they both share—their supersized lips.

“We gave it the scientific name Jaggermeryx naida, which translates to ‘Jagger’s water nymph,'” said study co-author Ellen Miller of Wake Forest University. The animal’s fossilized jaw bones suggest it was roughly the size of a small deer and akin to a cross between a slender hippo and a long-legged pig.

More at phys.org

The Era Of Radical Concrete

Stevenage

A massive collection of images from British urban developments of the 1960s and 1970s now provides a treasure trove for those who want to reassess a vilified era of town planning.

The concrete architecture that dominated Britain’s post-war landscape has always provoked visceral emotions. The concrete monoliths that have survived popular culls still divide opinion, with some likening them to Orwellian dystopias.

More at BBC

The Long Lost Archive Of Curious Animals

fa-5x.tif

The Media Space at the London’s Science Museum has recently opened a retrospective of photographer Joan Fontcuberta’s work. The series on show explore constellations, geography, natural history and many more science-related topics. Each of the body of works exhibited would deserve its own blog post but i’m going to focus on the Fauna series because it brings to the attention of the broader public the long-lost archives of a German zoologist called Professor Peter Ameisenhaufen.

More at we make money not art

Why Narcissists Have More Sex

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If narcissism is one of humanity’s more stubbornly intractable traits—and it is—it’s partly because it facilitates the one basic act likelier than anything else to keep a particular physical or behavioral characteristic alive in the gene pool: breeding. Successful narcissists have a whole lot of sex, which means they’re statistically likelier to have a whole lot of babies—at least compared to everyone else. This highly adaptive component of narcissism gives it a big edge over other disorders in getting passed down to the next generation.

“When you’re talking about truly pathological narcissism, it’s hard to say why it hasn’t been eradicated from the gene pool,” says Jessica Tracy, a professor of personality and social psychology at the University of British Columbia. “But when you’re talking about the more everyday kind, it’s equally hard to see how it ever would disappear since it’s so adaptive. All you have to do is replicate yourself, and narcissists are very good at doing that.”

More at New Republic

Biologists Delay The Aging Process By Remote Control

Aging Process

UCLA biologists have identified a gene that can slow the aging process throughout the entire body when activated remotely in key organ systems.

Working with fruit flies, the life scientists activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells; it gets activated when cellular energy levels are low.

Increasing the amount of AMPK in fruit flies’ intestines increased their lifespans by about 30 percent—to roughly eight weeks from the typical six—and the flies stayed healthier longer as well.

More at Medical Xpress

Predicting Website Hacks Before They Happen

Cybersecurity

Two computer scientists believe they can see into the future. Building on cutting edge machine-learning and data-mining techniques, a pair of Carnegie Mellon University researchers have built a new tool designed to accurately predict which Web servers will be hacked before any hacking actually takes place. Call it pre-cybercrime.

Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin, the academics behind the new classification algorithm (they call it a “classifier”), say they trained their tool on 444,519 websites archived using the WayBack Machine, which contains over 4.9 million Web pages. The classifier correctly predicted 66 percent of future hacks in a one-year period with a false positive rate of 17 percent.

More at The Daily Dot

How The Derrière Took Over Pop Culture

Pop Stars

Butts, butts, butts. They’re everywhere! Last week, J.Lo and Iggy Izalea released an appropriately gluteal teaser for their upcoming music video for “Booty.” Just a week before, Sofia Vergara stood on a spinning pedestal at the Emmy’s, playfully patting her shapely rear. The day before, Beyoncé performed at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside a bunch of gilded, bethonged backsides doing the splits. Hold on, there’s more.

Marvel introduced a cover for “Spider-Woman” featuring the heroine in a beyond-skin-tight suit and her round booty in the air. The same day, Nicki Minaj premiered the video for “Anaconda,” which featured a bunch of women shaking their butts in the jungle and causing earthquakes. There’s Meghan Trainor’s hit “All About That Bass,” which was catapulted up the Billboard Hot 100 last month and boasts of having “all the right junk in all the right places.” The song includes the lines, “Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size/She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’” And, of course, Taylor Swift controversially crawled under a bunch of black women shaking their butts in her video for “Shake It Off.”

More at Salon