"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Siestas, New Metal Tricks, and a Visit from Cpt. Obvious 

It turns out that there is a good biological reason to want a post-meal sietsta. Researchers have found that glucose levels seem to regulate orexin transmission, turning it off after a big meal. Lower levels of orexin are linked to sleepiness (narcolepsy in extreme cases) and obesity, and orexin has some role in learning, memory, and reward. This is really interesting stuff, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be enough to claim a biological imperative for the three-hour nap I want to tell my boss I need after lunch!

Wisconsin chemists have identified a new species of iron VI, which binds nitrogen, and is different from ferrate (iron VI plus oxygen). This is pretty cool. Also in cool chemistry news, researchers have found that Han purple, a 2000-year-old dye pigment - chemically BaCuSi206, undergoes some really cool transformations at low temperatures. It shifts from three dimensions to two. Weird.

Saying "not for kids" is, of course, the surest way you can guarantee kids wanting it. A Swiss scientist has published a review article indicating that anti-smoking laws for minors are almost totally ineffective. Surprise surprise, kids find ways around them, just as they do parents' curfews and gun-hiding techniques. The review doesn't really offer anything that shouldn't be obvious to anyone who thinks about it, but I suppose it'd be nice to think that some science could inspire some more sensible approaches to be developed.

US and Japanese researchers have found that compulsive addiction behaviors seem to stem more from aversion to withdrawal than from pleasure-seeking motives. This is, of course, obvious to anyone who's ever had a serious drug addiction.

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