There’s a lot in this month’s edition, which is a few days late, so let’s get straight in.
Science & Medicine
Scientists have tried to work out the five most addictive substances on Earth and what they do to your brain.
No real surprises though.
Another set of scientists have discovered a mysterious boiling river in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Well it’s almost boiling and certainly hot enough to lightly poach the unwary.
Talking of boiling water, what temperature does it actually boil? And why can’t you make tea at the top of Everest (even supposing you were stupid enough to want to)?
And to the other end of the scale … Yet more scientists have been and recorded the sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Not just any ocean but deepest part, the Mariana Trench. And they were in for quite a surprise.
From sound to … sound. It seems that parrots are a lot more than just pretty birds. They have their own parrot languages and are also known to make tools.
Back to water and a German scientist has worked out just how Archer Fish are so adept at shooting down insects with a jet of water.
And now to things medical … One in five of us believe we have a serious allergy, but most of it is just belief. Here’s a summary of some key things you should know about allergies and intolerances (which aren’t the same at all!).
“I’ve been told bacon smells lovely.” Just what is it like to live with no sense of smell?
There’s no reason why it should work, but it does. We’ve all experienced the placebo effect but here are five popular placebo myths explained.
[Trigger Warning] It is thought that anything up to a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, the vast majority in the first 12 weeks, and often there is no obvious reason. However miscarriage remains a taboo and is seldom talked about. But medics are now putting effort into trying to find underlying reasons and to help those women most badly affected and those most at risk. [Long read]
What happens when you have a hole in your ear? Specifically a hole in the canal(s) of your inner ear? It’s rare, but the effect is quite frightening. [Long read]
Seems that attacking people who are overweight (or worse) is counter-productive. You don’t say!
Are you a loner? And a nerd? Yes many of us who do a lot of thinking (it’s often called research, or work) are. So we need some peace and quiet — and a little sympathy.
It is important that we talk openly, frankly and honestly to our children about sex and pleasure. Peggy Orenstein has a new book out on “Girls & Sex”; here‘s a piece about it and a few myths exploded. But don’t forget the boys as well; they have to be taught about sex and pleasure, and often respect for the girls too.
At which point it seems appropriate to ask why the clitoris doesn’t get the attention it deserves? And why does this matter?
It seems there are engineering lessons to be learnt from the design of the penis and the mechanics of erection
Social Sciences & Business
The surprising chances of our lives can seem like they’re hinting at hidden truths. On coincidences and the meaning of life.
Apparently a 5000-year-old linen dress is the oldest know woven garment. and it’s on display in London.
There are many mysteries about the lives and deaths of the Egyptian Pharaohs. But it looks as if one may have been solved as CT scans have revealed brutal injuries to Pharaoh Ramesses III.
We’ve all come to know (and love?) the @ sign. But I remember being totally mystified by it as a kid using my father’s typewriter, which isn’t surprising as it appear to have a long and rather convoluted history.
Edward Johnston and the typeface that changed the face of London Underground, and much else besides. with a rather more than walk-on part by Eric Gill.
I love the Museum of London Docklands and they’re opening a new gallery which centres around the museum’s building itself. IanVisits got a sneak preview.
Food & Drink
Are you a devoted breakfast eater? Or are you like me and usually not want breakfast? Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but is it? Spoiler: probably not.
Apparently we don’t have a clue how to shop for vegetables. Dear God, Mr American, tell me something I’ve not known this last 60 years.
Professional chefs on mould, food waste and expiry dates.
The UK has sheep coming out of its ears, so why won’t UK supermarkets stock British lamb? Surely it has to be better than frozen New Zealand lamb that’s been shipped round the world; and because it’s on our doorsteps it really shouldn’t be more expensive. Sorry supermarkets (and butchers) if you aren’t going to sell me fresh British lamb, I’m not buying lamb. Simples.
Shock, Horror, Humour
Finally, for the avoidance of doubt — and the education of the masses — here’s the CPS guidance on nudity in public.