Today in Research: who cares about lazy mice, why laughter is good for you, what eye goop is made of, and another explanation for science's errors.
- Why should we care that hibernating mice live longer? Because we want to live longer too. A new study published by the British Royal Society was described by Discovery News as notable for firmly linking hibernation and longevity in mammals. Humans, like mice, are mammals too. Thus the interesting theory posited by the news outlet: "Do Lazy Mammals Live Longer?" Considering the curious list of things that have already been linked by research to longevity, the laziness theory might not be too absurd. [Discovery News]
- Tired old cliché about laughing confirmed by scientific evidence. Sure, you knew laughing was vaguely good for you. But a new study has found that a bit of chuckling releases a lot of endorphins, similar to when you exercise. That link hadn't been previously established, Scientific American reports. The outlet adds that since the release of endorphins can raise people's pain threshold--here comes the cliché--laughter can be great medicine. [Scientific American]
- Explained: the stuff that 'eye goop' (or whatever you call it) is made of. The dried tears that form on the inside corner of the eye were just waiting for a proper explainer. MSNBC.com's Body Odd blog finds that the stuff is made from "water, protein, oils, and a mucous layer known as mucin, which typically coat the surface of the eye to moisten and protect it from viruses and bacteria." Now we know. Truthfully, we were more surprised at the amount of nicknames the goop has garnered. [MSNBC.com]
- Unsettling, research-trained computer headline: 'Feeling pain? The computer can tell.' This Reuters report about Stanford researchers using software that sifts through brain-scans and identifies what causes human pain is even more clickable than BBC News' foreboding "supercomputer predicts revolution" hed. And don't worry about the technology, Reuters explains, "the study was done in a very controlled lab environment." [Reuters]
- Explaining the Rise in Scientific Errors, Part XXVII. A pretty big concern in the scientific community is the rise in false, retracted papers in academic journals. A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal had an excellent investigation finding a huge rise in errors made such research over the past decade. Today, the Journal's Ideas Market blog has an interesting take on the subject: "It's the desire to generate studies that might make it into the next iteration of 'Freakonomics' that may be leading some social scientists to cut corners—or to look the other way when they see evidence that doesn't fit their striking, newsworthy hypothesis." [WSJ Ideas Market]