Today in research: more Earth-like planets found, near-death experiences demystified, parental denial, and, yes, the latest thing wrong with SpongeBob.

  • So, parents don't seem to have gotten savvier recently.  The Times pairs together a new University of Michigan poll finding that only 10 percent of parents believe that their teenager has drunk alcohol with a National Institutes of Health survey that found that 50 percent of teens conceded the point. Unsurprisingly, the same parents were also more suspicious of everyone else's teen.  [The New York Times Motherlode blog]
  • Study finds reason to dislike SpongeBob Squarepants. In your most widely covered study of the day, SpongeBob finds itself not under attack from cultural conservatives but from concerned researchers who believe that it's one of the shows that, according to the AP, "can cause short-term attention and learning problems." A Nickelodeon spokesperson has already hit back at the findings, questioning the study's small sample size (60 children). [Associated Press via Hollywood Reporter]
  • Out-of-body experiences given perfectly reasonable scientific explanations. That time you thought you were floating outside your body toward the bright light but then were revived? It can be explained, says a fascinating Scientific American report that runs through all the research on the subject. This is the breakdown of the "bright light" phenomenon: "tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye, as can happen with the extreme fear and oxygen loss that are both common to dying." [Scientific American]
  • Researcher who discovered malaria drug therapy gets her due. Tu Youyou is the name of an 81 year-old researcher you probably don't know but should: she saved what's been described as millions of lives in over 100 developing countries for creating the now standard malaria drug treatment. She's been honored with an award (and $250,000 in prize money) from the The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. [Lasker Foundation via Associated Press]
  • This is what a newly discovered Super-Earth looks like.  Below you'll find an artists impression of a Super-Earth. From far away, it looks kinda like Earth, except it has a mass that's 3.6 times as big. This one pictured below, HD 85512 b as it's unmemorably called, is about 36 light years away. As Cosmic Log's Alan Boyle points out, what makes the planet so exciting is that it exists "where scientists believe water could exist in liquid form, which would make a rocky planet potentially livable."  [Cosmic Log/MSNBC.com, Eurekalert]

Photo credit to ESO/M. Kornmesser