Discovered: Facebook friends and gray matter, what makes waves glow, cobbling together an invulnerability suit, and materialism strikes back.
  • About your brainy gray matter and your Facebook friends.  Two of researchers favorite interest veins collide in a finding from a new study that used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze the brains of 125 undergrads and the number of Facebook friends they have. The bigger the brain, as the link goes, the more social-networking connections a person has. What the authors behind the study seem preoccupied with is the cause-effect question, as Reuters writes: "it is not possible to say whether having more Facebook connections makes particular parts of the brain larger or whether some people are simply pre-disposed, or 'hard-wired,' to have more friends." Oddly, when referring back to our mini-primer to the things linked by research to brain shrinkage, internet addiction makes an appearance. And you'd think that Facebook users with a huge number of friends would be on the internet a fair amount. But maybe those active Facebookers figured out how to juggle their time efficiently with their bigger brains. [Reuters, Proceedings of the Royal Society]
  • The $10,000-plus make-shift suit that will help you avoid death. In a tongue-in-cheek science essay in Discover magazine, David Freedman dreams about the perfect suit that would make an accident-prone germaphobe proud--a custom made, cobbled together invulnerability suit that protects from weaponry, disease, radiation and pretty much anything else you can imagine. This is the checklist: "A Kevlar bulletproof vest goes for about $700; a Kappler chemical-and-fire-protective suit can push $3,000; a top-of-line RAE gas detector costs more than $6,500; and that Demron suit will set me back at least $1,700. Add them up and a not-fully-protective, really sweaty, socially repellent multisuit will run me about $10,000, and that’s without tailoring." [Discover]
  • Unabashed materialists can't catch a break. After wreaking havoc last week on the self-reported life satisfaction scores of married couples (read: money-grubbing marrieds are likelier to have a terrible relationship), "materialistic values" have now set their sights on messing with America's teens. Unsurprisingly, a study published in the aptly titled journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that when some 1,329 adolescents self-reported holding materialistic values and admitted to compulsive buying tendencies, their subjective well-being scores dropped. Buying things will never make you happy, we keep getting told. [Press Release - Springer Science]
  • Ever sweep your hand through an ocean wave and see florescent light trail through the water?  It's a neat experience: swim strokes look like they're lit up with the stuff that fills glow-sticks. Here's what those seemingly rare moments look like from a photographer who snapped a few shots in Carlsbad, CA on late October night. Today, a new National Science Foundation funded study touts itself as the first to give a detailed explanation of how this bioluminescence occurs. And they have the pseudo-infographic to prove it. Trace the activation of the dinoflagellate below. [Press Release - National Science Foundation]