Discovered: how far cockroaches can jump, a lifespan myth debunked, glass half-full on cancer prevention and, yes, bedbugs get even more gross.
- Bedbugs are winning. And they're even grosser than you thought. Most city dwellers have their own terrible infestation stories, so at this point it's hard to see how America's "bed bug" problem could get any more disgusting. "A team of entomologists led by Coby Schal and Ed Vargo of North Carolina State University studied the genes of bedbugs infesting three multistory apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey and found very low genetic diversity -- meaning most of them were very close relatives," reported Reuters. As in: bed bugs are inbreeding. And some of them have been infected with a "superbug" germ. Sounds even more like a bad horror flick. [Reuters]
- A climate change sign or maybe just an interesting fact about National Park attendance. Not all climate change-themed research needs to be scary to be interesting. Here's a study from UNC researchers that is tenuously linking earlier peak attendance at National Parks with what they guess is changing weather over the last 30 years. "For example, peak attendance at Grand Canyon National Park shifted from July 4 in 1979 to June 24 in 2008." They found the same pattern at other parks that "experienced significant increases in mean spring temperatures" (i.e. parks got warmer earlier during the past three decades). What does this tell us? Maybe nothing. There could be plenty of reasons other than changing weather patterns, as they concede. But, from the release, it appears that the team is just offering the study as just a data point in a larger research vein. [University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]
- Maybe the "does the president look a lot older?" question was taken too seriously. Whenever people talk about presidents "aging faster" it always seems to revolve on whether their hair is getting slightly getting grayer or they look a bit less spry than they did as a candidate. We haven't heard the notion that actually living in the White House as president would literally correlate with a shorter lifespan. But, if anyone had this misconception, it was cleared up by a University of Chicago professor who "aimed to verify or shoot down speculation that presidents while in office age twice as fast as other men." The scientific method at work! He found "23 of 34 presidents who died of natural causes lived beyond the average life expectancy for men of the same age." [USA Today]
- British researchers message on cancer: there's things you can do to prevent it. It seems like an amorphous statistic: "40% of cancers due to lifestyle" the BBC informs based on new estimating research. The team behind the findings is framing the result as a way to empower people that, yes, you can control some dietary things to help ward off the likelihood of getting cancer. Sort of like a glass half-full approach to prevention. "Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it," the study's lead author told the BBC. And, again, if you're looking for a good place to start, the news outlet dryly suggests: "Booze, cigarettes and inactivity are collectively bad." [BBC News]
- This is a cockroach that is doing its best impression of an Olympic long jumper. We have University of Cambridge researchers and New Scientist to thank for this bizarre clip of a cockroach leaping into the air. The impetus: the research team "are investigating how far the roaches can leap and found that they can jump a distance of 35 centimetres, or about 48 times their own body length." In other words, it (or them) have no problem jaunting around your tiny apartment while your away or sleeping. Unfortunately, the black-and-white clip cuts out for some reason right as the roach is in triumphant mid-leap, so we don't get to see the landing. Also: we have to think the background music was added for comedic effect, right? [New Scientist]