Discovered: Insects with personalities, one good thing about the BP oil spill, how to solve a problem, and the case for berries.
- Insects with personalities. These sound like bugs we'd want to hang out with. A certain type of honey bee has an adventure-seeking personality, science has discovered. How does science know this? Well, there's a test for it. Really. "There is a gold standard for personality research and that is if you show the same tendency in different contexts, then that can be called a personality trait," explains researcher Gene Robinson. Welcome to the cool kid club, bees. [University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne]
- Here's the one good thing about the BP oil spill. Good may be a stretch, but at least it's heartening: Some wildlife coated in oil after last year's spill have recovered. "Salt marshes are commonly disturbed by natural events and, as a result, they may be able to also recover from oil spills if the oil disturbance is not too large," reasons researcher Steven Pennings. Or, another possibility: "In the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshes may have dodged a bullet because relatively little oil made it into the marshes, and the oil had weathered for several weeks," adds researcher Britanny McCall. Either way, we're happy for the marshes and their creatures. [University of Houston]
- How to solve a problem. Science, which spends all day every day looking for answers, gives us a method it has dubbed "generic parts technique." Researcher Tony McCaffrey explains how it works. "For each object in your problem, you break it into parts and ask two questions," he says. "1. Can it be broken down further? and 2. -- this is the one that's been overlooked -- Does my description of the part imply a use?" He explains, "That tends to hinder people's ability to think of alternative uses for this part." This method, he says, forces people to think of non-obvious solutions to problems. Bet that's easier said than done. [University of Massachusetts]
- The case for berries. Do berries really need a case? They are unreasonably expensive ... so here's a reason to splurge. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and any other delicious berry fruit you can think of is good for the brain and could even prevent memory loss. It has something to do with those magical antioxidants, but also, berries change the way brain neurons communicate -- in a good way. Who wants some berries? [Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry]