Discovered: Glue from gecko feet, alcohol as a health food, sleeping your way to memory loss, and pregnant women should get dogs.
- Glue from gecko feet. This isn't like that inhumane horse-glue stuff, thank goodness. The adhesive is just inspired by gecko feet. For good reason: "Amazingly, gecko feet can be applied and disengaged with ease, and with no sticky residue remaining on the surface," explains researcher Duncan Irschick. Thus Irschick invented Geckskin, a material that can hold up to 700 pounds on a wall, without leaving that sticky residue. Here's the secret: "The key innovation by Bartlett and colleagues was to create an integrated adhesive with a soft pad woven into a stiff fabric. Further, as in natural gecko feet, the skin is woven into a synthetic 'tendon,' yielding a design that plays a key role in maintaining stiffness and rotational freedom." [UMass]
- Alcohol as health food. For bugs. Sorry. But, fruit flies luck out, using booze as a way to fend off parasites, according to research out of Emory University. "We found that environmental alcohol protects fruit flies from being parasitized by wasps, and that, even after being infected, fruit fly consumption of alcohol leads to death of the wasps growing within them," said researcher Todd Schlenke. "Surprisingly, fly larvae actively seek out ethanol-containing food when infected, showing they use alcohol as an antiwasp medicine." But, hey, maybe it works for humans infected with parasites, too? (Probably not. Don't try that.) [Current Biology]
- Sleeping your way to memory loss. Or rather, not sleeping your way there. People who don't sleep well may be at higher risk for developing Alzheimer's, finds research that will be presented at American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting. Bad sleepers shouldn't let the news keep them up at night: It's just a link, not that one causes the other. The research found that people who wake up more than five times an hour were more likely to have amyloid plaques, which is an early stage of Alzheimer's. Just try to sleep, if you can. [io9]
- Pregnant women should get dogs. Not just to prepare for a double-threat of cuteness post delivery, but because dogs lead to the right amount of exercise for expectant mothers, research finds. Pregnant women were 50 percent more likely to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity if they had a puppy around. "As a low-risk exercise, dog walking can help women who may otherwise find it hard to meet their exercise targets, keep active, and fit during pregnancy," explained Dr. Sandra McCune. With that logic, it seems like regular people should have dogs, too, right? [PLoS One]