Discovered: How the zebra got its stripes, driving high is not safe, Spanish teens are squares, what caused Snowmaggedon, a drug that reverses Alzheimers.
- How the zebra got its stripes. A question that has long plagued children's book authors (and scientists) has finally been resolved by science. "We conclude that zebras have evolved a coat pattern in which the stripes are narrow enough to ensure minimum attractiveness to tabanid flies," said the team of researchers. This isn't really a new theory, though. Back in 1981, a team of researchers had the same hypothesis. This group, however, thinks they proved it, spending time at a horse-fly infested farm, playing around with light and dark lights, and eventually concluding that a zebra pattern did the best job at keeping flies away. Evolution sure had a pretty way of working that one out. [Journal of Experimental Biology]
- Driving high is not safe. Looking at 49,411 people, researchers at Dalhousie University found that operating a vehicle while stoned doubles the risk of accident. Definitely not a good idea. But drunk driving still takes the stupidity cake, with those boozed-up loonies posing 13 times the risk of accident compared to a sober driver. And, really, text addicts are the worse, increasing crash risk by 20 times. Rule: No fun allowed inside cars. [BMJ]
- Spanish teens are squares. 60 percent of Spaniards between the ages of 13 and 18 said they don't do drugs and rarely drink, with less than 10 percent taking illegal drugs. In comparison, many American kids are smoking weed, doing drugs, and drinking: In a recent University of Michigan study, 38 percent of 10th graders reported having tried an illicit drug. Now let's compare the rates of car crashes in Spain and America. [Journal of Health Psychology]
- What caused Snowmaggedon? Climate change? That was our guess. But science has a more specific answer: El Niño plus some other stuff. "This model ... confirms that a negative North American Oscillation and El Niño conditions created the conditions that allowed these storms to form," said Richard Seager. Sounds like a one-two punch. [Journal of Climate]
- A drug that reverses Alzheimers. This could be one of those too-good-to-be-true mice studies, but then again, it could also work out. A drug named bexarotene has "quickly reversed" memory loss in mice, found Case Western researchers. We know: mice. But: "this is an unprecedented finding," says researcher Paige Cramer. Hope! [Case Western]