Discovered: Death by red meat?, tweens don't care about alcohol and cigarettes, computers should act more like babies and good news in the forest.
- Death by red meat? Oh, no. Please, for the little Ron Swanson living inside of us, say that this bit of research is just not true. "Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies," says researcher An Pan. So what kind of consumption are we talking about, here? "One daily serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk of mortality, and one daily serving of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk," explains the research write-up. Just one daily serving is all it takes, then. In other related research news, science has also linked trans-fats with aggression. None of this bodes well for our eating habits. [Harvard School of Public Health, University of California San Diego]
- Tweens don't care about alcohol and cigarettes. Considering middle-schoolers don't think about anything other than their new body parts (and how to use them), that they don't think about drugs and alcohol makes sense to us. That's what new research found, at least. Kids that age know about the good and the bad and don't really have an opinion on these substances. Researchers hope to use this ammo to push kids in the "right" direction. "There is such a big focus now on telling kids substances are bad, but from our study we are seeing that they already know they are bad, therefore that is not the problem," explains researcher Roisin O'Connor. "The problem is the likelihood of external pressures that are pushing them past their ambivalence so that they use," she says. [Journal of Studies on Alcohol Abuse and Drugs]
- Computers should be more like babies. Babies are good at learning, according to research (and, like, common sense). So why not make computers more like them? After testing this baby knowledge acquisition hypothesis, researchers found they are particular good at "testing hypotheses, detecting statistical patterns and drawing conclusions while constantly adapting to changes," -- things computers don't do too well. "Young children are capable of solving problems that still pose a challenge for computers, such as learning languages and figuring out causal relationships," said researcher Tom Griffiths. "We are hoping to make computers smarter by making them a little more like children," he continued. [UC Berkeley]
- The forest isn't doing too poorly. Even with all this climate change and industrialization stuff, America's northern forests have expanded by 28 percent over the last 130 years. Over that same time, the population in that area has jumped from 52 to 124 million people. Well done, forests. Against all odds! But, we shouldn't celebrate too hard, warns science. "While it's heartening to see our northern forests thriving in great times of change, we should also use this report as a reminder to remain vigilant about working together across all lands to make sure these positive trends continue," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "Forests have rebounded over the last century, but there are significant threats that could undo many of the gains," he continued. [U.S. Forest Service]