Discovered: Unprecedented ocean acidification, weed does and doesn't impair memory, a strike against wine snobs and california isn't that fat anymore.
- "Unprecedented" ocean acidification. For your depressing Earth-related news of the day: Our oceans are not in good shape. Looking at sediments, researchers have found they are acidifying faster than they have in the last 300 million years. That's bad because, "We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out -- new species evolved to replace those that died off. But if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about -- coral reefs, oysters, salmon," said researcher Bärbel Hönisch. And it's actually even worse than that because: "It's not a problem that can be quickly reversed," said Christopher Langdon, a biological oceanographer at the University of Miami who co-authored the study on Papua New Guinea reefs. "Once a species goes extinct it's gone forever. We're playing a very dangerous game." [Earth Institute at Columbia]
- Weed does and doesn't impair memory. Marijuana definitely does something to one's brain. But -- to the delight of many pot heads -- it isn't as simple as that. Smoking marijuana doesn't have a direct effect on the brain's most vital neurons, finds new research. "We have found that the starting point for this phenomenon -- the effect of marijuana on working memory -- is the astroglial cells," said Giovanni Marsicano. Those astroglial cells are what the study refers to as "passive support cells long believed to play second fiddle to active neurons," which to us reads as less important parts of the brains. Smoke on. [Cell Press]
- Another reason to tune out wine snobs. Attention, pretentious wine snobs. Science has some bad news for you: Your opinion does not matter. "What we found is that the fundamental taste ability of an expert is different," explains researcher John Hayes. That pretty much discounts the entire wine tasting snobbery, right? If these experts taste differently than we do, we see no reason to take their opinions into account. [American Journal of Enology and Viticulture]
- California isn't that fat anymore. In the American war on obesity, California has made progress. Sort of. A teeny-tiny bit, at least. It is not that the state no longer has an issue. It hasn't gotten skinnier. In fact, it's still getting fatter. Just not at the same fast rate as before. "While childhood obesity is still on the rise (2 percent more children were overweight and obese in 2008 than in 2003), the rate of increase is slowing," explains the write-up. It's a step! [UC Davis]