Discovered: Venus has bad weather, women like men to feel their pain, how much water the Earth has lost, cancerless super mice, and how to change your DNA.
- What the weather is like on Venus. It's full of what science calls "hot flow anomolies," which by name alone sounds intriguing. "They [HFA] are an amazing phenomenon," says researcher David Sibeck, who found the evidence for these weather outbursts. Amazing, eh? Like, maybe the kind of place we might like to vacation? No. More like amazing from a safe, Earth-y distance. "Hot flow anomalies release so much energy that the solar wind is deflected, and can even move back toward the sun. That's a lot of energy when you consider that the solar wind is supersonic -- traveling faster than the speed of sound -- and the HFA is strong enough to make it turn around," he continues. [NASA]
- Women like men to feel their pain. There goes science again, bolstering stereotypes about relationships. Basically, research has confirmed what makes women happy -- and this is a true fact, says this woman blogger -- is when their boyfriends or husbands feel, live, breathe their misery. There is nothing that makes us happier than you knowing how unhappy we are. Here's the scientific explanation for why that is: "It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times," said researcher Shiri Cohen. Our theory: Just plain selfish cruelty. If we're unhappy, you best be unhappy, too. Men, on the other hand, just want their partners to be happy. [American Psychological Association]
- The Earth hasn't lost that much water in the last 4 billion years. Considering all the fears about climate change and water availability, this sounds encouraging to us. Looking at rocks from Greenland, scientists estimate that Earth has lost less than a quarter of its "water budget," the term used for water on the planet. "The results demonstrate that the young planet's oceans, in relation to those of today, had proportionately more 'normal water' than 'heavy water' in them," said researcher Emily Pope. "We can explain this difference by the fact that Earth has lost less than ¼ of its water budget over the last roughly 4 billion years," she continued. Pope and her colleagues consider that type of loss over that long period of time, "stable." [University of Copenhagen]
- Cancerless super mice. Mice given Pten, a tumor suppressant, not only proved cancer resistant, but also ate whatever they wanted without getting fat. Imagine that! The finding has something to do with that magical, fat-burning, brown-fat our bodies have. "This tumor suppressor protects against metabolic damage associated with aging by turning on brown fat," explains Manuel Serrano. Sign us up! [Cell Press]
- How to change your DNA. They (my mom) say we're stuck with the lousy genes we inherited. Well, mom, science has discovered a way to change our DNA. Caffeine (yay!) and exercise (boo) don't change the underlying genetic makeup (boo again), but can change the molecules that make up that DNA (ok, fine). "Our muscles are really plastic," says researcher Juleen Zierath. "We often say 'You are what you eat.' Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don't use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen," she explains. [Cell Press]