Discovered: Baboons can (almost) read, the baby boomer generation is dying alone, a totally unsurprising correlation between tattoos and drinking, and a super-sucky sponge.
- Baboons can read. Planet of the Apes, here we come! Who's excited? Okay, we're not quite there. Baboons haven't gotten to the point where they can recite poems in front of the class. (Yet!) But, science has found that they can differentiate letters and words, a key skill for reading. As this video shows below, the baboons can differentiate real English words like "bank" from similar but not real English words like "jank." That's smarts, though the researchers suggest a neither uniquely human nor specifically linguistic skill. Still impressive! [CNRS]
- The baby-boomer generation will die alone. Harsh, we know. But that's what the latest statistics say, which found that one-third of adults aged 45-63 are unmarried, a more than 50 percent increase since 1980. The idea of dying alone is just plain depressing. But on top of it all, it's probably not very safe. "In the past, family members, particularly spouses, have provided care to infirm older adults," explains researcher Dr. Susan Brown. "But a growing share of older adults aren't going to have a spouse available to rely on for support.," she continues. Brown, however, has an idea for how to make this loneliness thing go away. "As more singles enter older adulthood, we as a society may have to reconsider how we care for frail elders. The family may no longer be a viable option for an increasing segment of older adults," she says. That's right, go out and help an old person you're not related to. [NCFMR]
- A totally unsurprising correlation between tattoos and drinking. Get ready to be stereotyped, tattoo and pierced friends. "We found that pierced and/or tattooed individuals had consumed more alcohol in bars on a Saturday night than patrons in the same bars who were non pierced and non tattooed," explains researcher Nicolas Guéguen. "This is the first time that we found a relation among tattoos, piercings, and alcohol consumption in France," he continued. So, people with tattoos and piercings must be alcoholic hooligans, then, right? That seems unfair, adds another researcher not involved in the study." I am concerned with the tendency to see a tattoo or piercing and automatically profile or stereotype that individual as a 'high-risk person' as this may or may not be conducive for helping them," says Myrna Armstrong. "A clinician, for example, can spend some time not judging individuals about their present tattoos, but talking to them about safe tattooing, etc. and alcohol in general … not because they have tattoos or piercings but because they are in a high-risk age group." [Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research]
- A super duper sponge. Adding a little boron to carbon creates super-sucky sponges, research has found. Though moms might dream of using this discovery for mess clean-up, science is thinking it might be more useful in the oil clean-up department, for now. "They're super-low density, so the available volume is large. That's why the uptake of oil can be so high," explains researcher Daniel Hashim. But that doesn't mean these researchers aren't thinking big. "Oil-spill remediation and environmental cleanup are just the beginning of how useful these new nanotube materials could be," added fellow researcher Mauricio Terrones. "For example, we could use these materials to make more efficient and lighter batteries. We could use them as scaffolds for bone-tissue regeneration. We even could impregnate the nanotube sponge with polymers to fabricate robust and light composites for the automobile and plane industries." [Rice University]