Discovered: We don't disconnect when we go on vacation anymore, the kids who get the most allergies, why the uterus doesn't reject a fetus and a very life-like robot fish.
- Our new modern concept of vacation. Now that summer is almost upon us it's time to reflect on what vacation means. Per science, it does not mean disconnecting from our regular lives, as it once did. "Not that long ago, travelers would need to find a payphone or send postcards to brag about their vacations. Now they just log on and send photos and text," explains researcher Christine Vogt, noting how technology has made it easier for us to stay connected. "Our results show clearly how the changing nature of IT behavior in everyday life is spilling over into our vacations." On some level, that means our vacations are a little less vacation-y. [Michigan State]
- The kids who get the most allergies. Surprise here: City kids get it worse. "We have found for the first time that higher population density corresponds with a greater likelihood of food allergies in children," said explains researcher Ruchi Gupta. 9.8 percent of children have food allergies in cities, compared to 6.2 percent in rural areas. And peanut allergies are twice as common in cities as they are elsewhere. "This shows that environment has an impact on developing food allergies. The big question is -- what in the environment is triggering them?" adds Gupta. We have some thoughts -- pollution, contact with too many other humans in a tiny space, grime -- but we'll leave the real answers up to science to figure out. [Northwestern University]
- Your mom's uterus should reject your fetus. But it doesn't. Here's why. "Our manuscript addresses a fundamental question in the fields of transplantation immunology and reproductive biology, namely, how do the fetus and placenta, which express antigens that are disparate from the mother, avoid being rejected by the maternal immune system during pregnancy?" explains researcher Adrian Erlebacher. "It turns out that the cells that typically secrete the chemoattractants to bring the T cells to sites of inflammation are inhibited from doing so in the context of the pregnant uterus. The decidua appears instead as a zone of relative immunological inactivity." Basically, being pregnant changes the way a woman's body works just so that woman's body doesn't kill her unborn child. That makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, but imagine if things wen't the other way. [NYU Medical Center]
- A very life-like robot fish. This little fella might not look too real to us, but it tricked actual Zebra fish. When put in a tank with others of its kind, the zebra fish flocked to the manufactured guy, leading researchers to believe this fake fish could act as a protector fish without scaring them away. "These findings provide practical evidence that a species' preference for conspecifics may be used to inspire the design of robots which can actively engage their source of inspiration," explains researcher Dr. Maurizio Porfiri. [Institute of Physics]