Discovered: That athletic tape doesn't do much; sleep trouble isn't just a first world problem; fruit flies on meth die from anorexia; squids detach their own arms to evade predators.
Flies on meth die from anorexia. Well, getting fruitflies high on meth is one way of doing science. Entomology researchers at the University of Illinois did just that, and they discovered that the drug drastically decreases flies' food intake, just as as it does in human meth users. But it also ups their physical activity, and the dangerous combination of physical exertion and starvation leads, predictably, to death. Researcher Kent Walters says, "While methamphetamine exposure has a lot of other toxic effects that also undermine an animal’s health, we show that meth exposure leads to anorexia and the resulting caloric deficit exhausts the animal’s metabolic reserves." Anorexia "is likely a primary factor in meth-induced mortality," according to the study. [University of Illinois]
Squid self-amputate to fend off foes. Stephanie Bush from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has discovered that squid can evade predators by amputating their own arms. While filming the red-tinged Octopoteuthis deletron, she noticed that many of them had at arms which were shorter and stumpier than the others. The squid don't just use this tactic defensively; they can also wrap their arms around an opponent, detaching a still-flailing limb in order to distract predators while they jet away to safety. Below, watch some footage that Bush captured of a limb-detaching squid in action. [Discover]
Tossing and turning in the developing world. Conducting the first major analysis of sleep problems throughout Africa and Asia, researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered that it's getting as hard for people in developing nations to sleep as it is in developed nations. The scientists found 150 million sleep disturbance cases, a number that roughly translates to 16.6 percent of the developing world's inhabitants. In comparison, 20 percent of those living in wealthier countries have trouble sleeping regularly. Sleep problems are strongly linked to psychological conditions like depression and anxiety, common afflictions in developed countries. Bangladesh, South Africa and Vietnam had the highest levels of sleep disturbance, while citizens of India and Indonesia slept most soundly. [University of Warwick]
That tape athletes wear doesn't actually do much. Lots of athletes, including those currently competing in the Olympics, have taken to wearing a special brand of tape that supposedly provides muscle and joint support while also preventing injuries. But scientists doubt the effectiveness of this Kinesio tape. "It may be a fashion accessory, and it may be just one of those fads that come along from time to time, but to my knowledge there's no firm scientific evidence to suggest it will enhance muscle performance," says Steve Harridge, a King's College London professor. But he admits that an important placebo effect might help boost the performances of those athletes who believe in the tape's benefits. "The fact that athletes think it's going to do them some good can help in a psychological way." [Reuters]