Discovered: Does sex really vanish when men do more chores?; weighing black holes; why you should get most of your eating in before 3:00 p.m.; a quarter-billion year old tapeworm.
How couples split housework, and how it might affect their sex lives. A sociological study led by the Juan March Institute's Sabino Kornrich finds that married couples in the United States that leave more household chores to the husband have less sex than couples in which women take on more domestic duties. Kornrich and his colleagues studied 3,500 heterosexual couples, finding that couples who followed traditional attitudes toward "women's work" reported more active sex lives than progressive couples where men did more mopping, dish-washing, and cooking. But should we trust these results, believing that progress on gender equality in housework comes at the expense of intimacy? Oriel Sullivan, a sociologist at the University of Oxford in England, thinks not, citing other research that suggests, "The jury is out on this." In fact, a sociologist at Montclair State University has found evidence that couples who take on more housework together and split chores evenly have the most sex of anyone, following a "work hard, play hard" model. [ScienceNews]
Weighing supermassive black holes. We can't go deep into space and put supermassive black holes on a scale, because we'd be sucked into a terrible time-warp oblivion—and any scale we could build would crush under the sheer weight of these gravitational vacuums at the center of most galaxies. But a new way to weigh these unfathomably heavy objects has just been outlined in Nature. BBC News reports:
The new work focuses instead on cold, dense masses of gas that have markedly less random motion, and which emit their radiation in the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum. That allows the use of telescopes and arrays with far better resolution.
The lead author of this new method, Timothy Davis of the European Southern Observatory, says, "The observations we present in the paper took over 100 hours on the Carma telescope. We estimate that with Alma you'll be able to reproduce those observation in 10 minutes. It's a real game-changer." [BBC News]
An ancient tapeworm infection. The primitive shark who was infected with one of the first tapeworms must've been a skinny little swimmer. Researchers have found evidence of a 270-million-year-old tapeworm in fossilized shark feces retrieved from southern Brazil. This sample is 140 million years older than the last found records of intestinal parasites. The new specimen had 93 eggs in it, one of them containing what looks like a larva. So now we know who to blame for the subsequent proliferation of gut intruders that freeload off the food we put in our bodies. [Science Now]
Don't eat too much after 3:00 p.m. Oprah was right: late night eating is a big diet no-no. A new report in the International Journal of Obesity shows that Spaniards who limited their food intake at night by eating their main meal before 3:00 p.m. were able to lose more weight than late-night eaters. The study controlled for such factors as sleep habits, the type of food eaten, and physical activity. Even with those variables ruled out, early eaters lost five more pounds in an experimental diet than those who had large dinners later at night. M. Garaulet of the University of Murcia in Spain and co-authors write, "Recent studies link energy regulation to the circadian clock … emphasizing that the timing of food intake itself may have a significant role in weight regulation." [Los Angeles Times]