Is fluoride making us idiots? Was General Jack D. Ripper right after all?
Probably not. Lots of limitations on the most recent study, including long-term vs episodic fluoride exposure, controlling for lead exposure, noisy data, and a couple of individuals with extremely low IQ’s that may have thrown the entire data set. Also, previous studies indicated problems only at extremely high fluoride exposures – much higher than typical water fluoridation.
But don’t let that prevent us from getting a good panic on!
To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Alien: Covenant DVD release, we wanted to share a little fun we had thanks to a partnership with YouTube Space LA, who helped recreate David’s Lab from the film’s set.
Science has also provided a little comfort as to why your amorous advances are sometimes spurned. A famous study had women sniffing the underarms of T-shirts worn by men and then ranking the odor. The more similar the men’s and women’s immune system genes were, the worse the T-shirt stank to the women. There is a sound evolutionary explanation for this: If parental immune genes are too similar, the offspring will not be as well equipped to fight pathogens. In this case, genes used odor receptors as a proxy to size up whether a potential mate’s DNA is a good match. Studies like this affirm that chemistry between people really is a thing. Perhaps we should not take another’s romantic disinterest personally but view it more like organ rejection.
Turns out it may not just be calories in, calories out.
We’ve been fattening cows with antibiotics since the 1950s, but we’re just now starting to understand the relationship between the types of bacteria in the bovine gut and how they impact weight. Turns out, that relationship might exist for us, too – and the fix may not be as simple as probiotics.
“A lot of the recent research on probiotics suggests it’s really not easy to keep and sustain new communities,” Stephens says. The immune system could explain that. “It may well be that your immune response gets ‘stuck’ at an early age based on what you’ve exposed it to. Probiotics might not be enough to change a person’s microbiome, because your immune system determined early on that certain microbes are either appropriate or inappropriate in your gut.”
DEVO’s first single, released March 12, 1977 on Booji Boy Records. (B/W “Jocko Homo,” of course.)
About the video …
“Mongoloid” was Devo’s second music video, after The Truth About De-Evolution. It was not actually made by the band, but by assemblage artist and experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner. Conner combined 1950s television advertisements, science fiction film clips (including a scene from It Came from Outer Space), and scientific documentaries with abstract animation and original film work. Devo marketed the film as “A documentary film exploring the manner in which a determined young man overcame a basic mental defect and became a useful member of society. Insightful editing techniques reveal the dreams, ideals and problems that face a large segment of the American male population. Very educational. Background music written and performed by the DEVO orchestra.”
Two episodes in to HBO’s new miniseries and I’m hooked. Thanks for the recommendation, Droog!
The attention to detail is amazing, all the way down to the slightly fucked up font used in the credits. There’s a great interview with writer/producer Craig Mazin on Vice regarding his motivation to get it right.
Chernobyl accomplishes this, in part, by adhering as closely as it can to historical fact. Every major character save one—a nuclear physicist played by Emily Watson—has a real-life counterpart, from the scientist in charge of cleanup efforts (Valery Legasov, played by Jared Harris), to the wife of a firefighter at the scene of the explosion (Lyudmilla Ignatenko, played by Jessie Buckley). The clothing Chernobyl’s characters wear, the cars they drive, the cigarettes they smoke, the glassware they drink from, the wallpaper in their homes—all of it is staggeringly accurate, a product of more than two and a half years of research.
So anyway, podcast. It provides additional information for each episode in the five-part series, so watch an episode and then give the podcast a listen.
Google Duplex is one of the more impressive products Google has shown off in recent years. Just ask the Google Assistant to make a restaurant reservation at a certain time, and it will do it. By “do it,” I mean it will make a phone call to a business, speak to the business on your behalf with one of the most human-sounding computer-generated voices ever made, negotiate a reservation time, and get back to you.
David Nutt, psychiatrist and director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has been working on a safe alternative to booze since he discovered an alcohol antidote as a PhD student in 1983. From an article in The Guardian, here’s the cool science-nerd part …
What Nutt now knows is that there are 15 different Gaba receptor subtypes in multiple brain regions, “and alcohol is very promiscuous. It will bind to them all.” Without giving away his trade secrets, he says he has found which Gaba and other receptors can be stimulated to induce tipsiness without adverse effects. “We know where in the brain alcohol has its ‘good’ effects and ‘bad’ effects, and what particular receptors mediate that – Gaba, glutamate and other ones, such as serotonin and dopamine. The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”
Handily, you can modify the way in which a molecule binds to a receptor to produce different effects. You can design a peak effect into it, so no matter how much Alcarelle you consume, you won’t get hammered. This is well-established science; in fact Nutt says a number of medicines, such as the smoking cessation drug varenicline (marketed as Champix), use a similar shut-off effect. You can create other effects, too, while still avoiding inebriation, so you could choose between a party drink or a business-lunch beverage.
Ultimately, the aim isn’t for Alcarelle to become a drinks company, but to supply companies in the drinks industry with the active ingredient, so that they can make and market their own products. You would expect that the alcohol industry would view Alcarelle as its nemesis, but Orren says that industry players “are approaching us as potential investing collaborators”. This doesn’t surprise Jonny Forsyth, a global drinks analyst at Mintel. “The industry is increasingly investing in alcohol alternatives,” he says. “We have seen a lot of investment in cannabis … They’re looking at nonalcoholic gins and soft drinks because they know people are drinking less [alcohol], and this is a trend that is going to carry on. If the science is right, and if it’s easy to mask the taste, I think it’s got a great chance.”
Any of you bastards ever see Moon? (AKA the tiny, old-school-sci-fi movie that David Bowie’s son directed.) Can’t believe it came out 10 years ago, but then, I can’t believe I’m 50. Go figure.
Moon is on Netflix at the moment, and well worth a look. It’s best to go in cold though, so don’t watch trailers or read spoilerish reviews. It’s so beloved that a book is coming out later this year to commemorate its 10-year anniversary. Check it out …
Titan Books and Liberty Films are delighted to announce the publication of Making Moon to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Moon’s initial release, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Director Duncan Jones’ feature film debut, Moon won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, along with numerous film critic and film festival awards. Moon was also nominated for the BAFTA for Best British Film and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film in 2009.
Directed by Duncan Jones, and written by Nathan Parker from a story by Jones, Moon is a 2009 science fiction drama following Sam Bell (Oscar®-winner Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the moon. Independently financed and produced on a modest budget, Moon became an instant cult classic. It was well received by critics and audiences alike, and was particularly praised for its scientific plausibility and realism.
Set to publish on 3 September 2019, Making Moon will take an in-depth look back at the film’s production. It features interviews with the film’s key creatives and includes rare concept and behind-the-scenes images, as well as excerpts from the original shooting script.