science soda

If you’re a germaphobe, make sure you’re sitting down.

Back in 1999, a woman in California cleaned up rodent droppings in her home. Two weeks later, her liver started failing. Then she started to bleed internally — a hemorrhagic fever that would kill her. Eventually doctors found a new virus in her body, which very likely came from a rat.

Over in the Midwest, the problem has been new tick-borne diseases, some deadly. And in New England, doctors are dealing with a disease that causes Lyme-like symptoms but is caused by a different bacteria.

The pattern continues across the country and across the world. A spike in new infectious diseases is the new normal.

MAP: Find Out What New Viruses Are Emerging In Your Backyard

Source: NPR analysis of EcoHealth Alliance data
Credit: Michaeleen Doucleff, Brittany Mayes and Katie Park/NPR


Baking powder vs. baking soda: an important distinction!


‘Hot ice’ is created using sodium acetate, which is a salt created from the reaction between sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, and acetic acid, or vinegar. When this reaction occurs, sodium acetate appears to freeze like ‘ice’ as the cold solution turns from liquid to solid. This process is exothermic, meaning that the solid structure is warm to the touch. Solutions of sodium acetate are used in certain types of hand-warmers. When a metal button is pressed inside the plastic pouch containing the solution, it releases chemicals that starts the reaction. Don’t worry his hand is fine.

Random Sentence Meme Part 4
  • “That tickles!”
  • “Is that what I think it is?”
  • “That’s not very good.”
  • “I thought Walmart had everything, but apparently not this.”
  • “I can’t believe they put an ice cream parlor here.”
  • “What is your favorite anime?”
  • “The 70’s had some great television shows.”
  • “Pink furry handcuffs? Sounds a bit kinky.”
  • “Who’s bright idea was this?”
  • “Could we go out for a bit?”
  • “I really hate allergy season.”
  • “I really need a soda.”
  • “Science rules!”
  • “Who knew arcades were still this popular?”
  • “I bet I can”
  • “We might need a bigger backpack.”
  • “I think I need a new tablet.”
  • “Which one is your favorite?”
  • “The weather is really nice today.”
  • “Could you please be quiet for a second?”
  • “Hey look, a comic book shop!”
  • “Do you happen to know who stars in that movie?”
  • “Can you please just let me have a moment alone?”
  • “I can’t stand this.”
  • “Could you read me a story?”
  • “I need to get a new dresser. This one is falling apart.”

1. First 10 Minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.

2. 20 Minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to hits by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)

3. 40 Minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.

4. 45 Minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

5. 60 Minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium,  magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in your metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.

6. >60 Minutes: The caffein’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assures that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolytes and water.

7. >60 Minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing is with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

infographic credit: Wade Meredith

Sugary drinks may cause menstruation to start earlier, study suggests

Sugary drinks may be causing girls to start menstruating earlier, research suggests. A study of girls aged nine to 14 found that those averaging more than 1.5 sugar-sweetened beverages a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those consuming two a week or fewer.

The difference of a few months is not great, but the researchers say it may be significant because earlier onset menstrual periods are among the factors contributing to an increased risk of breast cancer later in life. However, one expert said the small change may not be hugely biologically relevant.

Sugary drinks are widely thought to be contributing to childhood obesity, which is already known to be a factor in earlier onset of menstruation.

The lead researcher in the US study, Dr Karin Michels, of Harvard Medical School, said: “Our study adds to increasing concern about the widespread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks among children and adolescents in the US and elsewhere. The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar.

You see, some researchers got curious about this whole beer belly thing a while back, but presumably their stingy bosses wouldn’t sign off on a never-ending supply of oat soda “for science.” So they rounded up a 2,000-strong bunch of Czechs, a people who apparently wean their toddlers off of the bottle by offering them a nice stout. And what they found was at once surprising and freaking awesome: Beer appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the so-called beer gut.

In fact, research shows that the amount of beer you drink and the size of your belly have no correlation whatsoever. Hell, if you keep your beer intake under even a modicum of control, chances are it doesn’t even do that much to your general weight gain.

Now obviously beer has calories, so a huge intake will contribute to weight gain (especially since you tend to take very little exercise when you’re constantly bombed). But even then, it’s nothing more than what, say, a strict bacon sandwich diet would do to you – any excess calories can lead to weight gain. And that weight may or may not settle right on your belly, depending on whether you’re genetically predisposed to it.

That’s right: There’s a beer belly gene.

The 5 Most Ridiculous Drinking Myths You Probably Believe

To show how our bodies affect our brains Sian Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, did a study that sought to answer the question: When you decide whether or not you like an object, might you be making that decision based on how easy it is to pick the object up?

She put two kitchen objects – for example, a spatula and a spoon — in front of 15 undergraduate volunteers. The objects were placed in different positions — say, one with the handle facing the person, one with the handle pointed away.

She asked her volunteers to move the object they liked better into a box. Each person was given 16 tests. Each time, one of the objects was in an easier-to-pick-up position than the other.

You would expect a 50/50 breakdown. But the study, published in the journal Emotion Review, showed that 63 percent of the time people preferred the object that was easiest to grab.

Your Brain May Want That Bottle Of Soda Because It’s Easy To Pick Up

Photo Credit: Ariel Zambelich/NPR

NEWSHOUR SCIENCE: Why we’re drawn to fizzy drinks

“The main component of carbonation sensation is the pain,” said Paul Wise, a scientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Scientists like Wise have studied the interplay of gas and bubbles on the human taste system.

The slightly painful quality of the drink — its bite — is thanks to a receptor found on our tongues. This receptor, called TRPA1, detects sour tastes, among other things. The degree to which this receptor is stimulated may determine whether the signal is interpreted as pleasure or pain.