Balding Polar Bears; The Benefits of Texting

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Discovered: Polar bears are balding, texting is therapeutic, divorce is linked to life expectancy and dinosaurs could be ruling a distant planet.

  • Where's the Arctic-Strength Rogain when you need it? It's not just 30-year-old men who need to start worrying about the terrifying prospect of premature hair loss: Polar bears do, too. New research from scientists at the U.S. Geological Survery finds that 33 Alaskan polar bears, in the last two weeks, have begun losing their fur. The reason? Nobody knows. "Scientists have been collecting blood and tissue samples from the afflicted bears, but they do not know the cause or the significance of the outbreak," reports the Associated Press. "Our data set suggests that this is unusual but not unprecedented," Tony DeGange, chief of the USGS biology office, said. Apparently this propped up in the late 90s as well but the worry this time around is that it's coinciding with an uptick in seal deaths so scientists are looking for a link. "Now we have this unexplained mortality event going on with seals. And they haven't been successful in figuring out what caused the seal deaths. Is it just a matter of coincidence or is it related? We don't know."  Whatever the cause is, welcome to the premature hair loss club, guys. [Associated Press]
  • Texting is surprisingly therapeutic. Texting and its evil step-sister "sexting," have long-been singled out for bastardizing the English language and ruining dinner dates nationwide. But a new study by a social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley finds that texting has a measurably-beneficial effect for people who are stressed out and lonely. "Adrian Aguilera, a clinical psychologist who treats many low-income Latinos for depression and other mental disorders, said his patients report feeling more connected and cared for when they receive text messages asking them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions, and take their prescribed medications," reports Science Daily. One Spanish-speaking patient says that when he received a text message during a "difficult" time "I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved." [Science Daily]
  • The latest way to stave off a divorce: Die sooner. Politicians may tell you America's sky-high divorce rate is due to our corrupted culture but researchers at Queen's University in Ontario have found a new factor: Life expectancy. "The actual life expectancy of a province or a health region can predict when men and women get married and the rates of men and women divorcing," said Daniel Krupp, a post doctoral fellow in math at the school. They looked at birth records, marriage certificates and court documents and found that people with shorter life expectancies get divorced less frequently. "It's very possible that our view of the relationship itself changes when life expectancy shortens -- that people are less dissatisfied with the same relationship than they would be if their life expectancy was longer," Krupp said. [Queen's University]
  • Super smart dinosaurs could be ruling a distant planet somewhere. It's easy to take the dominion of mankind over the earth for granted. Couldn't the planet have been ruled by super smart dinosaurs? Couldn't other planets be ruled by super smart dinosaurs? It's a prospect taken seriously in a new study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society that gives evidence that the makeup of amino acids on Earth was set by a meteorite about 4 billion years ago giving normal amino acids an L-geometry. But the Earth's amino acids could've turned out differently, says scientist Ronald Breslow, Ph.D. "An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D-amino acids and L-sugars," reports Science Daily. "Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs." [Journal of the American Chemical Society]

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