Discovered: Mapping the genetics of barley; intelligence linked with anorexia and bulimia risk; UV light could prevent nasty hospital infections; dolphins sleep with one eye open.
Perfecting beer through the delicate science of barley genetics. About 32,000 different genes make up the barley genome. That's twice the size of the human genome, and an international team of scientists has gathered to crack it. Clearly, this work has some very important implications—chief among them, better beer. Oh, and better food security for those in developing nations, considering that barley is the world's fourth most cultivated crop. The genomic map of barley released by this consortium includes information about improving yields, preventing disease, enhancing nutritional value, and bolstering the crop's ability to withstand heat and drought. The research was funded by Danish beer giant, the Carlsberg Group. Research Peter Langridge says the findings prove that barley is much more genetically complex than its reputation suggests. "Barley always feels like a poor brother to wheat," he says. "But we gather and drink beer together and discuss things. It's a good intellectual lubricant." [Deutsche Welle]
Are kids prone to eating disorders smarter? A study conducted by researchers from the University College London's Institute of Child Health suggests they are. Psychologists examined 6,200 children between the age of 8 and 10, finding that the kids more at risk for developing an eating disorder had significantly higher IQs. To be clear, the researchers did not focus on the children's actual diets—just on the likelihood of those kids becoming anorexic or bulimic. The risk factor was determined in part by the children's relatives. Those whose family histories had a higher incidence of psychologically fraught relationships with food also had higher IQs. Lead researcher Nadia Micali says the findings don't reveal anything about the consequences of having an eating disorder, but do shed light on the early development of such disorders. "Although more research is needed to clarify these results, these findings should nevertheless help in the identification of vulnerable children, and in furthering our understanding of which neuropsychological characteristics may make a child susceptible to an eating disorder." [Salon]