Discovered: Doing less chores has increased women's waistlines; watch how these capuchin monkeys crack nuts; using genetics to pinpoint the date of The Iliad; first images of a black hole's spin.
There's a correlation between housework adherence and weight. The rage potential on this study runs high, so good on The New York Times' Gretchen Reynolds for not using a headline like "Women Who Shirk Household Chores Get Fat." The authors of a new PLoS One paper essentially found that one reason American women are getting more overweight might have to do with the fact that they're spending less time on cleaning, cooking, and laundry than they did in the past. Their results don't suggest, however, that women put on more weight than men who do less housework — just that women's household roles have shifted more in recent history, and so has their weight. Edward Archer, the research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia who led the study, says this doesn't mean women or men should be doing more housework, because the very nature of chores has become more sedentary anyway. [The New York Times]
Look at this capuchin monkey expertly crack open a nut. Cartoons like to portray monkeys opening bananas. But the skill that little capuchin monkeys really excel at is cracking palm tree nuts, as shown in the video linked here, recorded by researchers in Piaui, Brazil. They wondered how capuchins were so good at whacking these nuts open with stones, without having the shells or their contents fly every which way. They found that capuchins were able to place nuts in a stable position in a cracking surface to prevent rolling 84 percent of the time. This demonstrates that they can wield tools with much the same finesse as we humans use when swinging a hammer or a baseball bat. [ScienceNow]