The Phoenix

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chocolate Brain Food?

Any chocoholics out there?

As many of you may know, there's been a lot of research done on chocolate and health benefits. We learned years ago that chocolate releases phytosteral, which mimics human sex hormones. More recently, researches found that dark chocolate has antioxidant and cardiovascular benefits. And now, there's yet one more reason to indulge in your choco-needs.

Chocolate makes you smarter.

Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, of the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, found that eating milk chocolate may boost brain function. How did he discover this?

Participants consumed milk chocolate, dark chocolate, carob (a chocolate-like bean), and then nothing on four separate rounds. After each round, the volunteers went through computer neurophysiological testing, assessing word discrimination, verbal memory, design memory, attention span, reaction time, problem solving, and response variability. Mood and task workload were assessed via the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and the NASA-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX)

So what were the results?

“Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions,” reported Dr. Raudenbush. And after eating both milk and dark chocolate, volunteers also showed improved impulse control and reaction time.

Why does eating chocolate seem to make you smarter?

The researchers believe that the digestion of chocolate helps cognitive performance by the release of glucose, and increased blood flow to the brain. Some of the ingredients in chocolate that give your brain a boost include theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine - all have been known to help with concentration and focus.

So go ahead! Eat lots of's brain food.

I'm hoping researchers will find that consuming large quantities of gummy bears will give me telepathy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Gossip Brings the World Together

Humorist/writer Dave Barry once said, "The most powerful force in the universe is gossip."

It seems Mr. Barry was right. Gossip is not only powerful, but most recently it has been found to be good for you. In an article being published in June in the journal Personal Relationships, a study found that mildly negative gossip can actually forge and solidify friendships.

Did you hear the one about Tina?
Some say she's much too loose.
That came straight from a guy who claims he's tastin' her juice.

Dr. Jennifer Bosson of the University of Oklahoma explains: "Although shared positive attitudes are indeed important in friendship, there seems to be something especially delicious about the process of sharing our grievances about other people." In other words, bitching about someone you mutually don't like will help you become closer with your fellow complainer.

Did you hear the one about Michael?
Some say he must be gay.

I tried to argue but they said that if he were straight he wouldn't move that way.

Dr. Bosson conducted three studies. The first one included 30 participants. The second one included 88 participants. They each were asked to think of a best friend, and then recall the likes and dislikes they learned they had in common with their newly found friend. Researchers found that the participants “recalled sharing a larger percentage of negative than positive attitudes” when talking about other people.

The third study listened to a fiction conversation between "Melissa" and "Brad." Then they were asked to jot down likes/dislikes concerning the character of "Brad." The participants were then paired up according to their likes/dislikes and then were asked to predict how well they thought they might "click" with their newly assigned partner. Overwhelmingly, students that were going to be paired with someone that had similar dislikes for "Brad" believed they were going to feel closer to their new partner, when compared to the individuals that were paired up because they shared a bunch of positive opinions of "Brad." In other words, my enemy's enemy is my friend.

Did you hear the one about Tina?
Some say she's just a tease.

In a camisole she's six feet tall, she'll knock you to your knees.

The researchers aren't advocating gossip as a means to make or strengthen friendships.

“Indeed, some researchers are beginning to conceptualize gossip as a form of indirect aggression that can have harmful consequences for both gossips and gossipees alike. Still, if there is a positive side of gossip, we believe it is that shared, mild, negative attitudes toward others can create and/or amplify interpersonal intimacy,” Bosson and her collegues write.

Will you look at all these rumors, surroundin' me everyday
I just need some time, some time to get away.
From all these rumors, I can't take it no more.

My best friend said there's one out now about me and the girl next door.

Personally, I'm not surprised about the findings.

The human being is such a social animal, and gossip is just one way we create relationships with our fellow homo sapiens. Most of us believe gossip is wrong, but in one way or another - we ALL do it. Whether it's talking trash about a common enemy to your best buds, or rolling your eyes along with the other two people standing in line at the store because of the slow cashier...sharing your hatred brings you closer.

Will you look at all these rumors, surrounding me everyday...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

41 Signs From Beyond The Grave?

Is it possible for those that have died to come back and visit us? Maybe give us signs that they are still around us? You hear stories of such visitations all the time. Or is that just grief? Is it just the way for the living to deal with the loss of a loved one, looking for signs all around?

One young victim of the terrible Rhode Island club fire of 2003 seems to be reaching out to his family from beyond the world of the living...from beyond the grave. And the number 41 is significant to him and his grieving family.

Nick O'Neill was 18 years old, and was a member of a metal group, Shryne. His young band was to open for Great White at The Station on February 21, 2003. Nick had decided to go to the club the night before to check everything out. That night, the pyrotechnics were ignited and burned the club down. More than 200 were injured, and 100 people died.

Growing up, Nick's loved ones joked about the boy's fascination with the number 41. He'd point out the numbers all over the place - on a sport's team jersey, on TV, on a license plate, everywhere. It seems after Nick's untimely death, he's using the number 41 to communicate to his family.

The signs are so compelling, Nick's father, Dave Kane (pictured upper right), wrote a book titled 41 Signs of Hope. It tells of his family's loss and the profound signs all around them from their departed Nick. Dave Kane points out just a few of the signs:

* Nick lived to be 18 years, 23 days old; 18+23=41

* The club, The Station, is at latitude 41.41

* A song Nick wrote for his girlfriend, found after his death, runs 5 minutes 41 seconds

* Nick's brother, David, new cell phone number ends in 41

* Nick wrote a play called "They Walk Among Us" about three teens that die and become angels in order to protect a gay teen being harassed. Nick's parents had never seen the show performed at the local Woonsocket theatre, so they decided to attend a performance in Nick's honor. During the intermission, the power went out and the 600 audience memebers were told to exit. Suddenly the power came back 8:41. One of Nick's brothers was actually staring at his watch, and knew the electricity would return right on the minute.
* A plaque installed at the Woonsocket Theatre where Nick performed and wrote a well-received play for was randomly placed on Row 4, seat 1 (no one at the theatre knew of the significance of 41)

* A music box Nick's mother received as a gift started playing by itself, with no prior winding, at 9:41. The song that played was titled, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Interestingly, the song is from a musical called "Carousel" which is a show about a young guy that dies and comes back to watch over his grieving family. That gave me a chill.

*Nick's other brother, Bill, was recently trying to decide which music college to go to - one in San Francisco or one in Connecticut. When visiting the school in California, he went to a restaurant and was seated at table 41. Lookng out the window, he noticed a bus going by - it's number: 41. When his check came, the seriel number ended in 41. When he visit the school, he studied the college's plans for renovations which included 41 practice rooms, 41 studios, and a recording studio that measured 411 square feet. (I did some digging and found that there's a second new stuidio built that measured 414 square feet).He later realized San Francisco's area code is 415 and the zip codes begin with 941. How many signs does a guy need? Bill enrolled in the school shortly thereafter.

Is this all just coincidence? Or is the work of so much grief, that the family is simply more aware of the number 41? Rabbi Earl Grollman, a grief counselor and author of many books about dealing with the loss of a loved one believes that people naturally look for signs from the departed. "They need to feel the person is still with them. It brings them a lot of comfort and a lot of hope. It's a very natural thing" Grollman says.

It's not just the immediate family experiencing the signficance of the number 41. Cousins, uncles, aunts, and Nick's friends have all had some sort of communication with Nick. In fact, Bella English, a reporter for the Boston Globe had her own weird experience during her interview with the family. Nick's parents showed Ms. English a video of Nick's play, "They Walk Among Us." When the video was over, the time on the machine read 4:11. After the interview, she waited until the newspaper's photographer arrived before leaving. When she started her car, she glanced at her clock and it was 4:41.

But again, is this simply a case where the mind is more aware of something when it's pointed out? Think about it. Someone ever tell you about a song or TV commercial, and it's something you've never seen or heard. But after having it pointed out to you - it seems that damn song or commercial is coming on every 5 minutes? Or how about after you buy that new car. After your awareness is peaked, now you notice your same make and model of your car all over the place!

Whether it's a brain recognition thing, a grief thing, or a spiritual thing, it's still important to Nick's family. No amount of arguing is going to change their minds. They believe their son is still with them, and gives them plenty of signs to let them know he's there. Even when they least expect it. Like this one final example for instance:

After Nick's death, a relative was showing home movies from years ago. In it, Nick is still just a baby, and his mother is lifting him up, lovingly for the camera. He's wearing a cute baseball outfit, and he's smiling happily. The baseball cap reads...41.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lose Your Illusions

Ever play that childhood game of staring at the passing clouds and saying what it looks like? Often times, you swear you see an elephant, but your friends don't see it. To you it's clear - to them, it might be a pig or a Volkswagon.

Scientists in Scotland from the University of Glasgow are working to figure out how the brain deciphers visual stimulus, and why many times we view different "optical illusions" from the same visual source.

Participants stared at various paintings by artist Salvador Dali, known for hiding visual illusions within his paintings, while being hooked up to brain-mapping equipment. What scientists found was interesting. Subjects took in the visual information, broke it down into smaller "brainwave" pieces, and their brains were only interpreting one set of brainwaves one at a time.

For example, when shown Dali's "Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire," they either saw the two nuns in the center of the painting OR the bust of Voltaire. The brain was unable to clearly view both images simultaneously.

"In ambiguous paintings, people will see two possible interpretations of a painting but they will not see both at once," Dr. Phillipe Schynes reported. He goes on to say:

"The brainwaves associated with one part of a painting may be slow, while another part may be fast. Although both sets of waves are created at the same time, the brain is only sensitive to one at a time, so it has to switch between them in order to see each, but cannot see both at once."

If you ever look at an image with hidden images (like those stupid prints that you had to stare at until you went cross-eyed) the brain has no problem picking out that illusion once it detects it. Some people SWEAR to never be able to see those hidden 3-D images, yet others have no problem seeing them.

It's an interesting finding, and I have several other optical illusions for you to try out:

The Herman grid. Do you see those little dark blobs in the corner of the black squares? Your brain is really "placing" those dark blobs where they actually do not exist in the picture.

Rubin's vase. Do you see the black faces? Or the white vase. Your brain is going to switch back and forth...but it can't clearly view both images at once. Don't try it, or you'll get a migraine like I did.

Kanisza triangle. You see that white triangle in the middle? Here, your mind is actually constructing an object that isn't really there. Those little circles look like tiny Pac-Mans.

Rosie O'Donnell. Do you see the "Queen of Nice" or a big fat bitch? It all depends on your mind's perspective.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Shock the monkey!

I love monkeys. Why? Because they're cute and so human-like. It seems lately science has made some incredible discoveries concerning our genetic cousins. So I decided to do a quick collection of stories on monkeys that have made scientific headlines in the last week or so:

Monkeys scream code words.
Klaus Zuberbuhler of the University of St. Andrews, UK has found that putty-nosed monkeys use vocal language in order to communicate with members of their troop. His findings are being published in the May 18th issue of Nature.

These african rainforest monkeys were seen and heard making two distinct calls in order to warn each other. The dominant male was put in charge of warning the others of two main dangers: eagles and big cats. If he gives a loud "pyow" warning, the monkeys flee up the trees to flee from an oncoming tiger or leopard. If his warning is a "hack" vocalization, the monkeys get down from above to keep from getting skewed by an eagle's sharp talons.

Interesting, when the female lets out any vocal warnings, the males continue to fatten themselves with bananas and coconuts, and ignore the call. Scientists noticed this occured most often on Sunday or when it was time to take out the trash. Scientists also heard the monkeys screaming "doo-bee" and I believe that's to warn the others of poop being flung.

Monkeys are chicken too.
M. Keith Chen, Venkat Lakshminarayanan, and Laurie R. Santos recently published an article in the Journal of Political Economy in which they studied the behavior of capuchin monkeys in order to learn more about how humans develop risk-aversion types of behaviors in economic situations.

They presented the monkeys with two different types of payoffs:
1) Spend a token on one piece of apple presented to them, but half the time the monkeys were given one bonus piece of food

2) Spend a token on two apple pieces, but half the time the monkeys got gyped and only got one piece of food instead

Economic theory dictates that consumers shouldn't really care which way to spend their tokens, since the outcomes are 50-50 shots at one or two pieces of delicious apple. However, the monkeys displayed risk-aversion behavior and overwhelmingly spent their tokens using payoff #1.
Like humans, the monkeys weighed the chances of LOSS more than the odds of GAINS. In other words, they played the game to not lose instead of playing the game to win.

Also, many of the monkeys threw tantrums often seen at Wall Street and casinos when they only got one apple slice instead of the two they were shown. Yup, you guessed it, they flung their poop when extremely frustrated with the gamble.

Hot monkey sex?
Scientists have been studying the human genome, and comparing it to various apes. They came across a surprising and shocking discovery:

Humans and chimps might have gotten freaky with one another.

David Reich, a population geneticist at the Broad Institute and Harvard University, used a "molecular clock" in order to trace when humans, chimps, and gorillas' genes diverged. His findings were published May 17th in New Scientist. Tracing the lineage, scientists found evidence that humans and chimps might have mated.

They noted that chimps and humans are nearly identical with relation to the X-chromosome (the female chromosome) and using this molecular clock, it suggests that early humans and monkeys created hybrid offspring 6.3 million years ago.

Does this mean there are humans out there that have this ingrained need to fling their poop?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Move over X-Men. It's Scientologists to the Rescue!

Up in the sky...
It's a bird!

It's a plane!

Tom Cruise with super powers?

Awhile ago, I did a post on Scientology. It can be found HERE. Many will think I'm just picking on the religion of Scientology again, but geez...they make it just too easy. Personally, they're begging for it. And as always, The Phoenix will deliver.

Scientology uses a series of sessions in order to help people overcome their emotional/psychological problems. And as I mentioned, if you got the cash, you can take all the classes necessary in order to get to higher levels. Apparently, Scientology is about to unleash a bunch of mutants onto the rest of the world, and no - it's not the X-Men either.

Several Scientologists that have been training in the art of "Super Power."

What is Super Power?

Based on the teachings of Ron L. Hubbard, they have trained themselves to have a hightened sense of sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch...and of course intuition. (Xenu would've killed for these powers).

Matt Feshbach, a Florida millionare Scientologist, has revealed that he has Super Powers. After training in Los Angeles, and donating millions to the Super Power building fund, Feshbach says not only does he have incredible and uncanny powers, but he's already saved one life with them.

At the LAX airport, some little boy ran out into the middle of the street. By using his newly acquired Super Powers, he perceived that a truck was on a collision course with the hyperactive child. Feshbach yelled at the boy, and was less than an inch away from being struck by the speeding vehicle. He attributes his higher senses, since no one else at the crosswalk knew about the oncoming truck.

So how does one train to get such powers?

The training course uses machines and other technologies to exerceise its memebers' perception abilities. Two of the machines have been identified as being an antigravity simulator and a gyroscope machine. I guess motionsickness and nausea are side-effects of this Super Power training.

Whatever the machines are, you just know each training session is gonna be super expensive. I know a cheaper way to enhance your perception abilities: LSD.

Up until now, even most church members were kept in the dark about this training. Even church officials have been quite hush-hush about it. Church spokesman Ben Shaw provided a written statement: "Super Power is a series of spiritual counseling processes designed to give a person back his own viewpoint, increase his perception, exercise his power of choice, and greatly enhance other spiritual abilities."

I wonder if you can train in order to dull the senses. That could come in handy while changing a diaper, when a Britney Spears song comes on the radio, or when some really overweight, middle-aged, and sun dried woman cuts in line ahead of me at Wal-Mart.

Shaw said that 300 Scientologists are now fully trained in the Jedi Arts, uh...I mean Super Power program. Maybe they'll wear cool superhero costumes like the X-men. Thank God Kristie Alley lost all that weight. She'll look quite svelte in a black jumpsuit as she perceives where all the pizza parlors are and warn overweight citizens to avoid them.

Question: you think Tom Cruise can perceive his movie MiIII's crashing ticket sales?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Risky Business

It's ain't easy...bein' manly.

It seems even before conception, the male species is always at risk...if only the strong survive rules, it seems females are are at the top of the chain. Sperm carrying the female chromosomes survive easier than the male ones. Mortality rates among female fetuses is also lower. And of course, women live longer than men do.

Why is that?

Dr. Daniel Kruger of the University of Michigan has been taking a genetic, psychological, behavioral, and social look as to why being a man seems to be much more dangerous. His paper, "Evolution and Mortality Patterns" is being presented to the journal Human Nature later this month. In it, he investigates several theories as to the mystery of male mortality. To sum it up: competing for females can physcially wear down or kill a man. And this isn't exclusive to HUMAN males either.

Even in chimpanzees, Dr. Kruger found that the mortality rate peaks at age 13 - just at a time when males are competing for females and for social status. Just think about it for a second - from two bucks slamming into each other for the right to "get busy" with a doe, to the elementary school playground where two boys are wrestling in order to show off for the attention of the cute blond...males are constantly entering in risky behavior in order to not only show dominance, but to win the love of a female.

In early caveman days, men had to bring home the biggest kill or literally beat the crap out of fellow suitors to vie for the privledge of gaining a mate. These days, that same competition exists but just in a different form. Instead of showing off killing a wooly mammoth, men fight for the blingy bling-bling - guys will drive expensive SUVs, wear the nicest watch, and battle it out on the corporate ladder.

"Men compete for resources and social status, which are critera men are valued for in mate selection," Kruger reported.

Simply put, in order to impress women, men still will engage in dangerous and risky behavior. Also, competing and striving to climb up the social status ladder puts pressures and adversely affects men's health and lifespan. And going back to the chimpanzee study, the peak for participating in risky behavior is in young male adulthood. In the old days, young guys were able to show their prowess during warfare. These days, young men find other ways to place their lives at risk in order to compete for women's attention.

(By the way, HALF of the football fans packing stadiums across the country are WOMEN).

In fact, 3 young men die for every 1 young woman that dies, on average.

These risky behaviors include smoking, heavy drinking, reckless driving, stupid physical stunts, and violence. After studying the data of men from 70 different countries, Dr. Kruger noticed that men of lower social status lacking a mate were much more likely to engage in these reckless behavior patterns.

On the other side of that, personally I've seen many financially successful men turn to smoking, drinking, and drug use due to the pressures of competing in the world of social status. Although Dr. Kruger's findings are logical, since men that lack such resources then have to "show off" more in order to compete for women.

Or maybe they're depressed they're still living in their parents' basements???

So my question is, who's the lady stuntman/illusionist David Blaine is trying to impress?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Future of Weaponry and Space Travel: The Slingshot?

You know, sometimes I think scientists draw their ideas from childhood. Now I'm a big fan of the creative process, and I see nothing wrong with digging back into their memories for inspiration. But sometimes, an idea is just so incredibly stupid - you have to wonder if some scientists are maybe really crazy or perhaps just hooked on cartoons.

Take the Slingatron for example.

Dr. D.A. Tidman and his associates have been working on this novel new concept for many years. They believe it will be the best way to send payloads into space - payloads like weapons, satellites, and eventually astronauts.

It's basically a big-ass slingshot.

I think Dr. Tidman watched too many Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons. I swear good 'ol Wile E. whipped out something like the Slingatron out of an Acme box.

Anyway, how does the Slingatron work?

This thing is shaped like an electric stove burner. It's a long kevlar coil. A smaller scale version is shaped like a giant hoola-hoop. The entire system is enclosed in a partial-vaccum, probably to reduce friction. Inside, many small rotary engines propel the projectile inside at a very fast speed. As it goes round and round, it accelerates tremendously and goes so fast, the projectile begins to levitate from the superconduction of forces.

Finally, the projectile reaches the end and is fired with incredible force up and away.

Dr. Tidman says his Slingatron will reduce the cost of sending stuff into space from $10,000 per pound down to a couple hundred bucks per pound. Imagine - instead of having to fire off an expensive rocket everytime we wanted to send up a satellite, we could slingshot the sucker into orbit.

Why am I getting flashbacks of Monty Python and an airborne Trojan bunny???

If saving money is not necessarily what floats your boat, and vanquishing your enemies is. The Slingatron would be capable of launching a bunch of bunker buster bombs, anti-aircraft projectiles, or if we're running low on high tech ammunition, I bet we could fire off large payloads of watermelons at our enemies.

There are lots of criticisms of Dr. Tidman's project. Namely, the thing requires major breakthroughs in material physics we haven't perfected yet. Also, the amount of force needed to keep a payload going through the coils so fast that it doesn't blow a huge gaping hole in the side of the coil seems impossible.

If Dr. Tidman's Slingatron doesn't pan out as the next wave of long range weaponry and space travel, look for him to set his sights on the next Cow Chip Throwing Championships held in Beaver, Oklahoma.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Dreadful Study

Have you ever noticed that the anticipation of something negative about to happen (like going to the dentist) is often worse than the actual event? Why is that? Is it purely psychological? Or is our brain simply wired that way?

Dr. Gregory Berns, psychiatrist and neurosurgeon at Emory University, wanted to find out. So he set up the most dreadful experiment in order to learn about the science of dread and how the brain reacts to it. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Addiction, he set up his study (published just last Friday in Science) in the following manner:

He took 32 suckers,, participants, hooked them up to an MRI scanner, and then shocked the hell out of them. Literally. After an initial round of 96 FREAKING shocks to their left feet created a pain threshold baseline, researchers told each test subject the amount of pain (as a percentage of maximum pain threshold) prior to each shock to their left feet.

Round two then changed the rules. Prior to each shock, the participants were given a choice: you can either get a hurtful shock, closer to 100% right now, OR you can sit there and wait around for awhile and get a milder shock after some time had passed.

Several people couldn't stand waiting around for a milder shock and decided to get the higher voltage shock immediately. This reaction goes against common sense, unless you're a plain masochist, but this group of "extreme dreaders" couldn't stand the anticipation of the shock. They preferred to get the more painful jolt now instead of dealing with waiting for one...even if it was going to be less painful.

"A subset of people didn't want to wait," Dr. Berns reported. "They dreaded it so much that they preferred the bigger shock sooner. That is irrational behavior."

Instead of waiting 27 seconds for a 60% shock, they decided to get the 90% shock immediately.

My question is: Just how much are they paying these idiots getting the crap shocked out of them?

The MRI scans revealed the brain activity of the participants. The regions associated with pain obviously flared up like the 4th of July. Interestingy, the areas of the brain associated with attention were also lit - with the extreme dreaders' areas especially intense. I wonder if the part of the brain that is associated with, "Why the hell did I sign up for this damn experiment?" thoughts were also active.

So what do these results mean?

It seems for many people, the anticipation of something bad about to happen just makes it worse. Doing things like listening to music or watching a movie will probably distract an extreme dreader and take their mind off of things. The experiment also showed that feeling a high level of dread will actually make a normally rational person behave irrationally. These findings make it especially relevant to an organization like the National Institute on Drug Addiction.

Drug addicts often make poor decisions - ones that go against common sense. Since dread affects rational thought, this is some insight as to how the brain works when faced with dread and having to make a decision. "Addiction is a disorder of decision-making," Dr. Berns said.

So why do some people avoid going to the dentist even with a terrible tooth ache? Or how about not going to the doctor when someone experiences chest pain or feels a lump somwhere? Because the anticipation of going creates a high level of dread, and people will often avoid the situation alltogether - even against better judgment.

For you extreme dreaders out there, the next time you're faced with something bad or stressful coming up, try to distract yourself. A speech coach once told me in order to get over the public speaking jitters, distract myself by imagining the audience naked. Maybe I'm just perverted, or maybe public speaking doesn't make me feel very much dread, but the technique didn't work.

I just ended up with the case of the giggles.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spring Babies Commit Suicide?

Research out of St. Helens and Liverpool University and the Institute of Child Health at the University College London have found that babies born in the spring and early summer months are more likely to commit suicide when compared to other children born during other times in the year.

What the hell???

They studied 26,916 suicides in England and Wales and discovered that babies born in April, May, or June had a 17% higher risk of suicide than those born in the autumn. Scientists dug a little deeper and found that these Spring babies also had higher incidences of alcoholisim, depression, and other personality disorders that could lead to suicide.

I still don't see the causal link here, or is it just me?

In the past, researchers have already shown a seasonality when it comes to other diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Previous research showed that those with schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and narcolepsy were born in December than any other month of the year.

Great, I was born in December.

The nearly 27,000 suicides were deaths that occured from 1979-2001, making it the largest and most comprehensive study linking suicide and birth month. Researchers found that females born in the spring had 30% higher suicide rate than women born in the fall. Males born in the springs months had a 14% increase in suicide rates.

Scientists report, "Our results support the hypothesis that there is a seasonal effect in the month ly birth rates of people who kill themselves and that there is a disproportionate exxcess of such people born between late spring and midsummer compared with the other months."

OK, numbers don't lie. And I agree that the numbers are very significant. But why?

Dr. Emad Salib replies, "As the baby is developing, the brain is very sensitive to any change in maternal state, like infections or even temperatures. This can affect the way that cells in the brain are arranged."

Researchers hope that their new findings can help them strategize methods to help those that are depressed and more likely to commit suicide. But understanding the complex biological and psychological factors that lead to such personality disorders, they're one step closer to understanding how to help patients get better.

In related scientific discoveries, researchers concluded that Americans consume more hot dogs in the spring and early summer months when compared to any other time in the year. Perhaps it coincides with BBQ and cookout season for many Americans, or maybe it's from the opening of baseball season. Scientists aren't sure.

Coincidence? I think not. Hot dogs make you want to kill yourself, all this research shows.

Hot dogs lead to suicide.

Established 2005...

Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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