Findings — From the October 2008 issue

Findings

Scientists bred a race of lazy mice, gave sedentary mice a drug that provided them with the benefits of exercise, created sleepless fruit flies, stopped mouse livers from aging, gave knee injuries to a race of cartilage-regenerating mice who quickly recovered, grew hair in bald mice, and found that hairless mice exposed to large doses of UV light were likelier to develop melanomas if they also wore commercial skin moisturizers. They gave mice aggressive cancers and then slowed tumor growth with vitamin C injections, increased the efficiency of brain-tumor drugs in rats by giving them erectile-dysfunction drugs, and prevented macaques from contracting HIV by providing them with vaginal microbicide gels before sex. They bred male mice whose sense of direction is worse than that of female mice, and found that alcoholic mice who are forced to stop drinking no longer try to swim when placed in a beaker of water, perhaps indicating that the mice are depressed. Roughly 115 million lab animals were being used in scientific studies every year.

Marine biologists gave octopuses Rubik’s cubes to play with in order to discover whether the animals favor a particular tentacle or are octidextrous, and a U.S. District Court judge approved an experiment that will train baby black sea bass to associate a 280 Hz tone with food; after the fish grow up and are released, the tone will lure them back to be caught. Herpetologists studying the concave-eared torrent frogs of China’s Yellow Mountains found that the frogs can selectively listen to different frequencies of sounds depending on whether they need to tune out the rushing sounds of waterfalls. Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrews, it was determined, can drink heavily without getting drunk, and biologists found that the epaulette sharks of the Great Barrier Reef shut down much of their nervous systems and go blind at night when their surroundings become starved of oxygen. A white whale was spotted off eastern Australia. Spanish euro notes, said chemists, have accumulated the most cocaine.

A neurologist was developing a portable nasal spray with which soldiers can treat their own brain traumas, post-traumatic stress disorder victims were found to suffer a 5 to 10 percent loss of gray brain matter, and ecologists in Wales feared an invasion by carnivorous nocturnal blade-toothed eyeless ghost slugs. Scientists who designed a computer model of a street full of drunk Welshmen concluded that fights break out on nightlife-heavy streets because staggering drunks impede and thereby irritate other people. Men’s beer goggles remain in place for up to twenty-four hours after they stop drinking, and men’s testosterone levels rise in the presence of a woman, in preparation for mating, regardless of whether they find the woman attractive. Economists established that American women start out life happier than American men but die sadder, and that the men overtake the women in happiness at age forty-eight. Male Mexican laborers in California were found to be twice as likely as their home-country counterparts to exchange sex for food, shelter, or money, and behaviorists found that making people feel poorer encourages them to buy lottery tickets. Feelings of powerlessness may lead to spending sprees. Western doctors were concerned about a growing demand for designer vaginas.

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