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NASA Is Paying Researchers $200,000 To Turn Poop Into Food For Astronauts

Nasa

NASA’s trying to get astronauts to eat their own excrement. No, really.

A team of chemists and bioengineers from Clemson University were hired by NASA to find a sustainable approach to an astronaut’s diet, reports Science Alert. There have been multiple progressions in the process including growing their own romaine lettuce in space.

Now, they’re turning towards human feces.

The group were given a stipend of $200,000 a year for three years to figure out how to accomplish this unconventional feat.

Three years to make poop you can eat. Hopefully, some of that $200,000 goes towards making it tasty.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Science Says Chewing Popcorn at the Movies Makes Us Immune to Ads

Going to the movies is definitely fun, but sitting next to a loud, lip-smackin’ popcorn-eater ruins the experience in about .2 seconds. Now, according to researchers at Cologne University, snacking during a flick significantly disrupts the effectiveness of pre-movie advertising, too.

Their findings go a little something like this: whenever our brains are introduced to a new brand or name, we very subtly practice its pronunciation with our mouths. The “inner speech” helps a message become engrained in our minds, essentially benefiting the advertisers. However, there’s a big kink in this sort of product placement whilst snacking; the act of chewing can actually interrupt an ad’s effectiveness.

In order to prove this theory correct, the researchers brought 96 people to a movie theatre, giving half popcorn before the movie and the other half a dissolvable sugar cube. According to researcher Sascha Topolinski, “the mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising.”

Does this mean an impending doom to cinema snacks? While we can all agree Popcorn Patty needs to take it down a notch, we’re pretty sure riots would break out if that ever happened. Don’t even think about messing with our movie theatre nachos.

H/T The Guardian

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Health

Science Says Sprite May Be the New Hangover Cure

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According to a study published in the September 2013 issue of Food and Function, Sprite can help cure those wicked hangovers. After testing over fifty beverages ranging from herbal teas to various other carbonated drinks, Chinese researchers found that the results pointed to the lemon-lime pop as an effective means of reducing hangover symptoms.

The science behind this has to do with how alcohol is broken down in the body after ingestion. The crap feelings of nausea, a bout of the spins and a throbbing headache isn’t actually caused by the alcohol but rather by acetaldehyde, an enzyme your body produces in an attempt to process all the booze you guzzled down.

Scientists tested beverages to see how consumption following alcohol would affect how long acetaldehyde takes to break down. The results showed that the usual go-to remedies, such as herbal teas, actually slow the digestion process down — making your hangover last longer than it should. If the length of time it takes for acetaldehyde to turn into acetate could be shortened, the duration of a hangover could actually be reduced. Soda water and Sprite sped up the conversion process, thus reducing your hangover.

So the next time you decide to throw a rager make sure to stock up on some 2-liters of Sprite in preparation for the morning after.

PicThx Sprite

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Health

Apparently Staring at Food Porn Can Actually Make You Lose Your Appetite

foodporn

Last week we wrote about this Japanese smartphone app that tricked you into fullness with the help of a fancy smell cartridge and some food photography. The idea was, if you couldn’t afford meat that day, you could just call up the app and enjoy the sight and smell of grilled Korean BBQ alongside your paltry bowl of rice.

Well, it turns out that science was actually right this time. According to a recent study from researchers at Brigham Young University, “over-exposure to food imagery increases people’s satiation,” or “the drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption.” In other words, staring at pictures of food porn too long tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten that food.

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” the study’s coauthor and BYU professor Ryan Elder, said in the press release. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”

Elder and his fellow researchers came to this conclusion after asking 232 participants to look at 60 photos of either sweet or salty food, and then having those participants eat peanuts. They found the people who looked at the salty food enjoyed the peanuts significantly less than those who looked at sweet food, even if none of the photos they observed strictly featured peanuts. The familiar sensation of saltiness was still enough to register.

According to the BYU article, however, it takes a good amount of photographs in order for this satiation to set in, so there’s no need to shield your eyes whenever your foodie friend posts to Instagram. It doesn’t say whether the effect works when looking at photos of food you’ve never had before though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to flickr. I have a couple tasting menus I’ve been dying to try.

H/T + PicThx BYU

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Hit-Or-Miss

The Way We Pour Wine is Affecting How Much We Drink, Says Science

wine-pour-amount

Maybe you’re still hungover from the weekend. Maybe you’ve gone broke from all the wine pairing parties you host. Maybe you’re just a hypochondriac. Whatever the case, you’ve been feeling like you should cut back on the bubbly, but you don’t want to stop drinking entirely.

Luckily, all it might take to cut around 10% of your wine drinking is figuring out the proper way to pour. According to a joint research study out of Iowa State and Cornell, little visual tricks such as wine glass size and even mood lighting could seriously affect how we consume wine and how we interpret the sheer amount of wine we’re drinking. They asked 73 over-21 college students to pour themselves wine at a variety of different stations, where they manipulated various environmental cues and measured the results.

With our hats tipped to those fine guinea pigs, here are a few tips we gleaned on how to drink less/save cash and calories/basically, turn into a f@#king bore:

When selecting a glass, try to choose a taller one with a narrower mouth. Sure, champagne flutes can feel like nothing sometimes, but since we’re visual creatures, something about seeing our vintage fall higher in the glass tricks us into thinking we’re drinking more, up to 12% more (folks toting wider-glasses tended to overdrink).

Also make sure to pour on a table as opposed to in your hand. Not only is this more stable, but it makes you, fittingly, less heavy-handed. Table pourers drank around 12% less wine, according to the study.

Go red. Again, probably thanks to our trusty eyeballs, something about the contrast between the clear glass and red grapes helps us drink 9% less wine whenever we go Noir instead of Grigio. Hey, at least we’re 9% less likely to stain something, right?

H/T  NY Daily News

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Health

A Breakdown of Calories and Fat in ‘Healthy’ Fast Food Salads [VIDEO]

calories-salads-sad

Ugh, first frozen yogurt and now, fast food salads.

It’s always been the general feeling that salads are healthier for you than a burger or a bacon milkshake.  And while fast food joints like McDonald’s are attempting to have healthier items under 400 calories on their menus, some of their salad options have just as many, if not more, calories and fat than their sandwich-based counterparts,

starbucks-salads-sad

This unfortunate news comes on the heels of a 2012 study, which found that even as fast food menus are expanding, calorie consumption is remaining at the same unhealthy highs.  In the longitudinal study, spanning the years from 1996 to 2010, researchers found that menu offerings have increased by 53 percent, while the average calorie count of those items has remained constant.  The problem, claims the study, is that some of the highest calorie foods are the ones we’d most expect to be healthy.

However, most of the calories in fast food salads come from the dressing, and the nutritional value of a salad vs. a burger is very different, despite their similar calorie counts. So, don’t go swearing off salads just yet.

H/T Huffington Post

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Hit-Or-Miss

Now You Have a Reason to Live: Coffee May Lower Suicide Risk by 50 Percent

coffee-splash

Turns out all the boys and girls standing in line for a latte are doing it right. A recent Harvard study revealed that caffeinated coffee may lower the suicide risk in both men and women by 50 percent.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from three large-scale studies in the US, comparing the risk of suicide among adults who drank two to four caffeinated cups per day to that of non-coffee drinkers, those who drank decaf and those who drank significantly less coffee per day.

The study was published in the  The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry and included a total sample of more than 200,000 subjects who were monitored over a period of at least 16 years. Results indicated that the suicide risk for people who consumed two to four cups per day was about 50 percent less than the risk for participants in the other three groups.

Note: while other drinks such as tea and soda also contain caffeine, the levels pale in comparison to coffee. “Caffeine from coffee is about 80 percent caffeine intake,” stated Michel Lucas, the team’s lead researcher. “In one cup of coffee, you could have about 140 mg of caffeine.” In comparison, you get about 22-74 mg in tea.

“Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,” explained Lucas in a statement.

Lucas attributed the lowered risks of depression and suicide to the effect caffeine has on the brain’s neurotransmitters that influence our emotions.

Of course, it’s all in moderation.

“Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day,” stressed the study.

Bolstering the benefits of coffee, Huffpo observed, “Last year alone, published research linked moderate coffee intake with delayed Alzheimer’s onset, lowered risk of heart failure and reduced risk of basil cell carcinoma — the most common type of skin cancer.”

Seems like this is just further proof that our favorite beverage can do no wrong.

Oh, and am I drinking an iced coffee with an extra espresso shot while writing this? Damn straight.

H/T Huffpo

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Health

Well, We’re Doomed: Science Says High Fructose Corn Syrup as Addictive as Cocaine

cocaine2

We’d like to think there’s a big difference between handing a kid a can of soda and offering him a line of cocaine, but new research on the link between high fructose corn syrup and addiction suggests otherwise. Canadian researchers from the University of Ontario studied lab rats’ reactions to increasing doses of high fructose corn syrup (you know, the sweetener that’s in everything from soda to bread) and determined that it produced reactions “similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine.”

Once the rats were all hopped up on high fructose corn syrup, they were given access to a lever that controlled how much syrup they received. The more concentrated the syrup, the harder the rats worked to obtain it . . . which, coincidentally, is also true of serious cocaine addiction. The Canadian researchers hypothesized that an unacknowledged addiction to the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens most of our favorite foods could be responsible for the planet’s growing obesity epidemic. If it’s true, this could be a major blow for snack food and soda companies, many of which have gotten away with selling products containing much more high fructose corn syrup than the federal limit would allow.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re gearing up for a full fledged drug war on soda and candy bars (despite what Mayor Bloomberg might think). Still, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the nutrition label of our favorite snack foods, and if we start seeing people go into shock from candy bar deprivation . . . well, then we’ll know we have a problem.

PicThx Intellihub