Page 10 - Science Facts

Rats are on the same philosophical plane as Plato. Find out how!

If you're looking for the next great thinker, you may want to start by visiting your local pet store. Turns out, research shows that laboratory rats possess the ability to think about what they do and do not know.

Metacognition is the ability to reason or think about one's own thinking.It's the first example and demonstration of any non-primate that shows when they don't know something.

The test consisted of offering rewards to rats to defining a signal as short or long. Correct answers lead to a food reward and the incorrect answer lead to squat.

The twist? The rats were given a choice to opt out of the test completely, resulting a much smaller food reward.

The rats were basically forced into a game of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" but with food. Extensively long or short signals resulted in relatively quick, and correct, choices. But signals that bordered on the mid-range had the rats questioning whether to take the chance for a bounty of food, or opt out for the tiny, but guaranteed nibble.

The results showed that the rats declined more difficult tests and showed the lowest accuracy on difficult tests that they were forced to do.

We expect some Shakespeare-writing rats in the next experiment!


If you're having trouble sleeping, camping without electronics for one week can fix your sleep cycle! Find out how

Through almost all of human history, we would fall asleep when the sun went down and wake up when the sun would rise in the morning. It wasn't until Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb, allowing us to see our surroundings for extended periods of time without the sun, that our sleep cycles started to change.

In fact, scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if you lived by the sun's sleep schedule, you'ld be able to wake up an hour earlier, and be less groggy because your internal clock and external reality are in sync!

The researchers took eight adults and followed them throughout the normal course of their lives for a week. The subjects spent most of their time indoors working, studying, eating, and sleeping. Majority of the light subjects experienced was artificial.

After a week of their normal lives, the test subjects were sent camping. Sleep, light, and the hormone melatonin were measured every hour across 24 hours.

Scientists found that while the subjects were enjoying the great outdoors, their melatonin levels shifted two hours earlier, and the subjects went to bed at least an hour earlier. Essentially, their bodies were recalibrating themselves back to their primitive sleep cycles!


NASA trains their astronauts to spacewalk underwater here in the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory

Sometimes NASA doesn't have to look up to perform some of their most important experiments. There are many cases where they need to look down, way down, to see how life would really be off our blue marble. Such is the case with NEEMO (or NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) in the Aquarius underwater laboratory.

Aquarius sits at the bottom of the sea, 62 feet down, near Key Largo, Florida, and is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 2001, NASA has rented out a little space to perform missions that span from 10 to 14 days. There they perform EVAs, or Extra-vehicular activity (commonly known as a spacewalk).

The underwater living conditions are the best way to prepare for a life in a tiny capsule, surrounded by a harsh environment. The water gives a feeling of gravity-less weightlessness and the difficulties in working with those conditions. These brave souls, and perhaps astronauts in waiting, are known as aquanauts. The latest mission, NEEMO 16, lasted from June 11-22, 2012.


Some awesome lists!

Your unborn child may help you recover from a heart attack one day!

While expecting mothers are busy buying the most nutritional vitamins to keep their unborn baby safe, it turns out the fetus is also looking out for the mother.

Research shows that if a pregnant woman suffers organ damage, such as a heart attack, her fetus will donate stem cells to help rebuild the damage.

Scientists started with mice that were genetically engineered to have cells that glowed green under a blue light. Twelve days after the mice mated, approximately two-thirds of the way through a normal mouse's pregnancy, half the mice were induced with heart attacks. A couple weeks after the heart attack, scientists found a lot of glowing green tissue in their hearts that came directly from the fetus.

This isn't entirely new to doctors. They found that women who had weak hearts during pregnancy or quickly after giving birth had a much better recovery rate than any other group of heart failure patients.

Organ damage doesn't have to pertain to the heart, either. Organs such as the brain, lungs, and liver have shown up with fetal cells as well.

In the future researchers hope to isolate stem cells from placenta to provide a steady source of treatment for damaged organs, all thanks to some little pregnant mice.


Now you have a scientific reason why you're so clumsy. Find out more!

Most of us have a dominant hand for throwing a ball, picking up a pen, and shaking someone's hand, and there are even those that feel right at home using either to get any job done. Unfortunately, there is a fourth type of handedness that can't catch a break: those that are terrible with both hands. The majority of the world is right handed, with left handed at 10% being the next most common. There are even some that are of mixed handedness, meaning they can perform some activities with one hand but require the other hand for the rest.

The most rare handedness' are ambidexterous and ambilevous. Those with ambidexterity are capable of using either their left or right hand to perform fine motor skills that require finesse. Those that are ambilevous, however, are the exact opposite.

Ambilevous hands perform manual skill tasks with both hands and can't rely on them for anything. Writing, tying shoes, even simply picking something up becomes a monumentous task. Common phrases that are attached to ambilevous are 'two left hands' and 'naturally clumsy'. Scientists believe there is a relationship between learning and the dominant hand. There is also some correlation between dominant hands and issues like dyslexia and stuttering. If anything, at least it gives people an excuse for being extremely clumsy.



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