In Print: Chemical Makeup Predicts Wealth, Mailing Poop
Sep03

In Print: Chemical Makeup Predicts Wealth, Mailing Poop

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week’s issue of C&EN. Here's a trick for appearing wealthy: Put on sunscreen. As mentioned in last week's Newscripts column, a team of researchers at the University of Exeter, in England, has identified nine chemicals that tend to appear more often in those of higher socioeconomic status and nine chemicals that tend to appear more often in those of lower socioeconomic status. As one of the team's researchers, Jessica Tyrrell, explains in the above video, these 18 toxicants were identified after conducting an analysis of 10 years' worth of data from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, which monitors general health in the U.S. Through its analysis, the research team noticed that benzophenone-3, a sunscreen ingredient, appeared more often in wealthier individuals. The same was true for arsenic and mercury, which the team believes are more prevalent in the wealthy since they consume more shellfish. Lead and cadmium levels were higher in poorer individuals given their higher rates of smoking and working in heavy industry, the team posits. "We know that humans have low-level exposures to lots of chemicals, hence we have chemical cocktails in our bodies," Tyrrell tells Newscripts. "Efforts need to be made to have a greater understanding of the health effects of these chemicals so that policymakers can make informed decisions about which chemicals need to be more tightly controlled." Moving from England to Spain, the second part of last week's Newscripts column visits the town of Brunete, where a rather unorthodox approach was taken to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets: The town mailed left-behind poop back to dog owners. According to a New York Times article published last month, Brunete mayor Borja Gutiérrez came up with this idea after enlisting the help of a marketing firm to battle his town's poop problem. The firm proposed having volunteers stake out popular dog centers. Volunteers could then nonchalantly approach negligent dog owners, pet their pooches, and ask for their animals' breed and name. After waiting for an offending dog and its owner to leave, volunteers would scoop the poop and then head over to city hall to look up the offending dog's registration information. Before long, a box of the left-behind poop was delivered to the door of the responsible party. Here's a video describing the process. At its beginning, be on the lookout for the remote-controlled poop figurines that initially roamed around Brunete in an effort to educate dog owners about their responsibility to pick up after their pets....

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Amusing News Aliquots
Apr11

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week's science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf. New Canadian quarter features glow-in-the-dark dinosaur bones. The bad news: each quarter costs $29.95 [Geekosystem] Speaking of dinos, Ronald Breslow, distinguished chemist, thinks there may be super smart dinosaurs in space. [Smithsonian] (UPDATE: We should have noted that this news item references a JACS paper here.) The wounds of some Civil War soldiers glowed in the dark … via an infection of bioluminescent bacteria. And we thought the wounds were bad enough. [Mental_Floss] What to do when the dog eats your science experiment? Write a paper about it, naturally. [Annals of Improbable Research] Scottish whiskey distillery sent unmatured malt to the International Space Station for testing near zero gravity. When questioned about results, hiccupping astronauts say the samples mysteriously disappeared. [BBC News] In Ethiopia, hyenas observe Lent too....

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Amusing News Aliquots
Jan19

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week's science news. Sometimes an experiment literally laughs in your face. [News.com.au] Funky facts about the fungus among us (hey, if NPR can’t resist, why should the Newscripts gang?). [NPR] What will become of butter boy? According to the New York Times, “Today, he’s the talk of the town, but tomorrow he’ll be converted into a pile of melted grease to be mixed in with liquid manure.” [NYT] CSI with an English accent: Inside one of Britain’s most prominent crime labs. [The Guardian] The curious history of artemisinin. [NYT] Is your dog a zen master? The answer is in his DNA. [ScienceNow]  ...

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