It’s time for another Fast Friday Farrago, where we bring you the most exciting news in science for the past week.
A tropical species of spider has been hitting the headlines with news that the males castrate themselves to ward off competitors. These male spiders become eunuchs, so that their balls don’t weigh them down, making them more agile for a fight. It makes a UFC battle look like two kittens fighting over a piece of string.
And in other animal-related news, some old writings of Antarctic explorer George Murray Levick have been uncovered. Levick was part of an expedition to Antarctica from 1910-13 and discovered some rather unusual sexual behaviour among penguins. The penguins’ sexual appetite included homosexuality, necrophilia, paedophilia and quite possibly, group acts. Quite the expedition it seems…
To a bit of science controversy: genetically modified crops have been making the headlines once again. Plants have successfully been engineered to be poisonous to the insect pests that attack them, while staying harmless to humans. Trials led to a decrease in pesticide use as well as an increase in the population of natural pest predators. Seem like a win-win for GM food but it’s unlikely to stem the controversy.
Vitamin D has also been hitting headlines with news that one third of Australians have a deficiency. The news is grim as vitamin D deficiencies can lead to osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Talk has surrounded the potential of supplementing our food supply with extra vitamin D, similar to what they do with vitamin C and iodine. One can’t help but think, maybe we should just get out more?
And finally, it turns out that yes, Einstein was right all along. Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider had previously claimed that experimental observations showed neutrinos travel faster than light. If the claim was correct, it threatened to revolutionise physics as we know it. But it turns out that they were wrong and Einstein was right. Nothing travels faster than light and nobody outsmarts Einstein!
That’s a wrap! Stay tuned for more science next week!