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Curious Times

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IS THIS HOW PLANET OF THE APES BEGAN?

Scientists who are creating freaky new experiments that include injecting human brain cells into monkey fetuses have been warned that they may accidentally create a breed of self-aware monkey with a brain more human than animal. A high-powered committee of animal behaviorists, lawyers, philosophers, bio-ethicists and neuro-scientists was formed four years ago in order to monitor human/monkey experiments that they felt might produce moral or ethical challenges for science. The committee has been closely watching recent experiments which combine human and monkey cells, tissue and DNA, and warn that the latest experiments, which introduce human cells into primate brains, may create significant physical or biochemical changes that make the brain more human-like, and may produce experimental subjects with self-awareness and super-animal intelligence. (news.com.au)

SOMEDAY SCIENTISTS WILL DISCOVER THAT RICH PEOPLE HAVE MORE MONEY THAN POOR PEOPLE

And now, from the "No Shit, Sherlock" wing of scientific research comes the stunning news that wealthy people die in more comfort and with less pain than poor people. Who woulda thunk it? A recent study found that men and women aged 70 and older with a net worth of over $70,000 were 30 percent less likely to have felt pain often during the year before their death. "Wealth is a strong predictor (of comfort level)," said the genius who led this study. Newer medications (and treatment) are easier to obtain by patients who can pay more out of pocket. Still waiting for the study that will conclude that depressed people are more depressed than happy people. (Science Daily)

EWE ARE GOIN' DOWN

A bizarre incident of sheep-as-lemmings in Eastern Turkey has left over 400 sheep dead after about 1,500 sheep inexplicably went over a 15-metre high cliff. "First one sheep went over the cliff," said a witness, "only to be followed by the whole flock." (BBC)

CHICKENS SEE THE FUTURE

More proof that animals are getting smarter as they prepare for the day when they take down humans and rule the world again ... Research out of England has found that chickens are able to anticipate future events and practice self-control. The study gave hens food three seconds after they pressed a colored button. However, if the chicken could learn to wait for 22 seconds they would be given a jackpot of much greater amounts of food. The chickens quickly caught on and eventually waited for their reward 90 percent of the time. (Discovery News)

SUPER SLIM ME

A woman in North Carolina who says she was insulted by the movie Super Size Me-in which director Morgan Spurlock seriously damaged his health by eating only McDonald's food for 30 days-decided to prove the director wrong by going on a 90-day diet consisting of only McDonald's food. So far, she claims to have lost 33 pounds. Merab Morgan told reporters that she memorized the calorie count of every item on the McDonald's menu and limited herself to 1,400 calories a day for 90 days. It's kind of like the poor man's diet, she said. (Detroit Free Press)

MORE DOCTORED RESEARCH

Last week we learned that as many as one-third of all scientists have carried out dishonest research practices in order to tweak their experiments to better suit their needs. This week a report from the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association has revealed that over one-third of scientific studies are later contradicted by other studies or do not hold up to further research. The review of major studies reported in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003 found that 16 percent of studies were later contradicted by other studies, and a further 16 percent reported more effective results than were subsequently proven. "Contradicted and potentially exaggerated findings are not uncommon," said study author Dr. John Ioannidis, who warned that scientists and editors should avoid giving selective attention only to the most promising or exciting results of their research. (CNN)