Scienceline Staff Picks

Buttered bugs, buds, and beer

Our favorites from the week

September 2, 2011

Each week, the Scienceline staff combs through the web to find the smartest, coolest, and newest stuff for you to read. See what we’ve got this week!

From Madhu Venkataramanan:

Ever tried hot, crispy, buttered… bugs? What about chocolate-covered ants or barbecued bees? Here’s a New Yorker story (and a video that goes with it), about the latest gastronomic trend in the West: entomophagy.

Wildlife gone wild! Watch this slideshow to learn which animals seek out psychoactive drugs and alcohol in the natural world.

This story in the NYT is about a search for a centuries-old killer: the Yersinia pestis microbe. Scientists are excavating skeletons of plague victims from the Black Death cemetery in London, looking for microbial DNA in their bones and teeth. The idea is to sequence the bugs’ genome to pinpoint exactly what made them so deadly.


From Madeleine Johnson:

Taste buds are pretty well understood, but the way the brain computes data from the tongue remains an enigma. Recent research suggests that, except for sour, tastes sort themselves into sub-regions in the cortex. Sweet!

Hurricane Irene has done much damage, but one local victim will be particularly missed. A willow in the East Village was the mascot of a local community movement.

Despite a new study showing increased rates of cancer in 9/11 first responders, the Zadroga Act does not currently compensate cancers.


From Katie Palmer:

The incomparable Ed Yong tells us about our favorite subject here at Scienceline: alcohol. Learn more about how the yeast used to ferment lagers evolved after some continent-hopping.

At Technology Review, Christopher Mims offers his two cents on all the ridiculous “smart” appliances that are coming out these days. Before you buy, consider what your toaster oven could really be doing to make your life easier.

I’m finally reading Maryn McKenna’s Superbug, and getting a little wary of all things MRSA. Popular Mechanics briefly covers some of the ways we might attack drug-resistant bugs in the future.


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