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(Thinkstock/Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock/Thinkstock)

Smug about recycling? Can it Add to ...

Can that smug attitude

“Do you get a small but palpable sense of satisfaction each time you deposit a piece of paper in that recycling bin by the copy machine, rather than the nearby trash can?” asks Pacific Standard magazine. “Save the smugness. Newly published research suggests the presence of that receptacle may inspire you and your officemates to use more paper than you otherwise would, depleting natural resources in the process. ‘Consumers may view the ability to recycle a product as a ‘get out of jail free card’ that makes consumption more acceptable,’ write Jesse Catlin of the University of California, Irvine, and Yitong Wang of Tsinghua University in Beijing. ‘Put differently, the ability to recycle a product may also serve as a way to justify increased consumption.” The research is published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.Bugs and your guts

“Eaten too many pies?” asks the New Scientist. “Blame the microbes in your gut – they may be influencing how much you eat. In 2006, biologists found that the types of bacteria in the guts of obese rats differed from those in non-obese rats. To find out more, Mihai Covasa and his colleagues at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris swapped gut bacteria between obesity-prone and obesity-resistant rats. The obesity-resistant rats proceeded to eat more and pile on the pounds. They also developed gut hormone levels typical of obesity-prone rodents. These rats are good models for human obesity – people, too, are ether resistant or vulnerable to the condition. Understanding the gut flora associated with it may offer ways to help control food intake.”

For some, meat stinks

“Vegetarians’ dislike of meat may be in their DNA, according to a study showing that some people are genetically predisposed to find the smell off-putting,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Researchers found the reason some people don’t like the taste of meat may be because their genes cause them to smell it more intensely. Scientists at Duke University Medical Centre in [Durham, N.C.] working with colleagues in Norway, found that about 70 per cent of people have two functional copies of a gene linked to an odour receptor that detects a compound in male mammals called androsterone, which is common in pork. The researchers said people with one or no functional copies of the gene can tolerate the smell of androsterone much better than those with two.”

Fish that really bite

“Officials in a Japanese town have banned children from a local stream after three piranhas recently were pulled from a nearby river,” says United Press International. “Administrators in Atsugi, Kanagawa prefecture, said two of the meat-eating fish were pulled [last month]from the Zenmyo River and a third was caught [last]Monday, Kyoto news reported.” The officials said each of the fish was about 10 cm long.

Lunchtime? Let’s dance

In Sweden, writes Nathalie Rothschild for Slate.com, “more and more workers are forgoing both leisurely lunches and ‘al-desko’ dining in favour of daytime raves. It started in the fall of 2010 when 14 friends decided to dance their lunch breaks away in their office garage. They called their gathering ‘Lunch Beat.’ As rumours about this literally underground movement spread, more and more people joined in. Today, Lunch Beat events are being arranged by a core group of organizers at venues around Sweden, attracting up to 600 people each time, and copycat clubs are popping up across Europe… In 2011, ‘lunch disco’ was officially recognized as a new word by the Swedish Language Council.”

What’s new in gadgets

– “A fridge in the GE Cafe line that heats water to four preset levels for making baby formula or instant oatmeal will be introduced by General Electric Co. later this year,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “In focus groups, hot-water production was a frequent refrigerator wish.”

– Fake TV fools burglars into thinking someone’s at home, says The Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. “Using a small panel of very bright LEDs, this device projects a randomly changing display of light that mimics a TV set at a fraction of the energy bill. Project it onto curtains or a wall. It activates automatically at night.”

Is that a meteorite?

“Earth is under constant bombardment by space rocks,” writes Natalie Wolchover for Life’s Little Mysteries. “[P]enty of chunks of fallen meteors, or meteorites, are strewn across the accessible parts of the planet. … If you spot what you think might be a specimen from space, ask yourself these questions: Is the rock black or brown? Is it solid, without pores, and dense compared to most other rocks in the area? If a corner of the sample is ground slightly, is the interior metallic silver? (If there is no grinding, don’t grind it.) Is the sample magnetic? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you probably have a genuine, 4.5-billion-year-old piece of the cosmos.”

Thought du jour

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley (1826-93), British statesman

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