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HORIZONTAL HOOPS: A member of the acrobatic basketball team known as the Flying Dubs performs before an exhibition NBA game in Beijing. (KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS)
HORIZONTAL HOOPS: A member of the acrobatic basketball team known as the Flying Dubs performs before an exhibition NBA game in Beijing. (KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS)

Talking Points: Acrobatic basketball, misleading labels, and the power of popcorn Add to ...

LABELS THAT LIE

When it comes to herbal products, you might not always be getting what you’re paying for. The Canadian Press reports on a University of Guelph study that determined in many cases the labels on herbal supplements in no way reflected what was in the bottle. The team performed CSI-like investigations on 44 products. Some contained “fillers” such as wheat or rice that weren’t listed on the label; others were contaminated with plant species capable of causing toxic or allergic reactions; and some contained no trace of the substance they were supposed to contain. “It says ginkgo biloba … and we didn’t find any ginkgo DNA at all in the bottle,” said biology professor Steven Newmaster.

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DEFYING LAB CONVENTION

Medical science has been forced to get creative in the search for new antibiotic drugs. CBC News reports that researchers at McMaster University recently bypassed the traditional method of searching for antibiotics under optimal lab conditions in favour of finding antibacterial compounds under nutrient-poor conditions. “Convention says you try to kill bacteria under the richest growth condition that you can create in the laboratory,” said McMaster biochemistry professor Eric Brown. “And yet we know that life is not that kind to bacteria when they are infecting the human body.”

POWER OF POPCORN

Hate sitting through those on-screen ads before the main feature in a movie theatre? Buy your popcorn first. The Hollywood Reporter tells of a recent study from Germany’s Cologne University that tested the impact of advertising on moviegoers. The study invited people to a movie screening that was preceded by ads. Half received popcorn to eat during the ads, the other half a small sugar cube to dissolve in their mouths. One week later, those who received the popcorn were far less likely to recognize one of the products shown in the ads. “The brain is so busy with the act of chewing that it does not have the space to do this subconscious articulation,” said researcher Sascha Topolinski. “The brand name gets blocked.”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

A teacher’s major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student’s grandchild.

Wendell Berry, novelist (1934- )

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