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Why the smart money is on bananas Add to ...

Yes, we’ll have more bananas

“While cutting his way through India, Alexander the Great paused to note that in India bananas were the fruit of the wise man,” writes Samuel Muston in The Independent. “According to a new report commissioned by the U.N. Committee on World Food Security, Alexander was perceptive. For as the climate warms, rice and wheat will become scarce. In their stead, the scientists say, the smart money is on bananas.”

Today’s special? Roaches

“A Northern California eatery is giving its customers information that most restaurants go to great lengths to cover up,” reports Associated Press. “Café del Soul in Marin County has posted a sign near its front door acknowledging that it’s infested with German cockroaches. The organic restaurant has also reported itself to the county environmental health services department and will be closed [for a day] so a pest control company can go to work. Manager Sandro De Oliveira told the Marin Independent Journal the café’s owner wanted to be honest with customers. The newspaper reports that the restaurant also wanted to put pressure on the building owner to take action against the pests.”

Young blood helps

“Our cognitive abilities tend to decline when we get older, as we have trouble remembering old facts and learning new ones,” writes Ashley Taylor in a Discover magazine blog. “But a little young blood reverses some of the ill effects of old age, at least in mice, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Neuroscientist Saul Villeda and his team gave elderly mice infusions of blood from younger, sprightlier members of their species. The old mice fortified with young blood improved on learning and memory tasks. … Last year, [Dr.] Villeda and his colleagues published a study showing that the effect went the other way: Young mice were injected with blood from their older counterparts, after which they did worse on memory tests than young mice with only their own blood in their veins.”

A little bit psychic?

“A new study reports that presentiment without any external clues may exist,” says SciTechDaily.com. “Researchers from Northwestern University analyzed the results of 26 studies published between 1978 and 2010 to figure out if the human body could prepare itself for future events. The scientists published their findings in the journal Frontiers of Perception Science. Subconscious minds sometimes ‘know’ more than conscious minds. Physiological measures of subconscious arousal tend to show up before it develops into a conscious state of awareness. … A person playing a video game at work while wearing headphones wouldn’t be able to hear or see his or her boss coming, but the analysis suggests that if this person were in tune with his or her body, they might be able to detect anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds before the occurrence of the actual event. This feeling is called presentiment, as in sensing the future.”

Old Macdonald was a ’bot

“Studies suggest that the world will need twice as much food by 2050,” says the New Scientist. “Yet while farmers must squeeze more out of the land, they must also reduce their impact on the environment. … Soon, we might see fields with agribots that can identify individual seedlings and coax them along with tailored drops of fertilizer and measured sips of water. Other machines would distinguish weeds and dispatch them with a microdot of pesticide, a burst from a flame gun or a shot from a high-power laser. These machines will also be able to identify and harvest all kinds of ripe vegetables.”

Thought du jour

“We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions.”

Jessamyn West, American writer (1902-84)

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