That toothpaste taste
Why does everything taste bad after you brush your teeth? Blame either sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), says Mental Floss magazine. These chemicals are surfactants – wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid – that are added to toothpastes to create foam and make it easier to spread around your mouth. Both SLES and SLS mess with our taste buds in two ways: They suppress the receptors on our taste buds that detect sweetness and break up fatty molecules that suppress our taste buds for bitterness. Anything eaten or drunk after brushing will taste less sweet and more bitter than usual.
Can you hear maturity?
"Listening to the electrical currents of teenagers' brains during sleep, scientists have begun to hear the sound of growing maturity," reports the Los Angeles Times. "It happens most intensively between the ages of 12 and 16½. After years of frenzied fluctuation, the brain's electrical output during the deepest phase of sleep – the delta, or slow-wave phase, when a child's brain is undergoing its most restorative rest – becomes practically steady. That reduced fluctuation in electroencephalogram signals appears to coincide with what neuroscientists have described as major architectural changes in the brain that pave the way for cognitive maturity."
Can you smell obesity?
It may be on your breath, according to latest research. "It turns out that obesity may be detectable as a gas, thanks to organisms that inhabit our gut," says Time magazine. "In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers extend our knowledge about the hidden universe of microbes that live within us to show that obesity is associated with certain populations of microbes that give off a distinctive gas. To be more specific, obesity may smell a lot like … methane, which is to say, like not much at all, since methane in its naturally occurring state is actually odourless."
China's leaders have responded to a waning interest in ideology by setting up a vast "red tourism" industry, reports Der Spiegel. "[T]he idea is for Chinese people to have fun with their political party, to enjoy themselves in the great amusement park of Communism. They're invited to feast on braised pork, Mao's favourite dish, in the leader's birthplace of Shaoshan. They can drink from the well Mao himself supposedly dug in Ruijin or carry fake rifles aboard a roller coaster at the Cultural Park of the Eighth Route Army, where they can re-enact the war against Japan. There have even been National Red Games, including events such as 'storming the log house' and a 'grenade toss.' Party training centres and companies send members to these destinations as part of educational holidays. China saw over half a billion 'red tourists' in 2011 alone."
Words worry Google
"Last year, the Swedish Language Council published a report of words that had entered the Swedish lexicon in 2012," says The Christian Science Monitor. "Among them was ogooglebar – ungoogleable, in English. This did not please Google. In fact, according to the council … Google promptly wrote to representatives for the organization and asked them to remove the word. The council duly fired back – 'we decide together which words should be and how they are defined, used and spelled,' reads a defiant post on the council website – and the ensuing furor has made Ungoogleable Gate front page news. … So what's Google's problem? Well, to put it simply, Google is worried that if everyone starts using the word 'google' as a lower-case verb or noun, it will dilute the name."
Thought du jour
A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.