by Mellisa Hannum
Menu Fatigue on Mars
Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Hawaii-Manoa are looking for six volunteers to live in a simulated base station on Mars… in Hawaii! The volunteers will eat a range of different astronaut foods in an effort to assist NASA with menu planning for an upcoming Mars mission. All told, the mission involves a year of space travel and two years on the “angry planet.”
Studying palate fatigue isn’t the only thing the volunteers will be doing. They will also have to simulate living in space and will wear space suits any time they venture outdoors. (Huffington Post)
Goat Kids Develop Accents
The ability to change vocal sounds and develop an accent is potentially far more widespread in mammals than was previously believed. In most mammals other than humans, (except, for example, bats and whales) vocalization was thought to be genetically determined, with very limited flexibility. Now we must think again.
A team studied four groups of pygmy goats, who were all full or half siblings. They were recorded during two socially and ecologically distinct periods: at one week old, when they typically stay hidden from predators with their siblings; and at five weeks old, when they form social groups with animals of the same age.
Writing in the journal “Animal Behaviour,” the team reported that despite their limited vocal repertoire, the calls of goat half-siblings became more similar when they were raised together in the same social group.
(Queen Mary, University of London)
A Return to the Wild, Wild West
Ranchers have more to worry about than just the drought — cattle rustling is on the upswing. In fact, many types of livestock are being stolen. In Texas, 6,000 lambs were taken from their homes, and almost 1,000 pigs were stolen from different farms in Iowa and Minnesota. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has even created a tip hotline, “Operation Cow Thief,” which is offering rewards for tips leading to the arrest and grand jury indictment of thieves.
(Associated Press and KHOU.com)
More Organic Options
The U.S. and the European Union have announced that they will soon consider each other’s organic standards to be equivalent. In other words, if it’s organic in Europe, it’s also organic here. (NPR)
Best of Class for a Local Wine
Local winery Montoliva’s Sierra Bella won the Best of Class in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Sierra Bella, which means Beautiful Sierra, is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Teroldego, and Barbera wines. Montoliva Vineyard and Winery is located in Chicago Park and is owned and operated by Mark Henry.
Will the Syrup be Flowing?
With a mild winter with less snowfall, there is some concern about this year’s maple syrup crop. There’s still hope, though, syrup lovers… but keep your fingers crossed. The weather during the six-week season when the sap flows matters more than the weather leading up to it. (Associated Press)
Lose Weight. Have Chocolate Mousse Dessert with Breakfast.
Researchers have found that a low-calorie meal plan that includes dessert with breakfast may help dieters. One group went on a low-carbohydrate plan and the other went on a plan that included a high protein, higher carbohydrate breakfast that ended with a small serving of dessert, such as chocolate cake or ice cream. At first, both groups were successful at losing weight. Over the long term, though, the low-carbohydrate group gained back almost all the weight they had lost. The dessert group, however, lost an additional 13 pounds on average. (The New York Times)
by Mellisa Hannum