This Week in Weird Science: Facebook reduces the amount of gray matter in the brain. Don’t worry, it’s not necessarily making you dumber, but rather it has the same effect on your brain as heroin does to addicts. Next, researchers from Germany and Sweden conclude that organic food is actually worse for the environment than the cheap stuff. Finally, a fish the size of a fucking bus was discovered in Russia. Let’s not anger the beast.
Facebook reduces gray matter in the brain.
Facebook addicts who spend their days scrolling through the app, passive-aggressively commenting pictures, and playing arm-chair politician tend to have less gray matter in their brains.
The region inflicted with reduced gray matter is the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s “reward centers.” It’s part of the organ’s mesolimbic pathway, which activates during pleasurable experiences. It’s the region of the brain flooded with dopamine when an addict injects heroin or a sex addict gets whipped by a melanesian hooker.
During a five-week study, researchers from Germany’s Ulm University and the University of Bonn tracked the Facebook habits of 46 male and 39 female users. They monitored the time spent on the social network, the number of times they “checked in.” In coordination with the analysis, the team also used MRI scans to survey the participants’ brain structures.
“It appeared, that…higher daily frequency of checking Facebook on the smartphone was robustly linked with smaller gray matter volumes of the nucleus accumbens,” said the study.
“Indeed, frequency of Facebook checking can be compared to an energetic SEEKING activity,” the researchers wrote, “whereas the users of the smartphones are checking their Facebook account in expectation of ‘Likes’, nice comments, etc.”
This trial is one of many that delve into the psychological repercussions of social media, and it could also explain why heavy social media users tend to be more reclusive and depressive than the rest of the population.
Organic food is worse for the environment than you ever thought.
To all of the organic-only yuppies who subsist on $5 organic apples, just know that the simple farm-to-table lifestyle is only healthy for you, not for the environment. A team of researchers out of Sweden and Germany have noticed that the carbon footprint associated with both conventional and organic diets is pretty much the same, the only difference is that an organic diet requires 40 percent more land.
These results may seem disappointing to those extolling virtues of free-roaming, “happy” chickens and the freshness of pesticide free strawberries. Sure, an organic lifestyle is significantly healthier than a conventional diet. Organic adherers tend to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables and 45 percent less meat. But, it turns out, that the meat produced at organic farms has a significantly larger carbon footprint that those normal “farms.” Also, these organic farms not only require more land but they also yield 20 percent less crops.
From a carbon emissions perspective, organic farming is worse for the environment because, perhaps obviously, using more land to produce fewer crops is inefficient and unsustainable. Then again, so is much of the diet of conventional “eaters.” A hamburger a day ain’t keeping global warming away.
A fish the size of a fucking bus was just found in Russia.
Fossils of a new species of marine reptile was just found in Russia, and it’s the size of a fucking bus.
The pliosaur, an ancient sea-dwelling reptile, had a 7 foot skull, teeth the size of bus seats, and extremely powerful jaws that could probably devour a Great White in a single bite.
These swimming reptiles, not dinosaurs but cousins of fucking turtles, possess an unusual, slender body shape with four large flippers, stiff trunk, and, according to the researchers, “highly varying neck length.” They’re most known for ferocious fucking appetites.
Researchers found the creature, dubbed “Luskhan itilensis, meaning “Master Spirit from the Volga,” in the Russia’s Volga River, near the city Ulyanovsk, and the fossils date back 130 million years.
“This is the most striking feature, as it suggests that pliosaurs colonized a much wider range of ecological niches than previously assumed,” said lead researcher Dr. Valentin Fischer of Liege University in Belgium. “The new results suggest that pliosaurs were able to bounce back after the latest Jurassic extinction, but then faced another extinction that would—this time—wipe them off the depths of the oceans, forever.”
It’s a shame pliosaurs are supposedly extinct (remember we know virtually nothing about the deep oceans) because Cthulhu could use a rival.
Top photo courtesy of Masahiro Ihara, CC BY 2.0
Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.