Latest Human Nature columns: 1) No steroids in football, but let them eat steak. 2) Why pro-lifers fear the morning-after pill. 3) If steroids are cheating, why isn't LASIK? 4) Tom DeLay's mortal hypocrisy. 5) Terri Schiavo's persistent legislative state. 6) Jews vs. Catholics in the stem cell debate. 7) A plan to create an embryo-like thing. 8) The case for raising the retirement age. 9) What Larry Summers got right and wrong.
A study suggests parents protect attractive children more carefully than unattractive children. At supermarkets, attractive kids were more than three times more likely to be strapped in to the cart. Skeptics said socioeconomic status might account for the difference.
An ingredient in multivitamins may accelerate age-related mental decline. Old people who took folic acid in doses equal to or greater than the recommended daily allowance declined more rapidly than their peers did.
Transcendental meditation may prevent death from hypertension. In a study, hypertensive elderly people who used TM were 23 to 30 percent less likely to die than those who relied on other relaxation methods or drugs.
Florida mandated lifelong GPS tracking of child molesters. Proponents say GPS will assist in "warning authorities when a sex offender is someplace he shouldn't be—such as near a school" and "pinpointing of suspects if a child is abducted."
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed legislation to resume executions by "relying on science." Death sentences would require "conclusive scientific evidence," an "independent scientific review," and a "no doubt" (rather than "no reasonable doubt") standard of proof.
A study found that self-reported slights of black women strongly correlate with hardening of the arteries. Researchers think the mediating variable is stress. Skeptics suggest the causation may go the other way: Cardiovascular stress makes you perceive more slights.
Hundreds of toads are exploding in Germany and Denmark. A scientist says the wounds indicate crows have pecked out the toads' livers, causing the toads to explode when they puff out in self-defense.
A zebra-donkey hybrid was born. It has a brown torso and striped legs.
Congress debated why football players are getting bigger. Some experts at a hearing blamed steroids; others blamed a selection bias for fat guys. Several warned that genetic engineering of athletes is already possible.
The first American cloned horse was born. It was the only live birth after 400 failed attempts and six failed embryos.
A surrogate mother delivered quintuplets by Caesarian. One has a heart defect requiring multiple operations. According to the Arizona Republic, a TV crew filmed the births, and the genetic mother "touched a foot of each quintuplet as it was lifted from the surrogate mother's womb Tuesday and whispered, 'I'm your mom now.' "
A study found that most doctors prescribed antidepressants to patients who didn't need them when the patients mentioned a Paxil ad. The "patients" (really actors) described symptoms that didn't require antidepressants but told the doctors, "Some things about the ad really struck me. I was wondering if you thought Paxil might help me." When the actors didn't mention an ad, the percentage of doctors prescribing antidepressants dropped to 10.
The National Academy of Science recommended a ban on cell transplants between human and animal embryos. The human-to-animal ban would apply only to "nonhuman primates." The academies would also ban research on human embryos older than 14 days.
A study foundno correlation betweenbrain tumors and cell-phone use.
Mammals can be put in suspended animation. Using gases, researchers made mice hibernate, then revived them. No damage was detected. In humans, this could be used to "buy time" while awaiting transplants or transportation to an emergency room.
Two studies suggest day care may protect kids from leukemia. Children who had day care, nursery school, or regular play groups very early in life showed the lowest risk. Scientists think exposure to infections helps kids avoid later immune-system challenges that trigger the disease.