Making these three lifestyle changes will help you take the best poop, according to science

Following is a transcript of the video.

There’s honestly nothing more satisfying than a good poop. On the flip side, a bad poop can ruin your day. You know what I’m talking about. Too hard, too soft, too sudden, not soon enough. If this isn’t ringing any bells, congrats on being the world’s only perfect pooper! A title to wear with pride.

For the rest of us, we have to work at it. The good news is we have science on our side. There are a bunch of things we can do to smooth out the kinks in our digestive system, and some of them are very literal. But real quick, let us introduce you to the Bristol stool scale, a handy-dandy chart listing the different types of poop your body can make. They range from type one, hard lumps, to type seven, totally liquid. When it comes to No. 2, you actually want to be a type three or four. Anything before indicates constipation; anything after gets closer to diarrhea. Depending on where you land on the scale, there are a number of things you can do to get that coveted smooth snake. Let’s start with short-term solutions. [mooing] Mooing like a cow, or making a similar noise if you aren’t feeling particularly bovine, can help reduce straining. You’ll want to lean forward with your elbows on your knees while you do it. The idea is to open up your belly and get yourself in a more efficient pooping position.

You see, sitting toilets were designed all wrong. Sitting straight up with your feet planted on the ground actually makes it harder to squeeze one out. Too much straining and pushing can lead to hemorrhoids, most of all, but sometimes even prolapse. Thanks to how our bodies are built, we’re better off in a squat. It’s all in the gut. Look at the angle of her rectum when she stands up. It’s bent at about 80 degrees right where it meets the anal canal, fittingly named the anorectal angle. Sort of like kinking a hose, this bend helps you control your bowels, along with the muscles in the same area.

When you sit, that angle unfolds to about 100 degrees, and squatting opens it even further. Opening up that pathway makes it easier for stuff to slide on through. But even though our porcelain thrones aren’t suited for squatting, there are ways to adapt. You can throw your feet up on a stool or even just a couple of rolls of toilet paper. Or the dedicated can buy a product specifically made for this purpose, like the Squatty Potty or Nature’s Platform. One study followed over 50 healthy poopers through 1,000 collective bowel movements using the Squatty Potty. The experiment started with a two-week control period of unassisted pooping.

Then, participants spent another two weeks using the Squatty Potty. 90% of the participants strained less, and over 70% spent less time on the toilet. Speaking of, we are very sorry, but put down your phone. Even you, person who’s watching this on the can right now. Taking your phone or a book to the bathroom just encourages you to stay in there longer, which, again, leads back to straining and putting excess pressure on your rectum and anus. Getting up off the toilet can help you in more ways than one.

Generally the more you move, the more you poop. Exercising can jostle around your innards, helping shake up food, gas, and waste to move through your system. That means less time for your lower intestine to absorb water from your stool. And wet, soft poops are easier to pass. So going for a quick jog could be helpful if you’re constipated. Not so much if you have diarrhea. What you eat can also help. Yep, we’re talking fiber. Fiber is helpful no matter which end of the stool scale you’re on, but not all fiber is created equal.

There are actually two main types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, turning gooey and spongy. It comes from things like fruit flesh, root vegetables, and cooked grains. This stuff takes its time sliding through your digestive track, which helps regulate movements. You want to start introducing this type of fiber to your diet if you’re hovering around a type six or seven. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, mostly keeps its shape when wet. This fiber from fruit skins, leafy greens, and the outer layer of most whole grains adds to the bulk of the stool. It puts pressure on your colon walls and stimulates movement. So this is what you’re looking for to fix a type one or two, but you don’t want to load up on either fiber all at once.

First, you want to suss out if fiber is really your issue at all. If you normally eat plenty of insoluble fiber but you’re still constipated, then more probably isn’t gonna help. And too much fiber too quickly can make you bloated or gassy. When in doubt, go see your doctor. They might recommend probiotics, which can help reduce bloating and gas as well as constipation. When you first start taking them, you might end up in type six or seven territory for a few days, but that should go away. And if adding stuff to your diet doesn’t help, maybe try taking stuff away. Dairy, caffeine, meats, spicy foods, alcohol, grease, certain fruits, and artificial sweeteners have all been known to cause diarrhea. Cutting all or some of that stuff could help relieve those bowel-control issues.

Keeping a food diary to find connections between snacks and symptoms is also recommended, and that way you don’t have to give up on all the good stuff at once. If you’re not the world’s only perfect pooper, taking the perfect poop isn’t always easy. But it should never be as hard as a type one. With these tips and tricks in your back pocket, you are well on your way to the throne. Now go eat, drink, and jog your way to the best poop of your life. You earned it, champ.

Everybody deserves a perfect poo, but always make sure to check with your doctor before you make significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. But you could probably moo all you want without a doctor’s note. And subscribe below if you want more ways to optimize your life with science.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2020.

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The history behind how Area 51 became the center of alien conspiracy theories

Following is a transcript of the video.

In the early 1950s, US planes were conducting low-flying recon missions over the USSR. But there were constant worries of them being spotted and shot down.

So … in 1954, President Eisenhower authorized the development of a top secret, high-altitude recon aircraft dubbed Project Aquatone. The program required a remote location that wasn’t easily accessible to civilians or spies. Area 51 fit the bill perfectly.

It was in the Nevada desert near a salt flat called Groom Lake. No one knows exactly why it’s called Area 51, but one theory suggests it came from its proximity to the Nevada Nuclear Test Sites. The Nevada Test Site was divided into number-designated areas by the Atomic Energy Commission. The location was already familiar territory for the military, as it had served as a World War II aerial gunnery range.

In the summer of 1955, sightings of “unidentified flying objects” were reported around Area 51. That’s because the Air Force had begun its testing of the U-2 aircraft. The U-2 can fly higher than 60,000 feet. At the time, normal airliners were flying in the 10,000 to 20,000 feet range. While military aircraft topped out around 40,000 feet. So if a pilot spotted the tiny speck that was the U-2 high above it, they would have no idea what it was. And they would usually let air traffic control know someone was out there. Which is what led to the increase of UFO sightings in the area. While Air Force officials knew the UFO sightings were U-2 tests, they couldn’t really tell the public. So they explained the aircraft sightings by saying they were “natural phenomena” and “high-altitude weather research.”

The testing of the U-2 ended in the late 1950s; but, Area 51 has continued to serve as the testing ground for many aircraft, including the F-117A, A-12, and TACIT BLUE.

No one knows for sure what Area 51 is up to these days. The government never even publicly acknowledged the existence of the base until 2013, with the release of declassified CIA reports. But if you’re ever at the Las Vegas airport, keep an eye out for some small, unmarked, passenger planes in a fenced-off area. They’re how Area 51 employees get to work from their homes in Vegas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2017.

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What makes a firefly glow

  • There are over 2,000 individual firefly species, all within the taxonomic family of Lampyridae.
  • But the answer to the lightning bug’s light all happens in the same organ in its abdomen: the lantern.
  • While the firefly may have evolved its lantern as a form of protection, today the lightning bugs use their light as a species-specific mating ritual.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: There are over 2,000 individual firefly species, all within the taxonomic family of Lampyridae, which is pretty easy to remember. And these lightning bugs with their flickering light shows make summer nights feel all the more magical and romantic. But how did fireflies manage to catch lightning in a bottle? The answer is found in the bug’s butt, or more specifically in its abdomen, in an organ called the lantern. This organ is a set of specialized light cells, all encased in a translucent exoskeleton. And those light cells are where the magic happens: the phenomenon of bioluminescence, when a chemical reaction in a living thing emits light. Fireflies aren’t the only creatures that have this power. Glowworms and certain deep-sea fish species are some of the creatures capable of producing and emitting light. But the firefly is probably the Earth’s most famous bioluminescent species. So what’s happening inside the firefly’s light cells? What’s the secret to its glow?

In the 19th century, French pharmacologist Raphaël Dubois, working with bioluminescent clams, discovered that there are two essential components to these creatures’ light show. He named them luciferin and luciferase, based on the Latin term lucifer, for “light-bringer.” Luciferin is the compound that generates light, and luciferase is the enzyme that acts on it. Today, we know that the firefly’s bioluminescent reaction plays out like this. A firefly diverts oxygen to its light cells through its tracheoles. And those oxygen molecules react to luciferin, catalyzed with the help of luciferase and energy in the form of ATP. The luciferin then becomes agitated and excited, elevating its energy level. And when the excited luciferin drops back to its normal state, it releases that energy in the form of light, creating the “fire” in fireflies. It’s a remarkable phenomenon that’s also remarkably efficient. In a light bulb, 90% of the energy consumed is given off as heat, with only the remaining energy, a mere 10%, given off as visible light. In a firefly, on the other hand, nearly 100% of the energy is given off as light. That luminescence, or “cold light,” as it’s also called, is produced in the light cells and then focused by a layer of reflector cells, which direct that beam outward through that translucent exoskeleton.

But why do fireflies do what they do? As it turns out, bioluminescence has a number of evolutionary benefits, helping certain marine species lure prey to their mouths or serving as a defense against predators.

Sara Lewis: Fireflies are beetles, and so the juvenile fireflies live underground. So, we think that firefly light first evolved as a warning. It’s like a neon sign that shouts out, “Don’t eat me, I’m toxic.”

Narrator: But in adult fireflies, the purpose is a bit more romantic. Those yellow flashes lighting up our warm summer nights are actually part of the fireflies’ complex mating rituals, with male fireflies attracting female fireflies of the same species by flashing a distinctive, recognizable pattern. So those lights twinkling around you, switching on and off seemingly at random – they’re just the opposite: a highly intricate, specialized form of species-specific seduction.

Lewis: In North America, males might flash, like, just one flash. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, bleep, another flash, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, bleep, another flash. Some species, the males actually give paired flashes, so they’ll fly along and then go bleep, bleep, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Bleep, bleep, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. And so on. And so females who are kind of hanging around on grass down below can see these flashes, and they can recognize a male of their own species.

Narrator: But for all the romance and magic they add to our summer evenings, firefly populations around the globe are at serious risk. Those finely tuned mating rituals? Thanks to light pollution, those love letters get a little lost in translation.

Lewis: In areas where there’s a lot of bright lights, it’s been shown that it’s much, much more difficult for the male fireflies to find the females and for the females to see the flashes, the advertisement flashes of the male fireflies.

Narrator: And other threats like habitat loss and pesticide use have also put the population at risk.

Lewis: Sadly, in many parts of the world, there are other firefly species that aren’t doing so well. In fact, they are flickering out. And some of these fireflies are restricted to a very specific habitat. If that habitat goes away, the fireflies disappear. They can’t live anywhere else.

Narrator: It’s a story playing out all over the planet and across the animal kingdom. But as Lewis explains, education is absolutely key to conservation of fireflies and of all at-risk species.

Lewis: If fireflies disappeared, a lot of the world’s wonder would disappear with them. Would you wanna live in a world without fireflies? I would not.

Narrator: By increasing awareness of these risk factors, Lewis hopes to shine a little light on firefly conservation, ensuring that these little bugs will be able to dazzle us for years to come, giving future generations the chance to spend their summer nights trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What’s inside the ‘world’s ugliest animal,’ the blobfish

  • The blobfish was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013 – a title it still defends today.
  • But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome.
  • Between the skin and the muscles is a lot of fluid. And that’s the secret to the fish’s distinct appearance – and its survival.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This creature was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013, a title it still defends today. On land, he’s got a body like Jell-O and a big old frown. But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome. Same old fish, but with a little more support. So, what is all that water pressure holding together?

David Stein: Between the skin, that flabby skin, and the muscles is a lot of fluid.

Narrator: This is David Stein, a deep-sea-fish biologist who was lucky enough to dissect 19 blobfishes in the 1970s. Blobfish look blobby because they are full of water. Under their skin, blobfish have a thick layer of gelatinous flesh that floats outside their muscles.

Stein: If you pick up a blobfish by the tail, then it kind of flows to the head.

Narrator: This water-filled, Jell-O-like layer allows the blobfish to stay somewhat buoyant, which is important because blobfishes don’t have a swim bladder.

Stein: And fishes that have swim bladders are able to adjust their buoyancy. They can secrete gas into the swim bladder or remove it. A fish that lives on the bottom doesn’t need to be able to maintain its buoyancy.

Narrator: So, the Jell-O layer isn’t a perfect substitute, but the blobfish doesn’t need to be a strong swimmer. The predator has a highly specialized hunting strategy that’s perfect for the rocky barrens of the deep sea.

Stein: It just sits there and waits for dinner to come by.

Narrator: If all you do is sit, you don’t need much under your skin. Just watery tissue, some yellow pockets of fat, and a smidgen of muscle. In case you hadn’t guessed, blobfishes aren’t exactly yoked. They have very little red muscle, the kind that allows you, a human, to run a mile or a tuna fish to migrate across oceans. Instead, blobfish have a lot of white muscle, which allows them to swim in short bursts and lunge at prey that on occasion ramble by.

This is a baby blobfish. It’s a cleared and stained specimen, meaning all its tissue has been dissolved to show only the bones and cartilage. Those thin red lines you see, they’re the blobfish’s bones dyed red. If you’re having trouble seeing the bones, you’re not the only one. Blobfish have poorly ossified skeletons, meaning they’re thinner and more fragile than the bones of most shallow-water fish. This is another handy deep-sea adaptation, as it takes a lot of precious energy to build strong bones.

But the blobfish saves its energy to develop what might be the most important bone in its body: its jaws, which also happened to be the reason it looks so gloomy. The fish needs enormous jaws so it can snap up any prey that passes by and swallow it whole, maybe even smacking its blubbery lips as it eats. And that brings us to its stomach. If you’re the kind of creature that eats anything that swims by, some surprising things can wind up in your stomach. Stein found a wide range of foods and not-foods in the blobfish he dissected. Fish, sea pens, brittle stars, hermit crabs, an anemone, a plastic bag, and also lots of rocks.

Stein: Their stomach contents kind of bear out the fact that they’re probably not too bright.

Narrator: He also found octopus beaks, the cephalopods’ hard, indigestible jaws. This means that one of the world’s flabbiest fishes has been able to eat one of the sea’s most cunning predators. If you’re surprised, just think about the blobfish’s thick skin. What would it be harder to grab in a fight: a sack of bones or a sack of Jell-O? Stein suspects it might be the latter.

Stein: If the skin is loose, perhaps the suckers can’t really get a good grip on it.

Narrator: Stein found sucker marks across the blobfish’s body, a hint that the fish might’ve been in some deep-sea fights. So while all of this Jell-O might look a little unconventional, well, it seems to have served its purpose. The blobfish is perfectly suited to life in the deep sea, where beauty standards are probably quite different. After all…

Stein: Ugly is kind of in the eye of the beholder.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why raccoons are so hard to get rid of

  • Raccoons, which can digest just about anything, are attracted to the huge amounts of garbage that build up in urban areas.
  • These highly intelligent, dexterous critters figure out ways of thwarting human efforts to stop them.
  • In 2016, Toronto spent $31 million to fend off a raccoon invasion, but the critters continued to swarm the city.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: In 2016, Toronto spent $31 million to fend off a raccoon invasion. The masked critters were everywhere, pooping on porches, stopping traffic, and infesting attics, and they’re not just taking over Toronto. Reports of raccoon vandalism have plagued cities like Portland, Chicago, and New York City, and as raccoon-ridden cities know, we can’t seem to stop them.

Between the 1930s and 1980s, the US raccoon population increased twentyfold, and it’s still going strong. From 2014 to 2015, raccoon complaints in Brooklyn nearly doubled, so how are these masked bandits making it in big cities?

Well, for starters, they can digest just about anything from fish and acorns in the forest to dog food and pizza on the street, and just like humans, raccoons usually prefer the pizza, which is why they flock from woodland to city in the first place.

In Brooklyn, for example, captured raccoons sometimes get relocated to Prospect Park and nearby forests, but wildlife biologists report they often head right back to the dumpster-packed city streets.

It’s just about impossible to stop them, as Toronto discovered after it spend millions on raccoon-proof waste bins. Unlike traditional bins, the lids had special gravity locks, which open when a garbage truck arm turns the bin upside down. The idea was that if you cut off their major food source, they would skip town, but that didn’t happen. In fact, one year later, a wildlife-control business reported that raccoon-related work had doubled.

Finally, a clever raccoon was caught on camera jailbreaking the new bin. How did she outwit an entire city? Well, study after study has revealed that raccoons are considerably smarter than your average medium-sized critter. Turns out raccoon brains have more neurons packed into their brains than other animals of the same size.

In fact, they have the same neuron density as primates, who are notoriously smart, and their clever brains help explain why raccoons can open complex locks, solve puzzles with ease, and even come up with solutions to problems that scientists didn’t think of. Add to that their ultrasensitive hands, er, paws, which have four times as many sensory receptors as their feet. This helps them to feel subtle textures like special trashcan lids in Toronto and even open locks without looking.

And unfortunately for us, driving them away is a fool’s errand. Studies show that after mass removal, populations tend to rebound to their previous levels in a year. After all, females can start giving birth at just 1 year old and can have as many as eight kits in a single year. This quick breeding is also why experts say mass cullings aren’t a long-term solution.

And while they’re awfully cute, the damage they can cause is not. When raccoons nest in buildings, they can destroy insulation, chew up wires, and tear holes through walls, and it can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair that kind of damage. One raccoon was even caught destroying over $3,000 worth of artwork, and just removing them can cost $300 to $500 a pop.

Plus, the poop they leave behind can contain roundworms and other parasites, which can enter your lungs when you breathe or get tracked into your home by your pets. Even worse, raccoons can transmit diseases like canine distemper and, in rare cases, rabies.

So it’s understandable that cities are trying to find some way, any way, to manage them.

Man on broadcast: Can’t do a thing about it, just chase them off. They come back.

Narrator: If nothing else, it’s a lesson learned. We may have built the cities, but we don’t necessarily rule them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why you shouldn’t eat your boogers

  • Over 90% of adults pick their noses, and many people end up eating those boogers.
  • But it turns out snacking on snot is a bad idea.
  • Boogers trap invading viruses and bacteria before they can enter your body, so eating boogers might expose your system to these pathogens.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Odds are you are surrounded by nose-pickers. It’s true.

In one study, 91% of adults admitted to picking their nose regularly. So chances are you’ve probably mined for some juicy nose nuggets yourself.

But maybe you didn’t stop there. Maybe you ate those boogers too!

And it turns out, that slimy snack could hurt more than just your social standing.

Let’s take a closer look at that booger. It’s mostly made of water, gel-like proteins that give it that gooey consistency and special immune proteins that fight off germs. Those immune proteins are especially useful because boogers are teeming with harmful viruses, like influenza.

That’s the whole point, actually. Boogers serve as your body’s front-line defense against invading germs. When you breathe in, you’re not just inhaling air. You’re also taking in bacteria, viruses, and dirt. Which get trapped by a layer of sticky snot that lines your nostrils. It’s like fly paper for the flu. And as you continue to breathe, air hardens the mucus into a solid booger, a gooey prison cell for your ensnared enemies. Now, normally, you can get rid of that bacteria-ridden ball either when you sneeze or blow your nose.

But if you decide to eat it instead, it stands to reason that you’re putting yourself at risk of infection. Because as your body digests the booger, it can release those harmful pathogens into your system.

Now, some people claim that eating your boogers can strengthen your immune system. By training your body to recognize and attack invading microbes. But, sorry to say, there’s zero scientific evidence to support any health benefits from eating your boogers.

And besides, whether or not you eat your boogers just getting ahold of them can be dangerous. For example, scratching up the inside of your nose opens the door for a nasty bacteria that lurks under your fingernails, Staphylococcus aureus.

A 2006 study found that nose-pickers were more likely to have Staph in their nose than those who abstain. And that’s a big problem since Staph can cause serious abscesses or pus-filled pockets inside your nose and on your face. Even worse, if you keep picking you could actually puncture your septum.

In one case, a 53-year-old woman managed to carve a hole right through her sinus. And if that sinus becomes infected badly enough, it can erode your skull, leaving a door open for bacteria to march right into your brain.

To be fair, these are extreme scenarios. One time probably won’t hurt you. The next time you feel the urge to mine for green gold, just grab a tissue.

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Why cities can’t get rid of rats

  • Cities across the US are getting more infested with rats. As hard as we try to get rid of the pests, they always seem to find a way back.
  • In many ways, rats are better suited for living in cities than people. They can climb brick walls and “tightrope walk” over telephone cables.
  • Their incisors grow 14 inches a year, which lets them gnaw into anything – including everywhere you don’t want them.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Wormtail. Professor Ratigan. The R.O.U.S. Pop culture has given rats a bad rep. And it’s understandable why.

Take northeastern India’s rat flood. Twice a century, rats swarm when bamboo forests drop about 80 tons of seeds. After they devour the seeds, they devastate local agriculture. In the 1960s, the resulting famine was so bad, it lead to a major political uprising.

It’s no wonder that the technical term for a group of rats is a “mischief”! And they’re not just a problem for farmers. These crafty rodents are the ultimate urbanites.

Meet your average city rats: Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus. These rats live pretty much wherever we do. Especially in cities. Take New York City, for example. We don’t know exactly how many rats call the Big Apple home. But a 2014 study gave a ballpark estimate of 2 million rats.

That means for heavily-infested areas you could have several rats per person! And in some ways, rats are better suited for living in cities than people. They can climb brick walls, “tightrope walk” over telephone cables, and their incisors grow 14 inches a year. Which lets them gnaw into anything – including everywhere you don’t want them.

But their most powerful ability? Rats are clever. Too clever. Scientists have shown that rats can learn to use tools. And when offered the choice between a chocolate and freeing a trapped friend. Rats chose to free their friend over chocolate!

Translate those smarts to the real world and rats easily avoid traps. Trying to poison them won’t help much either. Rats are extremely patient when it comes to new foods. They’ll taste just a tiny portion at first, wait to see if that food makes them sick and only then, consume the rest if it’s safe.

This is called “delayed learning” and it’s why rats are notoriously difficult to poison. Plus, they can develop resistance to many poisons over time so even outwitting them might not work in the long run.

Another major issue is that rats reproduce quickly. A single doe usually has 8-12 pups every 8 weeks! And those babies can have pups of their own after only 5 weeks!

So as long as they have access to food, rat populations will rebound from just about any attack. The only attack they can’t handle is improved sanitation.

And cities are using that to their advantage. In 2017, for example, New York City launched a $32 million war plan against its rats. Eliminate 70% of the rats in its 10 most-infested neighborhoods.

The plan is simple. Cut off their food source.

You see, NYC produces around 33 million tons of trash a year – more than any other city on Earth! The trash piles aren’t getting any smaller but the city can at least make it harder for rats to reach by replacing traditional trash compactors with a mailbox style opening.

Will NYC succeed by the end of 2018, as proposed?

Judging by the thousands of years where rats came out on top, it sounds a little too optimistic.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.

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How this cat survived a 32-story fall

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: 32 stories above the streets of New York City, a cat fell from a window and lived. After vets treated the cat’s chipped tooth and collapsed lungs, the feline was sent home two days later.

Cats fall a lot, and they’ve gotten really good at it. Drop a cat upside down, for example, and it will almost always land on its feet. That’s because cats are extremely flexible. They can twist their bodies mid-air as they fall.

But landing feet first isn’t always the best strategy. Like if you’re falling from 32 stories up. To figure out how cats manage that perfect landing every time, a series of studies looked at over a 100 cats’ falls from two to 32 stories up.

Comes as no surprise that cats who fell from the second floor had fewer injuries than cats who fell from the sixth floor. But here is the fascinating part. Above the seventh story, the extent of the injuries largely stayed the same, no matter how high the cats fell. So, how is that possible?

Well, it all comes down to acrobatics or lack thereof. Cats that fell from two to seven stories up mostly landed feet first. Above that, however, cats used a different technique. Instead of positioning their legs straight down as they fell, they splayed out like a parachuter. And landed belly-first instead.

But this method isn’t 100% foolproof. Chest trauma, like a collapsed lung, or broken rib is more common with this landing method. But the risk of breaking a leg is much less. So, how do cats somehow subconsciously know how to land?

It has to do with a physics phenomenon called terminal velocity. At first, the cat plummets faster and faster under gravity until she’s fallen the equivalent of five stories. At that point, she hits constant terminal velocity at 100 kilometers per hour. She’s now in free fall where air friction counteracts her acceleration under gravity. At this point, she’s no longer accelerating and, more importantly, doesn’t feel the pull from gravity.

So, here’s what researchers think is happening. From two to seven stories up, cats don’t have enough time to reach terminal velocity and prep for landing feet first. But once they hit terminal velocity, their instinct changes and they parachute their limbs.

All that said, don’t throw your cat out of a window. I can’t believe I have to say this. Not only is it still very dangerous, it’s not very polite. Don’t throw your cat out the window just to see all that go down. Just watch this video again. Just hit the little replay button.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in October 2018.

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One bite from this tick could ruin red meat for the rest of your life

  • A single bite from a lone star tick could cause hives, shortness of breath, or even death.
  • It’s not something they were born with, it’s something their body was taught to reject, by an uninvited little wilderness hitchhiker.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Imagine that you’re a red-blooded carnivore. You love burgers, steak, pork chops, bacon. But one day, out of nowhere, red meat starts to make you physically sick to the stomach. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s real, and it’s spreading.

It’s spreading to people like Amy.

Amy Pearl: My name is Amy Pearl, and I’m a producer for WNYC.

She has what is called a mammalian meat allergy.

Amy Pearl: I have a tendency to not mention it at restaurants, because I feel like if you say to a server, I’m allergic to meat, they’re gonna be like, I’m spitting in your food.

Any meat that came from a cow, a pig, or a lamb, will make Amy sick. Very, very sick.

Amy Pearl: Like I just had hives on my hands and my feet, and like all over my torso. I was nauseous, and I felt like I was fainting, I felt like the world was ending, I felt like I was gonna pass out and I couldn’t really breathe.

Thousands of Americans are suffering like Amy, but until 2009, this sort of allergy went undiagnosed.

Amy Pearl: I think I made an appointment with my regular physician, but he immediately was like, there’s no such thing as a meat allergy, has to be something else.

That changed with the cancer drug, Cetuximab. In a clinical trial, one in four patients developed severe allergic reactions to the drug. Some even died.

Naturally, Cetuximab was investigated. University of Virginia’s allergy department focused on one specific part of the drug. The key ingredient in Cetuximab is a specific carbohydrate that all non-primate mammals carry in their cell walls and tissues, Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or, if you’re pressed for time, alpha-gal.

Dogs have it, cats have it, and the mice cells involved in the production of Cetuximab have alpha-gal. The team discovered that those who had reactions were from only certain areas of the US, the southeast. The locations of the cases aligned almost perfectly with the range of a specific type of tick, the lone star tick.

Dr. Scott Commins is an allergist, and was working with the University at the time.

Scott Commins: Over 90 to 93% of our patients that developed allergic reactions to red meat and test positive by blood test will have a history of tick bites.

Amy Pearl: The thing I Googled was “sudden meat allergy.” I found an article that said there was some man in Florida, had gone into anaphylactic shock from eating meat after a tick bite. And I was like, “I had a tick bite!” I mean, I often have a tick bite. I’d just taken a tick off me.

One of the leading researchers, Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, went so far to use himself in an unofficial experiment, taking a hike through a nest of larval ticks. It earned him a nice case of red meat allergy.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about how this meat allergy works, but here is the leading theory. Ticks don’t have alpha-gal naturally, but they could be carrying it if they fed off a mammal, like a deer or a dog. If a tick then bites you, it trades some of your delicious blood for its saliva, which is a cocktail of nasty things. An enzyme in that saliva tells your body that there’s a variety of dangerous threats, and your immune system bans everything in that saliva from entering the body, including alpha-gal, which is also in every burger, steak, and bacon strip. So the next time you eat one of those, your body treats the carbohydrate like an intruder, and hits the panic button.

This is happening in the bodies of an estimated 5,000 Americans. What’s worse is that the range of the lone star tick is growing.

Scott: Their range is spreading into the Ohio River Valley and now up into Minnesota. We also know places where this alpha-gal red meat allergy exists, but they don’t have lone star ticks at all. And this would be southern Sweden, for example, there’s parts of Europe, Australia, and now even South Africa. So clearly other tick species can do this as well.

University of Virginia’s researchers have also linked the alpha-gal allergies with a higher risk of heart disease.

Scott Commins: This allergy seems as though it will often go away over time, but the problem has been that any additional tick bites seem to cause the allergy to return. And these are often patients who like to be outside.

Amy Pearl: I know that my numbers have gone down, because I’ve been retested a couple of times, but they’re still 10, 20 times what they should be.

Dr. Commins continues to work towards an immediate cure to mammalian meat allergy. In the meantime, the number of cases are rising.

Scott Commins: So what we’ve been trying to do is work on a vaccine related to tick saliva, in hopes that we can prevent the allergic response from continuing, or recurring, with additional tick bites.

If you’ve been bitten by ticks recently, be sure to get tested. If you haven’t, learn how to explore the woods safely.

Scott Commins: you may want to consider pre-treating your skin or clothing with DEET or Permethrin, respectively.

Amy Pearl: People are so freaked out about ticks, it’s not that bad. They’re much easier to see than you think.

Learn how to do a tick check after spending time in the wilderness. And if you value a juicy steak over a walk in nature, then maybe stay out of the woods.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2018.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Science-backed ways to become a better leader

  • What changes can you make in the office to increase your team’s performance?
  • We asked Richard Wiseman, professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of “How to Remember Everything”, for advice on how you, as a leader, could better lead your team.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a trasncript of the video.

Richard Wiseman: There are lots of myths in psychology – things that people believe there simply is no academic research for.

Brainstorming

When it comes to brainstorming, right now around the world companies are all be getting together to kick around some ideas and generate some new thoughts. A terrible, terrible idea.

If you look at the research on brainstorming, it decreases the number of ideas and the originality of those ideas by around about 20%. Why, because when we all get together, the most dominant people take charge of the meeting and who knew they’re not the most creative people in the world?

So, a very, very simple change which is that you ask people to brainstorm on their own to come up with three innovative solutions before they get together, and then when you get together you go around the group and everyone talks about their solutions no matter how crazy actually increases innovation and creativity. So, again, a very, very simple change. A very easy change, but a very powerful one.

Meetings

When it comes to meetings, often we all like to sit around and we all like, quite frankly, to waste a great deal of time. So, if you stand up in a meeting, a standing meeting, it doesn’t reduce productivity.

What it does do is massively reduce the time of the meeting. People want to be out of that room quickly, so they’re just as productive in a much, much shorter time.

Dishonesty

Also, if you think that a colleague or maybe a client is not being entirely straight with you, what’s the best thing to do to try and find out if they’re being economical with the truth?

Well, if you look at the amount of lying across different types of communication, you see people lie a lot face-to-face, a bit less on the phone, a little bit in texting, but absolutely not in emails. Only around about 10% of emails carry a lie because people don’t want to commit themselves to print.

So, if you think someone isn’t being totally straight with you, just say, oh, can you email me about that? Instantly you’ll find out whether or not they’re being economical with the truth.

Sleep

At the moment, we’re trying to cut down on sleep as much as possible, there’s an epidemic of sleeplessness. And sleep is absolutely vital. It underpins productivity, it underpins focus, it underpins creativity.

What’s happening right at the moment is we’re taking our smartphones to bed, often putting them on our bedside table and treating them as alarm clocks, and then, of course, in the middle of the night, you wake up, “I think I’ll just check social media or whatever it is” and you get this blast of light, which actually contains blue light, which is very disruptive to the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep. It really messes up the rest of the night.

Value sleep. If there’s any way of incorporating a 20-minute nap into the middle of the day, really good for productivity. Businesses should be doing that. Value sleep.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.

Read the original article on Business Insider