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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Here’s what you’ll find inside a turtle’s shell

  • A turtle can’t crawl out of its shell, just like we can’t crawl out of our own skeletons.
  • In fact, the shell is actually part of a turtle’s skeleton, comprised of the ribcage, vertebrae, and sternum.
  • But if you could peer inside a turtle shell, you’d find some of the most unusual features in the animal kingdom.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: A turtle’s shell is as much a part of its body as our rib cage is of ours. In fact, it is their rib cage, and their spine, and their vertebrae, and their sternum. Basically, a turtle’s skeleton is inside out. And just like you can’t take a skeleton out of a person, right, you can’t take a turtle out of its shell either. But if you could, you’d probably be surprised by what you’d discover.

Maria Wojakowski: Here’s the inside of a turtle.

Narrator: That’s Maria Wojakowski, a biologist who’s been studying turtle ecology for more than a decade.

Wojakowski: Here’s your shoulder girdle. Here’s your hip girdle.

Narrator: Notice how those hips and shoulders are actually inside the turtle’s rib cage? Turtles are one of the only land animals on the planet with this feature. They’re also some of the only animals that can breathe with their butts. You see, inside a turtle shell is a very particular respiratory system.

Wojakowski: You will see the lungs towards the top here.

Narrator: Now, most land animals breathe by expanding and contracting their ribs, which creates a natural pump that guides air in and out of their lungs. But turtles can’t do this because their rigid shells don’t expand. So instead they rely on sheets of muscles within their shell to pump in oxygen through their mouths.

That is, most of the time. Then there are other times when turtles breathe out the other end, more specifically, through what scientists call the cloaca. It’s the same opening that turtles use to urinate, defecate, and lay eggs. And in some cases, it can double as a set of gills, sucking in water and absorbing the oxygen within. Scientists think that turtles do this when they’re spending long periods of time underwater, like when they’re hibernating.

And if you look really closely at the inside of a shell, you’d discover another feature that helps with hibernating underwater: a scaffold-like structure that can store and release chemicals. That structure actually helps turtles breathe without any oxygen at all.

It works like this: Many turtles hibernate in frozen ponds that are starved of oxygen, and to survive, their metabolism switches over from aerobic to anaerobic. That means they stop using oxygen for energy and start using glucose instead via a process called anaerobic respiration. And the byproduct of that is lactic acid. Now, theoretically, this acid could build up in a turtle’s body and kill it.

That’s where the shell’s structure comes in. It can absorb the lactic acid as well as release a bicarbonate to neutralize that acid. It’s essentially Tums, but for turtles. So as it turns out, having a shell is pretty handy for certain situations. In fact, scientists think that turtles originally got their shells for digging, likely more than 200 million years ago.

Wojakowski: They dig, like, really, really complex burrowing structures underground.

Narrator: And of course, shells are incredibly useful for defense against predators, no matter how fierce they may be. Turtles are amazing.

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

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Here’s what would happen to life on Earth if the moon disappeared

  • Each year, the moon drifts an estimated 1.5 inches further away from Earth.
  • Turns out, the moon isn’t just a beacon of light in the night sky; its existence is crucial to the delicate balancing act that makes life on Earth possible.
  • The moon has the largest influence on Earth’s tides and, without it, high and low tides would shrink by an estimated 75%.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Our moon is on the move. Each year, it drifts an estimated 1.5 inches further away from Earth. And in the process, Earth’s rotation is actually slowing down. What if one night, the moon simply disappeared? Would we miss it?

A full moon is on average 14,000 times brighter than the next brightest night-sky object, Venus. So without it, every night would be as dark as a new moon. And star gazing would be spectacular.

But by the next morning, you’d begin to realize just how important the moon is for life on Earth. To start, between the sun, Earth’s rotation, and the moon, the moon has the largest influence on Earth’s tides.

Without it, high and low tides would shrink by an estimated 75%. This would jeopardize the lives of many types of crabs, mussels, and sea snails that live in tidal zones and disrupt the diets of larger animals who rely on them for food, threatening entire coastal ecosystems in the process. Within a few decades, we would start to see mass population declines in the sea and on land.

One of the largest spawning events in the world occurs in the Great Barrier Reef. Each November in the days following the light of a full moon, coral colonies across the reef – spanning an area larger than the state of New Mexico – release millions of egg and sperm sacs within nearly minutes of one another. Scientists are certain that the full moon plays a role in the timing, but exactly how remains a mystery.

On land, animals like these Red Crabs also use lunar cues to reproduce. After living most of their lives in the mountains, millions of adult crabs migrate down to shore. And then, only during the last quarter of the moon, females release their eggs into the sea.

Now, the moon may not hold as much sway over human reproduction. But without it, something else we care equally about would change – the weather. Tides and tidal currents help mix cold arctic waters with warmer waters in the tropics. This balances temperatures and stabilizes the climate worldwide. Without the moon, weather forecasts would be practically impossible. The average difference between the hottest and coldest places on Earth could grow to life-threatening extremes.

But none of this compares to the biggest change that we would have coming over the next millennia. Right now, Earth tilts on its axis at 23.5º mostly due to the moon’s gravity. If the moon disappeared, Earth’s axis would wobble between anywhere from 10 to 45º.

Some experts estimate that Jupiter could help keep Earth’s tilt from reeling completely out of control. But even just an extra 10º tilt could wreak havoc on the climate and seasons.
In the past, Earth’s tilt has changed by about 1-2º, which scientists think could have caused Ice Ages in the past. It’s hard to know what a 10º or 45º tilt would do but probably nothing good for most life on Earth.

The moon isn’t just imperative for life on Earth today. Experts believe that it may also have played a key role in the formation of life more than 3.5 billion years ago. Turns out, the moon isn’t just a beacon of light in the night sky. Its existence is crucial to the delicate balancing act that makes life here possible.

Video courtesy of Instagram/@Norazian, Instagram/faulkner_photography

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s what would happen if all the ice on Earth melted overnight

  • If all the ice on Earth melted overnight, the planet would be sent into chaos.
  • There would be mass flooding from sea levels rising, severe weather changes, deadly chemical releases, and mass greenhouse gasses that would leak into the atmosphere.
  • Scientists say we need to stop the planet from rising in temperature by just 1° Celsius, or this could happen sooner than we think.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Ninety-nine percent of all freshwater ice on Earth is sitting on top of Greenland and Antarctica, and each year, a little more of it melts into the ocean. Normally, it would take hundreds to thousands of years for it all to melt away. But what if something happened that caused a massive global melt overnight?

As we slept, sea levels would rise by a whopping 66 meters. Coastal cities like New York, Shanghai, and London would drown in the apocalyptic mass flood, forcing up to 40% of the world’s population out of their homes. While all this chaos ensues aboveground, something equally sinister is happening below. All that rising saltwater will infiltrate groundwater reserves farther inland, forcing its way into nearby freshwater aquifers. You know, the ones that supply our drinking water, irrigation systems, and power-plant cooling systems? All those aquifers would be destroyed. Not good.

On top of that, the ice on Greenland and Antarctica is made of freshwater, so when it melts, that’s about 69% of the world’s freshwater supply that’s going straight into the oceans. This will wreak havoc on our ocean currents and weather patterns. Take the Gulf Stream, for example. It’s a strong ocean current that brings warm air to northern Europe and relies on dense, salty water from the Arctic in order to function. But a flood of freshwater would dilute the current and could weaken or even stop it altogether. Without that warm air, temperatures in northern Europe would plummet, and that could spawn a mini ice age, according to some experts.

That’s not even the worst of it. Take a look at what will happen when that last 1% of freshwater ice that’s not part of Greenland or Antarctica thaws. Some of that 1% is sitting in glaciers farther inland. The Himalayan glaciers specifically pose one of the largest threats because of what’s trapped inside: toxic chemicals like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. Scientists discovered that glaciers like this can store these chemicals for decades. But as they thaw, those glaciers release the chemicals into rivers, lakes, and groundwater reserves, poisoning each one as they go.

The rest of that 1% is hanging out underground, mostly in the Arctic tundra, as something called permafrost. Permafrost is organic matter that’s been frozen in the ground for two-plus years. Now, one of the most immediate problems with thawing permafrost would be mercury poisoning. That’s right: There are an estimated 15 million gallons of mercury stored up in the Arctic permafrost. That’s almost equal to the amount of mercury everywhere else on Earth. On top of that, the organic matter in permafrost is a tasty meal for microorganisms. After they digest it all, they fart out two of the most potent greenhouse gases out there, carbon dioxide and methane. Scientists estimate this could double the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and potentially cause global temperatures to rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius compared to today.

That might not sound like much, but say goodbye to that mini European ice age, and even rivers and lakes around the world. They’d evaporate from the higher temperatures and cause mass droughts and desert-like climates. And all that extra water vapor in the atmosphere would fuel more frequent and stronger storms, floods, and hurricanes. So all of that newly established coastline on the eastern US would be one of the last places you’d want to live. Instead, there would be mass migrations to Canada, Alaska, the Arctic, and even what’s left of the Antarctic.

And you’re right, this is probably never going to happen. After all, there’s enough ice right now to cover the entire continent of North America in a sheet a mile thick. So the next time you hear about record-breaking heat or ultra-powerful hurricanes, at least you know that it could be worse. But scientists estimate that if we don’t take action and global temperatures increase by just 1 degree Celsius, the effects of climate change we already see today will be irreversible. So yes, it could be worse, and it will be if we’re not careful.

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

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.

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Doctors debunk 12 myths about sunscreen, sunburns, and tanning

Following is a transcript of the video.

Michelle Henry: “Getting a base tan will protect you from a sunburn later on.”

You know, a tan is temporary, but your skin never forgets.

“I’m covered — I applied sunscreen on my face, arms, and legs.”

Jeremy Brauer: You’re not covered.

“Getting sunburned once is harmless.”

All it takes is one blistering sunburn. One.

Hi, my name is Jeremy Brauer. I am a board-certified dermatologist and a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon. I have a new practice in Westchester, New York, called Spectrum Skin and Laser as well as practicing in Manhattan for about a decade.

Henry: Hi, I’m Dr. Michelle Henry. I’m a board-certified dermatologist and skin-cancer surgeon. I have a practice called Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan. I specialize in high-risk skin cancers, lasers, aesthetics, and general dermatology, and today we’ll be debunking myths about sun care.

“A higher SPF is always better.”

Brauer: So, that, I would have to say, is a myth. SPF is great when we think about UVB, or ultraviolet B, rays, but we also have to worry about our ultraviolet A rays, which also cause sun damage and skin cancer. So in that regard, you’re looking more for a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB-protective sunscreen. The other part of this that makes it a myth is higher is not always better. Yes, 30 is better than 15, 50 is better than 30, but at some point, roughly around 50, you’re already at 98% blocking of your UVB rays.

Henry: And SPF 100 only takes you 1% more, to 99%, and is that really significant? Likely not. What’s most important to me is that you’re wearing 50 when you’re outdoors, but you also want to make sure you’re wearing sunglasses, utilizing shade structures, you’re wearing a hat, you’re paying attention to your skin.

Brauer: “You can have a ‘healthy tan.'”

Henry: Absolutely not. So, this is complete fake news. We know that UV light is a known carcinogen, so there really is zero safe dose of UV light.

Brauer: I would agree. Healthy and tan do not go together, by definition. When your skin is tanned, it’s damaged. And when you have damaged skin, you increase your risk of skin cancer. We know that approximately 90% of all skin cancers are directly related to exposure to ultraviolet A and B rays, and guess what? Those are what causes a skin to tan.

Henry: Exactly. You know, a tan is essentially just your skin’s stress response. So your skin is distressed when it’s tan. If you want tan skin, A, understand that your skin is OK and beautiful the way it is. But if you for the summer want to look a little bit tanner and you want to do that in a safe way, there are many companies that provide very safe sunless tanning creams, lotions, and sprays that can give you the look that you want but also keep you safe. And that is my singular recommendation for being tan.

“Getting a base tan will protect you from a sunburn later on.”

The tanning salons will tell you that if you get a base tan before you go out into the sun, it’s going to protect you. So, a base tan probably gives you about an SPF of 3. So if you burn in 20 minutes, now you’re going to burn in 60 minutes. That’s nothing. It doesn’t really help you significantly. But what it has done is increase your risk for skin cancer, increase your risk for accelerated aging. And, you know, a tan is temporary, but your skin never forgets. So what I tell my patients is that skin cancer is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. You never know when you’re getting that one last exposure that is now going to tip your skin cells over into being cancerous. So there really is zero safe level of UV.

Brauer: “You can’t get sunburned in the shade.”

Henry: Incorrect. So, you can absolutely get sunburned in the shade.

Brauer: Are you skiing? Are you at the beach? Is there sand? Are you sitting right next to an aluminum garbage can?

Henry: No matter where you are, the sun can reflect off of the concrete, the sand, the snow especially. With snow, about 80% of the sun’s rays actually reflect. So you’re actually still at risk and still quite vulnerable, even if you’re under a shade structure.

“You only need sunscreen if you’re going outside.”

Brauer: That is definitely a myth. We know for sure that whether you’re indoors sitting by a window or if you’re in a car driving, you are going to get exposure to ultraviolet light. Primarily it’s ultraviolet A, but as we’ve been talking about, ultraviolet A is just as dangerous as ultraviolet B. And even then, while these windows do protect you against most of ultraviolet B, it’s not all of ultraviolet B.

Henry: Curtains aren’t perfect, because, you know, clouds aren’t even perfect, right? So UVA makes its way completely through the clouds. So curtains alone won’t do it. You know, sunscreen alone won’t do it. It is a comprehensive plan to keep your skin safe.

“I’m covered — I applied sunscreen on my face, arms, and legs.”

Brauer: You’re not covered. We also think about arms, but what about the backs of your hands? And if you’re outside wearing flip-flops or open-toed shoes, sandals, the tops of your feet as well need to be protected with sunscreen.

Henry: The lips. That’s an area that’s really high risk for skin cancer, and as skin-cancer surgeons, we know that’s one of the areas where skin cancers can metastasize. Another area: the part. When men lose their protective covering on the scalp, you want to make sure that you’re protecting those areas. The chest, behind the legs, underneath the chin. I treat skin cancers underneath the chin all the time. So even if you’re just out on a patio having lunch with a friend, that light is getting reflected. So don’t forget underneath the chin as well.

Brauer: “Getting sunburned once is harmless.”

Henry: No. This is absolutely incorrect.

Brauer: All it takes is one blistering sunburn in your lifetime to increase your risk of skin cancer. One. Henry:

Henry: Those young formative years, not only are they psychologically important, but they’re clinically important to keeping you safe. We know that five sunburns before the age of 18 can double your risk for melanoma. So it’s really important that you’re protecting your skin early.

Brauer: I would say the best way to stay away from us is actually coming to see us.

Henry: Oh, yes, I like it!

Brauer: Everyone, as you said, everyone is incurring sun damage. Everyone should have a skin check by a board-certified dermatologist. And the idea is not just for the dermatologist to take a look at your skin, but also have a conversation with you about what your skin looks like and how you can prevent future sun damage, prevent development of skin cancer, what sunscreens might be appropriate for you.

Henry: Once you’ve had one skin cancer, you’re at an increased risk of having another one in the next year. And so it’s just, once you’ve accumulated that damage, you continue to have them, and you continue to have them. And so it’s really important that you take every sun exposure seriously, because you never know when you’re near your tipping point.

Brauer: And so, yes, what has happened has happened, but it doesn’t mean that it’s too late, and we absolutely can do things for you to help minimize the risk of development of skin cancer in the future.

Henry: “The sun is strongest when it’s hottest.”

Brauer: This is not necessarily true. The heat that you feel over the course of the day is actually cumulative, so for most of us, we actually feel the hottest a little later in the day, usually about 3 o’clock. So if you’re out at 10, 11 o’clock and you don’t feel it’s all that hot outside, guess what? That’s when the UV is actually strongest. There are certain times of the day where the sun is at the highest in the sky. And at that period of time, we believe that the ultraviolet light that we’ve talked about, UVA/UVB, is at its strongest and most damaging. In general, we talk about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It can vary slightly, maybe 11 to 4, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when it’s hottest during the day.

Henry: A little trick that I often use is the shadow trick. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is higher in the sky. If your shadow is a little bit longer or taller than you, so in the late morning or the late afternoon, then the sun is likely not at its peak.

Brauer: The other thing to think about is on a cool day, on a cloudy day, even on a winter day high up in the mountains, when you’re skiing, you’re getting ultraviolet damage occurring.

“People with darker skin don’t need sunscreen.”

Henry: So, everyone needs sunscreen. It does not matter your skin type. So we know that melanin is protective, but melanin is not perfect. So even the deepest, darkest skin ranges from an SPF, let’s say, 4 to SPF 13. And what do we recommend? SPF 30 and above. So even dark skin is not 100% protective. We know that we see skin cancers in darker skin types. What’s also important is that in darker skin types there’s often a lower index of suspicion, so we find them later. And because of this, the outcomes can be quite worse. So in darker skin types, we see that the five-year survival for melanoma is about 65%. In lighter skin types, it’s about 90%. And part of that is because of that lower index of suspicion. The thing about skin of color is that redness looks different, sun damage looks different, but it’s still there. Skin cancers look different. So some of the most common skin cancers, like basal cell skin cancers, which we classically describe as a pearly pink papule, in a darker-skin patient might look brown. It might, instead, it’s a pearly brown papule. And so, you know, it’s not that it doesn’t happen. It’s about being trained in a way to read those changes, because they’re there, they’re present, and it’s critical to find them.

Brauer: “All sunscreen works the same.”

Henry: Fortunately, they do not, because variety is really important, because different skin types have different needs. And so the two broad categories of sunscreens are your physical sunscreens and then your chemical sunscreens. So, chemical sunscreens work by bonding with your skin, and they convert UV light to heat. Physical sunscreens lay on top of the skin, and they reflect UV light.

Brauer: When we’re talking about physical sunscreens or physical blockers, those are the mineral sunscreens. In general, we think of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the two prominent ingredients found in those sunscreens.

Henry: If someone has really sensitive skin, they may not want to use a chemical sunscreen, not only because of the chemicals, but because of that release of heat.

Brauer: In the news, very recently, there’s a lot of talk about contaminants, such as benzene, as well as the concern about whether or not, yes, are we getting that SPF protection? Are we getting that sun protection that the label is claiming that we do? We definitely need stronger regulation by the FDA. We need more consistency and standardization in the industry, but that being said, applying your sunscreen and using your sunscreen as directed is definitely better than not using it at all.

Henry: Absolutely. The best sunscreen for you is a sunscreen that you will use. It’s a wonderful thing that we have different variations. Creams for those who may have drier skin and enjoy that feeling of a richer cream. Lotions for those who don’t. Gels for those who may have oilier, acne-prone skin. Powders for those who want to reapply on their makeup. Sprays for those who are looking to catch their kids running away on the beach.

Brauer: But don’t inhale.

Henry: But don’t inhale. But don’t inhale.

Brauer: The important point to make is there is no waterproof sunscreen. So while it’s great that if you feel like you’re either going swimming or you’re going to be sweating or very active, you want to use a water-resistant sunscreen, I think it’s just as important that you realize once you get out of that pool or once you’re ready to towel off after a lot of sweating, you reapply.

“You don’t need sunscreen if your makeup has SPF.”

Henry: No. And this is a common question I get in the office. Frankly, we don’t apply our foundation the same way that we apply our sunscreen. Our sunscreen is a much more even application. If you’re applying, let’s say, eye shadow with SPF, most of us aren’t applying a thick sheet of eye shadow over our eyelid, and so there are going to be areas of vulnerability.

Brauer: And as we’ve spoken about before, it’s not just about that SPF number. You want to make sure that it’s UVA protective too. And that’s going to be found in your sunscreen, most likely not in your moisturizer. For physical blockers, I usually tell people that will go on last. But the chemical sunscreens, you maybe want to put that on prior to any other makeup that you’ll be using.

Henry: A big problem that happens is that we’ve become these mad scientists and these chemists that we’re not. And so when you start mixing formulations and you don’t understand how to formulate, frankly what you’re doing is you’re diluting your sunscreen. And so if you’re mixing your SPF with your moisturizer, now you have less protection. And we don’t even know how these formulations work together. Maybe it’s less than half. It’s just far too risky.

“You won’t get enough vitamin D if you use sunscreen.”

There are more than enough ways to get vitamin D that don’t cause skin cancer. So, I recommend supplementation, or, you know, dairy products also have vitamin D. So there are many ways you can get adequate vitamin D that’s not a carcinogen.

Brauer: And if what Michelle said is not enough, sunscreen, sunblock is not perfect. So you’re still getting sun exposure even when you apply sun protection perfectly. So it’s not as though you’re completely blocking the sun and you’re not making any vitamin D. You are making vitamin D. You do not need much sunlight to make vitamin D. So, if I had to say three things to leave you with, start young, reapply — it’s not just about that first application first thing in the morning — and it’s not just about sunscreen. We’ve talked about all the other things that are involved in a comprehensive plan for skin care and sun protection.

Henry: We’re excited about going outdoors. Our beaches are going to be busy. We want to make sure that while we’re having fun, we’re still being responsible. So sunscreen to me is an evergreen topic. We should talk about it year-round, but it’s particularly important right now.

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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.

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This is what happens when you hold your pee for too long

Following is a transcript of the video.

You’re about an hour and a half into the movie and, boy, are you regretting that large soda. You can hold it… but should you?

Peeing is pretty important. Your kidneys filter excess water and waste out of your blood and that urine needs somewhere to go: your bladder. Normally, it’ll hold 1-2 cups comfortably. But if you make a habit of holding your pee for long periods of time, you can actually stretch your bladder to easily hold even more.

Case in point, one study found that nurses who often held it in all day due to job constraints had nearly double the normal bladder capacity! And they were totally fine.

But this doesn’t mean you should hold it in if you can help it. Because your bladder may not be the only thing to stretch.

You may also stretch your external sphincter muscles. Those are important muscles connected to the outside of your bladder that are the gate-keepers of your golden liquid. Clench them and you hold in the gold. Relax them and you release the flood! But if you overstretch them, you can actually lose control. This is rare, and usually takes decades of holding it too long to reach that point, but once you do, it can lead to some awkward or even dangerous situations.

For example, with less overall control, you risk leaking urine when your bladder is full and not emptying it all the way when you finally do go. Not only can this increase your need to urinate more often since your bladder fills up quicker, it can also lead to a serious disorder called urinary retention, where you end up with too much urine in your bladder for too long. And since your bladder is basically a warm, wet bag of body waste, it’s the PERFECT breeding ground for harmful bacteria that’ll cause all sorts of damage.

Even worse, if you’re really unlucky and retain too much urine, it may back up into your kidneys. Which could lead to kidney failure, and ultimately death.

The good news is that you’re more likely to just lose control of your muscles and pee waaaay before your bladder hits that point. But why not just reduce the risk all together and go to the bathroom?

Ok, ok, we get it. That movie is absolutely gripping. Luckily… You’ll be fine if you only hold it in for a short time, every once in a while. So go ahead, hang in there… just don’t make a habit of it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on June 2018.

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This animation shows just how big supermassive black holes can get

  • Black holes are the densest objects in the universe, which gives them a powerful gravitational pull on the space around them.
  • They can be millions of times larger than suns and planets, or as small as a city.
  • Using just gravity, black holes can rip entire planets and stars apart – but how powerful they are depends on how much mass is inside.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: The cosmos can be a dangerous place. Take black holes, for example. They’re some of the most violent objects in our universe, powerful enough to rip entire stars to pieces.

Their secret weapon is gravity. You see, the more mass you can shrink into a small space, the stronger your gravitational force will become. To make Earth into a black hole, for instance, you’d have to shrink it to less than an inch across.

But real black holes are much larger than that and pack way more mass than Earth. Here’s just how big black holes can really get.

There are three common types of black holes. The smallest are stellar black holes, which form after a giant star explodes and collapses in on itself, like this one, which measures about 40 miles across, roughly three times the length of Manhattan. But in that small space is enough mass to equal 11 of our suns.

In another galaxy, called M33, there’s a black hole that is 58 miles across and packs as much mass as 15.7 suns inside.

Up next are the intermediate-mass black holes, like this one. At 1,460 miles across, it’s nearly large enough to stretch from Florida to Maine and, according to some calculations, contains the mass of 400 suns.

At this point, black holes start to get pretty big compared to Earth, but it’s still nothing when you consider the sheer mass they carry. Take this black hole, for example. It’s nearly twice the size of Jupiter, spanning a region about 172,000 miles wide, but inside is as much mass as 47,000 suns.

But these black holes are nothing compared to supermassive black holes, like Sagittarius A*, which lives at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It covers a region about 14.6 million miles in diameter. That’s roughly 168 Jupiters across, and inside is the same amount of mass as 4 million suns combined. Now that may sound big, but Sagittarius A* is small compared to other supermassive black holes.

Take the one at the center of our neighbor the Andromeda galaxy, which has a diameter of 516 million miles, larger than Jupiter’s orbit, and contains enough mass to equal that of 140 million suns. We’re finally getting to some of the largest black holes in the universe, and yet we haven’t reached one that surpasses the size of our solar system.

So let’s look at the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sombrero galaxy. It measures 2 billion miles across, so it would stretch further than Uranus’ orbit, and it has about the same mass as 660 million suns.

And the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87 is so huge that astronomers could see it from 55 million light-years away. It’s 24 billion miles across and contains the same mass as 6 1/2 billion suns. But this supermassive black hole, as large as it is, could still fit within our solar system with plenty of room to spare.

So we have to look at one of the most massive of all supermassive black holes. It has a diameter of about 78 billion miles. For perspective, that’s about 40% the size of our solar system, according to some estimates. And it’s estimated to be about 21 billion times the mass of our sun.

So there you have it, black holes can be millions of times larger than suns and planets or as small as a city. It all depends on how much mass is inside. Turns out, when it comes to the cosmos, size isn’t the only thing that matters.

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

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