Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (

  • The Surprising Science Behind Your Favorite Candy

    Atomic fireballsAtomic fireballsWith Halloween just around the corner, store shelves are full of a variety of candies to satsify every sweet tooth. If you've ever wondered how your certain candies make your tongue burn or lips pucker, read on for the science behind some of your favorite sweets.

    What makes Atomic Fireballs so hot?
    This classic candy, which was released in 1954 and aptly named during the Cold War, packs a double whammy when it comes to spice.

    First, it contains cinnamaldehyde, the oil that gives cinnamon its taste. Cinnamaldehyde affects a protein in your mouth called TRPA1 that senses irritants.

    But Atomic Fireballs also contain capsaicin, the compound that makes hot peppers spicy. The burning sensation you feel when eating the candy is caused by capsaicin binding with a protein called TRPV1.

    TRPV1's primary purpose is to detect body temperature, and when it's activated, it sends a signal to your brain that your mouth is too hot.

    Although your tongue might feel like it's melting, eating hot candy

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  • Can 'the Corset Diet' Really Squeeze the Fat Away?

    Does the corset diet actually work?Does the corset diet actually work?In a Chicago Tribune article published on Sept 5, 1891, the author wrote of corsetry, "It is difficult to imagine a slavery more senseless, cruel or far-reaching in its injurious consequences than that imposed by fashion on civilized womanhood during the last generation….the tight lacing required by the wasp waist [corseted silhouette] has produced generations of invalids and bequeathed to posterity suffering that will not vanish for many decades."

    For centuries, women wore corsets that were so tight they caused some women's internal organs to be rearranged. Yet in 2013, women are willingly taking to the corset with one aim in mind: easy weight loss. Well, easy if you consider being bound in a nearly suffocating undergarment easy; but hey, at least there's no counting calories or exercise involved!

    Celebrities like Jessica Alba are singing the praises of lacing up to shrink the waste, and a number of doctors are even recommending it. Beverly Hills-based Dr Alexander Sinclair told ABC

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  • Internet Study Shows We Watch Way Too Many Cat Videos

    Maru the cat has become famous on YouTubeMaru the cat has become famous on YouTubeThe research is in, and it says that people love funny cat videos.

    The not-so-surprising finding is part of new report about online video from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

    Thanks to all the video camera-equipped devices we carry today and the popularity of social networking and video-sharing sites like Facebook, YouTube and Vine, it's become increasingly easy for users to share videos.

    Today, the percent of American adult Internet users who post videos online has more than doubled to 31 percent from 14 percent in 2009.

    The percent who watch or download videos also has increased to 78 percent today from 69 percent in 2009.

    Also see: 10 cats made famous by YouTube

    Humorous videos, especially those involving cats and babies, are the most-viewed type, with 58 percent of adult Web users saying it's the genre they favor.

    "How-to" videos are the second most popular, followed by educational videos and music videos.

    Typically, the videos adult Internet

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  • Pit Bull Saves Cat from Hungry Coyotes

    This pit bull rescued a cat, but why is a duck also in the picture?This pit bull rescued a cat, but why is a duck also in the picture?Pit bulls often get a bad rap for being known as an aggressive breed, but for the pet owners that love them, they are better known for their sweet, playful demeanor and unconditional loyalty. Few stories illustrate the soft side of pit bulls better than this one about Jack the dog and his unlikely companion, Kitty, reports Fox 13 News in Tampa.

    The story is particularly unusual in that Kitty, as her name hints, is actually cat. It's a fact which Jack, a rescued pit bull, compassionately overlooks. To him, she's just a friend.

    The connection between the two might be rooted in their shared past. Both are rescued animals.

    "He probably feels like he's the caretaker. He checks on her every day and sniffs her, seeing what kind of shape she is in," said Sherree Lewis, Florida resident and owner of the two pets.

    Jack's role as caretaker was recently put to the ultimate test, after an experience that might be every pet owners worst nightmare. On her way out the door one day, Lewis caught a

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  • Cousteau Kin Set to Live Underwater for 31 Days

    Fabien Cousteau prepares to live underwater for a monthFabien Cousteau prepares to live underwater for a monthJust when you think reality TV can't sink any lower, along comes Fabien Cousteau.

    The grandson of original aquanaut Jacques-Yves Cousteau is producer, director and star of a miniseries airing this fall that takes place 63 feet under sea. Starting on Nov. 12, Fabien Cousteau and other researchers will live underwater for 31 days and will broadcast every second on multiple channels, exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath.

    "Mission 31" is more than "Big Brother," of course. Those living under water will conduct research on the effects of climate change on corals, sponges and sea life with scientific advice and mission support from Northeastern University's Urban Coastal Sustainability Initiative. Cousteau's team will also lead human physiological and psychological experiments to determine how long humans can live without the sun and also handle the effects of long-term high pressure.

    The team will also test new technology such as underwater

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  • Doctors Say Singing Could Help You Live Longer

    Can singing make you live longer?Can singing make you live longer?Research has found that singing in a choir may enhance mental and emotional well-being and social connections. In fact, researchers in Sweden found that singing improved heart health; they noted that the heart rates of singers slowly became synchronized, eventually beating as one. It doesn't get much more poetic that that.

    Now a new study being conducted at the University of California San Francisco hopes to determine if singing can actually lead to a longer, healthier life.

    The researchers have created 12 new choirs in senior centers across the bay area. Singing volunteers were all tested for things like balance and leg strength before the program began, and will be tested again at the end.

    Among other things, researchers for the UCSF study explain that singing seems to be good for balance.

    "Older adults who sing in a choir actually fall less and could potentially have stronger lower body strength," said Julene Johnson, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging.

    As well,

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  • Can't Recognize Friends? You Might Have Face Blindness

    Is face blindness is a real disorder?Is face blindness is a real disorder?Imagine not being able to recognize your mother, your spouse or your own children. Imagine seeing a stranger and realizing it's your reflection.

    For people with prosopagnosia, this is part of everyday life.

    Prosopagnosia, or face blindness, is an incurable neurological disorder that impairs the ability to recognize faces - even those that should be familiar.

    Sometimes the impairment affects only facial recognition, but some people with prosopagnosia also have difficulty identifying objects and places. Many report problems with other aspects of face processing: They find it difficult to distinguish age or gender, understand expressions or follow a person's gaze.

    While many people may have trouble putting faces to names, prosopagnosics often can't recognize someone they've just met. They can't follow movies or TV shows because characters all look the same. They can't even recognize their own family members.

    Linda Catterall, a prosopagnosic from Scotland, wrote about one such

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  • Having a Bad Day? Here Are 7 Ways to Turn it Around

    Here are some techniques to turning around a bad dayHere are some techniques to turning around a bad dayby Starre Vartan, Mother Nature Network

    Bad days are like colds; they happen to everyone, at some point, but when you have one, it feels like you are the only person in the universe to suffer such pain. And some of us catch a case of the frustrating day more than others. Of course, one of the major problems with a bad day is that it feels like it is happening to you, like terrible stuff is coming from the universe and being dumped on your head specifically. But you do have some control over a bad day - mostly how you feel about it. If you can stop the negativity in its tracks, you can stop a bad day from becoming something worse.

    Now, the information below is not for those horrible days - wherein you find out a loved one has died, or that your health is seriously compromised in some way. (I don't have advice for that, and I'm sorry if you are going through something like that; I have, and it's just awful.) I'm talking about those days when you spill your coffee all over your new

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  • Dogs Have Emotions Just like Humans, Study Finds

    Does this dog know what your feeling?Does this dog know what your feeling?Using MRI technology, scientists at Emory University set out to determine how dogs' brains work, and they discovered that dogs experience emotions in a way comparable to humans.

    Or, as researcher Gregory Berns concluded, "Dogs are people too."

    For two years Berns and his colleagues have trained dogs to enter an MRI scanner while awake and unrestrained. Typically, animals are anesthetized so they won't move during a scan, but you can't study brain functions like perception and emotion when an animal is asleep.

    Another reason Berns chose not to anesthetize his canine participants is because he says wanted to treat the dogs like people.

    All the dogs in the study have consent forms signed by their owners, and only positive training methods are used to prepare the animals for the MRI.

    Berns' own dog, Callie, was the first dog to have her brain scanned. With the help of a dog trainer, Berns taught Callie to enter an MRI simulator he'd built in his home.

    Callie learned to enter the

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  • Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

    This dog loves to eat grass. But why?This dog loves to eat grass. But why?by Morieka Johnson, Mother Nature Network

    No walk around the neighborhood is complete without my dog Lulu eating grass. Even on a full stomach, she likes to hunt for the perfect blades and chew away. Left unattended, I'm sure she could mow down a small lawn. Since lawns today have any number of number of chemicals, I decided to check with an expert about whether her grass-eating habits do more harm than good.

    Dr. Jennifer Monroe of Eagles Landing Veterinary Hospital in Georgia explains the most common reasons that dogs eat grass.

    It's yummy: Monroe says that it is normal for dogs to chew on the green stuff. Some pooches even develop preferences that range from fresh leaves to drier weeds or even a particular species of grass. What they cannot discern is whether grass has been chemically treated. Use caution when walking on a neighbor's lawn and stick with greener products in your own yard. Monroe recommends nontoxic treatment options, and MNN has more than a few easy, organic lawn

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