Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (

  • Man Quits Finance Job, Makes Heart-racing Documentary About Rescuing Animals

    Tim Phillips with a lion cub in a scene from the 'Lion Ark' documentary.Tim Phillips with a lion cub in a scene from the 'Lion Ark' documentary.In the spring of 2009, Bolivia banned animals in circuses, but not all circuses complied with the law. In 2011, animals were still being crammed into cages, mistreated, malnourished and neglected. Enter Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips, the married co-founders of Animal Defenders International (ADI), who spent two years investigating circuses undercover before mounting a rescue operation that succeeded in saving 25 lions from a miserable life in captivity.

    Their efforts are documented in the film they made about it, "Lion Ark," which has been winning awards and accolades on the film festival circuit and is now playing in California and New York. It has also benefited from some Hollywood support: actress Jorja Fox of "CSI," an associate producer, helped on the filmmaking side, and animal activist Bob Barker was the biggest single donor, funding the lion's share (literally) of the $1.8 million rescue mission - including food, building a temporary sanctuary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and

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  • 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Goes Viral -- and Not in a Good Way

    Is this library book giving you germs?Is this library book giving you germs?Library copies of "Fifty Shades of Grey" tested positive for traces of the herpes virus and cocaine, according to two Belgian professors.

    Researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven ran bacteriology and toxicology tests on the 10 most borrowed books at the Antwerp library and recently revealed their findings.

    E L James' bestselling erotica series wasn't the only "viral" book on the shelves. A romance by Pieter Aspe titled "Tango" also tested positive for herpes.

    However, researchers say concentrations of the virus on the books were so minimal that it would be impossible to contract herpes by touching the pages.

    Also see: Are libraries the new hot spot for bedbugs?

    And although all 10 of the most popular books tested positive for trace amounts of cocaine, researcher Jan Tytgat says there's nothing to worry about.

    "The levels found won't have a pharmacological effect. Your consciousness or behavior won't change as a result of reading the tomes," he told the Flanders NewsRead More »from 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Goes Viral -- and Not in a Good Way
  • Do Babies Dream?

    What is this baby thinking?What is this baby thinking?by Chanie Kirschner, Mother Nature Network

    I often wonder, as I watch my calmly sleeping baby randomly grin while she sleeps. What is she smiling about anyway? A bottle full of her delicious formula? A leisurely nap in the stroller in the afternoon breeze? Or is she perhaps having a terrible nightmare about her older brother sitting on her? Turns out it's probably none of the above.

    Herein a little infant sleep primer. People go through five stages when they sleep. Four of these stages belong to non-REM sleep, and one stage is REM sleep - called such because of its characteristic rapid eye movements. As adults, we spend about one quarter of our sleep time in REM sleep - the time when our eyes jerk and bodies twitch. This is also the stage of sleep in which we dream. Infants actually spend much more time in REM sleep - about 50 to 80 percent of their sleep time is spent in this phase. Many people presume that infants do indeed dream during this stage, just as adults do, but

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  • 3 Inspiring Animal Stories You've Got to Read

    Xena and Jonny, a boy with autismXena and Jonny, a boy with autismSeveral outstanding people and animals - including a cat that helped a soldier in Afghanistan and a 6-year-old victim of the Newtown shootings - will be honored this week at the ASPCA's Humane Awards.

    The ASPCA received hundreds of nominations for the annual awards and selected winners in six categories.

    The ceremony on Nov. 21 in New York will recognize both the animals that have made a difference in our lives and the people who are working to improve the lives of animals.

    "This year's Humane Awards winners not only exemplify our mission of preventing cruelty to animals, but bring greater awareness to the unique and meaningful bond between humans and their pets," ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker said in a news release.

    Take a look at some of this year's winners.

    Koshka and his best friendKoshka and his best friendKoshka, Cat of the Year

    Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott met Koshka on a military base while serving in Afghanistan. Concerned for the stray cat's safety, Knott moved Koshka into his office, where the two bonded.

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  • What Exactly is a Headache?

    by Chanie Kirschner, Mother Nature Network

    Why do people get headaches?Why do people get headaches?Question: I've typed "do I have a brain tumor" into Google for the last time! I spent an hour late last night reading horror stories about headaches. I'm sick of not knowing whether my headache is a sign of some ominous diagnosis or is - just a headache. I get these bad ones all the time, right around my temples, sort of a dull ache that prevents me from functioning. Is there any way I can tell for sure when it's something to actually be worried about?

    Answer: I hear you - I am queen of the hypochondriacs. I have gone to the ER on multiple occasions and have actually uttered the words "I think I'm dying." And though my health isn't perfect (far from it, judging by the bag of Nachitas I started … and polished off last night), I am happy to report that most of the time, my hunches are wrong.

    So what exactly is a headache anyway? It's not actually your brain that's hurting, though it may feel like it after an all-nighter before a big exam.Read More »from What Exactly is a Headache?
  • Face Cream Eases Embarrassment, Study Finds

    Could this trick ease embarrassment?Could this trick ease embarrassment?Of all the gestures people make when flooded with embarrassment, burying one's face in the hands may be the most common. It's as if there's an instinctive need to hide; and now, a new study confirms that irresistible desire to "save face" when mortified.

    In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers in Toronto examined the ways in which we deal with embarrassment. With help from 200 college students from Hong Kong, they found that embarrassment led to a significant desire to symbolically hide the face.

    In one experiment, they asked participants to recount either an embarrassing experience or a typical school day, then they asked them to rate photos of people wearing various styles of sunglasses and which ones they would buy. Those who wrote about embarrassment chose large, dark sunglasses compared to the others.

    Also see: 8 painfully embarrassing media moments

    In a second experiment, new participants were again asked to recount either an embarrassing Read More »from Face Cream Eases Embarrassment, Study Finds
  • A New Weapon Against Vitamin a Deficiency? Yogurt

    The surprising way that yogurt can benefit youThe surprising way that yogurt can benefit youWhat do bacteria, yogurt and vitamin A have in common? For most of us, not so much. For Christopher Johnson, though, the not-so-obvious connections could well be the key to preventing 300,000 child deaths in India each year.

    Inspiration struck last year as Johnson was finishing up his undergraduate degree in microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While inserting genes into E. coli bacteria to make them produce a type of jet fuel - part of a student competition in synthetic biology (aka genetic engineering) - his mind began flooding with other intriguing possibilities. "I started thinking about the amazing power that we as scientists have … we can program some organisms like computers to produce almost anything," Johnson says.

    A few serendipitous breaks later and Johnson, now a first-year graduate student in bacteriology at UW-Madison, is well on his way to making a dent in the intractable problem of vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

    Not bad for a

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  • How Does a 3-D Printer Actually Work?

    A Voronoi structure design of A Voronoi structure design of by Sami Grover, Mother Nature Network

    From working guns to a dead king's face, we've seen some pretty weird things created with a 3-D printer. It may seem like science fiction, but it seems almost certain that 3-D printing will play a significant role in many industries of the future. And there's good reason to be optimistic.

    3-D printing could greatly reduce the amount of materials needed in manufacturing everyday items, and it would eliminate the need for a complicated, resource-intensive supply chain. (Why ship parts across the world when you can print them at your desk or local shop?)

    3-D printing may also make recycling easier and more "hands on" - with one concept allowing homeowners to recycle their plastic bottles into useful household items. But how does a 3-D printer actually work? As someone who has always struggled with the intricacies of science and engineering, I thought it was about time I found out.

    Printing in layers

    When the UK's Independent

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  • Why Morning Yoga Beats a Cup of Coffee

    Is doing this better than a cup of joe?Is doing this better than a cup of joe?

    Looking for a way to get your blood pumping in the morning? Want to give your morning yoga routine a boost? Take a cue from Tarzan and Jane, then greet the sun with a salute.

    First thing in the morning, maybe during your yoga sequence, try beating on your chest. Seriously.

    Beat all over your ribcage, up to your collarbone, down to your belly (gently around the breasts, ladies ... ). Thumping, beating, banging on your chest, wakes up your internal energy, the energy running through the meridian channels in the body. Thumping gets the energy moving forward, after a night when your energy runs backward and slows, allowing the body to rejuvenate during sleep. Thumping is like the simian cup of coffee, and stimulates your kidney, thymus and spleen energy to help get you ready to digest your breakfast and digest your day. Start your morning yoga off by thumping, then move on to a whole-body integrated wake-up.

    Now that you've unleashed your inner jungle ferocity, let's move on. ManyRead More »from Why Morning Yoga Beats a Cup of Coffee
  • Rescued Dog Brings Dose of Zen to Her Therapy Job

    Kayla visits a nursing home dressed as a three-legged pirate for Halloween — including a very convincing plastic chain.Kayla visits a nursing home dressed as a three-legged pirate for Halloween — including a very convincing plastic chain.

    Each year, 6 million to 8 million pets enter shelters and half are euthanized. This is the story of one dog that beat the odds and now works as a therapy dog.

    Dianne DaLee was adjusting to life without her beloved dog Simba.

    DaLee's home felt emptier without her little lion roaming the halls or snuggling on the couch, even though DaLee was also caring for another dog, 4-year-old Pixie. After watching Simba's short, painful bout with cancer earlier this year, DaLee felt it was too soon to take in another animal. Instead, she continued her work as president of Atlanta Boxer Rescue, helping a steady stream of dogs find forever homes.

    About a month after Simba's death, the boxer rescue group found a severely injured dog that needed a foster home. DaLee thought caring for the pup would be a good distraction, and she offered to serve as a short-term foster. Kayla the boxer arrived at DaLee's home in early March with a broken leg. Within 36 hours, Kayla underwent surgery to have herRead More »from Rescued Dog Brings Dose of Zen to Her Therapy Job


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