The Ratcar is Awesome, Kinda Gross

Another genius/disgusting scientific breakthrough is careening your way: Scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a motorized system they call “Ratcar,” which is controlled by electrodes in Master Splinter’s motor cortex that read his brain and respond accordingly.  Suck on that, PETA!

The researchers first implanted electrodes in the motor cortex of each rat’s brain, and then trained it to tow the contraption around while the motor was turned off. Next the rat was suspended beneath the car so that it could only lightly touch the ground, and couldn’t actually move the robo-car with its limbs. Then the car was switched to brain-reading mode and researchers watched to see if the rat could control the car’s movements with only the pulses from its motor cortex.

“We wanted to develop a brain-machine interface system aiming for future wheelchairs that paralyzed patients can control only with thought,” says Osamu Fukayama of the university’s Medical Engineering and Life Science Laboratory. “RatCar is a simplified prototype to develop better electrodes, devices, and algorithms for those systems.”

Discover Magazine

How could they possibly call it anything besides the “RatMobile”?? Is there no love for cheap puns anymore? Anyway, sounds like a solid cause, but c’mon, we Americans know what this thing will really be used for: Lazy fatasses like myself who tire of pushing the accelerator buttons on our Rascals.  I may have legs but YOU CAN’T FORCE ME TO USE ‘EM. And have we discovered which region of the brain is responsible for milkshake cravings? If you could hook that up to my blender, that would be great.  But maybe we should leave rats out of the testing phase for this one…


Let the Good Times Roll

For a while now, we’ve been hearing that 1 or 2 glasses of red wine can be a benefit to your health.  Now a study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research says that even heavy drinking can result in a longer than average lifespan compared to going at it dry.  That explains why homeless guys can live off alcohol alone.

[W]hy would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It’s true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors – job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods. (They also don’t get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables – socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on – the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.

Yahoo! News

See folks, this is why you can’t be afraid to try shit.  There’s such a barrage of chemicals, bacteria, and wireless signals hitting you everyday that you’re literally killing yourself if you don’t stay in shape by regularly inflicting them on your body.  This why I’m spearheading research to show that 1-3 cheeseburgers a day improves heart health.  It’s a muscle, people.  And like any other muscle, it needs to be vigorously strained until it’s sore, twitching irregularly, and teetering on the brink of collapse in order to get stronger.  Feel the burn in your left arm?  That’s the feeling of vitality.

It’s Science: I’m More Evolved Than You

A team of Asians researchers has decided that laziness is an innate human characteristic, believed to be evolutionarily developed for the conservation of energy.  So,  by that logic, I’m some kind of superhuman wunderkind.

Christopher K. Hsee, Adelle X. Yang, and Liangyan Wang claim to have uncovered an interesting paradox: humans are happier when they’re busy, but we’re inclined towards idleness. The team ran a series of experiments with college students and found that students were inclined towards idleness, but would seize even superficial opportunities to be busy.

– Freakonomics Blog

Well this is just my life in a nutshell.  If blogging isn’t the epitome of a superficial opportunity to convince myself I’m “busy,” then I don’t know what is.  It’s probably the only reason I’m alive right now and not laying on the subway tracks like this crazy bitch.

Read the summary at BPS Research Digest Blog if you’re interested in the study.  There’s chocolate involved!