Sound Smart at a March Party

Sound Smart at a Party - March, 2013

Kopi Luwak coffee If someone ever offers you a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee, kindly decline. 

Yes, this is the rare and expensive Indonesian coffee that can go for $600 a pound and was featured on Oprah. Yes, it is described as having a smooth caramel-like taste. But do you know how it gets that taste? Kopi Luwak comes from coffee berry beans fed to civets, cat-like creatures from Southeast Asia. The animals’ stomach acid enzymes create the beans’ smooth, elite flavor—collected, washed and sold once excreted. To put it bluntly, the expensive coffee is literally crap. If this isn’t enough to make you gag, animal welfare groups have recently reported that the civets used to make the coffee are forced to live in tiny cages and fed a very unhealthy diet. So, if you care about animals and/or don’t care to drink kitty poop, it might be best to just stick with a regular cup of Joe.


March Madness had a Third-Place game until 1981. Scheduled to precede the championship game March 30 of that year, both were delayed due to an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. After the president was out of immediate danger, officials resumed the championship game only, and the Third-Place game has been out ever since.


Redheads are more than twice as likely to skip out on the dentist than blondes or brunettes, according to University of Louisville researchers. It’s not because they hate to brush their teeth, either. The scientists discovered that the genetic variant giving them their ginger locks also makes them resistant to local anesthesia. They can require up to 20 percent more than the general population during procedures.


Bacteria usually get a bad rap, but scientists at McMaster University in Ontario might be able to boost their reputation. They discovered Delftia acidovorans has the ability to turn ions into gold as part of a self-defense mechanism. Gold ions are toxic if dissolved in water, so when identified by the bacteria, it releases delftibactin A, a protein acting as a shield to turn the ions into gold particles that accumulate outside the cells. While this doesn’t mean you can fish a pair of gold earrings out of a stream any time soon, the research could help identify whether or not a waterway carries the mineral and could someday help dissolve gold from water.


With the latest advances in cinematography it would be natural to assume the contorted, demon-fueled positions actress Ashley Bell twists herself into throughout the Last Exorcism Part 2 are all done by special effects. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. Bell, its lead character, is double-jointed, and performs all the back-bending, terrifying poses herself. During the film’s first installment she sustained a stress fracture to her back from all her twisting and backwards demon-walking. Now that’s dedication to a role.


Japanese scientists hit the awesome jackpot when they recently snapped a picture of Neon Flying Squid sailing more than 100 feet through the air. A team of researchers from Hokkaido University witnessed the long-rumored but never-documented phenomenon while tracking a shoal of about 100 squid in the Northwest Pacific. The creatures propel themselves by shooting a powerful jet of water out of their funnel-like stems. Once airborne, they assume “a highly developed flying posture” allowing them to glide, report the scientists.

ssaap-waterWhile we’re on the topic of the wonders of H2O, a Swedish study uncovered evidence suggesting anti-anxiety medications flushed into rivers affect the fish population. Scientists found traces of prescription drug Oxazepam in the tissues of the perch population and a corresponding change in their behavior. The fish, which usually stay close together for self-defense, became less sociable and less afraid of venturing out on their own. Experts are concerned that the behavioral change could have serious evolutionary consequences and urge sewage treatment plants to begin filtering out the chemicals.