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Why Fruit Flies Don't Need Sleep

For humans, it is recommended to have at least eight hours of sleep each day. There are various proponents for sleep and its importance in our daily lives leading to increased productivity, better cognitive functioning, and an overall regulatory process that helps our body regenerate the energy it spent throughout the day. But for other animals, sleep may not be necessary at all.

Sleep is potentially costly to many animals, making them vulnerable to predators and stealing time from resource-gathering or mating opportunities. For that reason, scientists have long assumed it evolved to give animals some vital, evolutionary advantage—perhaps as a means of conserving energy or of giving the brain time to organize memories. In any case, no truly sleepless animal has ever been found in the wild.
In the new study, researchers were observing Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies in the lab when they noticed a very large distribution in sleep duration. Most slept somewhere between 300 minutes and 600 minutes per day, but about 6% of females slept for less than 72 minutes per day, and three particularly restless individuals slept for only 15, 14, or 4 minutes per day, respectively.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


3

The Side Effects on Drug Company Ads

When drug companies launch ads about the prescription medicines they sell, we often get a big dose of the benefits that they give without being given what the potential risks or side effects could be. However, when they did include them, both major and minor side effects, it had the reverse effect of what the FDA policy wanted to do. Instead of deterring consumers, it encouraged them even more to buy the prescription medicines. This is a cognitive bias called the argument dilution effect.

(Image credit: Simone van der Koelen/Unsplash)


4

The Ongoing Debate About Martian 'Blueberries'

Fifteen years ago, Opportunity rover started exploring the surface of the Red Planet, originally as a 90-day mission in order to find out what Mars holds. One of the first things it discovered during the first two months was these spherical objects scattered on the surface. It was something that scientists began to refer to as 'blueberries' because they seemed bluish and round. Many theories have been proposed as to what these objects could be and you may read them here. Now, only recently, Opportunity had been retired but the Martian 'blueberries' remains one of its biggest finds as it points to the evidence of possible presence of water on Mars.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS/Modesto Junior College)


3

The Brain Takes 15 Seconds To Process This Optical Illusion

Optical illusions can take your brain for a whirl and this common one called the Pinna-Brelstaff illusion could literally make your brain spin. You can try it out by moving closer toward the circles and then quickly pulling away. You will notice that it would seem to rotate though you know it doesn't move at all. Scientists wanted to know why this was the case, so they conducted a study on humans and macaques to figure out the underlying neurological mechanisms at play. They found that in looking at the optical illusion, the brain takes about 15 seconds to process what was happening.

(Image credit: Baingio Pinna)


4

The Mauritania Railway: From Zouerat to Nouadhibou

Serving as the source of half the nation's economy, the Mauritania Railway stretches 700 kilometers long, connecting the mining town of Zouerat to the ports in Nouadhibou. For a lot of the people living in settlements all across Mauritania, the train is the closest to modern civilization that they have seen. Every day the train transports iron ore from the mines to the ports and on its way back, it brings passengers with it.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


3

What's Inside the Great Blue Hole?

It looks pretty and mysterious, a natural wonder on its own, perhaps the only one of its kind. The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is exactly what the name says, it's a circular sinkhole with a deep blue hue which is oddly different from the surrounding waters. It's surrounded by an atoll in the Caribbean Sea. What lies in the waters of the Great Blue Hole was a mystery to most but a recent expedition featuring Richard Branson has been launched in order to explore the waters underneath it.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


3

The Cringy Lovey-Dovey Language of Couples

If you have ever been in love or have seen two people head over heels in love with each other, then you might have heard such awkward baby talk, pet names, and sweet nothings exchanged between two lovers. It's cringy and it's easy for outsiders to scoff at people who use such language, but for those who have been smitten and know what it feels, they would understand that these intimate conversations actually help break down barriers of uncertainty and improve the strength of their relationship. The cheesier it gets, it shows just how open and vulnerable two people are with each other, which according to some researchers might indicate where they are in their relationship. To be comfortable around someone enough to not care whether you look or sound silly to them, is one way of gauging the bond that two people have developed for each other. But still, why does the language have to be so cringy? Chi Luu of Jstor explores this language of love life in her article.

(Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)


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