[Science Solitaire] No more fruitcake 2012
Have you heard of the “One Fruitcake Theory?” It says there is exactly one fruitcake going around the world during the holiday season, being passed on from one person to another. If you do not care to be among those who will once again confirm this theory and instead want to give gifts that are shamelessly interesting because the world did not end today, you may want to check out these items I picked out. They make up a list which I call, what else, “No More Fruitcake.” And yes, these things here really exist, thanks to science, although not always in commercial form yet.
1. “Cuddle spray.” If you have had it with insensitive men, this pharmacological solution should be your gift to yourself. It's a spray solution spiked with a hormone called oxytocin famously known and proven to induce labor in pregnant women and which lay the physio-chemical tapestry that emotionally connects mother and child. It was developed by scientists in the Universities of Oxford and Bonn last 2010 and tested on 48 men who reportedly exhibited higher empathy levels seen only in NORMAL women.
2. “Testicle zappers.” This is in case the cuddle spray does not work. Well, not really although it would be fun to find out, right ladies? In Jan 30, 2012 published in the journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, scientists found that applying ultrasound devices to testicles could largely wipe out sperm, cutting their battalion numbers to a mere handful of members belonging to the lost command. Scientists think it could be added to the list of safe contraceptive methods. You can give these to your macho friends who seem to be in an amazing race to achieve what Genghis Khan did in record numbers-score.
3. Speechjammer. This is for your ultra-talkative relatives and friends. Japanese scientists namely Kazutaka Kurihara from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Koji Tsukada of the Ochonomizu University invented it. It works by recording the voice of the talker which in turn, is played back to him (the talker) a fraction of a second later. The delayed playback is known to stop the brain from processing any more words that will come out of his mouth. Oh I could think of so many halls and domed structures where this device could bring “unspeakable” relief to the audiences inside!
4. Colonoscopy tips. My favorite humorist Dave Barry once wrote a column describing his colonoscopy and it involved manipulating the device inside his intestines to feel as if they were going to reach Minnesota, or something like that. So if any of your friends are about to have a colonoscopy, it is always a good idea to arm them with precautionary tips, specifically on guides for your doctors to keep you from exploding while doing your colonoscopy. Give them a copy of the work of the 2012 IgNobel awardee for Medicine: "Colonic Gas Explosion During Therapeutic Colonoscopy with Electrocautery, " by Spiros D Ladas, George Karamanolis, Emmanuel Ben-Soussan, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. If they ask you to explain, just tell them, these measures will ensure they are brought back from their colonoscopy in one piece.
5. Necomimi. If facial expressions (or yawns and snores) are not enough for you and you need to get into the mind of people to detect whether they are interested or bored with what you’re saying, this is the answer. It is a headset shaped like the ears of a cat that picks up the pattern of electrical impulses produced by your connecting brain cells. Scientists already know the patterns that result when we are focused or uninterested, so necomimi detects these patterns and translates them into ear movements. Ears droop when you are bored, erect when you are focused and are erect, but also wiggle when you are very interested. Great for teachers and professors who have the courage to want to know what their students really think of their lectures.
6. Nanodiamonds. Gentlemen, if the pressure is becoming unbearable to finally ceremoniously commit to your partner, fear no more. A Russian company called The SKN Company has converted old Russian ammunition into nano-diamonds. Imagine, a choice that satisfies your male affinity for any kind of “ammo” and you also please your partner’s jewelry requirements at the same time! This nanodiamond is certainly a man’s best friend. But gentlemen, it may also be a good idea to accompany the nanodiamond with a high-powered microscope since the largest nanodiamond is only 200 nanometers (about 100th the size of the diameter of human hair)!
7. Cuscuta, the parasitic vine. This is for your needy friends who still don’t get it when you tell them that they are too “clingy” for their own good (and for your own comfort.) I mean, if words do not strike them, maybe a botanical representation would! This is commonly called a “dodder” (the vine, not the clingy friend). It really likes clinging and growing on tomatoes and sucking the juice out of them. It is also a stalker (again, the vine, and not the clingy friend) that when botanists tried to deceive it by placing tomato scent on sticks aside from the real tomato plant, the dodder still found the tomato plant and started to cling to it like mad!
Happy Holidays readers and may your gift exchanges be interesting! - Rappler.com
Maria Isabel Garcia is a science writer. She has written two books, “Science Solitaire” and “Twenty One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire.” Her column appears every Friday and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.