The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and scientists are constantly attempting to find out more. Here are the most interesting things we learned about our bodies in the last seven days…
Stoners Tend to Be Thinner Than Non-Smokers
Being a smoker who’s been known to empty pantries in search of something that will appease my severe weed-induced munchies, I appreciate this new study claiming that weed smokers are usually skinnier than those who abstain. The researchers followed 33,000 participants, both smokers and non-smokers, for three years, finding that, while every one of them gained at least some weight, stoners gained the least amount. “We found that users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight,” said study co-author Omayma Alshaarawy in a press release. “Only 15 percent of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20 percent of non-users.”
The researchers aren’t totally sure why smokers gained less weight, but they have two main theories: Either weed causes cells in the body to change, which could impact your ability to gain weight, or stoners are, weirdly enough, less likely to eat junk food because of the constant fear of munchies-induced weight gain. The latter explanation makes less sense to me — again, someone who loves a stoned Taco Bell run — so I’m rooting for the whole cellular change theory.
We Can Apparently Smell with Our Tongues, and Um, Gross
Step aside, nostrils: Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center recently found smell receptors inside the taste-sensing cells on our tongues. Now, this apparently doesn’t mean you can literally smell something by opening your mouth, as senior study author Mehmet Hakan Ozdener emphasized to The Guardian. But it does mean that we’re one step closer to engineering junk foods in a way that might help them seem less appealing, therefore prevent food-related diseases. “Our research may help explain how odor molecules modulate taste perception,” Ozdener said in a press release. “This may lead to the development of odor-based taste modifiers that can help combat the excess salt, sugar, and fat intake associated with diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.”
Video Games Are Fine for Boys, Bad for 10-Year-Old Girls
Sure, your mom says that gaming turns you into a socially inept recluse, but a new study says that’s simply not true… unless you’re a 10-year-old girl. The researchers followed 873 kids, checking in every two years from age six to age 12, and found that boys are the same whether or not they game, but 10-year-old girls who game have less social competence two years later.
The researchers offer several explanations for this difference, the first being that girls tend to play in smaller social circles and have more intimate relationships; therefore, time spent gaming may simply have more of a developmental “cost” than for boys. Secondly, the researchers note that “girls who game may not only have fewer in-person girls to game with, but also to a greater extent be excluded from non-gaming social interaction with same-aged girls, and the socialization that follows.” In other words, being a girl gamer is more frowned upon in our society, so being one, especially at a young age, can make you feel generally more excluded.
This Long-Lost Knee Bone Is Making a Comeback, and Nobody Knows Why
British scientists just announced that the fabella bone, which was previously believed to be going away thanks to evolution, is for some reason showing up in more and more humans: The analysis specifically shows that fabellas were present in only 11 percent of the world population in 1918, but by 2018, they were present in 39 percent.
When present, this bone can be found just behind the knee, and most doctors believe that it does pretty much nothing at all, which might seem like nothing to worry about. The problem is, people who have arthritis also tend to have a fabella, which means we might see more people with arthritis if this bone keeps making a comeback.
Now, scientists also aren’t completely sure why we’re seeing more of the fabella, but they theorize that it might have something to do with humans eating more and therefore, being both taller and heavier, which has put more pressure on our knees and might motivate this extra bone to grow. Whatever the case, fabella, you stay away from me and my children… er, dog.
Having a Nice Boss Makes You Work Harder, and Wow, I’m Sooo Surprised to Hear This
The University of Exeter Business School recently published new research, which involved examining 130 already-published independent studies, and found that managers who have empathy, integrity and are trustworthy improve the productivity of people who work beneath them. “Employees are more positive about their work and therefore also often feel empowered to become more creative,” said lead author Allan Lee in a press release. “The result is a rise in productivity.”
So you’re telling me being put down until you spiral into a deep depression and have regular panic attacks every Sunday night doesn’t make employees want to work hard? Huh, who knew?