Some people object to live animals being used in scientific research - but how can you take that position when you have science giving us important new data like this: A new report in Current Biology says mice, just like humans, fall asleep faster if they are rocked to sleep! Yep -mild rocking helps both adults and children fall asleep faster and experience deeper, longer sleep - but nobody knows why. Scientists have suspected that the human vestibular system-the bits of the inner ear that keep us balanced and oriented in space-are involved, but there's been no solid proof. So, in the new study, researchers put mouse cages on rocking platforms, monitored the animals' brain activity, and measured how well they slept. The rodents slept 12% longer with rocking than without, and they fell asleep 51% faster if they had been sleep-deprived. But their brain signals did not indicate a deeper sleep. More intriguingly, mice that lacked a key part of the vestibular system called otoliths-teensy stones that sense linear acceleration-did not get any benefit at all from being rocked at bedtime, confirming the vestibular system's central role in the effect. Meanwhile - still no cure for that cancer thing. (Science Mag)
Now You Know I Didn't Mean Any Harm... with My Nazi Salute
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, Charles Meyrick was fired from his job as a business professor at Housatonic Community College after he compared education officials to Nazis by shouting in German and giving a Nazi salute for more than 10 minutes at a faculty and administrators' meeting. What's worse - this happened back on Nov. 2, just days after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Meyrick's bizarre behavior caused several participants to exit the facility out of fear for their safety. Mark Ojakian, president of the colleges and universities system said, "Our state colleges and universities aim to foster a welcoming learning environment, and these threatening actions go far beyond acceptable discourse." Police said they were called to the auditorium and after the meeting asked Meyrick to leave campus. Meyrick responded by asking, "What if I don't?" and a lieutenant told him he'd be arrested, police said. Two officers then escorted him from campus without incident. Meyrick also told investigators he was willing to apologize and did not mean any harm. (New York Post)
New Treadmill for Cats!
Getting a house cat to exercise can be quite a challenge, but a Korean company has come up with a solution - albeit an expensive one. It's pretty much a big hamster wheel for cats and Pet Ding claims its smart exercise machine can keep felines in tip-top shape even when their owners are away. The only catch is the price tag - $1,800! Flashing LED lights attract the cat and motivate them to exercise. The device also allows owners to check on the cat's activity when they're away and record encouraging voice messages for their pet, while a companion app lets users set fitness goals for their purring felines. The smart exercise machine features an auto mode that promises to "provide the ideal workout program for your cat, and manage workout patterns," but also lets users who want to get more involved in their cat's workout control the speed of the treadmill. Called the Little Cat smart treadmill it hits the market later this year. (Oddity Central)
Owe Money in China? There's An App for That!
How's this for life in a communist country? Authorities in the Chinese province of Hebei have created a smartphone app that allows users to see if they are within 500 meters of a person in debt so they can report or publicly shame them! No kidding. Failing to pay off your debts is generally frowned upon all over the world, but China has been cracking down on the practice harder than any other. Last year the local government in Hejiang County started showing the faces and names of debtors during movie previews at theaters. Now, described as "a map of deadbeat debtors", the controversial app can be accessed through Chinese all-in-one social media platform WeChat. State-run newspaper China Daily reports that the app can be used to detect debtors within a 500-meter radius. Debtors' information can also be accessed through the app, making it easier for "whistle blowers" to report them if they appear capable of paying their debts. (Oddity Central)
I Want to Be Michael Jackson!
The late Michael Jackson was certainly one talented guy - there's no argument about that. But there's also no argument that his countless plastic surgeries pretty much ruined his face. Which makes it even more baffling that Leo Blanco, a 22-year-old man from Buenos Aires, has spent seven years and over $30,000 on plastic surgery operations to make him look just like MJ! Blanco is one of the thousands of Michael Jackson impersonators around the world, but what sets him apart from all the rest is his obsession with looking just like his idol. At age 15, Leo turned to plastic surgery to fulfill his dream of becoming a lookalike of his idol, but seven years and 11 plastic surgeries later, he is still not content with his look, and plans to alter his appearance even more. Blanco's mother said that she has always been worried about his drastic transformation, and admitted that she sometimes looks at him and wonders "Is this Leo? Is this my son?" The impact of all the cosmetic procedures on Leo Blanco's face is clearly visible, when compared to photos of his younger self, but the young Michael Jackson impersonator claims that he still has a long way to go to achieve his dream of being the best Michael Jackson impersonator in the world. (Oddity Central)
Notre Dame: Kinda Done with Christopher Columbus
The University of Notre Dame plans to cover up murals on its campus that depict Christopher Columbus, according to an announcement from the university's president, Rev. John Jenkins. The decision to cover the murals comes after the Native American Student Association of Notre Dame in 2017 protested against the murals. Jenkins wrote in a letter to the university community: "In recent years I have heard from students, alumni, faculty, staff, representatives of the Native American community, and others on this complex topic. I have decided, after consultation with the University's Board of Fellows, on a course that will preserve the murals, but will not display them regularly in their current location." Jenkins also wrote that, for Native Americans, Columbus's arrival in America "was nothing short of a catastrophe." Marcus Winchester-Jones, the current president of the Native American Student Association, said, "This is a good step towards acknowledging the full humanity of those native people who have come before us." (The Observer)
What the What?
Three weeks after giving birth in a speeding car to Gaston County, North Carolina's first baby of 2019, police say a Gastonia woman has been using the same vehicle to operate a methamphetamine business. Jessica Dawn Killian, 32, was arrested at an Econo Lodge motel and police say she had 36 grams of meth that she planned to manufacture, sell and deliver. She also carried baggies and scales, and ran the operation out of a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, according to police. On Jan. 1, she was in the passenger seat of the same car, her boyfriend speeding down the interstate from the couple's then-home in Grover in an attempt to make it to CaroMont Regional Medical Center in time to give birth to her fourth child. They didn't make it and she gave birth to the baby while the car was still moving. It gets worse. She named the baby Atom Bomb Sain. Seriously. (Augusta Chronicle)