February 23, 2018

Weekend reads: Where exactly is the 'middle of nowhere'? This town, researchers say.

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Ants treat their wounded like paramedics. Ants seem to triage and treat their wounded in moments of crisis very similarly to paramedics, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. For the study, researchers looked at a group of ants known as Megaponera analis, who attack termites in groups of 200 to 600. If an ant was injured during the attack, a team of his compatriots assess wounds, leaving behind the gravely wounded—but taking those with lesser injuries back home for treatment. For ants eligible for care, a team of "paramedic" ants pull off lingering termites and then lick the wounds, cleaning the ant's injuries with saliva that researchers believe may have antimicrobial agents. The researchers found that 90% of injured ants that received this treatment survived, compared with just 20% of those that didn't.

    Eating fast could raise your risk of obesity. The more quickly a person eats, the more likely he or she will be obese, according to a study in BMJ Open. For the study, researchers studied just under 60,000 Type 2 diabetes patients, assessing participants' obesity, eating and sleep habits, alcohol consumption, medications, and smoking habits during periodic checkups over six years. According to the researchers, when compared to participants classified as slow eaters, fast eaters were 42% more likely to be obese, while normal eaters were 29% more likely to be obese. The researchers said the findings demonstrated an association—not causation—but they hypothesized that fast eaters may keep eating without giving their bodies enough time to feel full.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Researchers have identified the middle nowhere. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the Washington Post found the middle of nowhere: Glasgow, Montana. The northeastern Montana town is about 4.5 hours in any direction from a metropolitan area with over 75,000 people. The first and second runners-up for the designation are also in Montana, while No. 4 is in Kansas.

    An ode to eye worms. Perhaps you've read the story on Abby Beckley, a young woman who learned what she'd thought was a stray lash in her eye was in fact several tiny worms. She'd allegedly caught worms from cattle. In response to NPR's coverage of the news, one reader left a poem in verse on the NPR Facebook page. The lines, from Wendy Playter, read, "A cattle ranch is down this read! / And on the ranch? A nematode!" Several others followed with additional lines for the poem. Last Saturday, NPR compiled the lines into one poem and shared it on its "Goats and Soda" blog.

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