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August 23, 2019

Weekend reads: Do you wash your chicken before cooking? You might want to read this.

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Think twice before washing that chicken. Many people believe washing raw chicken before cooking it will make it cleaner, but according to research published recently by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), washing your chicken may backfire—rinsing the raw meat can splatter potentially harmful bacteria onto kitchen counters and nearby food. Mindy Brashears, deputy undersecretary for food safety at the USDA, said, "A lot of people prepare their salads around the sink, so it's cross-contaminated." USDA's research asked 300 people to prepare chicken and a salad in a test kitchen. Some were shown food safety messages discouraging washing raw chicken beforehand, while others weren't. Among those who didn't receive the safety message, 61% rinsed their raw chicken, and almost 30% of their salads were later found to be contaminated with bacteria from the chicken.

    Butterflies and mud puddles. If you've ever seen a group of butterflies hovering over a mud puddle and wondered what was going on, what you're seeing is not just a coincidence, C. Claiborne Ray writes for the New York Times. The practice is called mud puddling, a practice whereby moths, butterflies, and other insects search for moisture, salt, and other nutrients from the puddle. Among some species, male butterflies will hover over a patch of earth rich with sodium and repeatedly absorb liquid until they've taken in all the valuable salt, which is believed to play a key role in mating and reproduction among the insects, Ray writes.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Is 82 degrees the ideal sleeping temperature? Energy Star, a federal program run by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, released its thermostat recommendations—and the internet is not happy. To reduce energy use during extended heat waves, Energy Star, recommends that consumers keep their thermostat no lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit when they're at home and awake, and at no lower than 82 degrees Fahrenheit when they're sleeping or out of the house. That didn't sit well on Twitter. When WTSP reporter Jennifer Titus shared the recommendations on Twitter, more than 16,000 social media users responded, most of whom took issue with the recommended sleeping temperature. Users expressed that it would be nearly impossible to sleep at 82 degrees, and referenced research that set the suggested sleeping temperature between 60 and 65 for adults. Another user expressed concern that 82 degrees would be too hot for dogs, who begin to show signs of overheating when the temperature is between 81 and 85.

    Why the 10,000 hours of practice rule might be bunk. A new study just debunked the 10,000-hour rule. The rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers," claims that people need to practice a skill deliberately for 10,000 hours to achieve elite status. However, when researchers from Case Western Reserve University replicated a 1993 study on violin players at a music school to determine whether the rule had any validity, they found that while practice does improve performance, it's not as important as the 10,000 hours rule implies. Namely, the study found that practice accounted for 26% of the difference between elite violinists and other students—significantly less than the 48% posited by the original study. "In fact, the majority of the best violinists had accumulated less practice alone than the average amount of the good violinists," the researchers wrote.

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