Weird Science: Eliminating Coal Will Prevent 52,000 Premature Deaths in the U.S.

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Weird Science: Eliminating Coal Will Prevent 52,000 Premature Deaths in the U.S.

This Week in Weird Science: If the U.S. eliminated coal, it will prevent roughly 52,000 premature deaths per year, and it’d make about $2.5 million in energy production. So why are we trying to revive coal? Who the fuck knows? Next, researchers discover that ravens have the memory of Don Corleone and aren’t afraid to act like him. Finally, video gamers aren’t two-pump-chumps but rather, like, twelve-pump-champs.


Eliminating coal in favor of solar power will prevent 52,000 premature deaths in the U.S.

Air pollution causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S., and, of those deaths, tens and tens of thousands results from burning coal. Michigan Tech University hopes to end that. By transitioning to solar photovoltaics (PV), Michigan Tech suggests that up to 51,999 American lives could be saved—at $1.1 million invested per life—with the potential to make up to $2.5 million for each life.

What sounds like a to-good-to-be-true, no-brainer investment is almost exactly that, according to Joshua Pearce, lead author of the study. “Unlike other public health investments, you get more than lives saved,” he told Michigan Tech News. “In addition to saving lives, solar is producing electricity, which has an economic value.”

Tell that to Trump, the man who thinks reviving coal for electricity is the correct solution to the U.S.’s nonexistent power crisis.

The research team, Pearce and doctoral student Emily Prehoda, analyzed the “value of electricity.” By using data from the EPA, the research duo calculated the costs number of U.S. deaths per kilowatt hour per year for both coal and solar, and then used current costs of solar installations from the Department of Energy to find the potential return on investment.

It just so happens that, for each life saved, that’s an extra $2.5 million in energy produced.

Of course, there’s a catch: The total cost of installing that much solar power is about $1.5 trillion. But, according to Pearce, that’s still a profitable investment.

“Solar has come down radically in cost, it’s technically viable, and coupled with natural gas plants, other renewables and storage, we have ways to produce all the electricity we need without coal, period.”

“My overall take away from this study is that if we’re rational and we care about American lives—or even just money—then it’s time to end coal in the US.”


Ravens have the memory of mobsters.

Once upon a midnight dreary, a group of ravens curb-stomped their brother Fredo for betraying the family.

It’s long documented that ravens and a highly intelligent species, capable of outsmarting human technology and even recognizing mortality to a degree that the animals hold funerals for their dead.

A new paper in the journal Animal Behavior indicates that some ravens know how to wheel-and-deal and rectify those who wrong them.

The study, conducted out of Lund University in Sweden, in coordination with the University of Vienna in Austria, tested the cognitive biology of these corvids. Using nine hand-raised (by the research team) ravens, the researchers taught the birds to trade a bit of bread for a piece of cheese—a trainer at one end of a cage gave a bird a hunk of bread, which it then carried to a second researcher in exchange for cheese.

In the second phase of the experiment, the researchers decided to trick the ravens in search of cheese. When the bird flew over a little crust of bread in exchange for cheese, the second researcher instead ate the slice of gouda like the greasy motherfucker he is.

Two days later, the researchers performed the experiment again, but this time with a third, neutral trainer. Of the seven birds tested, six chose the fair trainer, with one testing out the new guy. A month later, they performed this experiment again with all nine ravens, and seven chose the fair trainer, one the greasy motherfucker, and one, again, tested out Mr. Neutral.

In other words, the birds recognize who wronged them and were able to remember it, and the researchers believe that ravens would be capable of remembering the fair and unfair trainers for up to two years, which basically means—by an overly conjectured transitive property—ravens can probably operate by a Godfather-like system, and that greasy motherfucker trainer should probably watch his eyes.


Gaming and premature ejaculation.

Are video gamers sexual stallions? Italian scientists—of course they’re Italian—have found a link between gaming and sexual prowess, and it just so happens that gamers have lower levels of premature ejaculation.

The preliminary study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, examined the relationship between playing video games and sexual health, a relationship many may not have even known existed.

Andrea Sansone and a team of colleagues out of Sapienza University of Rome found that gamers were less likely to report premature ejaculation compared to non-gamers. Gamers, though, also reported lower levels of sexual desire on average—perhaps because the world lacks enough Lara Croft lookalikes.

Based on these survey results, Sansone and the team suggests playing video games could potentially reduce premature ejaculation, by altering the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward center. Then again, the lower sex drive could be reason enough for less premature ejaculation.

“We could suppose a relation between less interest toward sexual activities in men who mostly use videogames and positive psychological effects on ejaculatory control,” wrote Sansone and the team.

Gamers should pause before bragging about their pumping status. The study’s filled with limitations like the lack of medical history from the participants, the use of anonymous, self-reported questionnaires. There’s also no record of masturbatory habits. Do gamers jerk it more than non-gamers? Are gamers more likely to use the “deathgrip?”

Sanone, though, is wondering if all games are created equal. In an interview with PsyPost, he asked “Is an hour of MiniMetro as stressful as a 60-minute match of League of Legends? And is that going to cause any difference?”

Who knows? But what we do know is that it’s pretty hard to get laid if your evenings are spent in a raid.

Top photo by Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.