This Week in Science: Stanford archaeologists brew a 5,000-year-old beer recipe and find that it tastes better than Natty Light. Researchers out of Stanford and Cornell seek to uncover the psyche of the “Internet Troll.” It turns out it’s living inside all of us. And, finally, science figures out why sea anemones and crabs get along so well. It’s mostly has to deal with sex.
Whatever booze the Chinese were drinking 5,000-years-ago, it tasted fruity, cider-like, and probably significantly better than the Snow they drink today, as revealed in an experiment conducted by students at Stanford University.
In May 2016, Stanford archaeology professor Li Liu and her students uncovered an ancient piece of pottery that contained the ingredients of a 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe. Nine months later, that same professor and her students brewed the ancient Chinese bevvy, recreating the world’s oldest known alcoholic beverage and gaining insight into how the Chinese dined—and got schwasted.
What exactly was the ancient Chinese process?
The students, using either barley, wheat or millet seeds, covered the grain with water and allowed it to sprout. After the grain sprouted, the seeds were then crushed and mixed with water, which was then heated to 149-degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Following the brief incubation, the students let the beer ferment for a week—get it all nice and alcoholic.
What resulted was a surprisingly fruity beer that tasted like citrus, according to undergraduate student Madeleine Ota.
“Archaeology is not just about reading books and analyzing artifacts,” said professor Liu. She’s right, it’s apparently also about partying like it’s 2983 B.C.
If you thought Internet trolls were limited to 300-pound neckbeards on 4chan then you’d be damn wrong because, according to a study—YES, A STUDY—anybody can become an Internet troll. Even you.
Thanks to researchers out of Stanford and Cornell, the world now has a better understanding of how ordinary people adopt the antisocial, damaging, “trollish” behavior that populates websites like Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan. The truth of the matter lies in that trolling is a behavior than can be stimulated—and, let’s be real, we all could use some stimulation.
For the experiment, the team recruited 667 people, who were then given a test that was either easy or difficult. The participants were then asked to answer questions about their mood. As perhaps expected, the people who took the harder test were in a worse mood.
After that, the participants were asked to read an online article (specifically designed for the experiment) and to participate in the comments section—be it by leaving comments, replying to comments, or simply voting on other comments. Some participants saw three troll posts at the top of the comments whereas others saw neutral posts instead.
And guess what? Trolling inspired trolling. Those who took the tough test and saw trolling comments acted as trolls themselves nearly 70 percent of the time, compared with 35 percent of the participants who enjoyed the easy test and neutral comments.
In a supplemental experiment, the researchers analyzed the comments of “flagged” and “banned” posts for trolling from a CNN article in 2012. Apparently, the most “troll-worthy” comments occurred either late at night or early in the morning—prime shit-posting hours.
Furthermore, it seemed the new “trolls” embraced the “spiral of negativity,” as described by Jure Leskovec, a Stanford computer scientist and author of the study, “Just one person waking up cranky can create a spark and, because of discussion context and voting, these sparks can spiral out into cascades of bad behavior. Bad conversations lead to bad conversations. People who get down-voted come back more, comment more and comment even worse.”
At the end of the day, the results suggest people are cranky, and, when people are cranky, they like to spread their crank. Look no further than our President in troll for a prime example.
Call it bisection. Call it asexual stimulation. Call it a friend being a damn good friend. But crabs love their sea anemones so much that they’re willing to keep their friends close but their anemones closer….
Boxer crabs and anemones enjoy a symbiotic relationship—well, more of a semi-one-sided “You’ll protect my claws and feed me your feces, and I’ll continue to let you live” type of friendship. Basically, the crabs are expert moochers and the anemones don’t really know it yet.
For their research into this unique relationship, Yisrael Schnytzer, leader at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass, and his team gathered over 100 boxer crabs and their sea anemone friends, which were attached on each crab’s claws, and they tested how boxer crabs acquire and maintain this self-serving relationship.
The crabs literally bisected the anemone. Schnytzer and his team took twenty-two boxer crabs and removed the sea anemone from one claw on each animal. Responding to the removal, the crabs literally tore the anemone’s flesh in half, which took anywhere from a minute to two hours.
Apparently, though, in crab speak, getting torn apart isn’t as bad as an *NSYNC song portrays because the scientists noted that the fission is a “well-known form of sea anemone asexual reproduction.” So, if science understands this correctly, in the crab and sea anemone relationship, the boxer crab is both the hooker and the John.
Top photo courtesy of Rickard Zerpe CC BY-SA 2.0
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.