Weird Science: Smelling What The Rock’s Cooking and America’s Sh*tty Health Care

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Weird Science: Smelling What The Rock’s Cooking and America’s Sh*tty Health Care

This Week in Weird Science: Beauty isn’t only in the eyes of the beholder. It’s also in their nostrils. The release of the Health Care Access and Quality Index shows just how bad American health care is. The “wealthiest nation in the world” is on par with Montenegro. And finally, scientists find a way to simulate the birth of alien life on icy bodies throughout the solar system. Who’d have thought aliens would prefer Pluto?


Science says we can probably smell what “The Rock” is cooking.

It’s beauty.

Thought to reside in the eyes of the beholder, new research suggests that beauty is also in the nose and ears.

The results, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found “compelling evidence” that experiencing “beauty” is an all-encompassing, sense-inducing experience. In the review, led by the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wroclaw in Poland, the team analyzed thirty-years worth of studies surrounding attractiveness and were able to determine that an individual’s odor can be used to assess everything from sex and fertility to genetic compatibility.

“Most people might know what their type is — in terms of physical attractiveness — but they might not know what kinds of odors or voices they like,” said Agata Groyecka, a Ph.D student in psychology at the University of Wroclaw, in an interview with Seeker. “It is that feeling when you find someone attractive, but you’re not really sure why you do.”

The review concluded that the science of attractiveness is extremely complex, a conclusion anybody could reach after five minutes on PornHub. Perhaps what’s most interesting about the analysis is the importance of odor in fostering attraction. For example, both men and women prefer the faces of those with similar genotypes, but they veer towards the odors of those carrying dissimilar genotypes. Even more strange, both men and women rely on visuals and voice when initiating a relationship, but scent plays a role in maintaining a long-term attraction—so long as the scent isn’t Axe body spray.


American health care is even shittier than we thought.

Americans constantly moan about the state of the country’s health care system. Obamacare was supposed to kill millions. Trumpcare is supposed to kill millions. While many laud the country’s well-trained doctors and innovative technologies, these factors don’t exactly correlate with longer lives. At least that’s the distressing finding from the Global Burden of Disease Study on, what researchers call, “amenable mortality,” or deaths that theoretically could have been avoided by adequate health care.

The team of researchers examined 32 causes of death in 195 countries from 1990 to 2015 to create perhaps the most comprehensive health care quality index, and the team found that a strong economy doesn’t guarantee good health care. Great medicine doesn’t guarantee good health care. Having the best doctors doesn’t guarantee good health care.

What does? Access.

Andorra, the tiny microstate reliant on rich, French businessmen taking skiing holidays, topped the “Health Care Access and Quality Index,” with familiar developed nations like Australia, Canada, and the entirety of Scandinavia not too far behind. Those countries located in remote regions like the sub-Saharan and South Asia scored the lowest.

Where did the world’s superpower rank? Comfortably next to Montenegro, at the bottom of the second decile.

It gets worse. Montenegro spends about $117 per capita on healthcare, whereas, the U.S. spends about $9,000, more than any other country on the list—and clearly for worse coverage. The U.S. particularly ranks poorly, receiving nearly failing grades, for treatments including lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, non-melanoma skin cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and the adverse effects of medical treatment itself.

Basically, the country’s killing itself from the inside.


The combination of water and radioactive decay could give rise to aliens.

Give a man ionized radiation and he’ll threaten to blow up a country. Give an icy body floating in space some radioactive decay, and it’ll bring life. That’s the cosmic theory out of the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwest Research Institute, who postulates that radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes.

The team created a computer module to simulate radiolysis, a natural water-cracking process of ionized radiation. Radiolysis is of particular astrobiological interest because of the release of molecular hydrogen, a building block that’s known to sustain microbial communities in harsh environments.

“We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look across the solar system to estimate radiolysis,” said co-author Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that’s exciting.”

Among the potential targets: Saturn’s moon Enceladus, Jupiter’s moon Europa, Pluto’s moon Charon, along with the dwarf planet Ceres.

Here on this plant, communities of microbes have been discovered living off molecular hydrogen in hypothermal vents along the ocean floor and even two-miles deep into a South African gold mine. This could mean that these “aliens” are no different than what already exists on Earth.

Lead photo courtesy of David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 2.0

Top photo by DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay CC0

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.

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