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Stories by Katherine Harmon

Moss Sperm Smells Sweet Enough for Sex

Moss, that cushy, moisture-loving ground cover, is more promiscuous than we thought. These plants might not have the sexy flowers of a peony, but according to new research, they do manage to attract small pollinators with a subtle sweet smell.Previously, scientists had presumed that these primitive plants needed a layer of water for their sexual reproduction...

July 18, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

For Unendowed Fish, A Fake Dinner Leads to Sex

The promise of a nice dinner might not always win over a woman, but for some male fish, a tasty-looking lure seems to get the girl pretty reliably. The trick is to make sure the offering resembles the local cuisine and then they can reel in the ladies hook, line and sinker.Swordtail charachin ( Corynopoma riisei ) that live in the rivers of Trinidad feast mostly on hapless bugs that plop into the water from surrounding vegetation...

July 12, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Major Phobias Might Hasten Aging

Do you get panicky in wide-open spaces? Tight, closed ones? What about in high places or—eek!—around arachnids? If these fears are frequent or debilitating, you might have a phobic anxiety...

July 11, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes Help Smokers Remember Dangers

This September, cigarette packs in the U.S. will be getting a lot more colorful. And a lot more disturbing. By then, tobacco companies will be required to display one of nine graphic health warnings on each pack, to comply with the Tobacco Control Act of 2009.The U.S...

June 15, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Saturated Fats Change Gut Bacteria-and May Raise Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The relationship between food and a gastro-intestinal disease might sound simple. But new research is revealing that what we put into our bodies can cause a cascade of complex interactions among various systems—from metabolism to the immune system—that keep us well or make us sick.And it appears that a popular component of the classic Western diet—saturated fats—has likely contributed to the increase in colitis cases.Colitis, swelling of the large intestine that can cause pain and diarrhea, seems to run in families, but not everyone with the genetic risk gets it...

June 13, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Statins Are Linked with Fatigue

Cholesterol-lowering statins have been credited with preventing countless heart attacks among at-risk adults. More than 20 million U.S. adults now take statins daily, making them some of the top-selling drugs of all time...

June 11, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

This Psychedelic Shrimp Will Get You Hammered [Video]

The psychedelic-looking peacock mantis shrimp ( Odontodactylus scyllarus ) has a decidedly non-peacenik way of getting a meal: clubbing it.This small (3 to 18-centimeter-long), solitary stomatopod wields two dastardly hammer-like appendages...

June 7, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Ultra Marathons Might Be Ultra Bad for Your Heart

If getting some exercise is good for you and getting lots is even better, then hours upon hours of intense exercise must be best, right? Perhaps not.Many people feel obligated to hit the gym or the trail every now and then to help keep off the extra pounds...

June 4, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

How Octopuses Make Themselves Invisible [Video]

The octopus is an amazing master of disguise. It can essentially vanish, right before your eyes, into a complex scene of colorful coral or a clump of kelp waving in the currents.For a view of this phenomenon in reverse, check out this now-viral video shot by Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory senior scientist Roger Hanlon...

June 1, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Men's Offices Harbor More Bacteria Than Women's

What is the dirtiest thing on your desk? If you work in a typical office, it's not actually your computer mouse or your keyboard or even your desk. According to a new study, published online May 30 in PLoS ONE , it's your phone—but your chair's not far behind.Before you drop that receiver or leap out of your seat, hold that thought for just a second...

May 30, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Can the "Urban Advantage" Bring Better Global Health as City Populations Skyrocket?

City dwellers are thought to be, on average, healthier than their rural counterparts. This so-called urban health advantage is usually attributed to better access to health care and improved overall infrastructure, such as clean water, safety and education.But many of the globe's cities are already bursting and actually offer a far worse quality of life to those on the lower end of the income spectrum, whose plights can get overshadowed in large-scale statistics...

May 29, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Job Killer? Try Bottom Line Booster: Workplace Safety Inspections Save Money, Jobs, Limbs

Costly safety upgrades, nitpicky government inspection and resulting fines are often blamed as being bad for business. But a new study shows that when government job-safety inspectors make a surprise visit, they actually enable companies to save money—and jobs—for years to come.Occupational safety has improved immensely over the decades, but in industries with traditionally high injury rates, such as manufacturing, lumber or food processing, work is still dangerous, putting employees at risk and leaving employers vulnerable to expensive accidents...

May 17, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
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