How Many Red Bulls Would Kill You?

It is a picture of a fridge full of energy dri...

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The folks at Energy Fiend have developed an online calculator called “Death by Caffeine” that tells you roughly how many Red Bulls, Monsters, Rock Stars, etc you’d have to drink to keel over.  The number of drinks you can choose from on the killer-drink drop down menu is staggering, but upon closer inspection it looks like they include regular sodas like Pepsi, Coke and the like along with the amped up drinks (and even energy mints and coffee ice cream).

I’m going to enter my information, choosing Red Bull as my initial poison. Here’s the result:

It would take 204.75 cans of Red Bull to put you down.


Gulp down 474.78 cans of Coca-Cola Classic and you’re history.

You could drink 297.82 cans of Mountain Dew before croaking.

It would take 109.20 cups of Starbucks Tall Caffe Americano to put you down.

If you eat 341.25 Cups of Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream, you’ll be pushing up daisies.

By the way (and I say this as a die-hard coffee drinker), imbibing caffeine to stay awake is one of the silliest things we humans do.  The reason is this: in the brain, caffeine acts as an antagonist (a blocker) of adenosine–the neurotransmitter that pushes us closer and closer to sleep until we nod off–and it’s very good at accomplishing this. The problem is that with less exposure to adenosine, we become even more sensitive to the neurotransmitter’s effects. If we reduce our intake of caffeine, or simply become more tolerant of it, we actually find ourselves becoming more tired. So then we jack up the caffeine to counteract the withdrawal, but that just increases our tolerance.

Takeaway: you can only fool your brain into not sleeping for so long before succumbing to the inevitable crash.

HT: MindHacks


In Your Brain, Feet and Sex are Old Friends

Strange and perplexing meanders the path of science news in any given day.

Earlier, I came across a story over at BBC News about the effect of celebrity endorsements of shoes on women’s brains. A Dutch team of researchers scanned the brains of 24 women as they looked at 40 pictures of celebrities and of non-famous, but sexy, people wearing stylish shoes.

When looking at a celebrity sporting the shoes, women’s brains showed heightened activity in the medial oribitofrontal cortex (a part of the brain linked to “warm” feelings of affection). The same thing didn’t happen when they looked at pictures of sexy shoe-wearing non-celebrities.  So these women seemed to really love the shoes–in a more literal sense than usual–at least when they were modeled by celebrities.  And the impact appears to be long-term, according to the researchers; such is the emotional imprint of famous folks donning inviting footwear.

Which leads me to a related topic (well, at least I’m going to relate it for the purpose of this post)–namely, what’s going on in the brain of a foot fetishist? In the research above, the pivotal variable seems to be less the sex appeal of the shoes, or the feet wearing them, and more the emotionally potent influence of the celebrity rubbing off on the footwear. But in your common, run-of-the-mill foot fetishism, the feet and/or shoes in question might belong to just about anyone.  So clearly there’s a different dynamic at work, but what is it?

This question takes me to an illuminating graphic created by Emily Nagoski, the self proclaimed “Sex Nerd,” who believes she’s uncovered the connection. Actually, she’s illustrated a connection that was made some time ago by neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, who proposed that foot fetishism is caused by the feet and the genitals occupying adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex, possibly entailing some “neural crosstalk” between the two.

Here’s Emily’s graphic. Note that the genitalia and feet/toes are right next to each other along the somatosensory cortex (illustrated by Emily via a somatosensory homunculus–the instructive “little human” of the brain).

Emily’s explanation of the graphic warrants a direct quote:

Even though your feet are at one end of you actual body and your genitals are in the middle, as far as your brain is concerned, they’re right next to each other.

A phenomenon known in the nerd world as “spreading activation” takes us the rest of the way along this story. The foot sensation part of your brain “lights up” and lights up a little bit of the genital part of your brain along with it, or vice versa, and suddenly there’s a link between sexual arousal and foot sensations.

And so over time the guy (it’s usually a guy – not always, but usually) begins to feel sexual desire around feet, in the same way that he feels sexual desire around the genitals of his partner.

Makes sense.  A little cross-wire activity bridges parts of the brain that are already neighbors, and there you go. Why, however, would this necessarily be a predominantly male phenomenon?

That will have to remain a question for another day. Many thanks to the Sex Nerd for a great little graphic that sheds light on one of the more peculiar twists of the noggin.

A Tour of Dubious 'Science' and Other Strange Claims in Vintage Advertising

Today our tour of vintage advertising is going to cover some unusual/disturbing territory. First, we’re going to review  “scientific” claims in vintage ads, then we’re going to check out a few ads concerned with your sexual health, followed by a random medley of goodies. (click on the ads for full size)

Behold, the “Dentaphone,” which best I can tell was a mouthpiece device of some sort marketed as a cure for deafness. I like the hook line: “The deaf hear…through their teeth.”

Wow, what a deal!  If you give the wife PEP vitamins, not only will she work harder, but she’ll look cuter too!

How soon is too soon to start your baby on…cola?  “Laboratory tests” have proven that the earlier you get your bambino sucking down the cola, the happier he’ll be throughout his entire life. You don’t want to deprive him of that, do you?

And if starting cola early results in a toothache for baby, just numb her up with a few cocaine drops!

Getting back to serious science — how would you handle a “truss rupture”?  Nothing I can say will do this ad justice…read it, and hazard a guess as to what “truss torture” is.

There’s something about a giant hand pouring chemicals onto the countryside of India that just doesn’t sit well.

Nothing to add to this one — the picture says it all.

I couldn’t do a vintage ads post without at least one cigarette ad.  In this case, smoking filterless Camels gives the user an “energizing effect.”  That’s right before it gives you the “coughing effect” and the “wheezing effect,” followed by the “dying of lung cancer effect.”

She may “look clean” guys, but…

And you make think she’s “just your gal,” but….

She’s got everything. EVERYTHING.

This projector clearly works best in the shade.

“You can’t afford to be skinny.” This sounds like reverse liposuction in a pill.

Let’s wrap this post up along with the babies, in Cellophane.

FDA Study: Roach Carcasses in Airline Food Factory 'too numerous to count'

Roaches eating cheesecake small

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Courtesy of Vanity Fair (by way of USA Today), reporting on a recent FDA study of airline food safety — the news for anyone who travels is not good:

According to USA Today, the F.D.A. “found live roaches and dead roach carcasses ‘too numerous to count’ inside the Denver facility of the world’s largest airline caterer, LSG Sky Chefs. They also reported finding ants, flies and debris, and employees handling food with bare hands.” Of the 46 food-production facilities—“kitchens” seems like a misnomer—27 of them engaged in problematic provision-preparation practices. (Phew!) Such culinary crimes include: doubling as hotbeds of rodent colonization and reproduction, storing seafood at improper temperatures, undercooking meats, and being gross about ice. According to the paper, “[a]irlines say they require their caterers to provide government inspection reports, and they do their own unannounced inspections.”

Smokes and Booze, a Fine Father's Day Tradition

I’m always interested to see what vintage advertising  can tell us about our traditions. In the case of Father’s Day, it’s clear that the way to put a smile on Dad’s face is by putting a cigarette in his mouth and a glass of the good stuff in his hand.  Let’s take a stroll…

In this ad, Mom, both kids AND the dog have a carton of smokes waiting for Dad as he walks downstairs in his Sunday best. He’ll be hacking up a tar loogie before they get to the buffet.

This one features the double whammy gift of pipe tobacco and a carton of filterless Camels. If one doesn’t get him, the other one will.

Another devoted family.  Little did they realize that not only would Dad’s eyes light up, but so would the soft tissue in his lungs.

And don’t forget the lighter!

Dad, dogs, and booze…happiness is.

And here we have the ‘regal’ father, preparing for the day with two fingers of Scotch to calm the nerves. His eyes already look  glazed over.

If you’ve already boozed and smoked ole Dad out a little too much, get him some underwear! Make it sound like a really cool gift with a bit of fanfare and a huge sign in his pristine front lawn. Don’t worry, he’s already so drunk he’ll laugh his ass off at anything you do.

Moms, just remember, if you don’t succeed in making Daddy happy, he’s gonna spank your boo-tay.

But he might cut you some slack if you give him beer. Daddy loves him some beer, as we know.

This last one isn’t vintage, but the ad placement was too ridiculous not to mention.

New Condom Design Could Revolutionize Drunken Sex

Well, it’s not brand spanking new. The Sensis QuickStrip condom has been out for about a year, but the company issued a press release not long ago with the flavor of an “official” launch.  Other than a convenient way for me to include the phrase “drunken sex” in a post title, the QuickStrip really is a remarkably simply invention that could reduce the rate of condom failures and user malfunctions. From the press release:

A recent study evaluating condom use errors among college men found that 30 percent of participants reported placing the condom on upside down and flipping it over prior to use.

That’s not good. If this innovation can bring that number down closer to zero (unlikely, sure, but marginally plausible), then it deserves a dash of free publicity.  As the scholars in the video below demonstrate, pretty much anyone who can put on a band-aid can work a QuickStrip. It’s hard to believe it took this long for someone to improve one of the worst designed products in the history of  prophylactic design, but better late than never.

[youtubevid id=”A6QQWhRmJ8k”]

Hospitalized in July, Greater Chance You’ll Die

A new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego indicates that the risk of fatality due to medical error at teaching hospitals significantly spikes in July.

The spike coincides with the annual influx of new medical residents at hospitals in several countries, sparking questions about the level of responsibility these residents are asked to shoulder.

Researchers evaluated the linkage between doctor inexperience and medical error by focusing on fluctuations in the number of medication mistakes (involving “accidental overdose of a drug, wrong drug given or taken in error, drug taken inadvertently, and accidents in the use of drugs in medical and surgical procedures”) in July, when new doctors begin medical residencies.

They reviewed 244,388 death certificates issued between 1979 and 2006, tracking “fatal medication errors” as the primary cause of death. The number of deaths in July was then compared with the number of expected medical error fatalities for any given month of a typical year. Researchers also examined whether there were any differences between deaths “in and out of hospitals in July as well as between counties with and without teaching hospitals.”

The results: fatal medication errors spiked in July–and in no other month–in counties with teaching hospitals to the tune of 10 percent above the expected level. No link was found for other causes of death or deaths outside hospitals.

The researchers summarized the implications of these findings as…

“…fresh evidence for 1) re-evaluating responsibilities assigned to new residents; 2) increasing supervision of new residents; 3) increasing education concerned with medication safety. Incorporating these changes might reduce both fatal and non-fatal medication errors and thereby reduce the substantial costs associated with these errors.”

The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

HT: EurekAlert