3 Things We Learned About Our Bodies This Month: September 2016

bagpipes

Bagpipes Can Kill You

Bagpipes have consistently proved themselves to be less a musical instrument than a novelty torture device, and now, to add to their legacy of evil, they have been found to be lethal. A 61-year-old piper from, of course, Scotland, recently died from what doctors are calling “Bagpipe Lung,” a condition caused by a build up of fungi and mold in the instrument that gets transferred to the lungs and causes inflammation of the alveoli. So unless it’s for the Dropkick Murphies’ cover of “Amazing Grace,” you just step the hell away from that tartan screech-sack of death.

 

Our Brains are Nothing Special

That’s the news from neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel at Vanderbilt University. “Our brain is basically a primate brain,” she said, while explaining that although we have twice as many cortical neurons as chimps or gorillas, it’s essentially the same structure as in other primates, and not some separate evolutionary wonder. The same scientist also explained that it was the invention of cooking that allowed our brains to grow so large versus our monkey cousins: Cooking food lets us stuff in more calories more quickly (think about the time it takes to eat a cooked carrot compared to a raw one) to fuel our powerful but energy-draining grey matter. Thanks, stew!

 

Mouthwash Can Fight Gonorrhea

Please read the rest of this paragraph before giving yourself a Listerine sponge bath. Strange as it sounds, gonorrhea can live in your throat for months with no symptoms, and at any point can be passed on to someone else via oral sex. So far, so gross. But Professor Christopher Fairley from Australia’s Monash University recently conducted a study that found gargling with regular, store-bought antiseptic mouthwash significantly reduced the amount of detectable bacteria. And you thought minty-fresh breath was just an added bonus.